In this blog post I will be discussing the comparison between two factual radio formats from the arts and culture section on the BBC iPlayer. I decided to do two factual formats as it will be interesting to analyze how they both portray a strong message through radio. Documentary style formats like the ones I have chosen tend to be more portrayed on TV as we can visualize the archive footage and see the environment of the fact. Not only will this be interesting to discover, the radio programs will educate me also.
Black Is A Country.
‘Black Is A Country’ is a factual representation of how the the black power movement act in the 1960’s- early 70’s used underground jazz and political poetry to try and make the USA integrated. The BBC labeled this format at “Radical, Beautiful and Rare”. It’s a 27 minute length 2 part series that shows how African American’s tried to gain black power through music as appose of radical movement. It’s shows nationalism, revolution and heartbreak.
For the first 13 seconds of this programme “Revolution has come” a chant created by Black panther, a black rights movement party in 1968, is being played. This then fades out and we have 19 seconds of a Martin Luther King Speech talking about equality and black power. This works well as we have a strong narrative within the first 32 seconds of the format starting.
We as an audience are then introduced to Erykah Badu, the narrator, she welcomes the title and hits us with facts straight away. Erykah has a calm soothing voice throughout which helps us relax and learn about the black rights movement. After the show has been welcomed the next 24 minutes are a mix of archived music content, guests from the time the civil rights movement was in place and Erykah telling the story.
The formula of this format is very snappy. Every 10-20 seconds we hear something else, even if jazz is thrown in the background of someone speaking it works because it keeps us engaged through out the whole 30 minutes. There is 10 guests contributing to the story through experience and music on this production which gives us lots to listen too. Because so many different people are speaking about the movement at the time of the 1960’s/ underground music, assassinations, etc. we are not given a chance to become uninterested.
You could say that this format is quite non-linear as there isn’t a set running order about what is going to said where and when but every guest expresses their opinion and some factual information through out.
Analyzing the content
The presentation of the format is very simple as you can see:
Simply a black and white photo of a black movement Jazz band in the USA during the 1960’s. The title is not shown on production because the picture can read the story itself, it is easy to find the next episode and under the title is a summary of the format giving us information about the situation, music and guests included.
The use of music very much ties the bow on top of this production. It helps tell the story and it makes us feel emotion throughout the content. The music helped me feel how the format wanted me too, sad but hopeful and grateful that life isn’t like how it was back then. Racism is such a negative, ignorant and unnecessary part of life that some people still hold onto now, although I feel happy that civil rights are in order this format makes me feel anger because its impossible for me to understand why racism still exists, or why it ever did to this extent also? Any how, the music is engaging, soulful and so easy to listen too.
The whole production is about how music was used to gain civil rights, so a lot of music is played throughout. This includes Jazz music, soul music, political music, chants, unground music and positive music.
The target audience for ‘Black Is A Country’ would range from 16-60+. This is one of the only programs I have watched with demographics that suit everyone from high class to lower class, any ethnic background, a large age suitability, and any gender. It is an educational format that I would push to be listened to in schools, collages, university, places of work.
What could they of done better?
There isn’t a lot I can say was disappointing about this radio doc. It flows very well, even in non chronological order, and kept me engaged throughout the whole 30 minutes. However I did think whilst watching that it would be interesting to listen to a white person’s opinion on the movement now to show the difference between then and now. But this would be far too controversial incase the person was racism or said one thing out of line.
If I was too improve this, I would make it one long episode as appose of 2 short ones. Because after I had finished listening I wanted to hear more and not of waited another week. However I understand this works in the producers favor massively because it creates a wider target audience as people would talk and people may pay more attention to the next episode.
BBC Trending: Facebook and marijuana
The concept of this short 20 minute clip of news is too educate the public whats going viral in that particular week. This keeps the public updated with whats going on politically, environmentally, globally and the music used is the new chart music every week to convey its a cool new and useful show.
The format is introduced with the “BBC news” clarification to label the category as factual and real-life. Straight away 5 seconds of a song from the top 50 chart is played and then the main correspondent introduces himself and talks about what the program is and what him and his team will be talking about today.
Michael, the main correspondent then hands over to his co-worker in which they then both discuss and debate about award winning, famous Kanye West. This process of new correspondents and new stories repeats itself until we reach the end of the 20 minutes we are given in which he then says his goodbyes and we are told when the next episode will be.
This is a very casual radiophonic program that I’d say is targeted to young adults as it discusses whats been going viral that week, whats good about this format is that is educates us on sexism, gender equality and equality which is always good to learn at the age that we are as we learn that everyone is equal.
Analyzing the content
This format is also from BBC player so the set out is the same as you can see: Again the layout is simple. The picture represents a topic that will be discussed in the show.
The use of music in this format is disappointing. The idea of having new chart music in every episode to portray that they talk about current viral experiences is a good idea, however, the way they have used the music that they have doesn’t work. Small clips of songs are used to break up the stories but the clips are unclear to the songs they are actually playing. This creates a disrupted flow and irritates me personally as a listener.
This production talks about:
– Kanye West, A female reporter has a lead story of him asking for money from a higher source. She is continuously bias throughout and is very opinionated which concludes Michael, the lead correspondent to apologize and create a debate with her. Whether this was a publicity stunt or not, it worked well as it gained publicity.
– Marijuana being legalized for medicinal reasons in 4 states in America: They give facts about the chemicals that can kill cancer cells and explain where and why it got legalized.
– Marijuana and Facebook: This story then leads into how Facebook took marijuana pages offline even though they were certified by the USA marijuana company.
All these storied as I said earlier is good for young adults either female or male. Target audience would be 17-30 because I don’t think many people older will take an interest into what they discuss at every point of the format.
What could they of done better?
They could of planned ahead as the whole production did almost feel used which is odd as its professional and the BBC. Although it did sound good in the fact that it felt very natural and not scripted which can be challenging when you are in the process of creating a radio format!
One thing I would work on within this program is definitely their use of music. I would create a tagline to play between stories and it would flow better and adjust volumes so that they all sounded as loud as each other as there was moments when some sounded louder than others or a little cracking noise was surrounding the background.
There are many similarities and differences between the 2 programs, the main focus linking these 2 together is they are educational and we learn from both of them. It’s just the content that we learn is quite different. For example “Black Is A Country” is all about historic events from the 1960’s which pulls on our heart-strings and can make us feel emotions from anger, remorse, guilt, sadness, etc. all within one subject.
We feel these emotions with “BBC Trending” but because there are so many stories continuously and they’re very current so can be changed weekly. The constant different stories are from viral streams which clashes with social media. Again making their main target audiences young adults ranging from 17-30.
Whereas with “Black Is A Country” the target audience is a lot wider as many people could would find the story interesting. Especially the people who were living in them times. Also, a huge difference within these 2 formats is the music used. In the first format I reviewed, the music is live and emotional, again, it makes us feel a certain way when we listen to it. “BBC Trending”‘s music did not work and did not make me feel any emotion.