Radio retro

Published in notes, radio.

My home recording studio setup

One of the few good things about pandemic lockdown for me was that it gave me more time to think about radio shows, and more time to practice making them.

Consequently, I spent quite a lot of time thinking about radio this year. I wrote a short piece about it.

I’ve still got much to learn, but I’m trying to listen more closely to broadcasters whose work I enjoy and admire: Gideon Coe, Don Letts, Mary Anne Hobbs, Zaph Mann, Ben Ward, Nemone, the Late Junction team, and loads more. I listen to how they say things, how often they say things, creative ideas they have for interesting things to say.

I try to remember some of those things.

Because of the pandemic, I’m recording my radio shows at home using a very amateurish and makeshift set-up (pictured above). I don’t have the skill, time or patience to edit recordings, so I record each show as if it was live, in one take. I leave the mistakes in, just as you’d hear them if I really was in the studio.

So far, I think I’ve learned these things:

  • I need to slow down a bit, I rush from one tune to the next too much
  • I need to allow more time for prep, and make sure I have written notes to refer to. I’m not too bad at improvising my between-song patter, but sometimes I forget something really basic and find myself umming and ahhing as I desperately try to recall it
  • I need to get some advice from a technical expert to improve my set-up; having some faders would be a great improvement but I don’t know what kit to buy, or how to connect it all together

Fingers crossed, later in 2021 I’ll be able to return to a studio again and do things properly.


Up and down again

Published in photo diary, walking.

K and I went for a lockdown-appropriate walk around some bits of Bath, basically repeating my mostly up and mostly down walk from a while back.

Bath Abbey is all lit up for the festive season, in a variety of bright colours, including PINK.


Unreel #17 – 2020 retrospective

Published in radio.

Broadcast date: 28 December 2020

Listen again. Spotify playlist.

  • Baby it’s you, by London Grammar
  • Hostages, by The Howl & The Hum
  • Tried to tell me something, by Wesley Gonzalez
  • Arpeggi, by Kelly Lee Owens
  • Held down, by Laura Marling
  • Final days, by Michael Kiwanuka
  • House music all night long, by JARV IS
  • Beautiful boy, by Gillian Welch
  • Paris, by Saint Saviour
  • School, by Four Tet
  • Dream distortion, by Daniel Avery
  • Articulation, by Rival Consoles
  • .-…-..—.— by ..-..-….-..
  • August, by Taylor Swift
  • Anxiety, by IDLES
  • Cat’s pyjamas, by Caro
  • Sad cowboy, by Goat Girl
  • Gum, by Hannah’s Little Sister
  • Simulation, by Roisin Murphy
  • Meet again, by LP Giobbi
  • Old enough, by Cinder Well
  • You’ve changed I’ve changed, by Ben Watt
  • I don’t know where I’m going but that’s okay, by Sarya


Tab clear-out

Published in web.

(I have a lot of time for talking dog videos)


Mainly moss

Published in photography.

Went for a walk, looking for something to photograph. Found a variety of mosses.


Twinkly lights in Bath

Published in photography.


70s singalong special

Published in radio.

70s singalong logo

Broadcast date: 24 December 2020

Listen again. Spotify playlist.

A festive one-off show I recorded because it seemed like a good idea. The mic settings were a bit off so, keep expectations low.

  • September, by Earth Wind & Fire
  • Hot stuff, by Donna Summer
  • So lonely, by The Police
  • Radio, radio by Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  • Gangsters, by The Specials
  • You should be dancing, by Bee Gees
  • Making plans for Nigel, by XTC
  • It’s too late, by Carole King
  • You’re so vain, by Carly Simon
  • Jolene, by Dolly Parton
  • Escape, by Rupert Holmes
  • I’m a believer, by Neil Diamond
  • Gotta get up, Harry Nilsson
  • Changes, by David Bowie
  • Hanging on the telephone, by Blondie
  • Don’t you worry ’bout a thing, by Stevie Wonder
  • You can get it if you really want it, Jimmy Cliff
  • Let it be, by The Beatles
  • Go your own way, by Fleetwood Mac
  • Daddy cool, by Boney M
  • Are friends electric? by Tubeway Army
  • I don’t like Mondays, by Boomtown Rats
  • Crazy little thing called love, by Queen
  • Chiquitita, by Abba
  • My sweet lord, by George Harrison
  • Don’t bring me down, by Electric Light Orchestra
  • Lola, by The Kinks
  • Nobody does it better, by Carly Simon
  • I feel love, by Donna Summer

Festive decs

Published in life.

We’ve toned down our festive decorations this year. Less bling, less pizazz; mainly just greenery from the garden, some candles, and a small scattering of baubles in appropriate places.


Unreel #16 – Unfestive

Published in radio.

Text "Unfestive" over an image of a dreary supermarket car park

A seasonal special, playing the Christmas songs you hear less often.

Broadcast date: 21 December 2020

Listen again. Spotify playlist.

  • Hark the herald angels sing (live), The Fall
  • Just like Christmas, Low
  • Rill rill, Sleigh Bells
  • Taking down the tree, Tracey Thorn & Green Gartside
  • O come O come Emmanuel, Sufjan Stevens
  • Frosty the snowman, Cocteau Twins
  • Santa’s beard, They Might Be Giants
  • It doesn’t often snow at Christmas, Pet Shop Boys
  • Little drummer boy, Dandy Warhols
  • Snow girl, Haircut 100
  • I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus, Ska Santas
  • Santa Claus go straight to the ghetto, James Brown
  • It’s clichéd to be cynical at Christmas, Half Man Half Biscuit
  • White winter hymnal, Fleet Foxes
  • One Christmas wish, The Priscillas

Projects 25-44

Published in work.

So, yeah. That was a year.

Just a few weeks before the first lockdown in March, I stepped down from my role at Public Digital and tweeted about having some availability. Loads of people responded and got in touch – and right after that, the pandemic hit.

I was nervous about this change at first, but I needn’t have been. Work-wise, 2020 has been more varied, more interesting and more exciting than most.

I’ve worked with more clients, on more projects, on a wider variety of things, than at any point since I set up Use the human voice back in 2017. All the way from project 25 to project 44, in fact. That’s the most projects I’ve ever managed in a single year.

Public Digital kindly kept me on as a member of their network of freelancers and friends, which meant I was able to help out with a number of really interesting projects, including:

Loads more happened beyond PD as well. As always, some of it has to remain under commercial wraps, but I can mention:

All that, plus a number of smaller or more secret jobs in between. It’s been incredibly busy, which has many many hundreds of video calls. I decided to rent an office and I’m really pleased that I did. Having a dedicated work space is definitely something I want to continue after the pandemic.

People are so lovely

We’re all having a shitty year this year, whatever our circumstances. Everyone’s fed up and miserable. Everyone just wants it to end, and it will end; but possibly not for many more months, or even another year. It’s a hard slog, but slog through it we will.

I’ve reached the end of this year with an overwhelming sense of gratefulness. I’m grateful to my family for slogging through it together. Grateful to colleagues for helping me with difficult projects. Grateful to friends who offered a sympathetic ear when I needed to moan.

Grateful to all the people, especially loved ones, who wear a mask and stay away, and don’t mind me doing the same.

Grateful that I’ve had a good year, professionally speaking, with lots of variety and interest and wonderful people to talk to in video calls.

Soon, we’ll be talking in actual rooms again. Soon-ish.

The story so far:

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