Opinion: Melissa Todd – Connecting with you through Academy FM Thanet

Local radio

I’m a newsreader now on Academy FM – once a week, usually Fridays – and I flipping love it. I don’t only read the news, I write it too, the night before, shamelessly plagiarising this fine periodical (for where else would be worth plagiarising?) to learn what’s been happening in Thanet. Then I write quizzes based on which famous cove’s birthday it might be, and what happened on this day in history, to compete with the DJ as to who knows more pointless stuff. Usually I lose, and I don’t even care.

The whole business makes me feel terribly important, as if I have a real job that matters. And it does matter. Local radio represents and connects our community, and there very few truly local stations left. We’re jolly lucky to have Academy FM: it deserves our ears and support.

On radio day I get up at 5.30am so I can read all the newspaper headlines and decide how I feel about everything that’s happening in the world, since I may well be called upon to pontificate upon it. That’s novel, as I’ve pretty well ignored the news these last few years: it’s all seemed so hopeless and depressing. But feeling informed seems to make me feel less powerless. A capacity to reel off cabinet ministers’ names, then express a view about HS2, isn’t really the equivalent of having any clout, I realise, but it still makes you feel you’re something more than a minion whose only role is to have things done to them. If the government is hellbent on destroying the country the least I can do is know every wretched detail.

I’m on air 7am-10am, and you wouldn’t believe time could fly so fast. I read my bulletin on the half hour, and record it for the afternoon’s shows too, but in between I am called upon to give my opinion on a terrifying number of things, with absolutely no warning. Amazing how few opinions I possess. It’s national respect your employee day: how do I feel about that? In twelve seconds, please! What’s your favourite cheese, what do one in six women admit to doing in the shower, do you have any mouse-based anecdotes? My brain works slowly, especially before noon. I have to gabble the first piece of nonsense which burps into my brain, which is generally filthy, then back peddle speedily.

How I admire the DJs, those insanely cheery, intrepid jugglers, and their rows of flashing screens and levers! They must check google earth for travel, facebook and twitter and texts for competition entrants; note news updates, weather reports, answer the phone, all while keeping up ceaseless chat, reeling off song titles and reassuring me constantly that I’m doing fine, honestly. Their brains must be wired in some special complex way, like a giant tangle of strawberry shoe laces. How bored they must be when they go home and find there’s only one thing to think about, or do they continue to baffle their spouses with their capacity to engage with fifteen things at once?

They need more DJs and newsreaders (after the current crisis), if you fancy it. It’s heaps of fun learning something new. If you’d asked me last year if I’d be able to edit audio, or make amusing off the cuff remarks about cheese at 7am, I’d have snorted noisy derision, but turns out it’s pretty easy, really – or at least, easy to do badly, and I’ve firm plans in place to improve. You can be part of keeping Thanet informed, happy and connected, and if anything’s worth a 5.30am start, that surely qualifies.

For more information see academyfmthanet.com