Comedy Training Blog 3
Meet Romedales Bufflehead
It’s 7:05 pm and Romedales Bufflehead steps off the train at East Dulwich station in south London. With his Oyster card in hand, he starts to floss his trendy hipster beard. Only cool people had hipster beards thought Romedales, as a chicken leg fell from his beard onto platform one.
The Nerdy Man’s Beard
The whole hipster beard fashion was a bit of a con really. Many hipsters thought themselves cool with their beards. Many others, however, thought the whole beard thing was just an attempt by boring, nerdy middle-aged men, to try and make themselves seem a bit cooler. And to be honest, it did work for a while. That was until Sharon from the Catford Tesco’s went “Eeer Romedales you plonker, you’re just a boring middle-aged computing nerd with a beard. I’m out of here..By the way that’ll be £2.45 plus 5p for the plastic bag.” Romedales was devastated. Bang went his 30% Tesco discount.
Beards are for Winners
Sharon thought he was a bit of a loser. A man with lentils and a KFC chicken wing dangling from his beard wasn't cool. She had met Romedales in her local supermarket. He was the bloke with a pot noodle dangling from his face.
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East Dulwich is Peckham with a Beard
As he stood at platform one in his green flannel shirt, bucket hat and beat up Converse trainers, Romedales rolled up a cigarette. He lit it and started smoking. To him, he was the epitome of cool. I mean if he were a refrigerator, then he’d be the Liebherr K2330 - 217 Litre A+ Larder Fridge… in white. To the rest of the general public, he looked more like an iceQ - 4 Litre Mini Fridge – in purple.
“Get a fire extinguisher!” screamed a member of the public as Romedales beard suddenly went up in flames. As smoke billowed up into the air, Bob, the Native American from the Appomattoc tribe in Virginia suddenly called out. In fluent Algonquian, Bob said, “Oi Dave mate, what do you think those smoke signals over there say? It's twisting my melon man.”
Dave paused for a second, stroked his Native American hipster beard and said, “It says….can I please get a tall, non-fat latte with caramel drizzle mailed to south London please?”
“Best pop it in the post then,” said Bob as he started doing a traditional Native American rain dance in his local Walmarts - with a packet of frozen chicken McNuggets down his pants. “Security to aisle five” went the intercom.
Hipster FM: Giving Your Beard Attitude Since 2014
It’s wasn’t until 7:15 pm when the slightly singed Romedales finally made it into Hipster FM. Even though his show started at 7 pm, Romedales was relaxed. Starting on time was for losers. Cool DJs, on the other hand, rocked up without any show prep, opened the mic and then blew their audience away! It didn’t matter to Romedales that his audience of three had been sitting at the computer listening to silence for the last fifteen minutes.
“Oswald is this bloody thing on?" said Serenity as she stroked her beard with a fork. "And by the way, Oswald, tell me this. Why the hell does it say ‘Bouncy Hooters’ in the task bar when I go to type in Bournemouth?”
Community Presenter Mistake Number One
START YOUR SHOW ON TIME! If your show starts at 7 pm, then be in the studio at 6:50 pm. Be ready to sit in the presenter chair at 6:55 pm waiting to go. Don’t roll into the studio at 6:59 pm and then go on air at 7:05 pm. It's just unprofessional. I see so many community presenters doing this. Starting a transmission late as a BBC studio manager was a sackable offence. If you have an empty studio, then get in there thirty minutes before your show and set up.
We’ll Put The “G” into Gentrification
Hipster FM was one of the most hippest, trendiest and funkiest online radio stations that the bearded infested town of Dulwich had ever seen. In fact, beards were so respected at Hipster FM; even the microphones had them.
All one had to do to join Hipster FM was:
1) Own a beard.
2) Love beards.
3) Make your wife grow a beard.
4) Have an iphone with a bearded cover.
5) Be a part time club DJ…with a beard.
Formed in 2014, by a communist, revolutionary Marxist banker named Asquith Spogony, Hipster FM was originally set up to be the radio station for the local non-league football team, Dulwich Hornets.
Dulwich Hornets FC
Dulwich Hornets were probably the most yuppiest football team in the entire country. You’d never catch their supporters eating a pie and chips. To Hornet fans, paying £18 for a posh sounding German hotdog was part and parcel of being a Dulwich supporter. Hornet fans were posh. They didn't drink beer. They brought cheese and wine to every home game. Sitting in the Dulwich stands sipping on a Chilean red was how to do football at Dulwich. Sometimes (after a few too many Chilean reds) the Dulwich fans could get a little “naughty.” To be honest, Dulwich fans could intimidate the opposition with the best of them. “Hit him with a Camembert Tarquinius!” went the chant.
Raising Piles of Money
Dulwich believed in equality. For every single home game, Dulwich Hornets would run a fundraiser. Even if you were a one legged Irish leprechaun with herpes on your haemorrhoids, Dulwich would hold a fundraiser for you.
They Were More PC Than PC World
Being the most PC football club in the land, Dulwich believed that everyone was welcome….apart from Tooting and Mitcham. To them, Tooting and Mitcham were scum. The local Sainsbury’s always did a roaring trade in Camembert when the two teams met at home.
Dulwich was so non-football that they played in pink and blue. To them, pink didn’t mean that they were “up hill gardeners.” No. To them, pink was a manly colour. They were proud to play in pink. Even their season tickets and programmes were pink. Some of the players, however, did object to the burgundy frilly tutu’s that went along with the kit. “Here come the ballerina boys” went the club song.
Stick With Me
It’s now 7:20 pm and Romedales is set up and ready to broadcast. He gargles some mineral water, does his vocal exercises “beard, beard, beaaaaaard” and then places his right index finger onto the microphone fader. A sense of dread suddenly fills his body. Someone's left a bogey on the fader. Romedales screamed. “ARGHHH THERE'S A BOGEY ON MY FINGER!!” The resulting output was so loud that forty-four people in a local Romanian supermarket in Croatia suddenly went deaf. Romedales threw his headphones twenty feet into the air screaming "Ahhh my ears! OH NO! THE BOGEY'S NOW ON MY FACE!"
Community Presenter Mistake Number Two
In his panic, Romedales hadn’t set the levels on his microphone. It meant he was distorting.
A very common community presenter mistake is distortion on the microphone. In other words, broadcasting far too loud. When this happens, it means the presenter is doing one or two things.
A. They haven’t checked their levels before opening the fader.
B. They’re chatting away paying no attention to the levels on the meters once they play their song.
So always check any levels of any item / person BEFORE you open the fader. And always listen to the output in your headphones. Constantly ask yourself questions like: Does this song etc. sound lower or higher than the last item? Always listen to your output and always analyze your output WHILE presenting. Keep one ear on your levels and one eye on your meters throughout your whole show.
Download the PDF on setting levels with three different meters.
Where There’s A Bogey There’s A Way
After Romedales had finally stopped dry retching, (and had managed to scrape the foreign entity under the presenter's chair), he leaned into the microphone and said: “You’re listening to the industrialised Marquis of Dulwich, and this is movie theme tunes from Albania.”
Bugger. He'd opened the CD fader by mistake.
Always check your faders!
Community Presenter Mistake Number Three
Always make a show for your listeners. Don’t make a show as a self-indulged piece for yourself. Many community radio presenters make self-indulged shows. "Here's a show on film theme music etc.” Also, don’t choose or talk about a subject that only interests you but has no appeal to your audience. A segment on the problems of Mexican immigration in the US will have no appeal to an audience in south London. Always remember your target audience. Make sure that whatever you talk about is relevant to your target audience. Many community presenters forget this point. At the hospital radio station that I managed, we had a “gold” format as most of our patients were old. Many of our presenters wanted to make trans based, hip hop, techno, heavy metal shows that had no relevance to our audience. Remember your target audience.
The Fader Strikes Back
“Hey you out there! This is Romedales Bufflehead, and you’re listening to the industrialised Marquis of Dulwich. You guys are going to love this; this is movie theme tunes from Albania.”
Community Presenter Mistake Number Four
When presenting, always speak to the “individual” and not the group. This means avoiding generic phrases like: “Hello you guys out there!”
Think about your listener as “one person only.” Speak to your listeners as though you’re only talking to one person. People listen to the radio as an individual. If you present your show as though you’re presenting to a ‘group’ of people, you can create a distance between yourself and the listener. During my radio training days, the message “radio is a personal medium” was always drummed into me. So think of your listeners as one person only.
Car Crash Vocals
As Romedales was introducing his first song, the vocals suddenly kicked in. Bum! He hadn’t bothered to listen to the song before playing it.
Community Presenter Mistake Number Five
Don’t crash the vocals of a song. If you’re going to speak over a song opening, then make sure what you’ve got to say is:
No problem thought Romedales; I’ll just lower the fader, chat some more, bring up the music for a bite and then lower it again. All the pro radio DJs do this. It will make me sound awesome!
Community Presenter Mistake Number Six
Don’t “fader wank!” Pulling the fader down then speaking, then pushing the fader back up again for music, then bringing the fader back down again for more inane chat, then pushing the fader back up again, etc. This sounds tacky.
As the song twanged away, Romedales decided to have a rummage around his nostrils. Blimey, he thought as he pulled out the equivalent of the rocky mountains in one dig. For some reason, he just had to look at his bogey. For a split second, he'd even thought he seen the face of Jesus looking back at him. As he gazed into his Jesus bogey, enraptured that so much gunk was up his hooter in the first place, his song suddenly ended. “Shit,” thought Romedales as he opened the microphone with his little finger while balancing Jesus on his index finger. “Err, ummm, errr. That was the Albanian Sheep Shearers Collective..umm….from the film…err…..Albania Rocks….errr…”
Community Presenter Mistake Number Seven
Always have the timer on countdown so you know how long you have left on the song. I’ve been caught out a few times when the song has suddenly stopped!
Community Presenter Mistake Number Eight
Don’t make every second word a “ermmm” and “ummmm.” This is very annoying to listen to on the radio.
Who Wants Waffles for Breakfast?
Romedales leaned into the mic and said “Basically, Albania Rocks was the biggest, smallest, film ever made in Albania. In fact, in 1993, I once went to Albania. Basically, I was like 11 years old but get this. I remember sitting in the back of the coach like reading my Beano comic. Does anyone remember the Beano comic? Basically, that was a funny comic. But anyway, as I was saying like, I was in Albania, and I remember eating this bagel and..”
Community Presenter Mistake Number Nine
Don’t waffle! Make everything you say interesting and relevant. Remove unnecessary words and communicate your point in the shortest possible way.
Community Presenter Mistake Number Ten
Avoid “filler” words such as “like, basically, well, but, etc.” as this can annoy listeners.
Production of Doom
“Time for a jingle!” said Romedales as he leaned under the chair and added his new found bogey to the collective.
“This is Hipster FM!” he said as his freshly cleaned finger pushed the jingle button.
“This is Hipster FM” went the jingle.
Community Presenter Mistake Number Eleven
Never repeat the production (the jingles etc.). Don’t say something that a pre-recorded jingle already says for you.
You: And here’s the news:
Jingle: And here’s the news
Make sure you know how the jingles start and end.
“Right, time for some gig listings,” said Romedales as he pressed the button to start his funky hipster music bed. “We love beaaaaaaards!” it sang before the music kicked in. Romedales lowered the fader and started talking.
Community Presenter Mistake Number Twelve
Don’t bring the fader down so low that you can’t even hear the music. Romedales didn’t have his headphones on. If you don’t wear your headphones, you can’t monitor your levels.
ALWAYS wear your headphones.
“Ok, our first gig is about The Bearded Bananas from Peckham. They’ll be playing a live vegetable and fruit set down at The Crown and Beard in..ermmm..Peckham. Our second gig is live at The Swan and Beard in Stockwell. The Melons will be playing a live 130-hour set this Thursday. Get down there for Monday at 0400....
Five minutes later….
Finally, our ninety-seventh gig will be inside the Dulwich Sainsbury’s. David and Tina will be playing a twenty-minute, Icelandic whale music set. You can find them by the tinned mackerel section. That was your twelve-minute gig guide in association with "Just for Pubes." Don’t let your pubic hair look older than what it should be. For a fuller, thicker look with an easy to brush-in application, "Just for Pubes" will have you impressing the ladies in under five minutes.”
Community Presenter Mistake Number Thirteen
Don’t give out lots of information (events etc.) in the style of a massive list. Listeners don’t sit by the radio with a pen and paper. Mention two to three events and then redirect listeners to the website.
Romedales pressed play on the computer and his next Albanian theme music song started playing. Cuthbert the eight pm DJ walked into the studio.
“Romedales! How goes it o’ bearded wonder!”
“Not good Cuthbert sir. I think I’ve got food poisoning mate. Since yesterday I’ve had diarrhoea man.”
“Sounds shit Romedales. Still you’re almost done now, mate.”
“Oh man, it’s bad. Last night I was in The Bearded Gnome pub with Sandra. I gave her a kiss and pooed my pants. She kept asking me what the smell was. All I could say was it was my new Lynx Cowpat deodorant.”
Romedales suddenly let out a large gaseous fart. Cuthbert’s face crinkled like a ten-pound note in a washing machine. “Jaysus that’s a bit meaty for a vegetarian mate and…..OH MY GOD! ROMEDALES! THE MIC’S UP!”
Community Presenter Mistake Number Fourteen
Always make sure your mic fader is closed once you play a song. After the song has finished, close its fader. The song may have something at the end of it. The song may continue into the next song. You could get confused with what item you've just played and end up playing the same song twice. Closing the fader is a good visual stop to let you know where you are.
It’s All About the Timing Init
“Well it’s 7:59 pm and I’ve been Romedales Bufflehead. Time to play my last Albanian theme music song. It’s a short 12-minute piece entitled fjalimit të kreut të opozitës Lulzim Basha gjatë fjalimit të tij përshëndetës. Coming up next we’ve got Cuthbert with his show on Moroccan sponges."
Community Presenter Mistake Number Fifteen
GET OFF AIR ON TIME! If your show ends at 8 pm, then start playing your last song at 7:55 pm. Next, get out of the studio ASAP. Let the next DJ sit down and set up for their show. Giving the next presenter no setup time is very unfair on them. You wouldn’t like it if someone did it to you. Therefore, don’t do it to someone else. Often presenters get sucked into their shows and end up talking to 58 past the hour. Then they play their last song. Next, they slowly move from the chair and slowly pack up. This gives the next presenter no time to set up.
Play your last song on air at 55 past and then get out of the studio.
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Ashley Cowan (bloke getting mangled on Cat Tail) runs the Online Radio School where he tutors in radio presenting and media interviewing techniques. He was a BBC World Service, Radio studio manager for nine years. He was also the station manager for Radio Kings, the hospital radio station for Kings College Hospital. Other crimes include being the training manager for K2K Radio & Whitechapel AM.
As a radio presenter, he's hosted radio shows on three FM stations. That was back in the day when FM radio was a big deal. The poor radio stations that had to put up with his brand of terrible comedy were: Radio DÅB, FLR 107.3 FM, and City FM. Radio DÅB had 100,000 listeners! Woo!
When he's not writing about himself in the third person, then he was also a community radio DJ at Radio Kings, TGR Sound, Sydenham Radio, and Croydon Radio.
He once did production work for Total Rock.com. That was a fun station with a cool owner and a great broadcast team! Brown fizzy water often accompanied the broadcasts!
In his spare time, he's London Irish (so he likes a beer), and he also teaches guitar. He's recently created an online "Fingerpicking for Guitar" course. There he teaches the art of fingerpicking for... erm...guitar. Students can learn twenty different fingerpicking styles for their chords.
is an ex BBC, radio studio manager, and the ex manager of Radio Kings, the hospital radio station for King's College Hospital. He's presented on three FM stations and waaay too many community stations.