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We caught up with Bailrigg FM’s station manager (Theo) about how Lancaster University’s radio station has been coping so far this year. He told us about the good and bad of Covid as well as his opinion on the best Christmas song.
How is Bailrigg coping so far this year?
That’s a big question, it has been mixed. When the exec was elected, we all thought that we may be back at University for summer term. We really thought we would have time to get the shows running again before June but obviously, that didn’t happen.
We have done a lot in the meantime. We set up remote broadcasting and have been pushing podcasting. It is a blessing that we can still operate while other societies can’t. We could have just given up but the exec has overcome every challenge and hurdle so far so why stop? We are still going and still operating. Bailrigg can outlast Covid.
So yeah, it’s been better than some but worse than others. Either way, I am proud of how we have coped.
How did it feel returning in September?
As a student, I was so happy to return. I was just happy to see my friends, even with the restrictions in place.
It was a bit different with Bailrigg. It was almost business as normal as we had kept going over summer. We didn’t need to start up again like many societies. Also, we had been planning the freshers fair with LA1TV so we really hit the ground running as soon as we could.
On that, what was it like covering Freshers with LA1TV?
Honestly… it was quite stressful. Without student media, freshers would not have happened in the way it did. It definitely relied on a few crucial individuals giving their all to make everything happen and it turned out well in the end. Our natural partnership with LA1TV did make it slightly easier. We have worked with them in the past so working together wasn’t difficult. It’s always fun to work with all areas of Student Media. In the last few months, we have started a film podcast with Take 2 and that has been incredible.
What were Bailrigg’s plans before the second lockdown?
We just wanted to get members into the studios and making shows. We were prepared to start again but then lockdown happened. It’s tough. Not being in the studio isn’t great but we are still going. Remote broadcasting is allowing members to host shows from their rooms which hopefully, more and more people will do. We are responding and adapting so we can still have the same fun.
What was the hardest change to make due to Covid?
Not going into the studio. I miss the grungy sofas and broken chairs and general chill atmosphere. I really miss going on air with all the adrenaline pumping through you. Some of the best memories I have are in the studio. I covered the 2019 general election from the station and that was amazing. Spending all night in the studio was just an experience. You definitely lose a physical presence from not being there. I even miss the unappealing smell of the place.
On the other side of the spectrum, what was your favourite thing to come out the pandemic?
Definitely the opportunities we have had. We are surviving and growing every day. Since September, we have done so much to keep building. We covered the presidential elections all remotely. We are interviewing artists again which we haven’t done for a while. We are creating more and more podcasts. By constantly pushing our boundaries, we are saying ‘screw you Covid, you can’t stop us.’ Bailrigg is amazing people doing great things and a pandemic cannot stop that.
I personally have enjoyed the extra free time I have. I don’t feel the same pressure to work all the time which is refreshing. I have time to read and am currently reading ‘The Wheel of Time.’ I’m loving it.
How has the pandemic impacted your role as station manager?
Well, when I ran for station manager, this wasn’t what I thought it would be like. I ran in April and back then, I thought that normality would be back soon enough. It is harder in some ways. I can’t have in-person meetings or meet new members in the station. I can’t give the exec the pat on the back they deserve.
However, I feel like I can do more somehow. It is easier to make plans and get in touch with people at the moment. Things can move quicker when online so that does help with my role. It has changed the way relationships in Bailrigg work in both a good and a bad way. I’m just trying not to do too much.
What are your hopes for the station in the future?
In the past, the plan was always to survive which we did even when it was hard. The main plan is to carry on surviving and not to be intimidated by Covid. We just want to fill the airwaves with high-quality content. We are going to keep making podcasts and keep getting interviews out. I’m hoping we can keep this momentum going into the New Year so we can say ‘Bailrigg is back!’
Away from Bailrigg, what is your current album recommendation?
I have an EP recommendation, is that allowed? I hope it is.
The EP is ‘Fight On’ by The Lathums. It is just a really tight piece of indie. ‘Fight On’ and ‘It Won’t Take Long’ are peppy energetic songs with a slightly edgy vibe. They make me feel energetic and help me go about my day. So yeah, ‘Fight On’ is my album recommendation to everyone out there.
It is the Christmas edition so what is your favourite Christmas song?
I’m a Christmas carols kind of guy really. I’m going to go with ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem.’ It may not be the radio song that you wanted but I’m sticking with carols. Part of Christmas for me is singing carols so it’s quite sentimental.