I was on the radio! • 3 August 2007 • The SnowBlog

I was on the radio!

That was fun! You can hear me gently disagreeing with Fay Weldon on Radio 4's Today programme here. Scroll down the page and click on 0800-0830, and fast forward to about 18.28 or download an MP3 file here (it's about 4-5MB - or click the little arrow to 'stream' the file (whatever that means)). I think I'll tell you what it was like in detail because I found it fascinating. I've done lots of interviews for magazines and papers but never for radio, so it was unchartered territory for me. I arrived very early, despite there being huge delays on the Central line which I was rather grateful for - if the train hadn't gone at walking pace I would have arrived an hour early and that's just embarrassingly keen. So I got there at 7.45, and sat next to the Tardis in reception, and a lady came to get me at 8.10. She took me and another gentleman upstairs, and put us both in a waiting area. A moment later she came back and asked me to go with her, and showed me into a corner office. I sat, got my bearings, and realised it was the actual room, with the actual presenters, with actual microphones and a sign that said 'on'. For some reason I thought I'd be in one box and they would be in another box, like in the pictures of radio in the second world war (I am not very current). There was a tape of an interview playing, and the presenters were having conversations with the people outside the room over the intercom. It was all so laid back - they let the door bang (it was a quiet bang, but all the same), they type away and rustle papers and people like me just saunter in and have a sit down. I wasn't told to do anything, and didn't want to interrupt anyone so I sat quietly until Ed Stourton looked up and said 'Ah! You must be [refer to papers, rustle] Emma Barnes!' They have pages and pages of information about what's going on in front of them, so they quickly read the notes and were then ready to go. Pretty impressive. I found that as soon as the conversation turned to something I knew about, all my nerves disappeared and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it did make me think how clever the presenters are for being able to rapidly absorb all sorts of stories from someone else's notes and then to be able to ask sensible questions. I was told to put on the headphones in front of me as Fay Weldon was in the Salisbury office (not office - er, studio!). It was seamless - the presenters were talking to each other about something, then suddenly they were talking and the rest of the country was listening. It started; it was over. I wasn't sure what to do - whether I should leave the room or wait until the microphones were switched off - but James Naughtie beckoned to me to come to his side of the table. He showed me the cover design on his screen for his book that's coming out in October. I thought it was very good and nodded a lot, because the poor sports man was trying to talk about sports and I didn't want to be a distraction. And then I left the room. I know this reads a bit like a school trip report, but it was a super adventure and I wanted to write down exactly what happened so I remember. I think I'd like to be a radio star when I grow up.


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