Media City in Salford is a stunning example of what can be achieved when people put their energies into regenerating a derelict area of a city. Contemporary architecture, plazas, offices and TV studios sit comfortably side by side with the industrial past of the Manchester Ship Canal and Salford Quays. So why with all this splendour did we end up broadcasting to the nation from what was akin to a windowed disabled toilet in the reception area of the BBC?
Currently having a dog with a leg in plaster it wasn’t practical for us to hot-foot it down to London to appear on John McCarthy’s Radio 4 programme, Excess Baggage. Instead we agreed that we would do a live interview via the new BBC headquarters at Media City. We were both excited by the prospect of looking around the new studios and with the dog comfortably ensconced in the boot of our car we stepped into the modern foyer of the BBC and announced ourselves at the reception. Production staff, engineers, media men and women walk purposefully to and fro, passing through the revolving security doors into the hub of the very British media machine beyond. We however, were directed off to the right. “Yes Mr. Smith, Miss Peel, the booth is all ready for you.” We looked in the direction that the receptionist was pointing, to a black pod standing just beyond a couple of settees. “This way please.”
Our little studio was no more than eight by five feet, most of it taken up by the sound desk and microphones. Making ourselves comfortable people stared at us through the lightly tinted windows. And then a red light came on and a voice spoke to us from London. Harry, the Producer of Excess Baggage came over the mic in a whisper. With the twiddle of a few random knobs we managed to get the levels set, with some relief we were all pleased that the programme wasn’t about to go down the pan because we didn’t have an engineer on hand. No, problem solved, we were talking to the nation.
John McCathy is a man who we have held in high regard for many years and to be able to chat with him about our endeavours (past and future) was a definite highlight on our road to Finding Manchester.
The Radio 4 appearance was part of a wider push to publicise Finding Manchester and draw in support from wherever we could. The media following has been all that we hoped it would to date. BBC Radio 4, Radio 2, BBC Radio Manchester, numerous newspapers, both regional and nation. There’s no doubt that people want Finding Manchester to happen but the funding support is coming in slowly, too slowly and if FM is going to happen we need the support of others. It’s too big a project to be funded by us alone, an historic legacy for Manchesters all over the world cannot be created without wider support unfortunately. This is the big push to make it happen, the last push, make or break. In meantime we’re enjoying the media ride and thank you to all those people and organisations who have truly supported us.