By Melanie Formosa ’23
Imagine settling down in another continent for a month and a half after college graduation with a job already set up and a room waiting for you. I had a whole other life in London for six weeks. It was wild. It was something I couldn’t dream of, and I am so grateful for the experience. I feel older. It made me appreciate things more.
I loved Times Radio. The buzz of the newsroom with the radio on in the background complemented the fast-paced work everyone was churning out. I hopped on different shifts and shows. I learned how each show has a different timeline, team, and way of going about planning. Some days I’d be working from home depending on the show, and then I’d come in. Other days we’d start upon arrival at the office right over London Bridge, which I got to walk over to and from work!
Everyone was incredibly welcoming at the office, and I was treated as one of them. I learned the newsroom software quickly and fit right in. For Jane Garvey and Fi Glover’s afternoon program, I worked on Americorner, a special Monday segment on US affairs, and Wellness Wednesday. I’d pitch ideas, find relevant guests, and book the interview. Then I’d write a cue and a list of questions for the presenters. I enjoyed thinking of topics! One of the Wellness Wednesdays that was fun was the top 5 self-help books to read on holiday.
Some other programs I worked on include Times Radio Breakfast, Times Radio Drive, Kait Borsay’s Evening Edition, Matt Chorley’s politics program, and Mariella Frostrup’s news and reviews show. I clipped audio for briefings with five minutes to spare. I created song audio montages written into the scripts. I found replacement guests when the original guests didn’t show and we had a few minutes to figure out how to rework the show. I did some future work as well, bidding guests in advance and writing briefings for shows to come.
It was high-energy work. Oftentimes I’d eat at my desk instead of taking a lunch break because of the amount of responsibility I had in planning the shows. The hours went by quickly because of just how much was packed into them.
During my time on the social media team, I conducted two interviews on Times Radio Frontline, which aired on Times Radio’s YouTube channel about the Russia-Ukraine War. I did a lot of research and wrote up interview questions for the guests I booked, British defense expert Michael Clarke and Frederick Kagan, a military analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.
I was also able to learn technical skills and operate the control board. That was a thrill. The person behind the board puts Times Radio on the air! It was a great responsibility and not one that I took lightly.
Upon finishing my six weeks at Times Radio, one of the key attributes I noticed people commented on was my ability to find guests. We were always looking for guests. That and being proactive; coming to a meeting with story ideas to cover on a show, for example. Enthusiasm and having a willingness to say yes — and then getting it done quickly — is imperative.
To work at Times Radio, I learned, is anything but boring. It is a thriving newsroom that is composed of bright, quick thinkers. Every single person — editors, producers, presenters, control room operators, social media managers, and everyone else on the Times Radio team — must be on their toes. They must be able to keep up with the latest news and have an ability to adapt when the planned rundown shifts.
They must have an ability to work fast, but not let any details or professionalism get lost. They were brilliant to work with. And they were kind! The producers I worked with were happy to answer questions. That made working with them so much more enjoyable. Seeing them smiling and them being grateful for the work I was doing made me realize how nice it is when someone “higher up” is approachable. And humble.
If someone is sitting at their desk and gets up, they ask the people around them if they need anything. A tea, or filling up a water bottle? They’re happy to do it. It’s common courtesy. I ask too now even though I am back in New York. Some people think it’s a bit odd, but I love breaking common workplace attitudes. Everyone was very kind at Times Radio, and they normalized it for me!
I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot since I’ve returned. I miss it there, but everything that I experienced has resonated with me, and it flows throughout my everyday life.