This week I caught up with one of the newest member of the LSR committee, Jonny McGuigan, who is Head of Engineering at Leeds Student Radio.
What exactly does your role on the Leeds Student Radio committee entail?
Well, I’m Head of Engineering, which means I’m in charge of all of the technical aspects of the station, including making sure that everything works! Whether that’s making technology more user friendly, training, operating it or maintaining it, I spend a lot of my time playing with wires & technology! I’m also tasked with helping to organise and run Outside Broadcasts – all of which contributes to really just trying to make sure everyone has a good experience at LSR, and has user friendly, easy to work systems at their fingertips.
So you’d say that Engineering is the bedrock of the station?
I wouldn’t like to say that engineering is the main thing that means the station is on air, but to be honest it is! I’m not personally the one that everyone relies on, but engineering does carry considerable responsibility within the station, thankfully though the LSR Committee works really well together; we all share work, and when placed alongside the rest of the team – Engineering play a part in what on every level is a first class radio station! I suppose you could say that without me, the station might not be on air, but that is a bit of a grand claim!
You started a few weeks ago on the committee, what’s it like to be the latecomer?
It’s strange really because I’ve had quite a lot of radio experience in the past, before I came to university I worked as a Technical Manager at a Media Centre complex, with TV, Radio and Recording studios, so I had an idea of how radio stations work, and I have done community radio since the age of thirteen, so in some ways I’m a little bit of an old hand but, every station brings new challenges and new projects! In terms of the committee, from the first day I walked into the LSR office in September through to just before I was elected onto the committee they were all very welcoming – everyone’s very friendly and we’re all willing to help each other out, and that hasn’t changed at all since I got the role.
To be honest, it doesn’t really feel like I’m the ‘newbie’, I’m treated just the same as everyone else – though I’ve yet to experience a committee night out – something which I really look forward to!
What are your plans for the coming year?
At the moment we’re looking at improving how the station works on a very basic ground up technical level. Plus, before Christmas we’re planning to do a live outside broadcast every morning and every evening from somewhere on campus, so there will be a lot of work, and some late nights and early mornings! It’s a big challenge for us from an engineering point of view, but it also means we’re out there, interacting with a lot of people, so its definitely worth it!
We’re also already beginning to plan for events like the local elections and the leadership race, and I’m currently working with lots of out other committee members to make sure we can use the technology we have to the absolute best of its ability. From an engineering perspective it’s also a case of just making sure everything keeps working, student radio stations often need a lot of maintenance and since we’re on air 24 hours a day, with 12 live hours of programming every day, we don’t have any time for equipment failure / replacement, so I’m working at the moment to make the studios here in LSR more resilient.
And for any readers wanting to get involved, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m the one who sits in the office most days, usually either at an editing station, or on the sofa eating muffins! I’m very approachable, very friendly, and if anyone has anyone has any ideas and wants a hand with anything technology wise I’d really love to have a chat with them! I’m aiming for us to get as many awards as possible at the Student Radio Awards next year and I want to help the station to achieve as many nominations and prizes as possible, by providing support in whatever way I can, so if anybody thinks that an idea isn’t possible, I’m yet to see a project that I’ve been unable to make happen! On that note, I’d love to help more people get involved in the tech side of things, the more the better, feel free to get in touch and ask any questions or let me know if you’re interested!
If people are interested, do they have to have an engineering background specifically?
No, not at all. It’s nice if any members have some background knowledge, but we welcome anyone. We’re very diverse, and as a technical team I like to have people from all different backgrounds. I certainly don’t have an engineering background, I’m a broadcast journalist!
Words: Eleanor Healing