Radio: In Tune Suzy Klein Freya Hellier BBC Radio 3

The last time I was in Studio 80a, it was with a good friend filming the Proms piano duets.

Back then I remember looking over at the table seemingly squashed against the back wall and thinking what an odd experience it must be for anyone lucky enough to be asked on to BBC Radio 3’s In Tune. Intimate radio surely should be done in an intimate space, shouldn’t it? The In Tune studio appeared then as though it was being done in the radio equivalent of a school gymnasium, as if that was the only available space left.

Studio 80a is large for one very important reason. There are live performances (pretty much) every day of the week. Live performances need a big space. When there are performers in the studio, the table needs to be positioned carefully, ideally in front of the control room window. So on those occasions when there are no live performances in the schedule, the rest of studio can seem rather large. The programme oddly positioned into an unloved and forgotten corner.

I know all this now because – quite unexpectedly – I ended up appearing on In Tune this evening.

First alerted at around 1pm this afternoon by the same friend who helped film the piano duets – “You’re going to be called by Radio 3” – I was a little taken aback by being invited on. The invitation was in connection with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment pub tour gigs I’m presenting at the moment.

To be honest, I felt like a fraud. Just like I do when I stand up on stage. I see how a ‘presenter’ or an ‘MC’ is probably useful, but I always feel as though my contribution is extraneous. What people are going for – what people are justifiably and in some cases unwittingly in awe of – are the performers.

Rightly so. The performances I’ve seen over the first two gigs have taken my breath away at a moment in time when I’ve felt really quite stressed (that in itself a strange thought given that the gig isn’t about me, it’s about the performers). In those moments I’ve been both ‘on stage’ and a member of the audience at the same moment in time. A special and a weird experience.

So, to then be ‘on the radio’ (something I’ve pursued, achieved momentarily and longed for more as a result) talking about an event I play a nominal role in seemed like a bit of a swizz.

All very laudable to say now. All very charming.

Newsflash. I LOVED IT. Not least because what happened before I went into Studio 80a struck me as borderline punk rock.

https://twitter.com/#!/thoroughlygood/statuses/165486941696045056

Listen to In Tune via the BBC iPlayer – the bit you’re interested in (sorry, the bit I’m interested in you listening to) is at 1hr 15minutes in. Or you can listen via the AudioBoo clip below.

In Tune BBC Radio 3 Friday 3 February 2012 (mp3)

The perfect antidote

It’s not been the greatest day, it has to be said.

For reasons I can’t – professionally speaking – go into, it’s been really quite demanding too.

But at 3pm this afternoon I sat down at my new desk (it’s different from the ‘new desk‘ I thought I had last Friday), bashed in the URL for BBC Radio 3 and stumbled a promotion for this lovely lady. Her smiley face was irresistible.

I clicked through and stumbled on a link to a clip. “Tomorrow” seemed apt given the announcements at work. I listened to a jovial exchange between erudite bon viveur Sean Rafferty (a broadcasting gem) and singer Idina Menzel and went weak at the knees. They were having fun, it seemed.

And then Idina sang. And when she did – just for a moment – the clouds parted. I had a window on one of those moments that reminds me of what makes the organisation I work for something to be proud of.

Listen to Idina sing Tomorrow. It will make you cry (blubbing is a good thing). And when the clip expires on the BBC website, rest reassured you’ll still be able to hear it here (unless of course Radio 3 Controller Roger Wright calls me to demand I take it down).

Idina Menzel sings Tomorrow on In Tune on @bbcradio3 (mp3)

Free Thinking Festival 2010: Speed Dating

The speed dating event is always fun at the Free Thinking Festival. It’s noisy. Bustling. Vibrant. It’s a spectacle. There are always people smiling.

Present day transparency
The Radio 3 Horn

If you’re still needing the idea explained, here’s how it works. There are thinkers and thinkees. Groups of thinkees sit around a thinker and listen to them posit on somesuch for a minute or so. The thinker’s proposition can be about anything. For the remaining few minutes the thinkees are sat with that thinker, questions can be asked and arguments challenged. Then, after a few minutes The Radio 3 Horn is honked (only specially trained BBC people can use it – I can’t, I’m not allowed) and thinkees move on to the next thinker.

Then, when all the thinkees have heard all the thinker’s propositions, scores are totalled up and the winner announced.

And, in a development from previous years, the winning thinker – this year, Natalie Haynes defending Latin – gets to trot out their thought in a special reprise surrounded by the thinkees. You know, just like the Eurovision winner gets to reprise their song at the end of the scoring. Nice.

See host Ian McMillan explain to Louise Walter what the Speed Dating event is all about in this video report from last year’s Free Thinking Festival.

Free Thinking Festival 2010: Matthew Sweet

Think for a moment about the last man standing. The caretaker who hovered around the school. The same man you knew remained in the building long after the kids had gone home. Nobody wanted that job. Nobody wanted to be left after everyone else had gone home. What a lonely prospect.

So it is with lovely Mr Sweet. After all the Free Thinkers have gone home after a frightfully couple of days spent thinking and gassing and wotnot, so Matthew remains at the helm of ship steering us through some of the highlights of the Free Thinking Festival.

I felt rather sorry for him when I spoke to him earlier on this afternoon, so much so I momentarily forgot about my splitting headache and flagging energy levels.

:: The Free Thinking Festival kicks off on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 7 November and is available on BBC iPlayer for 7 days afterwards. Broadcasts continue throughout the week and right up until Christmas.