Walking out of Broadcasting House at 1.00am on December 29th was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was the finale of over twenty years of announcing and news reading for Radio 4 and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t emotional and sad about it.
Working as an announcer, however, is very restrictive. For twenty years I had used my ‘voice’ on the airwaves but I didn’t really have a ‘voice’. I always described my job as ‘reading out loud’. There was, of course, a lot more to it than that, but by and large they were not my words. I was not able to have an opinion either at work or outside it.
The mini media storm that emerged after an interview I gave to The Evening Standard was a surprise though. True, I did say that I didn’t think there were enough women on the Today programme. However, I did not leave because of that and I have defended Radio 4 for being better than any other network I can think of in their representation of women.
So what now? I care deeply about women having a voice in the media. Not just what we say but how we say it. I do think many women fear or dislike the sound of their own voice. They are criticised for being shrill and hard to listen to. My theory is that most of this is conditioning, but women who may be less used to broadcasting are understandably less confident and this can affect the voice… both in its tone and in how well we put our arguments.
One of my missions is to find ways to help women with this. To use my experience to train and advise women on using their voices – and to use my own.
I look forward to seeing you and more importantly hearing you out there.