Crunch Time: Finishing and editing our first show, along with a Marketing surprise.

This was it! After more than seven weeks of training and preparation the last week before our big show had arrived! Problem was, we had yet to finally finish the jingle, our outro was not done, and our ‘hero of the week’ had not pitched up in over a week now. Things were looking interesting.

What really put the pressure on however was the fact that Tuesday, the day designated for our first workshop of the week, was a public holiday so none of our group were waiting at their spots. This taught me a very valuable lesson of constantly having to remind the group that despite holidays we still need to work. As the media never stops even on holidays!

To say Thursday was chaotic would be an understatement. Firstly Olwethu, our main anchor did not pitch. This was very concerning as we needed him to interview our ‘hero of the week’- who was going to be Danielle Walker, a twelve year old DJ at Radio Grahamstown Once again she too did not arrive. We had also asked Mfundo to come and be interviewed. He is the author of our audio blog and was meant to be the ‘Hero of the week’ for the following week. Mfundo arrived but with no anchor unfortunately we could not interview him. Olwethu also needed to do the outros, aswell as the links between our different shows. Our only option was to get them the next day (Friday) and interview them that afternoon. I found it very very hard to keep my cool and patience at this stage. As I realized we were working with kids I did not want to lose my temper and lose weeks of trust we had created. Thankfully I held in my feelings and kept a cool head. Instead we worked on the script and structuring of our jingle.

Halfway through the meeting Jeanne came into the workshop and told me Shireen was downstairs with two marketers from the University who may be interested to market our program, all they needed was some convincing. I realized I really had to raise the bar in advertising ‘Upstart’ here, as we need funds badly. Shireen was openly frustrated that we had not structured the meeting properly with her. In truth I was not told we were going to have a meeting at this time, after all the show was in two days and we were already pressured!

Phillip and Harriet were both from the communications and marketing division of Rhodes. I started telling them all about the project making it sound as exciting as possible. I learnt a very valuable lesson here; you can sell almost anything as long as you are confident and enthusiastic about it. As a producer I realized I needed to reveal every detail to the prospective marketers in order to try and sell our show. Harriet was very alarmed that we had not fully marketed our show for the first launch. This was a shocking realization that, in truth, we had only focused on the show content and the ‘Upstart’ team. We had not thought about advertising at all. I was hugely relieved to see Harriet as enthusiastic about the project as myself, and they agreed to help us! Harriet illustrated she was going to make posters for the very next day to distribute with the schools. She achieved this task which myself and the team were very thankful for. As from now I can officially say ‘Upstart’ has an independent marketer who will hopefully be attempting to track funds for the show.
I realized here how the radio team is not just a fun project that will enhance the kids. It does have to be run like a business in order to stay on air. Every show needs funding and I was very irritated with myself that I had not taken this section of our radio team as seriously as I should have. After all we need advertising to attract the listeners don’t we?

I made a conscious decision at this time. As Werner is our new co-anchor, the spot for marketing is now open. Sibusiso, our enthusiastic techie was getting frustrated early in the term on how limited her job was. I felt this was the opportunity to make her the marketer as she is very conscienscious and will not let this part of the station down.    

Friday, the day before our show had become D-day. Thankfully every member who counted for this show was there. As Olwethu had started off anchoring by himself we did not want Werner to suddenly join him halfway through the show. So we decided to keep one anchor throughout our first piloted show. Olwethu had gained much confidence since his first time with the guests a week earlier. We started to see the relaxed Olwethu that is constantly shown in our workshops. This made the days process go surprisingly faster! Unfortunately I was writing the script of his outros and links while he was interviewing Danielle and Mfundo.

I walked into the studio when they had all finished with the interviews. Danielle had left but Mfundo was still there. He was keen to help with the jingle which I saw no problem with. However I noticed the rest of the ‘Upstart’ members were a little agitated by this, in particular Sibusiso. I will bring up this point further down, as I only found out why later on.

Firstly we made Olwethu finish off his links, which he did very confidently, I was proud of how far he had come. Despite not turning up the day before he performed when it really mattered. The highlight of my day, however, was when little Gcobisa stepped into the production studio. She was our producer, but had come up with the features ‘riddle of the week’ and ‘challenge of the day’. In order to make it sound live I had scripted Olwethu and Gcobisa to have a general conversation followed by her feature. I only told the poor girl we were going to do this yesterday (the Thursday). Now she was very nervous, and asked for a rehearsal before actually recording it, which I obviously agreed to. Secretly however I recorded her first take just to see how she would do. I have never ever been so surprised with what natural talent this little girl had. She spoke in clear English, and I emphasize ‘spoke’ here as she did not seem to be reading the script at all. In truth I used the majority of her first take in the show, as it sounded more natural than the second take. Olwethu and her worked well together, and I realized we had a solid feature that can be used every week.

The jingle went very well, and the kids had great fun with it. They were all told to say one line, such as “we are here to serve you”. Or “this is so lame”. They had an absolute ball with this, and the giggles started as soon as they were being recorded. The day was such a success there was no way I could get frustrated.

From 16:00 that afternoon Tsegho and I put the first show together. We already had the bulk of it, now it was a matter of filling in the ‘gaps’. We made an editing change that morning. It made sense to put Mfundos interview in the first show as he introduces his book. The very book we are using in our audiobook. Therefore Danielle’s interview would be moved to next weeks show. The jingle came together surprisingly well and with less than twenty four hours to go we had our first show! What a relief!

To celebrate Shireen took our “Upstart” team to breakfast. We all arrived at Dulces and listened to our show while eating. The reward of seeing each members face when their packages were played, or their voices came up will be one of my most favorable memories to date. Even Shireen was very thankful of what we had produced. I was more thankful to the kids for actually pulling through!

One aspect was noticed at the breakfast though. Mfundo had said the previous day that he was not going to make the breakfast, however he pitched up as his prior arrangements had been cancelled. Once again Sibusiso was visually irritated that Mfundo had arrived. After the mean I dropped everyone home, and found myself with Sibusiso only in the car. I thought this was my best opportunity to ask her about what her issue was with Mfundo. She told me she was openly wary of him, and that he was trying to get as involved in our production as possible, he even asked Sibusiso if he could be a marketer with her. I realized why Sibusiso was very agitated with him. Here was a boy who had been transferred to a better school and was loved by all the teachers. All Sibusiso wanted to do was advance her own life and saw Upstart as an ample opportunity to do so. Mfundo had already done so well, and Sibusiso wanted to use Upstart to also further herself. She found it unfair that Mfundo did not go through the entire process and was now basically a part of the team. She told me the majority of the team was feeling like this, especially herself and Werner. I realized there was a degree of eroding morale in our radio camp, and I assured Sibusiso that Mfundo was only interviewed because of his book, and that he was not a member of the Upstart radio team. As he had indeed not gone through the selection process, nor did he know how to use the equipment. Sibusiso was instantly motivated again. This showed me how just one member could bring down the morale of a whole team. I was happy I pounced on this aspect as quickly as possible, as over time it seems like our Upstart family would have become strained, now if Mfundo does try and get more involved I am afraid I will have to tell him he is not a part of the radio team. This promise I ensured Sibusiso seemed to strengthen our trust. I was very pleased with this. All that was on my mind on the way back from dropping off all the kids was how to put together next week’s show. As I Said above, there is no holiday when it comes to the media.

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