by Faye Dicker
Being given a mentor with Sound Women came at a pivotal point in my life. For various reasons, I hadn’t returned to my presenting job, after having my baby in 2012. Although I kept busy through voiceover work, I was beginning to wonder if there was still a place for me in on the airwaves. Having sadly identified with the recent research about the fall out of women over the ages of 36 in radio, I felt a bit lost.
I also realized I was now in a different world, where I was juggling motherhood & freelancing and was missing the day-to-day interaction that a ‘work place’ gave me. So decided there was nothing else for it, but to try & create my own own-line community, for fellow freelancing mums.
In my usual ‘gung-ho’ fashion, I took to the streets with a pushchair in one arm and a microphone in the other – interviewing fellow mums in business. It was time to showcase their work, share their stories & tell the world!
In many ways, podcasting has been the most creative thing I’ve done in years. While working in local radio gave me focus, it had almost become a production line. Grass roots reporting, in the heart of the community – be it broadcasting through my website, had a buzz about it. For once I felt I was onto something.
The stories came thick & fast and in many ways, the site grew more quickly than I could ever imagine. Yet it needed more focus. Great though it was to be the editor, producer & presenter all in one, I needed a steer. Was I going off in a bonkers direction, or was any of this any good? Amongst many things, what I wanted was professional development.
That was when I heard about the Sound Women mentoring scheme. It had my name written all over it. I was excited just at the opportunity to apply for something, let alone – dare I think, even being given a place. I was so excited to be able to tell likeminded women what I was up to, if nothing else, it was great to just fill out the form, cross my fingers & wait.
The day I found out I was given a mentor was definitely a ‘red letter day’. It was like a double thumbs up that some one else believed in me. Bouncing off the walls, isn’t the half of it. By then, I was pregnant with our second baby & felt I had ‘confess’ this to my mentor – explaining it didn’t mean I was half-hearted, far from it. I was completely committed to my new labor of love, podcasting & interviewing as Freelance Bristol Mum.
I needn’t have worried. The moment we struck up conversation, she instantly understood – explaining that although her children were now young adults, she still worked part time & it had never stopped her love of radio. I knew we were on the same wave length.
‘Nervously excited’ is the best way to describe how I felt before our first meeting. I instantly liked her style & direct way of talking. That first session alone was the most feedback I’d been given in years. Yes, I was onto something & yes, my stories were good – but my ‘top & tail’ approach to editing, needed to be worked on! She was a straight a talker and even told me the precise timing she had stopped listening. I could do better! I was given homework to listen to & couldn’t wait to get started.
Suddenly some one believed in me again. Some one was actually listening. It was like having your mum in the audience on your school play – it made me want to try harder, knowing she was paying attention.
I instantly upped my game. Spending in many cases, a disproportionate amount of time editing, often with only an ‘average’ result, but I was learning. I’d avidly meet my mentor, waiting for her feedback. She’s given me more steer than I could hope for, as well as practical advise.
She helped me to compartmentalize the different types of interview I was doing & focus on my core ones – where my strengths lie. As well teaching me the best way to break down hours of audio into manageable chunks. We last met immediately off the back of an interview I’d recorded, which was essentially quite dry – but I knew had a nub of an idea. As I was sitting at the table, with a set of business cards in front of me, of the people I’d interviewed, she made sense of it all.
Having a mentor with Sound Women, is one of the best things that has happened to me. It’s given me self belief & confidence in what I’m doing. I’m learning all the time & I want to impress her. Gone are the days of ‘top & tailing’ an interview, it’s about developing a clear style and getting the best out of subject.
More recently lots of people have complimented the podcasts, so something must be working. I’m reaching out to people in a new way & developing my professional skills. So thank you Sound Women for giving me this opportunity at such a key point, having a mentor has been a milestone moment in my journey.