Many people are now working from home due to the Coronavirus crisis and for radio presenters across the country, they are being forced to move their studios to their living rooms, writes Katy Lelliott.
For engaged couple Lara McNamee, 44, and Jon Andrews, 38 – presenters for Radio Woking – this is exactly what they have had to do in order to keep their shows on the air.
Jon presents the station’s breakfast show on Wednesday mornings from 7am to 9am, while Lara hosts the Lara On Sunday show on Sunday mornings from 9am to 12pm.
After initially being unable to gain access to the main system at the station, the couple had to rely on recording links and asking colleagues to schedule their shows for them.
But they were eventually granted access to the system and are now able to produce the shows themselves from their living room, pre-recording them and entering them into the system ready for air.
Speaking about their move to making content from home, Lara said: “When we first heard that we were going into lockdown, I was so upset as I had no way of knowing if we could record from home – luckily I had previously bought Jon a radio DJ set up that included a mic and sound box for Christmas – he had hardly used it but it has been a godsend.
“One of our colleagues has access to the Radio Woking system and we recorded links and sent them to him to schedule – problem was with my three hours and Jon’s two hours, it was a lot to expect someone to spend time putting five hours of content into the system.
“At this point, our station manager agreed to let Jon have access to the main system and we’ve been recording our shows from our front room ever since.”
With much of the U.K. still in lockdown due to COVID-19, many radio stations have been forced to move their studio set-ups to the presenters’ homes in recent weeks, including BBC Radio 4 and TalkRADIO.
With Radio Woking’s studio being based in a school, Jon explained that, at the start of the lockdown, he and Lara were concerned they weren’t going to be able to make radio at all.
Jon said: “The school’s closed down, obviously, so we couldn’t access the studio.
“Even if the school didn’t close down, we probably wouldn’t be able to access anyway due to everything that’s going on.
“So, we were thinking at the start that we wouldn’t be able to produce radio, which is something we enjoy doing and I think it’s something that’s very important for the community to have a voice.”
For Lara, who joined Radio Woking a year ago alongside Jon who has been working there for around three years, she did admit that she does find it slightly more challenging working from home than in their usual studio.
She said: “I do find it hard to get into the ‘zone’ like I would in the studio, and we have to contend with noise outside; neighbours drilling, mowing lawns and every so often Magic the cat tries to join in.
“In the studio, the set up to do interviews is very easy; at home we are having to balance an ‘Alexa’ in front of our mic and hope the person on the other end talks loud enough for us to get a good recording – I recorded the co-founder and lead singer of The Hollies, Allan Clarke, via this way recently.”
You can listen to Lara and Jon at www.radiowoking.co.uk