Working on the 24 Hour Broadcast for BBC Sussex

BBC Sussex towns

Take a moment to consider this point properly- who honestly doesn’t love a radio marathon? The highs of an on-air challenge and the lows of trying to stay awake during the early hours, it’s like a broadcasting roller-coaster that throws all the loops in at the start of the ride but leaves plenty of surprises for the rest of the journey.

I’ve been freelancing in BBC Local Radio for nearly two months now (something I honestly never thought I’d write), and what struck me initially was that from 7pm till 6am the next day, the South East stations switch to networked content (with the occasional exception)- i.e. programmes that are broadcasting on several, or in some cases all, BBC Local Radio stations. With that in mind, I was honoured to be asked to be part of BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey’s 24 Hour Broadcast, from 8AM on Thursday 21st April to the following day.

The celebration of 24 hours in Sussex and Surrey was tied in with the festivities to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday- journalists were out across the counties reporting on all manner of stories, including one lucky reporter who got to be a zookeeper at Drusillas in Alfriston and a producer who got to meet a remarkable woman sharing her birthday with Her Majesty. It was an enormous operation, with so much content being generated across the event that it was difficult knowing where to look next.

Even better was the chance to be part of the station’s online output, as I was one of the social media producers for the event. Given my past experience in managing social media accounts for student radio and a laser tag company, it was something that fitted my skill set while also encouraging me to explore how the content could operate as a distinctive, standalone platform that was in a league of its own, rather than just accompanying the on-air content.

Sitting at the back of the office alongside the station’s editorial team, my shift was an endless cycle of retweeting, sharing and scheduling content across both Sussex and Surrey. Depending on your attitude to social media that may sound like heaven or hell, but you’ll be glad to know it was the former for me! What was even more interesting from my position was being able to watch the producers working alongside the presenters, and watching the shows come together before your very eyes.

Of course, first and foremost it was a rare and distinctive experience for the listeners, but it was also a wonderful chance for the station’s team of producers, reporters and presenters to come together and be part of an exceptional event. Most of the members of staff I hadn’t met before, so it was also a fantastic opportunity to exchange stories of the radio industry. But more than anything, it reminded me that it’s the stories from the people within the remit of a local station that make it worth tuning into.

So all in all, a fantastic opportunity to fine tune my social media marketing skills (creating a gif of one of the reporters dancing was a highlight), and an important learning curve at the same time. Click here to listen to some of the highlights from the broadcast.

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