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Chilled Christmas

Christmas traditions can come in all shapes and sizes, whether it’s a snowball cocktail on Christmas Eve or getting out the Boxing Day board games to play with the family. For me every year meant I’d dig out some festive favourite songs for a Chilled Christmas on special on the radio. The time has flown by like Santa on his sleigh and it’s been three years since I last presented a programme… until now!

I gave up that side of things to concentrate on newsreading instead. 2018 will mark my 10th year in radio and up until I qualified as a broadcast journalist I’d presented a ‘chillout’ programme of mellow music every week on different radio stations in the North West.

This year I’m delighted to say that I’ll be back on the airwaves presenting a new ‘Chilled Christmas’ programme on BBC Radio Lancashire on Christmas Day from 17:00.

My love of radio began at the University of Manchester’s student radio station, Fuse FM. After I graduated, I transferred the programme to North Manchester FM. I was also on weeknights on the Stockport radio station Pure 107.8FM too. One of the highlights when I was presenting Chilled Pure on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day morning and I was on Santa Watch. It was magical and I jingled all the way.

Even though I’ve had almost a decade in the industry, I still have to pinch myself because I never imagined I could make a career out of it. I originally joined student radio as a way to bring out my confidence. People who work with me now will find it hard to believe, but I was actually quite shy!

After working with Fuse FM’s marketing team, I was persuaded to put a show proposal in and I thought I’d pitch a show of music that I knew well from my own collection and that’s how ‘The Chill Room’ was born.

Later down the line, I was advised by industry professionals that to specialise in a genre or a niché area of programming was a bad thing, if you want to become a radio presenter. I can understand why they said that because there are so few opportunities in that line of work nowadays. However, I just took a different route and broadcast journalism suits me. I think it has made me a more rounded broadcaster as a result. It serves as a reminder; there’s more than one way to achieve your ambitions.

It’s been great to put a ‘Chilled Christmas’ programme together again, this time to be broadcast on the BBC. It’s an hour of festive favourites and mellow versions of tracks you know, with some hidden gems there too. On the playlist there’s Lady Antebellum, Luther Vandross, Stacey Kent, The Stylistics and a new release from Kate Rusby’s latest Christmas album – to name but a few. Hopefully, it’ll be the perfect festive accompaniment, while all the rich food digests on Christmas Day!

What a pleasure it’s been to research the music again. The programme will also be sprinkled with some anecdotes from myself as well. And – you know me – they’ll be quirky! This year has been truly fantastic for me in every way, both professionally and personally. To have been given the chance to present a programme on BBC Radio Lancashire really has been the cherry on top of the cake… or should that be the brandy on top of the Christmas pudding??

I hope you can join me on BBC Radio Lancashire from 17:00 on Christmas Day for ‘Chilled Christmas’. It’ll be available on iPlayer for 30 days after too – in case you want to extend that festive cheer even further!

All that’s left to say is Merry Christmas to you! Thank you for reading my blog during 2017 and I wish you all the very best for the new year ahead.

2012 – A look back on my year…

As we begin a new year I’m looking back on what made 2012 so memorable for me. There have been far too many things to list in one post, so I’m going to do a Top of the Pops style look back on my top three milestones of last year. (If you want to read my blog’s annual report then Click Here.)

3) Chilled Pure on Pure 107.8 FM

pure black smallI was listening on the day that Pure 107.8 FM was launched across Stockport in 2005 but would have never imagined (bad choice of word!?) that my voice would be on its airwaves. Now I have my own slot on the radio station that broadcasts to my home town and it’s a dream come true for me. I’ve been involved with the station in many different ways over the past three years – from wearing the panda suit to the end of year parties – it’s been great!

To be given the chance to present the Chilled Pure slot on the station was a great honour for me, not only because I appear on the schedule alongside seasoned broadcasters, but also because I get to play the easy-listening music that I’m passionate about.

I loved broadcasting on Christmas Eve into Christmas day; it was the icing on the cake for me to be on “Santa Watch” across the Stockport sky last year. I look forward to presenting more Chilled Pure weeknights from midnight in 2013!

2) Making Mental Health Positive

MMHP - new yearIt might seem obvious but one of the best things about community radio is that it puts you in touch with some of the wonderful things that happen in your local area. Through my Chill Room show on North Manchester FM a listener, Dawn Perry, got in touch to tell me about her Making Mental Health Positive campaign and during 2012 I’ve enjoyed getting involved with this.

I’m the campaign’s media co-ordinator and part of the admin team that moderate the Facebook page, which acts as an online peer-to-peer support network. To see content featured on my radio shows have an impact in the community as well as a positive affect on people’s lives is wonderful. The campaign’s monthly meet and create events have been a success at The Lowry last year and these are continuing in 2013. With the campaign’s member count growing every day we go into the New Year outreaching to more people than ever.

1) Broadcast Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

The turning point in my year came in September when I enrolled onto the Broadcast Journalism masters course at UCLan. Journalism had been a career path I’d considered for a long time but taking the plunge and starting the course was the best decision I made in 2012.

galleryMy family’s roots are in Lancashire so I’ve enjoyed exploring Red Rose County and getting to know the people in the area, especially in a year as special as the Preston Guild. Being a broadcast journalist means that I’ve had the opportunity to meet people and try out things that I would’ve never had chance to otherwise. I love the spontaneity of it; no two days are ever the same. I’ve met the man who designed a Preston CityScape out of MDF wood, sparred in a Blackpool Boxing Gym as well as eaten a battered mince pie…. and that’s just some of the places where my reports took me last year!

When I write my review of what a year 2013 has been, I will have graduated. It’ll be interesting to see what I’ll be doing then and look back at how I got there. I’m dedicated to my career and determined to achieve my dream of becoming a broadcast journalist. I know this year’s going to be hard work but it will also be exciting. I hope you’ll stay with me and follow my blog throughout 2013.

To be continued…


Making Mental Health Positive

I find one of the things I enjoy most about radio is the opportunities it gives me to meet many interesting and inspirational people. Dawn Perry would be included way up at the top of this list; we first got in touch after she listened to my shows on North Manchester FM and contacted me about promoting her Facebook page: Making Mental Health Positive.

The campaign is about eliminating discrimination and the societal stigma that surrounds mental health issues, providing a platform to encourage self-help through positive peer-to-peer discussion. It has been uplifting to see the page progress from its formation into a thriving social media community, with well over 1,700 members based all over the world and growing. Health and wellbeing issues have a strong community connection because it is something that is universal and could potentially affect anyone.

My background working in the area of mental health spans back quite a few years to when I worked for the charity Anxiety UK as their media liaison officer. I started at around about the same time that I became involved in student radio. The combination of the two sparked my interest in music therapy, especially to aid relaxation. Over the years ‘Chillout’ is a musical genre that I have become synonymous with, rolling out the format I developed to radio stations across Greater Manchester.

Working for Anxiety UK taught me about meditation, mindfulness and self-hypnosis techniques that I have since incorporated into my lifestyle. My work here let me explore these interests deeper as well as helping others and promoting the many case studies of recovery that were used in the media. Years later, when Dawn approached me with her Making Mental Health Positive campaign we already had common ground as Dawn had been a member of Anxiety UK on their mentor programme.

It’s been a privilege to be involved with the campaign; to watch it progress and see the positive affect that it has on members. I’m glad that I can use my broadcasting experience to give the campaign a voice and spread the word about the good it does for the local community and beyond. Now not only a virtual social media page, the campaign has a strong presence within the North-West, partnered with The Lowry in Salford Quays. Meet and create groups are being set up, using the arts as a stimulus to bring people together and creatively helping end mental health discrimination. The first meeting will be delivered by Stich Art textile artist Joanne Walker on Sunday the 22nd of July. The August workshop will focus on photography and September’s will use the art of drama.

To hear my report from a recent campaign strategy meeting CLICK HERE.

The team hard at work(!) in last month’s strategy meeting.