How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain; Part 210.

04Nov15

A tsunami wiped out a radio station newsroom on the Dorset coast.

In 2004, I was the Program Director at 2CR FM in Bournemouth. In the run up to Christmas, one of the sales people kept telling everyone in the office how many weeks and days it was till his holiday in Thailand. Alan was a big presence at the radio station, loud, chatty and flamboyant. The place got a lot quieter a few days before Christmas when he actually set off on his trip.

On Boxing Day, I came into work and was shocked to hear the news that a tsunami had devastated a large part of Thailand. I went into our newsroom and the news director and I gazed at the pictures coming in on the television. I said to her, “Have you called Alan?” What she said next shocked me. She said, “Alan from sales? Why would I call him?” I said, “BECAUSE HE’S IN THAILAND!” She had no idea he was even there. How could anyone in that radio station not know where Alan was? Most of us had got sick of hearing about his holiday!

The problem was caused by the way 2CR was set up at the time. While everyone else shared one large office, the journalists inhabited a separate newsroom. They came up the stairs to the first floor every day and instead of turning right into the open plan office, they turned left into their domain. That’s where they stayed until the end of their shift when they again avoided everyone else and went back down the stairs.

I freaked out, how could the people who were paid to know what was going on in the world, not know what was going on in the building? What else were they unaware of? It went beyond missing the opportunity to talk to a man on the ground where the world’s biggest news story was unfolding. The stuff people talk about in our workplace is the same stuff people talk about in our listeners workplaces. We had an on-site focus group that could give us a steer on what news stories were relevant but because the news team lived in their own bubble, they were just guessing.

I decided there and then to close the newsroom and move the news team into the open plan office with the rest of us. It took a little while and a lot of opposition from the news team but I made it happen. Alan, by the way, was perfectly safe. The Thai resort he was staying at was nowhere near the area affected by the tsunami.

So Alan survived the tsunami, the newsroom didn’t.

Craic on!

Listen to the latest Mack Nuggets at;

http://www.mackmedia.co.uk/8th-mack-nuggets-audio-video

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link. If you’d like to talk to me about it, call me on +44 1438 422106 between 6 and 9 weekday mornings (UK time) on BOB fm.

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