Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Comfort Zones

It is really good to do something new every now and again. Something that involves you operating in an area where you don't know the rules, the people or the style.

Churches are weird places with rules, people and styles all of their own. It is hard to imagine or remember how tough it must be to walk through the doors.

I find my occasional visits to hospitals strange. I know a few of the rules, but they do change and I don't feel I belong. Likewise schools. Odd places with routines and mantras that the insiders know but guests don't.

It is different if you are 'just visiting'. But if you are delivering a service such as a clergy hospital visit or a school assembly the insiders think you know the rules and often don't help.

Whilst I have done a little radio work before it has been good, these last few months, to step into the unfamiliar world of Radio Bristol to do Thought for the Day. At 8.30 a.m. on a weekday the studio is full of busy people cueing things up and juggling stories, news items and user generated content by text, tweet, Facebook, email and phone.

At first I relied on being told exactly what to do but it wasn't long before it was assumed I knew my way around. I didn't know how far away from the microphone was too far until a gesticulating presenter urged me closer. I didn't know how much inter-action was OK and when to just deliver my script. And I didn't know how to get into the building beyond the code protected door. As it happens, asking a complete stranger to let you in works fine. BBC note.

I've also recently had my first experience of having to do an early morning rewrite because of a changing news agenda from light-hearted to serious, following a massacre.

Now I get smiled at and have a chat with the team. I know Jonathan, Steve, Keith, Michelle and Joe by name and we've done the 21st century equivalent of exchanging phone numbers. We follow each other on Twitter.

Feedback was hard to come by but I took the plunge and asked the commissioning editor for a chat and got some helpful response. Having scripted it carefully I then need to deliver it as if it is not a script. That's as hard as it sounds.

I don't feel in any way competent yet but certainly a little more confident and enjoying the experience. It is not a long journey from outsider to part of the furniture but it is good to make it from time to time.

Back on duty Mondays 7, 14 and 21 October. 8.43 or later on iPlayer.

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