ThePickards Go Radio Gaga

While I am someone who listens to the radio regularly, I’ve never been someone who felt that…

everything I had to know
I heard it on my radioRadio Gaga (Queen)

…but nonetheless I was pleased when I was contacted by Charlie Charlton of Radio Newcastle asking whether they could talk to me about something I’d written on my website over a year ago called what men talk about in pubs. It’s flattering that someone likes to read it and it’s flattering that they want to talk about it.

The interview didn’t go quite as I’d hoped, however…

It was just a five minute telephone conversation on Mike Parr’s breakfast show slot and he didn’t seem as complimentary about the idea of blogging in general or of my website in particular as the others had been, and I felt that the first few questions I was more or less having to justify why I blog at all — a typical comment being:

Shouldn’t you get out more?
What do you talk about and why should anyone bother reading?Mike Parr

Apologies if I haven’t got the words spot on, but I asked Radio Newcastle if I could either have an MP3 recording or a transcript of my bit, and I’ve not heard anything else back from them, and the radio show isn’t available online any more either, but that was the general gist of it.

So I basically guessed that there were maybe about eighty or ninety people who read my blog regularly. Well, I’ve checked the figures and over the last three months I seem to be averaging about 30,000 hits per week. Okay, by some standards, that’s not a great deal, and when you divide that by the average number of page views, it takes me down to about 7,500 visitors per week, of which my statistics tell me around 40% are website crawlers, bots and the like, giving me around 4,500 genuine visitors every week. So it appears I vastly underestimated my own appeal…

And here’s a visual representation of page views for March (average 4 page views per visitor):

site visitors for ThePickards in March 2007

So that was the first issue really, I felt that I was put on the defensive immediately — when surely there’s no difference between providing information to the public that is hopefully entertaining and/or informative via the web and via having a BBC Radio Newcastle Breakfast show. Apart from the fact that people will only come to my site because they specifically want to — there are a lot more websites to choose from than there are radio stations.

Part of me also wonders whether this is again the mainstream media’s “fear” of bloggers. We only get mentioned either as sad cases (cue Star Trek reference?), nerds and geeks (okay, you’ve maybe got me there), or like recently as people who need to have a code of practice enforced upon them.

Why not just accept bloggers are just ordinary people, same as everyone else, with the same eccentricities and foibles as everyone else, except that they get to talk to the world about it? Or is it that the mainstream media (and I’m not just meaning Radio Newcastle here, I’ve seen this attitude frequently) think that broadcasting and publishing is a job that only professionals should be allowed to do?

But it was partly my own naivety — Mike Parr is an experienced radio presenter, it’s his show, he’s obviously comfortable with the format. I on the other hand had approximately nil experience of talking on radio, and had been under the impression that they wanted to talk to me more about the contents of the article — what men talk about in pubs — rather than just answering a couple of specific soundbite questions on it and having my answers analysed by a psychologist. Oh, I knew there would be a psychologist — I just thought I’d have more opportunity to put my case across.

For example, the psychologist picked out the issue:

Why people wear wigs that are so, so obviously wigsThePickards

…and used this as evidence that men are concerned about the physical. That may be the case, but that actual topic was related to a guy with ginger hair around the sides of his head and a jet black wig.

This obviously left us wondering not why he was wearing a wig, but rather what his thought processes behind it were. Did he realise that it was obviously a wig? If so, why was he wearing it? If he didn’t care what people thought, then again, why was he wearing it in the first place? Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to comment on this — it was only a five minute slot after all — and so I’m left with this public persona that is obsessed with the physical when actually I was wondering what was going on in the guy’s mind…

I did get to make the comment that I felt men and women’s conversations started out differently, because a man generally covers the topics of family, relationships, friendships, problems at work and suchlike with a simple:

How are you?
All right, yourself?

…whereas in my experience women are more likely to ask specific questions about each of these topics separately. That isn’t of course to say that us men couldn’t talk about these topics in more detail if we felt the need to — but we don’t generally feel the need. Of course, there are some exceptions — births, weddings etc — where by the very nature relationships tend to get discussed, but on the whole we’re comfortable with beer and football.

So would I do it again? Hell, yes. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was an entertaining experience, and I didn’t come out feeling as mashed as I suspect the political blogger Guido did after his Newsnight interview

… and as it’s the Newcastle Beer Festival later on this week, I’ll have a go at reviewing the topics of conversation, to see what’s changed in the past year!

6 Responses to “ThePickards Go Radio Gaga”

  1. Steve responds:

    I’d imagine that’s the sort of question that Steve Wright would open with when they get you to appear on Radio 2, so be prepared…

  2. paul canning responds:

    hi jack

    pageviews doesn’t = visitors I’m afraid :{ If each person reads five pages, divide by five etc.

    I’ve been using bloglines and find their numbers around the same as google analytics. GA is very easy to set up so I’d recommend that.

    your ignorant local media experience vis ‘blogging’ sounds very familiar. from memory, you feel like you’ve been through some sort of extrusion process.

    anna wintour insisted, apparently, that in the US Vogue web relaunch they come up with another word because blog sounds gauche. or something.

    it is an awful word.

    when I’ve been asked I just tend to say it’s a space online that I control where I can comment on whatever I like. sounds better than ‘online diary’ or even ‘my website’. but really, i started it ’cause I clip (and share) all sorts of bits of info and a blog seems a good fit for my usual disorganisation!


  3. JackP responds:

    pageviews doesn’t = visitors I’m afraid :{ If each person reads five pages, divide by five etc

    Yeah, I know - I tried to get that across but obviously didn’t do a good enough job of it. As the average reader reads four pages, in my case it’s a divide by 4!

  4. Gill responds:

    Having been through the radio torture myself on a number of occasions I would say that it’s entirely down to what the presenter wants the outcome to be. You can go on to discuss any subject you like but if he has a thing about bloggers then it’ll always get back to his preconceptions.

    Get a good presenter who is open minded and there’s rarely enough time to do the subject justice so it gets cut short. I usually make certain beforehand that I know exactly what they want to talk about, what the angle is and how long I’ve got and I record it as it goes out in case of any comeback.

  5. Holly responds:

    Due to go on Mike’s Breakfast Show tomorrow, and am a bit worried after reading about your experiences!

  6. ThePickards » Blog Archive » The Mike Parr Survivors Club responds:

    [...] posted some time ago saying that I’d been interviewed on Radio Newcastle about my blog and I hadn’t thought the interview had gone particularly well: I’d not had much of a [...]

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