Friday, December 29, 2006

Spreading the word

Happy Christmas and welcome to that odd time of year referred to by some as The Perineum (not by me).

The word about The Audiotheque has now gone out to universities, colleges, community radio stations and BBC local radio stations. I wanted to kick things off before 2007 and there have been a fair few replies already.

If you're reading this as a result of my email then let me know: what kind of stuff would you like to see on the site? It may look a bit like the Film Network and I reckon there might be some crossover in audience. In terms of content, I'm a big fan of Arte Radio and would be ecstatic if we could get work of that quality on The Audiotheque. If you speak French have a listen to some of the audio on there. There are some great pieces that left me in awe. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What happened to November?

Blimey, nearly Christmas and my first post since the end of October. Just what the Hell have I been doing? Well, continuing the development of The Audiotheque idea for one. The plan is to build a BBC community site for audio enthusiasts. The best material will be showcase on the site and there will be periodic competitions where the prize will be a paid commission for material to be included in a programme on one of the BBC radio statios. These are most likely to be Radio 4, Radio 3, BBC7 and the World Service but I'm hoping to get 1Xtra BBC involved. We'll see. Oh, and New Talent are keen to get involved in some way, eg holding Masterclasses and helping with the organisation of the competitions.

That's where I am for now, but I'll probably start spreading the word amongst colleges, universities, community radio organisations etc in the New Year.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

From Fact to Fiction

My first radio drama was on air last Saturday. Not one of the Fever Tree dramas, but United! by Mark Lawson (Front Row, Newsnight Review etc). This is because it was part of the From Fact to Fiction series, dramas turned around in one week. The idea is that we respond to the week's big story, which involves a certain amount of guess work (ie sitting down on Monday and deciding what story will still have legs by the the following Saturday. Struan Rodger was the star, playing the Gaffer at a fictional Premiership team.

I have my reservations about the series: whether it really delivers quality drama to Radio 4 given the time restriction. However, that said, I'm quite happy with what we ended up with. An entertaining piece with a varied soundscape. Although we were in a studio in Bush House we used a location mic and used the toilets and corridors. I think this made a real difference to the sound (particularly the toilets). The recording was knocked off in 3 hours (for a 15 minute piece) but the recording took 4 and a half hours because there were a lot of hard cuts that needed careful timing.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Notes from 1st production (12th - 14th Oct 2006)

I've just recovered from my first studio days: 3 back-to-back productions of dramas adapted from some Ruth Rendell short stories. It all went pretty well, considering it was my first time working with "proper" actors (as opposed to the unscripted stuff I did for Resonance FM). Apart from nearly falling asleep with fatigue on the 3rd day (Saturday) it was a lot of fun. Really strong casts on all 3 days, lovely people and a good atmosphere all round.

Of course, when you're knocking out 30 minutes of drama per day there's no time to experiment: as soon as one scene sounds good you crack straight on to the next one. I really wanted to make sure that these didn't sound like "traditional" radio drama, ie the sort of static, stagey stuff that people use as the reason they don't like listening to drama on Radio 4. And it's very difficult. I don't yet know if I succeeded, but the quality of the actors gives me a head start. Technically I tried out a few things in consultation with the studio manager beforehand. We gave Jenni (the spot person) an OB (outside broadcast) mic and asked her to follow the actors as they moved through the scene. This seemed to give a slightly different acoustic but I'll only really find out after the edit.

But hey, I'm just happy we finished on time and recorded all the scenes. Next time I'd still like to experiment a bit more, though. What I want to do is get hold of a couple of actor, give them clip mics, let them loose in a city centre location and improvise a couple of scenes with them. I reckon it will work and, if so, I want to offer Radio 4 (or 3) a full-length version for broadcast.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


The BBC is probably unlike any other media organisation, and, at the risk of sounding like a company man, it is possible to do things that simply wouldn't be possible anywhere else.

Take Audio Drama, for example. Setting up an Audio Drama Website, where practitioners and enthusiasts can post their own material, with the chance to have it broadcast, and promoting professional content to a new audience. I can't imagine any other place where that could be done, but it's something I'm trying to get off the ground.

I'm hoping this blog will be a place for discussing people's ideas about the form, as a precursor to a community that can grow via this, yet to exist, site.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The future of audio drama...

Katya & Ros
Katya & Ros,
originally uploaded by Conor Lennon.

I've been brainwashing my daughter into loving audio drama by bringing here into the studio. I think she's about 6 months old in this photo, being taught the ropes by Ros Mason, who is now a fine student studying fine art.

Beyond Radio

Hi, my name's Conor Lennon and I'm currently working as a development producer in the Radio Drama department at the BBC. For those of you who don't know, the BBC has the biggest radio drama industry in the world, making many hundreds of hours a year (I should check how many. I'll get back to you).

I'm convinced, and have been for years, that radio, or, rather, audio drama (as it should now be known) is a massively under-rated form with a rich (yet currently poorly documented) medium.

What's more, it's a form that should (and I stress the should) be invigorated by Web 2.0 and given a new lease of life. I'm planning to put down my thoughts about the future of audio drama, current BBC offerings and anything else on the subject that comes to mind. I'm also hoping to find like-minded people. We'll see...