On Air: New home for University Radio Nottingham thanks to your donations.
Words: Tom Hills
Thanks to the support of donors like you and years of hard work and planning, University Radio Nottingham (URN) has moved out of its former home in the basement to a shiny new studio in the Portland Building. But in a cruel twist, the week after holding an opening party, the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, leaving the new studio empty.
We caught up with Station Editor Flora Wordie to find out how URN has kept the station alive with remote broadcasts and what’s next for this much-loved student society.
How did you get into URN?
Flora Wordie: I joined when I was a fresher. My friend wanted to demo but she didn’t want to do it by herself, so we ended up doing it together and I just fell in love from then. Over time, I’ve taken on more responsibility at URN and am now Head of the Station. I wasn’t sure about going for the role initially as it’s a lot of extra work alongside my Masters in Product Design and Engineering. But when I first joined URN, I remembered how supportive the Head of the Station had been to me, so I wanted to give that same experience to the new students joining us today. The Deputy Head of the Station and I were both part of URN when we were based in the basement and now we’vegot this amazing brand new studio – so we were both passionate about bringing the ethos and community feel from the old location into the new one.
How have you kept the station going throughout the last year?
FW: All the new equipment was delivered and installed into the new studio space in March 2020. We had a studio opening party with alumni from the last few years who had worked so hard to make it all happen – and then the next week we were all told to go home because of the pandemic, which was very frustrating. We managed to get set up to broadcast remotely in April 2020 and we did remote interviews for the SU elections. It was a bit hit-and-miss initially because sometimes you need to be on campus to manage the equipment. We don’t usually broadcast over the summer, so when we came back in September we were really keen to properly get going. We were a bit worried about getting new members because there wasn’t an in-person Fresher’s Fair this year, but fortunately people were blown away by the new studio space. It really looks so professional and we’re all so passionate about what we do that recruitment actually went really well.
In September and October the restrictions were more relaxed so we managed to do training on the new equipment through a combination of videos and weekend of training in small groups. Luckily, we were able to broadcast during the lockdown in November. We had to restrict to just one person in the studio at a time but we set up Skype so we could do a combination of solo presenters and panel shows.
The start of this year has been a bit trickier because we’re remote once again. We can’t go out live but we can pre-record shows which keeps us on air. We’re lucky that we can keep going. A lot of societies just can’t run remotely and they try and put on online quizzes, but everyone is a little bored of doing a Zoom quiz now. We still have people that are wanting to put in time to do their shows and a lot of people have found some really good interviews as well.
URN always does very well at the Student Radio Awards, why do you think that is?
FW: We do win a lot of awards, which is amazing, but we’re not really sure what our magic trick is. I think it comes down to the fact that we all join URN because we love to do it. Some other student radio stations are connected to their courses so maybe they’re more consumed in the broadcasting bubble. It’s the opposite for us because Nottinghamdoesn’t do a broadcast journalism course – URN is an escape from writing your English essay or trying to get your head around a really hard mathematical question.
URN has been going for 42 years and I think the success that has been built over the years is based on a shared passion that we all have for it. I still get that feeling of excitement when I go on air for my show. It’s such a buzz and I think we’re so lucky to have amazing equipment that makes it feel so professional.
The student radio awards can also help if you want a professional career within radio, because they are judged by people in the industry. It’s a great opportunity to network and obviously, if your name is nominated for anything, it’s great because there are so many radio stations there. One of our presenters, Nikki, won at the student radio awards and got to do a show on New Year’s Eve for Radio One which was amazing. Some URN alumni have gone on to work in radio and have found success producing and presenting top shows at top stations. Whether it leads to a career or not,URN is a great experience and a real joy to be part of.
What have been your personal highlights of your involvement in URN?
FW: I will never ever forget my first show in the new studio. I felt like all the hard work of the last four years of URN had finally come to this moment. It was first thing on a Monday morning, the first-ever show from the studio,and it is a feeling that I will treasure. Even though I would have loved to do so much more with it this year, we did all we could in difficult circumstances. We’re all so grateful to everyone who has donated to the university which has made our studio possible. Without you, we would not be in this position.
Can you describe URN in three words?
FW: I would say, life-changing (that’s hyphenated so it’s one word), exhilarating and incredible. Incredible in every way.
Ambition issue two is also available as a PDF.