Monocle, Week 1: Getting to grips with ‘unsociable working hours’


I’m a hard cookie. An oatmeal digestive, perhaps. Maybe even a slightly stale bourbon biscuit. But my gooey centre was revealed with the revelation that my working shift for this week was slightly outside of my usual sleeping pattern.

Since Tuesday, I’ve been starting work at 04:30, having ‘lunch’ from 09:00 – 10:00, and finishing for the day at 13:30.

I was of course aware that Monocle 24, the radio station attached to the Monocole magazine, broadcasts 24/7 – the name was a dead giveaway –  and even that it had a live show at 6am London time. Being nought but a foolhardy young man, however, I hadn’t really thought through the realities of such a timetable. Of course you have to prepare for a live show. Of course there was going to have to be somebody present from at least 5am. And of course that person, at some point, would have to be me.

True, nobody enjoys waking up that early. But there is something quite addictive about being part of a buzzy team that functions whilst everybody else is snoozing. Maybe it’s a touch of holier-than-thou syndrome, in that I’m wide awake whilst everyone I know is probably reaching for a dash of disgusting Nescafe Gold, or maybe it’s the bond that comes naturally from working through (relatively) tough conditions with others. Who knows. I really haven’t hated it at all though. The ‘unsociable hours’ just kind of breed a different kind of sociability.

My pre-7am schedzche (short for schedule – yeah?):

–       Hear the alarm go off at 02:43. Relax back to sleep, save in the knowledge that I have another two minutes before I actually have to get up

–       Realise that I have yet to wake up. Panic at around 02:48

–       Try and get ready without waking up my uncle and aunt. A man’s gotta shower but he’s gotta do it with such deft and speed that the water pump only rumbles his family awake, not jars them into submission

–       Race to the bus stop for the 03:28 towards Trafalgar Square, scoffing a banana on the way, then hop over onto the 04:10 to Marylebone. Number of times I’ve had to pay for an exorbitantly priced taxi because I’ve missed the 03:28 (1)

–       Reach the offices at 04:30. Do intern stuff like make sure all the blinds are open, the lights are on, the kitchens are clean, the coffee machines are functioning, and that the breakfast is laid out in the canteen

–       Pause. Get a coffee, and consider whether today is the day that you high-five the incoming presenters. Decide against it

–       Begin prepping for the 6am show, ‘The Globalist’, at 05:00. Make sure that the studios are clean are replete with drinks, that the newspapers for the day are accessible for the presenters, that any stories within the script are printed out, that all of the guests for the show’s contact details work, that the taxis bringing the guests to the studio are on their way, that the scripts themselves are printed out

–       Set up the additional set of newspapers for the ‘newspaper reviewer’, the guest who arrives at 06:10 and discusses the biggest stories of the day on air at 06:45

–       Be set up in the control room for the start of the 06:00 show. Again consider high-fiving control room team. Accept that this is probably never going to happen

–       Throughout the show, call the guests 10 minutes before they go on air to check the line / ensure that they’re prepared to talk. Then call again 1 minute before they go live and pass them across to the studio engineer

–       Greet any live guests

–       Hear my name go out at around 06:59 ‘The researchers were Isabel Kaser and Christy Romer’. Researcher is a grand term for my contribution there. I’ll take it though.


Post 7am schedzche (schedje? Schej?):

–       From 07:00 ‘til around 08:30, go through the day’s news and pick out the top business, politics, design and culture stories from international news publications and trade journals. I guess this is the place where I have the most opportunity to shine at the moment – if I can unearth an interesting story to follow, that no other outlet is using, I’ll have done something remarkable. Yet to have a big hit so far

–       Take over on the front desk til 09:00

–       Take advantage of the free brioche, fruit and cereal for ‘lunch’ until 10am

–       Begin prepping the midday show, ‘The Briefing’, alongside the other intern. For each of the 5 topics being discussed – today, for instance, one of the guests was discussing the economic situation in Greece – find and summarize any articles discussing the situation for the presenters

–       Again, make sure that the studios and such are clean

–       Whilst the other intern is helping produce the 12pm show, do some more intern stuff like delivering the mail to everybody on the building’s three floors

–       Finish up around 13:30

So yeah. Voila. You have to prove yourself before you get given more responsibility (obviously), so the plan is to work hard to make more of the ‘summary’ pieces present themselves. Writing is my jam, and all that.

The rota changes next week and I’ll either be working from 08:00 – 17:00 or 14:00 – 23:00. I guess those shifts will bring additional challenges and opportunities!

I’m having a ball. Make no mistake. More than anything, I’m enjoying being nothing until I prove myself. I feel like that’s a really important life lesson to go through, and it was something that I didn’t really get during my week at the York Press, or my month at Political Intelligence. So these apparent ‘hardships’ are just super life lessons.

‘Til next time

One thought on “Monocle, Week 1: Getting to grips with ‘unsociable working hours’

  1. Hello, I am really interested in your posts on your internship at monocle. I was wondering if you had any tips for an applicant for a monocle internship? I’m really interested in the magazine and was wondering if you had any advice. My email is

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