What an ordeal. I wasn’t nervous so much as daunted by everything I had to remember. As I said to my three readers at the end of the recording “It’s so different on this side of the desk!”
Today marked my first time as a presenter at the Talking Newspaper. I was on the early shift so left home at 8am and, after picking up the papers and getting a coffee, I was at the studio by 8:40am. I let myself in and set to preparing the edition. This means cutting up the paper and dividing it into the relevant piles.
There are piles for each of the readers (for them to cut up, paste in and edit) and separate letters, personal announcements and the sports for me. And, of course, my own pile of reading. I managed to get most of it done by the time my first reader appeared (Alistair) and was well into writing my sports report when Mavis turned up. There was a bit of a flutter of concern when Brigid (that’s how she spells her name) was late but it turned out she was held up in traffic because of gardeners trimming the roundabout.
They all set to it and we were going great guns when someone asked who and where the engineer was. Again I was anxious there’d be a no-show. Without a reader we could cope but without an engineer, we’d be doomed. And then Sue turned up. I was really glad Sue was going to be my first engineer. She is easily my favourite engineer and I knew she’d help me when I needed it.
To be fair, I’m pretty sure all the engineers (except maybe one) would have helped me.
So, we had a full compliment and so far everything was running smoothly. This was about to change.
We entered the studio and Sue tested the mikes and I tried to assure everyone that I knew what I was doing. I had my vast pile of stuff in front of me, anxiously sorting it every few minutes to make sure I had all the bits in the right order.
As I’ve mentioned before, the presenter has to read the three ‘special’ tracks – What’s On, Births & Death and the Sport. The presenter also has to start the edition with a pre-scripted piece regarding the issue number, the readers and the track listings, followed by the headlines. It all needs to be done in the right order. And so occurred my first mistake.
I was halfway through reading the headlines when I realised I’d said it all wrong. The order, rather than the words. And not like Yoda. I suddenly stopped, felt stupid and tried not to sound flustered as I asked Sue to stop the recording (digital sound is so good) because I’d have to start again. She said don’t worry, it’ll be fine but I wasn’t happy and it wasn’t fine! We started again and I managed to get it right.
Everything was then going as well as could be expected with me staring intently at the timer on Sue’s screen because that’s how the presenter determines when each item ends. And then the one thing I was really worried about happened.
Another thing the presenter is in charge of is bringing the mikes out and in when each reader stops and the next starts. This is very simple and merely involves the presenter pressing two buttons directly in front. Well, I missed one, didn’t I. I’d finished my piece and it was Brigid’s turn to speak next, which she did, except we couldn’t hear her. I quickly pressed the button and activated her mike but it was all too little, too late. The damage had been done. I’d made the one stupid error I’d not wanted to.
Of course it was no problem. Sue went back in the file and we restarted. But it hurt. I was completely annoyed with myself. However, I’m not one for dwelling on things while I can do that later in my blog, so I plunged on regardless.
Actually, everything else went very smoothly thanks to my readers and Sue. They were very good to have as my first team and made it very easy. In fact Mavis complimented me on my sport report saying she usually nods off during the sport but I’d made it interesting for the first time ever. That works for me! Always praise an actor on something he thinks he’s done well and he’ll love you forever.
I left, head held high and started walking back home. Halfway there I realised I’d forgotten to pick up the reader’s sheets from the studio and file them away. I slapped myself on the forehead like some animated fool and was about to turn back when the awful truth struck me (after I took my hand away, of course). The next group would be in the studio recording and the next presenter would have put them away for me otherwise she’d have had problems with her edition.
I see it as a bad first night and aim for my second performance to be heaps better!
All in all I loved being a presenter. It’s like any play: being in it and playing a small part is great and has it’s good points but there’s nothing like playing the lead. And we all know how much I love being the lead.