Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hi, my name is Emily and I run the weekly book show on Boogaloo Radio, as well as the bookstagram account @abookwormdiary. Since childhood, books have seemed as integral a part of my life as food or sleep. I was so lucky growing up in a house stocked with shelves full of books (thanks again mum!). Now, as an adult, my world is happily still full of books. I read because of how much I’ve learnt about people and places I’ve no experience of, because of how beautiful language can be, and because I’m still completely addicted to stories. My radio show is something I love doing, it’s truly a passion and I know how lucky I am to do it. If you want to listen, you can tune in 10am-12pm GMT and listen on either the Boogaloo Radio app or website!
What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
I would say it varies on any given day. There are lots of components that come together to make up the two-hour show each week. The easiest, most natural part is just continuing to read recreationally. I would do this radio show or not, but it’s important to keep my passion for books alive and have new finds to be able to discuss on the show. I am very lucky in that I get to interview some truly wonderful authors, so reading their work and doing the research is key.
I spend time drafting some ideas for both my own talking points and questions for the author, as well as picking music for the show (the format is roughly one hour of me talking on my own, one hour of interview and lots of music interspersed throughout!) before recording anything. I record the show and interview and then edit the show. Towards the start of my time on Boogaloo Radio this was a much more extensive edit as I was still getting used to talking for so long but now the editing is far more minimal, it just ensures everything knits together smoothly. There’s also an admin side to the role, such as liaising with authors and publicists, reaching out to publishing houses and checking in with the producers on the radio station.
What have been the highlights of your job to date?
One highlight was certainly my first show going out. I’d been working on getting the show going for a while before the first episode, and I’d been having discussions about doing a literary show for about a year before anything happened. Covid and set-up time generally meant it was a long wait for the first episode to air but it was a great feeling when it did.
Another highlight was when the first listener reached out to me to say that my show had inspired them to read after a long period without books. The fact that my words, which can sometimes seem interesting to me alone, can motivate someone to pick up a book and get something from it is such a wonderful feeling. I can’t even count the ways that literature has enhanced my life, and whilst of course it’s not necessary for everyone to share my passion (there’s plenty of facets of life that I have little passion for where others have an abundance), I do believe that reading can bring a benefit to everyone’s life, just not everyone has been lucky enough to have the exposure I have had. For this reason, I also volunteer at a literary charity called The Reader, whose mission it is to encourage reading for pleasure, so if I can get one person reading through my radio show that’s a big win for me!
What was your path into this job?
The indirect route was reading. I wouldn’t be on the Boogaloo Radio talking about books if reading wasn’t my biggest passion, but that goes without saying. The key practical factor was probably my Instagram, which I started in 2020. I was sending off endless job applications into the publishing world and not having any luck. I wanted to showcase my love of reading and do something productive, so I started my bookstagram account, abookwormdiary, where I post book reviews mainly. I quickly fell in love with the book community and writing up reviews and it pushed me to want to talk about books even more. I was put forward to the Boogaloo radio committee, and after brainstorming ideas for the show and recording a few pilot episodes I was given the go ahead. I must give a big thank you to Gerry O’Boyle, one of the founders of Boogaloo Radio who has been my biggest supporter and done so much to help push the show forward – I owe him a lot.
What is your process for preparing to interview guests on your radio show?
The first and most important thing is to read their work. Often that will be a recent release of theirs, sometimes more than one of their works. But reading their books, taking notes, and formulating my own ideas on what they have written and the messages I see within the text is the bedrock of any interview. Without this the discussion would be flimsy and superficial. I also do some good old-fashioned googling, looking into their background for any interesting specificities, reading any articles they have written and other interviews they have done. I enjoy reading reviews for books generally, and whilst I write my own notes on the books I read (whether for the radio or just my own reading), reading other readers’ reviews can be enlightening and insightful, so I do this for my guests’ books too. I also get my guests to send over some song picks to play during our interview as the station is primarily built around music, and it's an integral part of my life too.
What do you think are the barriers facing young people who want to work in radio?
Not having the experience or the connections when you are first starting out can be a significant barrier due to the nature of the industry. Radio, like lots of creative and highly in-demand fields, can be a bit of a clique. Stations simultaneously want lots of experience for low level jobs without allowing young people opportunities to get them started. Internships and work experience is so key to getting something on your CV, showcasing your interest and allowing young people to experiment and test out different career paths. Not enough radio stations, or creative sectors more generally, make it easy for young people to get a foot in the door. Boogaloo Radio is actually great at this. It’s got a very young and fresh feel and gives opportunities to younger producers who want more experience in the world of radio.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in pursuing their own career in radio?
I think find your passion and your voice and then believe in it. When I started doing pilot shows to see if I’d be a good fit for the station, I got lots of advice from different quarters, some of which was very helpful but there were points where I felt like I was trying to fulfil someone else’s vision and not my own. You must learn from people with more experience, but when it comes to the creative side, if you have an idea for a show or a creative concept, just because you’re more junior doesn’t mean your ideas aren’t valuable. Creativity is truly subjective, so if you’re putting your name to something it should be something you believe in, that you see as important and authentic to yourself. If you’re passionate and believe in what you are saying it’s hard to go wrong. Also, the famous quote that being good on TV just means conveying what a great time you’re having applies to radio too – make sure to bring enthusiasm and passion even on a bad day, as this is certainly contagious!