Making radio from homePublished Sunday, 5th April, 2020
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When I shared my last update, the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis was still a tragedy happening in a country with little resemblance to ours, millions of miles away. Today, in the UK, we're faced with thousands of fresh cases and the prospect of hundreds of deaths each day. There's a lot of suffering and despair in the world right now, not just from those afflicted with the virus but also from small businesses that have shuttered and people whose lives have dramatically changed.
But I also see a lot of hope. I see people mucking in and helping out locally, I see new businesses – and new ways of doing business – rise from the ashes of old ones.
It might surprise some of you that I am an investor in a few independent businesses and, although the honey company I invest in has been hampered by the closure of the hospitality industry, and the beer business by the closure of gastropubs, I'm proud to report they're both doing well, taking care of their staff, and continuing to operate online. Support them, and your own local enterprises, if you can.
I'm probably one of the exceptionally lucky ones in this crisis, managing to actually save some money due to the fact my £600-a-month season ticket habit is temporarily paused. I've been sharing some of that spare cash with Age UK – who are doing a great job supporting elderly people who are most at-risk at this time – and The Trussell Trust – who run food banks up and down the country.
This crisis has also highlighted to me that humankind has the power to make significant change very quickly. We know in the face of immediate crises what needs to be done. Already, we see forms of community democracy and grassroots action starting to spring and I see an increased sense of autonomy among individuals and communities who are able to make their own decisions in the presence of slow moving professional advice. My hope, when this whole thing is over, is that we can turn this action into lasting system change.
The fear we are all experiencing today is a revelatory one – it's of vulnerability and frailty – but it's important to remember that whatever you're doing to help, whether it's staying in or fighting on the frontline, helping in hospitals or shopping responsibly in supermarkets, sharing information online or in your community, we all have a part to play.
I've been trying my best to play my part... As schools shut their gates for what could be the last time this academic year, Fun Kids – the UK's children's radio station that I work for – moved up a gear. I'm producing and editing a daily kids podcast called Stuck at Home.
You can get Stuck at Home in all of your usual apps from Apple Podcasts and Spotify to Google Podcasts and, for the first time for an active podcast created by a commercial radio station, you can also discover a special version created for BBC Sounds.
Shutting the office has turned me on to ways of working that I probably wouldn't have tried. Earlier in the month, I shared some of my favourite creative tools in a post titled Weapons of Mass Creation – you can read it at /weapons – but I've found a few to be vital for working from home:
- Slack and Zoom for communication (even though Zoom faces questions over its end-to-end encryption claims)
- Cleanfeed for high quality remote recording; we're using it at Fun Kids to record Stuck at Home and The Week Junior Show
- Dropshare for sharing files with people quickly and CloudMounter, which lets you mount services like Dropbox as if they were hard drives
In the absence of a professional soundproofed studio, I've been using a Shure MV88 microphone plugged into my iPhone with a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35's to monitor the sound. It's what I am using to record my podcast, under a bunch of duvets!
Let me know your favourite tools for working from home by dropping me a tweet (I'm @admstnr) or by emailing me by tapping here.
Now that so many of us find ourselves working in places that were previously very not-work, I think having fun and interesting hobbies to separate those times are important. Spring is here and I've begun planting up my VegTrug. I'm growing onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and, as always, chillies from the fantastic people at the South Devon Chilli Farm.
Although I grow every year, I was inspired to get a move-on by Dave Erasmus – a longterm mentor of mine – who mentioned the importance of growing food in a video on his YouTube channel.
I've also picked up my ukulele for the first time in a few months, strumming some tunes every now-and-then to help break up the day. I'll spare you a video of that, but you can hear a little in the podcast version of this newsletter – tap here to subscribe.
Wherever you may be, I hope you're safe and well and manage to find that all important space and time for yourself.
That's all for this month.
Stay in touch.