Yesterday, after a lazy week off, I pressed START for the very first time, live, in the new 6 Music studio. As you can see from these pictures, it’s a vast improvement on the old studio, a studio I loved for four years, but you have to turn and face the strange, and those who fear change will just get left behind. (Actually, I fear change as much as the next person.) Here’s the old one, for purposes of comparion:
It was lived in, inevitably, and so dirty it had to be destroyed for health and safety reasons. On most other radio stations they have at least two live studios. At 6 Music, because we are just a little station, we have one, which is a bit like if you only had one towel. It means “handovers” are effected by the previous team getting out and the next team coming in while the last record is playing. This is particularly entertaining after Roundtable and before The Music Week, when a mass two-way exodus takes place. It’s never been very graceful. Anyway, that’s a lot of teams using the same studio, day in, day out, the only respite being shows from Manchester, repeats and pre-records. As a result, it was pretty grubby: worn carpet, tatty headphones, broken TV, broken webcam, worn faders. I have stated before, and I’ll state again, some of the people who work at 6 Music live like students. (I was going to say pigs, but there’s nothing wrong with pigs. I’d rather share a workspace with pigs.) The insanitary state of the kitchen in the old Hub – our first point of contact between 6 Music and the outside world, including famous people – was a constant source of amazement to me. These are intelligent adults with jobs at the BBC who are, for some reason, physically incapable of swilling a mug out after use, or throwing out old Marks & Spencer dips before the point at which they start moving about. (No names, no pack drill, as I have no idea who cleaned up after themselves and who expected their mum to come round and do it.) I’m not getting into that now, but the same disregard for basic human decency spread to the studio itself, with mouldy mugs and bits of food and discarded DATs and chewed pens. This is, as the Specials once sang, the dawning of a new-ew-ew-ew era.
I love the new studio. It’s clean, it’s big, it’s ergonomically correct, it has a bigger window looking out on the control room, it has a better webcam, as I hope you can see, and the new playout system is – aside from a few bugs and a badly-conceived “search” – clear and inventive. My first Chart show went without a hitch. I was able to “seg” (segue) idents and trails into tracks without fuss, and the touch-screen jingles are a breeze. I also like the curve of the desk and the vastly adjustable chair. I also have four TVs. It makes you feel like Captain Kirk, which in so many ways you’re not. But as Jerry says, “My idea of the perfect living room would be the bridge of the Starship Enterprise: big chair, nice TV, remote control.”
As you can see, Leona is much further away, which slightly depersonalises the office gossip, and there is a lot more space hardware between the presenter and the rest of the world, but hey, it’s a small price to pay. Ironically, the studio smelt yesterday, because Roundtable and Craig Charles had obviously had a party in there on Friday: the bins were overflowing with beer cans, wine bottles and general shit. Leona had to clear it all away and put it all in a black bin bag and put it outside (obviously something those other intelligent adults were incapable of doing).
By the way, it looks like I am swigging from a bottle of orange in the last pic. I am not. I do not drink orange, as it is believed to aggravate asthma. What it is, in fact, is a bottle of a new drink I have discoverd called Firefly. They call this one “de-tox” (which doesn’t really need a hyphen), not something I am impressed by, but the drink is very refreshing: lemon, lime and ginger – it’s 66% water, with fruit juices and “botanical extracts”. The most important thing is that it comes in a glass bottle, which I can take home and refill with simple, filtered tapwater every day and take back out with me. I am against the bottled water industry. I am also against plastic bottles. Not all technological advance is good.
Oh, and the “coffee-making” station outside the studio has no sink. In many ways, this is infuriating, but at least it will stop people leaving mugs in it for their mums.
Happy Mother’s Day
Happy Mother’s Day to my mum. Here is a nice picture of her, taken in 1965 on the day of my christening.