Wednesday 15 September 2010

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire out in Huntingdon

If you went out in Huntingdon today, you bewared of a big surprise! As several of the blushing and giggling ladies around the market place found when Elvis followed and serenaded them as they walked by.

Elvis also metamorphosed into Amy Winehouse, a feature so shocking that I averted my camera to protect the lens. Yes, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire had hit the town and the shy but musical Johnny D was on the prowl for the Andie Harper Show!

I had braved the A14, passing one horrendous accident on the other carriageway on this ostensibly key European highway that is in dire need of improvement, on the suggest of the shows persuasive producer, Mark Williamson.

The objective was to talk positively about the town’s and Huntingdonshire’s businesses positively during a short interview, in my capacity as Chairerson of HBN (the Huntingdonshire Business Network).

Oh Facebook, you have a lot to answer for, for there was an instant flash of recognition from Andie as I rounded the corner into the bustling market square in the glorious sunshine.

When you have listened to the show for over a year almost every weekday and been part of the active Facebook friend group, it was a double pleasure to not only be recognised, but also made to feel that this really was part of a community.

Andie waved me in like a friendly boxer inviting a novice to the ring and, with a microphone in my face, the interview began. I presume I was coherent (I’ll have to check on i-player), but I do remember actually stemming my verbal diarrhoea sufficiently so that Andie could ask several questions – a big improvement on my previous interviews.

Importantly, we did get to emphasise the importance of the region’s business community and the help organisations such as HBN can give to small and micro businesses. BBC Radio Cambridgeshire has been doing a sterling job of talking to local businesses not just in the two main cities but also in the region’s market towns.

Adrenaline rush over, there was time to relax, take pictures and (enjoyably) join in the impromptu singing with Johnny - where I couldn’t decide to go for the castrato or deep base voice so merrily mixed between the two.

I also plucked up the courage to talk to the inestimable and seductively voiced Carol Carman, who coquettishly flirted with the camera holding the giant clock that kept the program and presenters to time.

A steady stream of visitors came, many old friends of the show, to have a chat with the presenters and sight-see the road show bus. A beautiful rescued racing dog was there to be petted as it stared at the activity through patient and soulful eyes.

The penalty of having been a scientist is that you have an ever constant curiosity as to how things work. Andy (not Andie) at the control desk in the bus gave me a brief introduction and reminded me of the practical realities of the speed of light (and therefore radio waves).

The signal from the bus was sent via a satellite dish on the bus, at a shallow angle just scraping over the encroaching buildings, to a satellite situated somewhere over Brazil. The signal was then bounced back to the BBC Cambridgeshire centre in Cambridge, a round trip of probably 70,000 miles. Consequently, with the additional electronic signal processing, the program was broadcast with a one second delay.

It was also a pleasure to see that the BBC was looking to nurture future talent by supporting Warwick University based Anna with some real work experience. Anna spoke of the real benefit of learning what was involved to run a radio show.

If you are a business person, be aware that publically owned broadcasters like the BBC cannot advertise. However, if you can make a valid and useful contribution from time to time due to your professional experience, this is really valued.

Therefore, whatever your situation, I thoroughly recommend anyone finding a local radio show, such as Radio Cambridgeshire and getting involved with their community, because ultimately it is your community too.

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