Tucked away in the heart of Barnstaple lies The Voice studios. We knocked on a black door painted with stickers titled 'The Voice, North Devon's truly local radio station'. Out came Paul Hopper, who was in the middle of his breakfast show. He greeted Amanda McCormack and I majestically and whisked us up a flight of stairs to where the action happens. To our left was a multi-use 'office' where Paul Andrews was sat studying what seemed like a complex computer programme. Also in this large room was Daryl Monnart who was at a mixing desk and mic - which they call studio 2 - cutting some audio clips. Lest we forget the resembling presence of coffee and tea!
Before long, it was time to enter the alive atmosphere inside studio 1 - where the presenters broadcast from. Paul Hopper was sat in the reflection of a red sign which read 'On Air' as he spoke in his warming voice to North Devon. By this point, it had just gone 10am and Paul was preparing to invite Ro Richardson from the North Devon Theaters Trust into the studio for her weekly update on the arts scene in north Devon. At the press of a button, Paul resumed the pre-set playlist of songs for his show whilst Ro entered the studio.
After Ro had finished her interview with Paul, she spoke to us about how she feels about The Voice. As she headed back to the workplace, 'Rock God Ali' entered the building and spoke to us alongside Daryl about their acoustic rock show and about how they feel about the local community radio station.
As Martin King took over from Paul Hopper with his localised magazine show at 11am, we caught Paul Andrews alongside Hopps for an interview in which we delved beneath the skin of The Voice. It was astounding at how determined and passionate every presenter was about the local radio station. They made it clear that developing the station to this point has been an uphill struggle and the hard work does not stop now. It is just as difficult keeping the station afloat as it is establishing it.
Above all, everyone involved in The Voice - who are all volunteers - believe in a radio station right at the heart of North Devon's community.
Ewan Somerville, 13/3/14
On our second and final day of shooting, it was time to discover what North Devon's people thought about local radio in our community.
Amanda McCormack, Claire Hickson and I headed into Green Lanes Shopping Center to film 'vox pops' which are simply people being concisely interviewed. Our roles consisted of me as questioner and recording sound, Amanda filming and questioning and Claire asking passers by for an interview and to sign an interview release form.
It was just past 11am and Claire had already reeled in an 18 year-old student, closely followed by a younger couple and then some older members of the community. The range of ages and genders of people that agreed to be on camera were fantastic.
There was a stage in filming at Green Lanes, however, where Claire was receiving consecutive rejection from people as they didn't want to be on camera. This was a shame, but understandable at the same time. Despite this, the spirit lifted again as we approached midday. We captured an elderly couple on camera that spoke about how they like hearing music from the 60s and 70s on the radio, and they believed that The Voice played this type of music all the time. Likewise, a middle aged woman told us that she liked to hear a variation of music on the radio and she thought The Voice played this variation. It was fascinating to discover how the range of music people enjoyed varied so vastly between the generations.
One older man said "I can't understand what these youths of today in the music industry are saying! That's why I like listening to the music from when I was 16 and 17 - the music where I can hear the words."
It was also insightful to discover that an overwhelmingly high number of people in Barnstaple still thought that Heart was the local radio station for north Devon, and had never heard of The Voice. Heart FM cut its independent station in North Devon and began broadcasting as a regional station in Exeter on 27 August 2010 as part of a proposal from Global Radio, which owns Heart, to reduce the number of Heart stations nationally from 33 to 16. Once we told people about The Voice, however, they liked the idea of hearing about North Devon traffic and travel rather than the Toroint Ferries service.
Just before we left Green Lanes, we got a great interview with a young American pair who told us about their thoughts on local radio in American communities.
Once we had finished in Green Lanes, Amanda, Claire and I refueled in Boston Tea Party before heading out into the glorious sunshine and blue sky to get some shots around Barnstaple.
To begin our short session of afternoon filming, I did a link on camera in Barnstaple high street in front of Green Lanes. We did several takes on this as I realised that, for the first few takes, the microphone was on standby and not recording!
We then shot some movement clips around Barnstaple before heading home nice and early to enjoy the sunshine!
Ewan Somerville, 13/3/14
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