02 August, 2010

Week 2 - In which I stick microphones up people's noses

A conference would usually be a good opportunity to record some interviews of research that's just getting published, but this was even better because the unit I'm working in does World Service and anything coming out of Africa is particularly interesting. I browsed the conference programme and chose 3 topics that might be interesting and for each of them managed to get interviews with both researchers and normal people - the latter for most cases courtesy of an extremely friendly and nice Africa Service reporter based there.

I ended up interviewing 5 researchers - of which 4 were very easy to talk to and sounded quite down to earth, though they waffled no end, repeated themselves, overlapped themselves... you name it... thankfully I'm not expected to edit the audio, or at least not do the fine stuff.

One researcher was I'm afraid to say reeeeely boring and ended up sounding like he was lecturing me - I probably could have got a bit out of it but there wasn't really as much of a story as there could have been. That was a shame as to go with that one I and the BBC man chased around Lusaka trying to find a child selling things on the streets and ended up being chased out of the market, and finding a boy selling doughnuts, who turned out to be pretty good on the recording.

The other two pairs of interviewees both worked out pretty well, as did their "counterpart" people-on-the-street. It was great fun tracking down a grandmother for one of the stories - we asked one nice old lady selling fruit but she didn't want to be recorded on the street, and in the end found a lady living in an area with some smaller houses, who was looking after her disabled husband. We wanted to buy her a present so went for some food for her dinner, and a notebook and pen for her littlest boy. She had previously been looking after five grandchildren too, but thankfully now they are all with other relatives.

I also really enjoyed running round our conference dinner interviewing the entertainers, a group of kids who perform and work with street children - they are all of course dying to be on the radio as they are actORS darling, and hopefully at least one or two of them will get to be heard - of course the magic words "I'm from the BBC" open all kinds of doors.

Lusaka at this time of year is in the middle of winter - after a nice week's break in Greece and warm and humid London, I was pretty freezing! I had fortunately packed one wool jumper and though it was about 25C in the afternoons I ended up wearing my jumper till lunchtime every day and all evening.

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