Going Live

Today marks the end of my first full week in my new job at the BBC. As you may know, my role is Portfolio Executive, Social Media – BBC Vision. I’m not going to explain it fully yet (I’ll talk more about what that means and what I’m doing soon, for now I just wanted to let you know I’ve started) but I will say that I report to the lovely Dan Taylor, with the even more impressive job title of Senior Portfolio Executive, Internet – BBC Vision and his recently explanation of his title should get you most of the way there.

Television Centre

Although my first day at Television Centre was predictably filled with first-day at school feelings, walking around the building fills me with something close to awe. Television gets made here, and in addition to things I watch now on iPlayer, triggers for childhood memories abound. If I strain my ear I can almost hear the echoes of Philip Schofield, Sarah Green, Trevor and Simon and Gordon the Gopher. There are Daleks in the Foyer cafe, and a near constant stream of tours of the building.

I was very pleased to arrive at my new desk in Television Centre on day 1 and discover that I already had

  • A badge (temporary pass. I get my RFID badge next week)
  • A telephone, configured with my office number
  • A desktop computer
  • A BBC username with which to access the intranet
  • A laptop (with which I am particularly happy)
  • 3G USB dongle for being productive (or at least as productive as possible) on the train
  • An RSA dongle (for internal webmail access via the internet. Handy)

I must say I’m impressed. Of course, I was slightly less impressed to open my brand new inbox and find 115 emails waiting for me, but that’s what mail filtering rules are for.

Television Centre

The commute to Wood Lane isn’t as bad as it probably sounds. In the morning, I take the first direct train from Southampton Airport Parkway to Clapham (8:08am), the overground to Kensington Olympia and from there the BBC shuttle bus to White City. (I have many people who left comments on this blog and messages on Twitter to thank for that excellent tip.) It’s just over 2 hours door-to-door, and I’m learning about timing my departure time for the return journey correctly in order to avoid making it an unnecessary and painful 3 hours. I am looking forward to the overground line to Shepherd’s Bush opening up later this year too.

For my first week I got a one-week season ticket, which turns out to be impressively good value. It costs less to travel for a whole week (£109) than it would for even two individual daily tickets (at £55 a pop). I also picked up a form for an annual season ticket too, which is an even bigger saving.

Going home

I quite like commuting. The 3G card gets me online so I can clear my inbox and get my brain in gear before I arrive at the office, and even offline the uninterrupted time gives me a chance to read, think and write while listening to podcasts.

In fact, I think I’m going to need to subscribe to a lot more podcasts. A lot more.

My current list is pretty short:

Various people have recently suggested This Week in Tech, This Week in Media, This American Life and Audible for books.

What else should I be listening to?

20 replies on “Going Live”

  1. OK, my suggestions would be, to start with your employers:

    The Adam and Joe podcast, The Russell Howard podcast (both BBC 6)
    Start the Week & In Our Time from Radio 4 (both on holiday, but by far the best podcasts I listen to)
    The Bugle
    Slate Explainer (sure, it’s only another 5 minutes of stuff to listen to, but I like it)
    Guardian Science Weekly

    I could go on…

  2. If you’d like stories, I’d recommend the Vinyl Cafe from Stuart McLean. They’re a combination of funny and sentimental (mostly funny but he is Canadian so sentiment will creep in!) – great to read but even better to listen to Stuart reading them (and you’ll never be able to read them without hearing his voice afterwards).

  3. I’ve been doing similar commutes for three years and it took me much longer to work out the quick, cheap routes and the half decent reading and listening fodder to make it more worthwhile. My fave podcasts are maybe a bit obvious, but:
    Friday Night Comedy BBC Radio 4
    Cool Hunting
    Guardian Media and Tech Weekly podcasts
    IT Conversations (too long by half, but some real gems of inspiration in there)

    Happy listening!

  4. Roo,

    I’m not much of a podcast listener, probably because being on the road (company car) means I’m on the phone, returning/making calls… ;-)

    Just wanted to wish you all the best in your new venture – the title, and your boss’s title (and explanation) are most interesting, especially in an age when TV and internet are almost the same thing.

    Looking forward to reading your impressions, beyond the first week.

    Good luck, and keep reading books, to compensate for those who don’t (not entirely, just less than you.. ;-)

  5. Roo,

    I like TV Centre too, you may have seen me in the audience there for the live recording of Two Pints earlier this year :-)

    This is my list of Podcasts which cover technology, business, science, current affairs and music:

    Composer of the Week
    Crossing Continents
    Demos Project : Demos Podcasts
    Digital Planet
    From Our Own Correspondent
    Harvard Business IdeaCast
    IBM developerWorks podcasts
    IBM Institute for Business Value: Insights and Perspectives Podcast
    Ideas from IBM
    In our Tine
    John Pienaar’s Political Review
    Material World
    Money Box
    One Planet
    Peter Day’s World of Business
    Science in Action
    Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone
    TED talks
    The Archers
    The Bottom Line with Evan Davis


  6. hi roo,
    your first day sounds fantastic. after my recent first day, i’m quite jealous of that proper preparation. i’ve recently discovered the tate podcasts/vodcasts, which are fantastic commute fodder.

  7. I’m currently also commuting to White City, but going Winchester -> Waterloo -> Bond St. -> White City. I did think about the train from Clapham, but the frequency was a bit poor last time I looked (plus I can get a non-stop from Winchester to Waterloo at that time). I might try your route, though, to see whether it’s faster. Any thoughts?

  8. The Clapham route is a little bit faster but I mostly like it because it avoids going underground and it’s also a bit cheaper. It’s probably worth trying to see how you get on with it.

    There are a couple of potential drawbacks though:

    • My final hop from Kensington Olympia to White City is by way of a free BBC shuttle bus service, on which nearly everyone has their passes out and ready to show the bus driver. If you’re commuting to White City, should I infer that you have a BBC pass?
    • As you’ve seen, there are not many direct trains to Clapham. There’s a bit gap between 6am and 8:08 (e.g. your 8:18, the one that arrives at Clapham at 9:14). This late start means I don’t get to White City until 10 am. From Winchester, your earlier non-Waterloo trains seem to be direct at 06:18, via Basingstoke at 06:31 or via Woking at 07:55. Going via Waterloo and bouncing back to Clapham is possible, though it obviously takes time and means you’re not on the cheaper ‘not London’ route.

    When I get my season ticket, I’m going to go for a 1 year travel card (£4668) rather than 1 year Southampton Parkway <-> Shepherd’s Bush ticket (£4372). For the additional £6 per week I get access to go via Waterloo, use of the Underground etc. Even if I do continue to mainly go via Clapham and overground it’s is going to be well worth it for the times I can’t, or need a bit more flexibility.

  9. Yet more evidence that I should be listening to You Look Nice Today…

    Well I have a range of podcasts which has only got longer since I got a device capable of playing videos. Some of these might just be worth your time, so feel free to evaluate:

    – Sweettt (Matt Simpson and Luis Suarez, although so far they are basically podcasting about how they intend to podcast, which is a little insular)
    – Girls Gone Geek
    – Attack of the Show (they have range of video content with e.g. gadget reviews in the Gadget Pr0n segment, and others, should be in iTunes)
    – MacBreak Weekly
    – TUAW talkcast
    – Uncontrolled Vocabulary
    – Redmonk
    – The Toadcast (highly recommended if you want to discover new indie bands, a little long, and a lot of music + NSFW ranting)

    Incidentally, on a completely different note, Andrew F – I was following you down the escalator at Waterloo the other day… shortly before arriving at a crush in the Jubilee line escalator and deciding to take a longer route around. Oh, how I remember that Waterloo/Bond St/White City commute (although when office locations moved I ended up going to Shepherds Bush Central Line instead of White City). I guess I will wait for an invitation before I head back there… ;-)

  10. @Roo,

    I’m on expenses, so price is not quite such a concern :)

    And I do have a BBC badge – so the bus would work.

    However, since the Jubilee line at Waterloo was shut this morning – AGAIN – and I had to catch a cab, I’m beginning to wonder how speedy it really is.

    Clapham next week, perhaps.

  11. Fascinating! I’m looking forward to great things. I’m languishing on a really slow connection this month so blogs and podcasts are my only entertainment. Thanks for all the suggestions.

    Here’s my podcast recommendation: Radio Ecoshock.
    It’s a Canadian show but the latest episode focuses largely on the UK.

  12. I love new things and new days. Your mornings sound blissful. I can’t wait to read your posts about train irritations (slobbering bastard children, loud chewing adults, the occasional pre-boinking session) as you go along.

    I also can’t wait til they send you out to the USA (NYC, of course) so we can play together again!

  13. Roo, I *finally* got my SqueezeBox working last night, hurrah! Thanks for your recommendations, I’ve added a few of them to the SqueezeBox now.

    I also just noticed Last.fm are doing podcasts of free music tailored to your taste through your profile. I’ve not tried it out yet, but might be worth a go a for discovering some new music, see http://www.last.fm/home/freemp3s.

  14. Hey, Roo!

    I very much like to listen to podcasts when I drive. On the other hand I am surprised that you say you can read, write, and think, AND listen on the train at the same time. The focus of your attention is not on the audio probably. But that is ok, as long as you realize that you lose 90% of what is being said.

    Here’s the list of the podcasts/vidcasts that I like. Many of them are defunct, but they are worth listening to nonetheless, with the additional advantage of knowing what you get in total, and pacing it as you want:

    alt.NPR: Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything (****)
    The Amazing Show Starring James Randi
    Boing Boing Boing
    Boing Boing’s Get Illuminated
    IT Conversations (****)
    Seminars About Long Term Thinking (*****)
    The Show With Ze Frank
    TED Talks

    Let me know if you sample some of them and if you like them.


  15. Hi David

    Good point. I can’t realistically read and listen to spoken word at the same time. In my second week, when I started having more cause to read and and write during the journey, I found I switched from podcasts to music.

    Thanks for the tips. I’d not come across ‘Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything’ or ‘Seminars About Long Term Thinking’ before, so I’ll be sure to try them out.

  16. Roo, If you subscribe to The Economist then as well as getting the paper version you can download an audio version each week. To quote them ….”The Economist is read word-for-word in its entirety. You can download the complete edition to your computer or audio player, or choose just the sections you most want to hear.”

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