Aquib Hossain, a participant of our first round of the Broadcast Training Programme, tells us about the tour of Radio 1Xtraby
Everyone sees what happens after these words are said, but haven’t you ever wondered what goes on before these famous words are uttered? I know I have, so after hearing that I’d be touring the BBC Headquarters, I was eager to have my questions answered.
From the moment I stepped in, I was engulfed into one of the busiest atmospheres one could find in London; there’s news floating in the air, live music playing in the speakers, and people constantly running in and out of the building. It was exciting, insightful and exceptionally motivational. (It appeared that if you’re not busy doing something here then why are you even in the premises?)
My team’s faces were gleaming with amazement as we looked around; the tall pillars in and around the building was reminiscent of an old royal building but refurbished to meet the 21st century’s style, the transparent glass walls gave off a welcoming vibe as if the BBC were showing us that they had nothing to hide but in fact were sharing it all.
Although this wasn’t my first time in the billion-pound building, it didn’t stop it feeling like the first time again. The BBC has this very special way of making visitors feel like a part of their world. We were kindly welcomed by our tour guide who took us all the way up to the 8th floor where Radio 1Xtra station is based. As we went up the elevator we had a bird’s eye view of all the buzzing journalists and reporters scuffling through files and answering or making phone calls and in my opinion (much like the 24/7 news that they report) it was very clear that the workers here don’t get much sleep.
At Radio 1Xtra, we were instantly met by Miguel’s harmonious voice through the speakers. The tour guide had ‘casually’ explained that Miguel was just finishing a cover for Live Lounge, as all multi-platinum selling artists do, just another day at the BBC, clearly. The staff were visibly not fazed by this but as visitors and some fans amongst the group, this was crazy! It was clear though, that to work here, you don’t have time to fanboy on artists.
We were taken through the hallway and working space of Radio 1Xtra. This area was mainly occupied by younger people sitting at their desks editing something, typing an email or pacing to and from their workspace. As we walked through I couldn’t help but think to myself that “I belong here” - the energy in the room was as addictive as that first sip of coffee in the morning, you just want more. Our first look at one of the inside landmarks of the building was the Live Lounge room, we entered minutes after Miguel had left. As the crew were just unwiring things, moving instruments and stacking up chairs, we were told that the likes of The Arctic Monkeys, Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars and many more had all performed in this very room, and if that doesn’t blow your mind then I don’t know what will!
As our tour guide was explaining more things about the room, a freelance worker by the name of Shak had kindly introduced himself and gave us a quick insight into how he joined the BBC. He explained that he had done a summer internship and had left such an impression that he was called back to see if he was available to do extra tasks for the BBC. His main points to us all was that to be a part of this hub you need to have a strong drive, fierce passion and a relentless amount of dedication, and once you have that, everything will be smooth sailing. I found that extremely helpful as it made me realise that we all have something within ourselves that can be pushed beyond our normal expectations and journey onto something spectacular. Before we moved on to the next segment of the tour we all grouped around the Live Lounge banner and took a cheesy touristy photo, like one big happy family!
Our continued tour of Radio 1Xtra led us to their studios. Here we were given an in-depth look at how a presenter may set up the studio to their personal preference. The mics could be adjusted in any direction and the lights could be changed to set any type of mood, depending on the show and what the presenter wants. From there on we were shown multiple other studios for different shows, such as Asian Network and more.
The next part of the tour showed us where celebrities or interviewees would wait until they were called in. The tour guide mentioned that they specifically set up this area so that before anyone goes live on the air they feel relaxed and at ease. One of the things that they did to ensure their relaxation was to have a couple of TV’s and Playstation’s set up, which I thought was a nice touch which added to the chill factor of this area.
Towards the end of the tour, we were given a feedback sheet. Apparently, this was something new the BBC were testing out and wanted to hear our thoughts, so we all gave our personal opinions about the tour and experience. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it and now more than ever was convinced that I want to work here one day. As we were wrapping up, our tour guide had given us the opportunity to ask any questions we had on our minds, such as “how do we join the team?", “what is the ideal candidate?” etc. She was kind enough to give us all the answers we needed and even gave us tips on how to complete a successful application. And to add a cherry to the cake, we were all given a Radio 1Xtra goodie bag that came with a lanyard - giving me a glimpse into what I believe will be my future workplace.
The whole experience was something that I think anybody would find engaging. The BBC is a fine example of a community of like-minded and hardworking people that want to share news and creativity to the world. And that is all clearly shown in all their shows, whether it be radio or television. The workers are a true reflection on the quality that the BBC share with the world, and I had a first-hand look at that on this tour.
And that’s a wrap guys!