December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve in Paris

Tomorrow we drive to Paris to watch the New Year's Eve celebrations - you've gotta be able to say you've been in Paris the night of Dec 31st just once in your life I reckon. I've spent most of this week working on a new website for Radio Aquitaine, check it out --
It's been great to have time to work on the station, I normally NEVER have time in Australia. Truth is, it's just great to be here. I've been contacted by another potential sponsor, amazing. And I thought no-one would be interested. That's a good new year's present. I'll keep plodding away. And thanks for those comments, I'll keep writing. Bonne année et j'espère que vous avez un productif et gentil 2010.

December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve musings - Dec 09

I have at last returned to the place I feel happiest. Finally I can continue my work on the station. Does anyone even read this? Probably not but hey, I teach journalism, writing is my hobby and it'll be good to document the frustratingly difficult process of attempting to realize a dream in south west France, so I'll write anyway. We've just enjoyed xmas dinner with our French neighbours, a night of wines, food and cultural exploration, how I love the French language -it's the spirit of France. Last week I was invited to the British Consul xmas party in Bordeaux. The Pro Consul suggested we meet in January to discuss station progress. At our last meeting the consul suggested I strongly consider turning the station into Radio Aquitaine to extend the audience reach and project scope. I am now seriously considering this.

January will be busy - not only does the website need a great deal of work but I need to buy an adapter to make the pointlessly purchased in Australia satellite receivers work in France, the guys from Uni of Lincoln should be coming January 11th, I have to run some radio production and interviewing sessions for the local University and I want to contact the School of Journalism in Bordeaux for possible student broadcasters. I only have four weeks left, as usual time is not on my side. But for now, being xmas, I intend to rug up, read by the wood fired stove, relax and hug my two boys and partner tightly before I have to head back once again to what I hope will be a less difficult year in Australia.

Tenacity and patience from the other side of the world - Oct 09

Can't believe I wrote this back in October and being a stressed out workaholic, forgot to post it, here tis ... I'm moving slowly but surely. The satellite is now installed on the roof of the University, the tech guys from Uni of Lincoln are happy to do the set-up in January, I've been approached by the University of Hull about applying for EU funding, enthusiastic media veteran Geoff, ex Dordogne resident now back in England is busy exploring advertising and sponsorship opportunities, and Dordogne resident Clive is keen to find local advertisers. The Dordogne English language paper has run a full page feature interview, consequently email inquiries continued to grow. I have advertised radio training sessions in Perigueux in January and my first serious advertiser - an international finance company, have just agreed to regular segments. I can't quite believe it seems to be happening.

Unfortunately it's been a pretty unpleasant year in other ways in Australia (thank you Flight of the Conchords for reminding me to laugh). I'm a firm believer in that old maxim - It's not your achievements that define success, but how you treat people along the way. My naive belief in an innate goodness in others has, dare I say at last, been shattered. Can't wait to return to my little stone cottage in December and get things moving. And my new motto-Never, ever, ever give up ....

July 20, 2009

A Room of One's Own - July 09

I wasn't able to get the station streaming in the last two weeks of June. Organising a technician to come to the University and quote on purchasing the satellite and fitting to the roof turned out to take longer than I'd expected. It's little things that cause delays, like someone telling you they'll text you the details of urgent information needed for the next step. So I wait patiently only to discover they've emailed me instead without realising I can only access the internet at the little community centre 15 minutes drive away from my village which is only open two hours in the morning and afternoon and even then not every day. And because I wasn't expecting this information to come via email I didn't make the trek to go and check, so there's a few more days lost in the limited time I have!

Finally, three years after its inception, RD has a room of its own at Bordeaux IV University,Perigueux, France.

L to R: Pascale, Marianne and Jean-Luc from Perigueux Bordeaux IV University, help bring Radio Dordogne to life with a room and equipment on campus.

Sadly I make the decision to tell Andrew and John from the Uni of Lincoln there's no point in coming as the satellite won't be fitted in time. I worry they'll be annoyed. I've had a win with someone responding to my plea for a video camera person to document the event. He's sounds amiable and relaxed. He said he's into adventures and therefore keen to help. Nice attitude. I'll have so many helpers staying in my little stone cottage looks like I'll be staying at a friends to fit everyone in!

A point to remember here is the Australian dollar. When a quote comes in at 500 euros it's actually double this once I pay for it on my credit card back in Australia. When I hand over my card I have to look away and swallow hard otherwise I'd never buy a thing. Yes it's expensive but I love this project and remind myself the University are providing office space so I can hardly complain.

The day before I sadly head back to Australia I finally pay for the satellite and agree on a date in August for it to be fitted.

Frustration and satisfaction - May, 09

I'm about to head back to the Dordogne at last. The most difficult aspect of the RD project is that I have to come and go between Australia and France. Until I can get a French business visa I am unable to stay in France longer than six months and as I don't have an EU passport I can't work in France. So I have to return to Australia to earn a living and fly to France when possible, work on RD as much as I can before returning to my responsibilities back in Australia. It's a tough juggling act but I think I'm finally getting the right balance. It means being highly organised with the limited time I have in each country.

The good news is I've stumbled across two keen and willing radio tech heads at the Uni of Lincoln who are more than happy to help set up RD in exchange for accommodation in my newly acquired stone cottage. The generosity, kindness and adventurous spirit of some people never ceases to impress me. This means getting the satellite receiver, computers and networked material in place to allow the station to stream via the internet. I have a sneaking feeling it's not going to be as easy as it sounds.

It's interesting; generally I've found radio people around the world share a passion that surpasses any cultural or linguistic barrier, and when you need a hand someone extends theirs. Sweet.

March 10, 2009

Searching for radio - Feb 09

To develop a radio station like RD you need both contacts and content - a few words about both.

I’ve just spent six hours making test program No. 3, a far more laid back, totally unprepared for smattering of French related music. I’m snuck into a studio after 8pm where a night of hilarity follows with the witty and talented producer Tim who takes care of all things technical. We throw tracks spontaneously into cd players and amuse ourselves thinking of links to say between tracks. We finally have an mp3 mastered and copied by 2am. I’m exhausted but figure a few late nights before I fly back to Perigueux from Australia might help beat the impending jetlag.

The most encouraging part of working on the RD project has been the support and advice I’ve received, right at the time I‘m about to give up. I’ll have a meeting with someone who says “you need to talk to person X, they can help you”. And without fail, the person I’ve been told to contact has been incredibly generous with both their knowledge and time. I’m a firm believer in saying thanks, unlike my former boss who said “I don’t believe in thanking my staff, they’re just doing their job” - a great way to make your staff want to work harder for you.

I’m trying to get enough material together to make an 8 hour tape loop to put on the site, until I can pull the networked material from the satellite and have a 24/7 schedule. Ideally what I’m after is more local programs. If there’s anybody out there living in the Dordogne with a radio background and keen to be involved in the project, do make contact.

February 28, 2009

RD moves to Bordeaux University, Perigueux campus - Dec 08

After weeks of renovation work over Christmas 08, RD has a temporary home in a recently purchased stone cottage at La Chapelle Faucher near Brantome in the Dordogne.

More work is done finalising and scheduling networked material, not as easy as it sounds as I attempt to learn Station Playlist Creator and Station Playlist Studio.

In January '09 I had a meeting with Bordeaux University, Perigueux campus in the hope they will be interested in helping establish and run the station. Much to my amazement they love the idea and after some creative negotiation, it is agreed to house RD permanently (at no cost) within the University in exchange for yearly teaching of media skills to their first year Tourism students. The station will also be utilised by the students to learn broadcasting skills and improve their English language proficiency. I was encouraged, after my first guest lecture late January 09, by the number of students who approach me afterwards to express their interest in producing and presenting programs on RD.

There's still more work to be done getting broadcast material off the satellite and onto the internet, this is now being configured by the University, and I'm a lot more realistic about timelines now, however we hope to have an official launch of Radio Dordogne in Perigueux late December.