Hello. Is there anybody there?

If you can see through the layers of dust that have gathered here since I last wrote something on this blog, then well done.

A lot has changed since I last wrote on these pages. I’ve now graduated with a 2:1 from my Journalism degree at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), and have been elected as Media Officer at UCLan’s Students’ Union (SU). And it is my first few months in the job which I’ve decided to talk about.

I’m now, worryingly, nearly a third of the way into my term of office. I say worryingly because the time is rapidly flying by and from time to time thoughts are turning to next year’s elections and who my successor may be and what they will do.

A lot of people, who don’t go to UCLan, ask me what I do in my role and I often say: “I’m the editor of our student newspaper, Pluto, and PR1, our magazine. I am also chief executive of Frequency radio and PSTV television station, as well as a student representative and trustee of the Students’ Union.”

But there is so much more to my job, and I thought this post could give you an idea of some of the things I’ve done since I started on July 1, why I did them and what I’ve learned in that time.

Preparation over the summer means a smooth start to the year

Between starting the job and Freshers’ week, there are two months where campus is quiet and it’s tempting to be lulled into a false sense of security. However, there are often many things that need doing during the summer in terms of preparation for the new academic year.

A few of the things I did this summer include: look for new printers for Pluto and PR1, repair much of the equipment n the Frequency studio, build new website for PR1 and order a new website for PSTV, order a new printer and upgrade the computers in all of the offices.

It may not look exciting, but this printer's already made a big difference to student media this year

A lot of these changes are not seen and probably not noticed by the people who read or listen to the student media here at UCLan, but they are all vital to making everything work. Last year the computers in the offices slowed right down and one by one stopped working which led to a decline in quality of media and volunteer satisfaction. Therefore, with the help of the university’s IT department, a lot of the computers were upgraded with new memory and bigger monitors and a new machine was installed in the radio studio.

This has helped fine tune the student media and allowed the volunteers to do a lot of the work while I go to meetings and fulfil my role as a student representative and also makes the office a much happier place to be. The quality has improved in Pluto, PR1 and Frequency since the start of term.

Go the extra mile for the volunteers

It’s easy to take the attitude of ‘I’m the paid Media Officer, I know best’ and work on a Monday to Friday, 9-5 attitude. However, with the students working in the evenings and at weekends (Frequency schedules go up to the small hours on some days) I have had to be on hand help people at all hours.

For instance, just tonight (Sunday) I received a call to say Frequency wasn’t broadcasting, so off I went to the studio at 7pm to fix the problems. It’s a bit of a cliché but it’s impossible for me to produce student media without the volunteers so I am obliged to help them whenever it is needed.

But going the extra mile also means listening to their suggestions and requests and offering constructive criticism. Over the summer, I redesigned PR1 with a glossy cover. However, at one stage, due to financial restrictions, I considered dropping the glossy cover but was persuaded otherwise by volunteers who wanted it. After all decisions I make this year affect other people’s portfolios so they should have input on what goes on.

Lots still to do

Two weeks ago I organised a concert for the launch of Frequency Radio in our SU bar, Source, which went down really well. There will be more gigs as the year go on under the Frequency banner which will help promote the awareness of the station.

Mike Dignam was a big draw at the Frequency Radio launch party. Photo by Grace Cappy

The PSTV website will be arriving very soon, and will finally give the station the platform it needs to show off the talents of students at UCLan, both behind and in front of the camera. It is also the first step of my aim to get PSTV affiliated with the National Student Television Association (and I will put updates about my progress on that here).

And the Pluto/PR1 juggernaut just keeps on rolling along with another 10 Plutos and five PR1s to be made this year. So if you’re on campus do remember to look out for them and pick them up.

There is still a long way to go this year and it’s exciting to be head of it all.