As part of the Oundle Festival of Literature’s speaker programme, broadcaster Liz Kershaw gave a talk at St Peter’s Church in Oundle about her autobiography, ‘The Bird and the Beeb’, examining the highs and hairy moments of her 40-year career. Members of OSCAR Radio, a pupil-led radio team from Oundle School were amongst the audience and got to share their experiences with Liz after the event before they go on air from 4 November to 1 December on 87.9FM.
Liz, who can’t remember a period in her life unaccompanied by a soundtrack blaring out of the radio, commented: “It would never have occurred to me I could be on the radio. I thought the people I listened to had been born into it somehow. It wasn’t something I could even aspire to in Rochdale.”
She talked about the good days, when she formed a band with young TV mathematician Carol Vorderman, pioneered the TV phone vote while employed by BT, hosted Radio 1’s Evening Show in the late-1980s and successfully fought to save and transform BBC 6 Music. And then there’s the bad, when (much to her dismay) she found herself in the gossip columns as the rumoured soon-to-be-blushing bride of fellow BBC DJ Bruno Brookes, faced the sack and crossed paths with Rochdale MP Cyril Smith and disgraced personality Jimmy Saville.
Helen Shair, festival manager of the Oundle Festival of Literature, said: “We aim to bring authors and poets to Oundle to speak on a wide variety of subjects and try to involve the local schools such as Oundle as much as possible. We have had explorers, adventurers, sporting writers, biographers and novelists in the past year and teachers have enthusiastically supported these events by encouraging their pupils to attend and even becoming involved themselves by introducing or interviewing authors. More information about our programme can be found at www.oundlelitfest.org.uk.”
Founded in 1988, OSCAR Radio is the only radio station run and directed exclusively by u18s. With the continued support of Sir Howard Stringer (chairman, Sony Worldwide) and Carl Heinlein and managed by upper sixth form pupils Eliza Smith (17) and Katie Vickerstaff (18), OSCAR has a legacy that spans more than 15 years.
Katie said: “To be able to hear Liz Kershaw speak about her experience of presenting and her career at the BBC was invaluable and has allowed Eliza and myself to consider some of the techniques she used for the upcoming OSCAR broadcast. Her successful career and drive provided us with something to aspire to and her dedication to radio and promoting women within the media industry was truly inspirational.”
OSCAR Radio reaches a 30 square-mile range and has made 31 previous broadcasts. With pupils creating and hosting their own shows, it has enjoyed a diverse selection of programmes, from music shows to topical shows like ‘News and Nutters’.
With an ever-increasing variety of broadcasts of concerts, customary news, sports, music, current affairs, debates, community events and drama, the aim for this November broadcast is to increase the quality and variety of the shows. Listeners will be able to tune in on their radios or use the live streaming utility on OSCAR’s website at www.oscar-radio.org where they can also listen to podcasts. The website enables listeners all over the globe to listen in and access the programme and information about OSCAR.
Eliza added: “The forthcoming broadcast is particularly exciting, with OSCAR Radio having recently moved in to its brand new premises in the Gascoigne Building. With new recording space and technology, everyone is working to make it the best broadcast yet.”