Happy New Year when it comes around to all of my friends. I don’t use Instagram so this #BestNine thing wasn’t happening. Instead I’ve put together 8 pictures which kinda give a running order of my year. I’m putting this up to remind myself that despite being a really hard and somewhat disappointing year, I’ve a lot to be proud of from 2015.
1) 2015 marks my first foray into paid Radio work (hopefully not the last). I was honoured to Tech-Op Produce (push buttons n stuff) for the great Sun FM during their Summer and Winter Cash Tours which was a lot of fun. I also volunteered for BBC Radio 6 Music in February meeting lots of famous people and particularly enjoying a Jamie XX rave set at 2am in the morning. I missed out on two of my dream media jobs this year and also 2015 marked the year that my hero Zane Lowe left UK radio and then my new hero George Ergatoudis announced his departure from Radio 1. I got into Radio wanting to be Zane’s producer down the line but you know what, Beats looks like a lot of fun so never say never.
2) I continued my Uni work, completing my Masters Degree in Radio and obtaining a Merit pass. My final project was a full station analysis of my beloved Spark Sunderland which was successful and has helped the station move towards great things. The highlight though was choosing to lead our General Election coverage with my radio wife Jake and the lovely Violeta. As a team we made 12 hours of non-stop live radio on the General Election with great on line and video content too. I’m so proud of what went down that night, it’s my favourite accomplishment to date.
3) Spark FM has been my life for the past year. In project leading events for the station I have created a lot of memories. Always the pinnacle of Spark FM’s annual programming is our Airshow and this year I made sure that we’d have no turbulence (sorry). I was proud of our gang for showing up and having a lot of fun. We had some pretty sweet video streaming numbers and adding live news from the airshow was awesome. Having sat in being Studio TO all of last year I promised myself to go out and have fun and I did manage to check out a lot of planes whilst recording some audio for on air too.
Another proud achievement was our Freshers programme which I have Jake and Jordan to thank. Together myself and Jake came up with ideas for what we wanted to do on air and I set about setting up broadcasts from Halls of Residence and putting the wheels in motion for prize giveaways. With Jordan, I devised a sign-up campaign for Spark and other platforms at the University of Sunderland’s mediaHub and this was a resounding success. We managed to get around 500 new volunteers signed up to platforms.
Finally and very indulgently, I loved Spark’s Gaming Week. I had an idea over Summer just to launch a week of fun and weirdness on air, loosely in line with the huge Gaming week E3. I came up with some of my proudest ideas over that week from doing on air packages of Paintball/LaserQuest to doing an incredible broadcast from a HUGE Retro Gaming Exhibition in Newcastle. My wackiest Radio idea of all though was to host my own ‘Live On Air Interactive Cluedo Show’. Staging the murder of a mannequin in the mediaHub I designed a plot for our presenter/detective and our listeners to work out who did the murder using placed actors, hidden objects and alibis – this all being streamed out in audio and video on Spark FM. Absolutely nuts but hugely enjoyable.
4) With hard work sometimes comes rewards for me and this year I’ve had three cool awards for my work at Spark. First of all I placed in the Student Radio Association’s Top 3 ‘Committee Volunteers in Student Radio’ or something along those lines. Basically I did really good management work and was recognized for it which is pretty cool. After working countless hours with Jake on our Station Entry, although he put the team on his back for this one including me, we got awarded at the Student Radio Awards. Winning a Bronze for our Election Coverage (down to Michael’s excellent multi-platform content on the night) and a Bronze for Best Student Station (Thanks Sparkies) that makes me a Two-Time Bronze SRA Winner. Not bad at all!
5) The best weekend of the whole year came at Leeds Festival. It was the first time all year that I had left the North East and I savoured every second of it. I caught over 40 great acts to review and interviewed some of my heroes like Spector, Prides (pictured) and Ash. Work aside I had some real moments there. It felt perfect going to Leeds being with Chris as we always spoke of festival-ing together. Doing Limp Bizkit together was a dream come true. Seeing one of my heroes this year, Kendrick Lamar, do his thing was also sublime and I had great fun seeing Boy Better Know and Metallica amongst lots of others. Leeds just brought me back to being thirsty for live music again and I needed that.
6) That’s not to say the year didn’t have any monumental gigs, it absolutely did albeit less than usual due to having zero money to spend on tickets. I kicked the year off with a Slipknot shaped bang and then also caught some great acts like Future Islands, James Bay, Wolf Alice (4th time) and Editors (for the 5th time). I think though my gig of the year was seeing The Maccabees (4th time) play their new album and meet Orlando prior to the show. That was a really great night. I also saw Lisbon about 70 times and Cape Cub a fair few as well. Evo Emerging proved that North East musical talent is so good! (Looking at you Bi:Lingual).
Music aside I’ve found that I love wrestling even more than I thought I did. This year I’ve attended a few local shows but also attended WWE Live in Leeds seeing some of my wrestling heroes (Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, Ric Flair, The Dudley Boyz, The New Day) and then to NXT Live in Newcastle which was the best wrestling show I’ve ever been to. Here is a picture I took of the finale between my guy Finn Balor vs the returning Sami Zayn. Incredible.
7) People have been great this year. I’ve mentioned lots already but also major love goes to Ben and Tor, Emily & Megan, James, Hannah & Callum, Jack, Porle, Michael, Jay, Lauren, Harrison, Joanna, Richard and everybody else that’s helped me this year or been a mate. Thanks. However this place is reserved for three guys and that’s my supergroup of DMSC (DomMattScottChris). We are the best thing since One Direction and we always have fun together. Despite how downhill things have went the last few months I am praying that plans at the moment will come to fruition and we can all tackle the challenges that 2016 will throw at us together.
8) And lastly Sunderland has been spot on for me all year. I have to face the facts that I head back down to Sunderland in the New Year for my last few months living there. It’s been a great chapter but it’s coming to an end for hopefully bigger and better things. I’m going to miss the view in Picture 8 so badly, I call it home.