Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hope for Upstart on Radio

Tom and I have come to the end of our time with Upstart on Radio. Our final meeting with Upstart Project Manager Shireen Badat and Rhodes Music Radio Station Manager Gugulethu Mahlangu left me feeling disappointed after all the work we have all put into the project. There is hope yet for this project but the sentiment was that the project has not managed to necessarily establish a workable and sustainable model for Upstart to be on radio. This is due to a few factors, but all may not be lost so bear with me as I take you through our debriefing session.

Things are looking up

Friday turned out better than I expected. I was in the Radio section of the Journalism Department at Rhodes University waiting for the Upstarters at 2.30pm as usual. They came in, one, two, three, four, five. I nearly got up from my seat to do a victory dance! All five of them had arrived for the first time in weeks. If you’ve been keeping up with the blog posts, you may be expecting there to be six members, but my colleague Tom and I heard from Shireen, Upstarts project manager, earlier in the week that our sixth member now has other commitments and can no longer attend. I’m happy to do a victory dance for five committed Upstarters. 
                                        Simakhele chatting to his guest

We spent Friday’s session preparing the Upstarters for the first two interviews that would be happening the next day. Bathabile and Aphiwe were scheduled to arrive with questions that they would be asking their interviewees the very next day. Aphiwe was scheduled to interview Shireen but she had indicated to him that she would be unavailable on Saturday at the time of the interview. So Simamkhele offered to do his interview.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lessons and reflections this week

This past week has been filled with lesson about communication. I’m beginning to feel a little like a blunt instrument in this service learning project, so I’m having to remind myself of the importance of service learning and why this project is important. I’m feeling this way because, again, we were unable to secure a full house of Upstarters. Granted, four out of six is a better number than the two or three that have been coming in the past few weeks but we’re at such a crucial stage of the project that it would be great if everything  was simply falling into place.

Monday, May 2, 2011

By many or by few

The past two weeks have been rather disappointing considering that two or three of the Upstarters showed up. This past Friday Xabiso and Reggie were the only two to arrive, while the weekend before the two of them showed along with Aphiwe. Our first show should ideally be this coming weekend, and if that’s going to happen, we as a team have a great deal to do if we’re going to make it come together. Let me walk you through what we did manage to do and my current thoughts.

Reggie and Xabiso searching through old Upstart editions for content.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Let the Production Begin

We had our first session for the term with the team last week Friday but had some more glitches. Also, with the long weekend coming up, there are some implications for our production and the day of sessions with the team. Let me take you though a few of the thing that occurred over the weekend with the Upstart Radio team.

The End of a Term

The first term has come to an end and I’d like to reflect on the a few things that have come out of the research phase. When we embarked on this project I remember thinking about how abstract it all felt. With every week, Tom and I have planned each session, but because this is still new to us and the Upstart team, we have been feeling our way through some of the research phase. Standing at the end of the first phase we now have a good sense of what we need to accomplish in the second phase that will be about implementing the things we have found out in the first phase.

Tom and Xabiso in the studio looking at the levels while someone records their radio talk

Monday, April 11, 2011

The one about Recording

Two weeks ago I wrote about the time constraints we were experiencing and how nervous this was making me. We have since then decided to meet both on Friday and Saturday and I think that this worked well. We did, however, meet with another minor glitch; two of the team members, Aviwe and Ncubeko, are no longer able to come to the Friday session. This means that they now miss out on an hour and a half of the work we do. I’m learning quickly that working with people does get complicated but there are always ways of working around the issues that arise. We decided that until we can find another solution, what we will do is continue with our Friday sessions as normal and give Aviwe and Ncubeko homework for the Friday session that they can send with friends. We will then spend Saturday helping them catch up the work that they may have missed on the Friday.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Writing for radio

This past Friday we met with the Upstart Radio team and began writing for radio. We asked them to write a radio script about someone important in their lives. The process began with a “free writing” exercise in which they wrote for a few minutes everything that came to their minds without raising their pens. We then played a few examples of some radio talks so that they would have an idea of how they should go about changing their free writing notes to a radio script that would be written for the ear. The team then began writing their scripts with assistance from Tom and me.

Reggie editing his script 

Monday, March 7, 2011

The beginning of something great

Last week we short listed ten of the Upstarters, based on essays that they had written for this purpose. On Wednesday, we called in the children who ended upon the short-list for an interview. I think that, for most of them this was probably the first time that they had to take part in an interview. And there was, of course, a fair amount at stake, since only six out of the short-list of ten would make it onto Upstart Radio! The whole time, I kept thinking about how I hated being the one who would crush their radio dreams.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Thoughts before the start

Our partnership with Upstart is finally beginning but until we actually meet the young people we will be working with, it all feels abstract. We’ve met with Shireen Badat, the Project manager of Upstart and Tom and I are making plans, but it’s all going rather slowly because we haven’t really begun doing the practical work.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This blog will be about the work that my partner Tom Sizeland and I produce in partnership with the young people from Upstart that will be selected as part of the radio team as well as Rhodes Music Radio. We will spend the first term planning the shows and the second part of the term in the production phase. Make sure you follow this blog so you can keep up with what we get up to.