Saturday, May 15, 2010

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye...

The last two weeks of Upstart were probably the best and the worst of the entire experience. There were so many good things, so many frustrating things but mostly there was the overwhelming thought that it was coming to an end and we had all managed to work together, despite everything else, to make a sure that we had a show we were all pretty proud of.

After the succesful editorial meeting for the Venus vs Mars show, the actual recording of the show proved to be incedibly frustrating because our anchor's energy on air didn't match the behind the scenes activity and excitement which we wanted to reflect in the show. Ross and I knew that he could do it, which is why we chose him to be the anchor, but also wondered if it was nerves or young teenage ego that kept him from reaching the full potential that we saw in him. We had to think of ways to solve this problem, beginning with having a conversation with him about the importance of his role without intimidating him out of it and, as an extreme last resort, finding someone else to be the anchor.

We also had to consider a lot of format changes for the structure of the show because it still wasn't capturing the youthful energy we had hoped to achieve for the series. After hearing feedback from different schools and lengthy discussions between ourselves and Jeanne, we found a structure which we hoped would be entertaining enough to maintain the apparently short attention span of the average teenager.     

With all of this in mind we entered into the final recoring with fear and apprehension because we couldn't let the steam run out during the final stretch. The World Cup Show ended up being our favourite probably because it was the first one where everything seemed to come together. Everyone felt so completely comfortable with each other and our roles that everything went smoothly despite the hurdles that were being thrown at us.

The editorial meeting brought more ridiculously amazing ideas and again I was blown away by the way that our six journalists were thinking. The features for this show were going to be more lively and interactive than we had had before on the show. One great idea was to have a segment on how to greet visitors to South Africa in their language. In between, I was repranded for forgetting to bring the snacks for the third week in a row. Despite our best efforts we knew that we would probably have to include Friday as an extra working day for us and the kids and there wasn't even that much reluctance because we all knew what needed to be done to make the best show possible. And perhaps we also wanted to spend a little more time together.

The first shock to the system was the fact that journalists from the BBC were coming in to record our recording for a documentary they were filming. This was exciting and terrifying because our previous show recording track record wasn't much to be desired and this time it was going to be on camera! But again the members pulled through in a way better than anyone could have dreamed of, bringing boundless amount of energy. They were comfortable and handled the big intimidating cameras in their faces better than I would have by far. Our anchor was back to his usual self and the beginnings of what we had always imagined for the show started to come out.

During all of this we also had to deal with guest who had lost her voice (not ideal for radio!), finding guests, a hero of the week and world cup information. And somehow we did it and it couldn't have worked better if we had planned it this way. Olwethu and Gcobisa's comfort in the studio behind the mic and the great repetoire that they had made it so much fun to watch. On Friday evening, when Ross and I had finally completed our last half hour show with Upstart, you could see our collective relief and disbelief that we had managed to do it all in the whirlwind week of meetings and planning.

The absolute highlight though, was the picnic we had at my house on Saturday. After all the sugar (which we can't handle as well as the youth can) and the good old fashioned game of hide and seek that we played we spoke about what the best part of the entire experience was. Everyone agreed that it was the getting to know each other and all the crazy, wonderful things that happened during the past 11 weeks. And it's true. I've learnt so much throughout this entire process which not only taught me a lot about journalism and how it can and should be used to speak to people in a way with which they can relate, but I also got to learn about the lives of six incredible, incredible young people.

So without getting too sentimental I'd just like to show appreciation to my lecturer Jeanne Du Toit for giving us this project and invaluable advice, Ross for being an absolute hero of a partner and Gcobisa, Xolelwa, Nontsikelelo, Sibusiso, Werner and Olwethu for being the coolest teenagers this side of the Transkei.

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