When an event as tragic as the Manchester bombing takes place the world stops and watches. This is an insight into my day as a radio producer from 23rd May 2017, a day after the Manchester bombing.
I’ve held off posting this until now as it didn’t seem appropriate to do that so close to the event, or the ones which followed it in the UK which also saw loss of life. I would also note that this isn’t a post to glorify what has happened or the show, but hopefully a useful guide for programme makers and those interested in the media of what happens in a production house when something so tragic like this happens.
To give this post some context, Tuesday afternoons on Premier Christian Radio are usually great fun. They feature a quiz, the review panel and the Chart Company ‘Official Christian and Gospel Albums Chart’ countdown.
Documented below is the overhaul of what is usually a bright radio programme, into one that gives news updates, thoughts and reflections. Compared to those that have suffered at the hands of this tragic situation, I am insignificant. My hope is that Manchester will rebuild, unite together, and stand taller.
Premier Drive – 23rd May 2017
Last night, Monday the 22nd of May, a suicide bomber killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. It’s one of the biggest attacks since the London 7/7 bombings in the UK.
I left my role as producer on Monday evening with a clear idea of what was happening the following day; who was on the show and what music I wanted to play during Premier Drive.
This morning I drove into work to the news that the bomb had gone off in Manchester. Having lived there for a short period of time, my heart sunk for those involved.
Even as I walked in to the studios at 07:30 there were coordinated bids for people in Manchester to tell us what they saw, how they have reacted to the news and what people can do to help. It’s at moments like this that everything gets put aside and you dive through your contacts to see how you can make an already difficult situation for those on air easier to deliver a programme.
As the day continues and people begin waking up, you start receiving new information and accounts of what people are doing to assist those in need in the city; how they are helping the emergency services, and once again you begin to relay this fresh insight to the audience.
By time the afternoon arrived and Premier Drive (the show I produce) is ready to go, Loretta, who presents the programme, and I had to make sure we were on point with what we were doing in every item that has been replaced. Owing to the 3pm start of the show, there was very little fresh information to work with and most spokespeople and contacts available at the start of the day have been exhausted.
Between us we overhauled the show, giving deep thought into how we could reflect what had happened. We were also conscious of who our audience was at certain points in the show – parents on the school run at 3pm, children on their way home from school from 3:30; office workers from 4 and people hitting the road and finishing work at 5.
Here’s how the afternoon show played out on Premier Christian Radio:
15:00 -News headlines, followed by a recap of the events in Manchester with reflections and prayers from faith leaders from the city and across the UK.
15:10 – How should you talk to your children when world events like this take place? We chat to the founder of Captivated Mums charity in Manchester about how she spoke to her children this morning about what had happened, and how she would chat to them about what they had heard in the playground. We were very concious that this interview could be heard by children too and therefore recorded it to make sure it wouldn’t add any more fear to what was an already stressful situation.
15:40. – The leader of Kings Church Manchester talks about the days events and how the city will be uniting at a vigil later.
16:00 – Senior Pastor of Audacious Church in Manchester – 200 yards from the Manchester Arena – recalls the events of last night and how they had been working with the emergency services through the day supplying information, and a place of shelter, comfort and rest for those in need.
16:20 – One of the world’s leading terror therapist experts chats about how people either directly or indirectly affected by the attack can begin to move on from the events, along with some tips for those who are feeling particularly drained by recent world events.
16:40 – Reflections and thoughts from The Bishop of Manchester.
17:00 – Jamie Cutteridge, A youth and children’s worker, reflects on how we can chat to young people about world events.
17:20 At this point the show has to refer back to something it does regularly does; The Official Christian and Gospel Albums Chart from The Official Charts Company. It usually starts at 17:00 but owing to the events we condensed it down to 3 mins and a play of a song from the #1 album.
17:40 – The show begins the hand over to the news team who do their daily round up of the day’s events.
17:45 – Show ends
The importance of teamwork in a production environment is never more evident than when a major world event occurs. None of the above could have happened without a dedicated production team of journalists, broadcasters and producers working together to bring decisive and informative news and updates to the people of Manchester and the UK.
Manchester Evening News and The Red Cross have set up a JustGiving page to help support the families in the aftermath of the attack. Click here to donate.