Monocle, Week 6: Doing the Deed

ImageThere are interesting elements to this internship – the aforementioned opportunities to conduct interviews, learn new production skills, and work in a thriving and youthful atmosphere – and some, admittedly, less interesting bits too. Monocle’s reputation would suffer if the studios were rammed full of dirty mugs, or if when a guest on-air reached to pour a glass of water they were met with either stagnant river sludge, or worse – an empty jug.

So I take no offense to my pseudo-cleaning duties. Somebody has to do that shit at some point, and the truth is that it may as well be the person whose job specification includes the phrase ‘ensuring that the building runs smoothly’, and not a presenter or a producer who could be paid to actually craft a radio show. And it’s not like the Devil Wears Prada or anything. There are no power-trippin’ higher-uppers threatening me with expletives for forgetting to bring a red straw in with their coffee.

Anyway, what with tidying the desk, delivering print-outs / drinks to presenters, and escorting guests in and out of the studio, I probably walk into Studio 1 five times per show. And I help with two shows a day. Over the course of six weeks, therefore, I think I must have walked into and around the studio at least 200 times.

But I’d never actually sat in one of the chairs – until this week.

(Skip to 7 mins)

It hadn’t even remotely occurred to me that it could be a nerve-wracking thing for somebody to do. Very infrequently, there will be a guest that pops on the show with a wavering voice, and everyone in the control room just looks at each other in a quizzical manner. Hundreds of other people seem incredibly comfortable sitting there, so…shouldn’t everybody? All they’re doing is talking to somebody, or reading something out. Isn’t that easy?

On Tuesday, I was asked if ‘I wanted to be Putin’, to which, obviously, I answered ‘of course I want to be Putin’. I had assumed that we were just discussing which tyrant we’d be if we had a day’s pass, but it turns out that a producer was asking me to voice over Putin’s speech to the Russian parliament after his official annexation of Crimea.

So, as I normally do, I confidently swung the door to Studio 1 open, walked in, and surveyed the room. Rather than swivelling the chair back to the desk, I sat down on it. I picked up the headphones, put them on, adjusted the height of the seat, and turned to face the glass – then immediately got a sweat on.

Behind the glass the studio manager was rocking casually in his chair, and the producer and head news editor were leant against the far wall, locked in conversation, flicking their eyes over to me every so often. The producer moved over towards the glass and pressed a button, saying in a voice laced with indifference, “just go when you want Christy”.

The weirdest thing was how far away they seemed. I’d sat on the other side of the glass countless times, and everyone looked very close. But from my new vantage point…and they were talking about something I couldn’t hear. Were they talking about the need to re-record whatever it was that I’d produce, regardless of how good it was? And now they’re laughing. Is my hair weird? Is it my hair? It’s my hair, right? Right?

Thankfully (or to be expected, because I’m a boss), I did the piece in one take, and they clearly liked it because they played the clip three times. It’s in the Soundclound clip above, from 7 minutes.

So, yeah. Exciting and new!

Other highlights this week:

1) The interview that I conducted with Alex Kammerling, of Premium Spirit Company Kamm and Sons, went out on ‘The Menu’ yesterday! Skip to 42 mins to hear it.

2) The radio series that I helped to produce was a great success, and went out on a huge high note. We’d been looking at cross-border cultural exchanges as a tool of diplomacy – essentially, instances in which the focus on art would pave the way for political progress. We started the week with a look at so called ‘ping-pong diplomacy’ between China and the US in the ‘70s.

We then moved to a bit that was my idea: Sport as a tool of rapprochement between North and South Korea. There are North Korean footballers that play in South Korean football leagues, and numerous reports of South Korean commentators going crazy in supporting N Korea when they play international games. Quite a nice package.

After Thursday’s look at The Royal Ballet’s trip to Havana in 2009 with famed dancer Carlos Acosta, we hit the series’ denouement – a talk with Dame Janet Suzman (internationally renowned actress / director) about putting on Othello in Johannesburg in 1987, during the height of apartheid. I got first billing at the end of the series, which was cool! If you skip to around 19 mins here, you’ll be able to hear the final piece. The rest of the series is at the same place in the week’s Globalists.

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