I have enjoyed leading the charge for the pre-production and production stages of the feature assignment. A feature story for radio is a media form I have not interacted with yet and is therefore both challenging and important for my professional practice and skill set to evolve.
After agreeing upon the broad topic of hair removal, I immediately set up a production document on the drive which became a central and linear means of communication from which the group could work.It included everyone’s assigned roles. Mine included pre-production organisation, vox-pops, research, scripting of narration and research. However my roles altered as I was organised enough to book a total of four interviews to conduct of the following week. On the Monday, my group conducted vox-pops on campus which was able to happen as I booked the equipment a week prior. This was a good lesson in learning a method of producing content quickly and efficiently, allowing ample time for the edit. I know from past media classes that editing and post are not my strong suits, so happily gave those roles to other group members as not to compromise our mark. Over the break, I would endeavour to book time at RRR and also learn editing software to a higher level as I feel this is an area from which I could improve greatly in with confidence, practice and time.
I conducted some research into the area using academic sources. I thought this was important as the initial discussions of our feature indicted that it would be strongly based on varying opinions surrounding body hair. Our piece did not set about with an argument as such as to whether hair removal was “good” or “bad” as the issue is more grey area than black and white – there is no right or wrong answer, rather it was of more intrigue to investigate why we hold the opinions we do of body hair. Based on three main ares of research, I devised a set of base questions regarding the following. These are: A) Cultural B) Academic C) The hair removal industry as immensely profitable. Therefore, we knew early on that it would be important to gather as much opinon and voices on the issue to culminate an interesting and varied piece. These questions included:
How old are you ?/ Culture / name …
What was your first encounter with hair removal?
Do you think your culture has certain ideas about this practice?
Were you allowed to remove hair when younger
Do you think it’s your choice or do you think that’s influenced by outside.
Do you think people think of men/women differently when they remove body hair?
If it’s not in the context of ie sports players, what sort of attitudes do you hear about hair removal?
Do you acknowledge that your decision to remove body hair now is informed in part by society and outside opinions?
Is your opinion of others informed by their body hair?
This set of questions became a useful tool as I conducted my interview, they were used to guide and structure the conversation but also allowed me the room to add more questions around them, making each interview have its own thread or topic. For example, when listening back and annotating my interview with Tom, it became really clear that his parent’s opinions deeply effected his perception of himself. It would also be a useful tool for the editors because using similar questions allowed for a comparison of answers to be sourced on a similar question. I also annotated my interviews in different highlights to easily draw attention to the editors points of insight or similarities across participants experiences.
An example of a research study I sourced was entitled The Role of Facial and Body Hair Distribution in Women’s Judgments of Men’s Sexual Attractiveness. (Dixson and Rantala, 2016)
interestingly, encounters with media whilst preparing this feature cited this article and the argument of whether or not men were perceived as more or less attractive based on their facial hair (or lack thereof) this was found, via my facebook feed entitled “https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/well/family/are-men-with-beards-more-desirable.html
Secondary insights came from a facebook callout which I shared on my personal account. I posed the question like this:
“HAIR REMOVAL, a hairy situation !
Were you someone who wasn’t allowed to remove their body hair when they were younger? How did it effect you? Do you choose not to remove or not remove your body hair? Why?
Have you ever felt pressure from family or society regarding your body hair choices?
If you are interested in having a quick chat about it for a uni assignment (It’s audio recorded but you can be anon if you like) get in touch ASAP!”
Trong responded asking, assuming that the piece would only focus on females. of course this was not the case, so I responded stating the obvious. This did indicate already, some assumptions people held about hair removal and it in part being influenced by gender.
I had several acquaintances personal message me of their encounters and it emerged that their first encounter was almost always a triggering point for their ideas about hair removal forming.This is why I made it the first question I asked during the interview. I also found that asking the subject why they responded to my facebook callout a catalyst for discussion from which I was able to lead into asking about a very personal subject.
Aside from academic studies, I conducted research of my own in the form of interviews. Half were with males and half were with females and the age range was between 20 – 28 years old.
I personally conducted four interviews with participants all of varying cultural backgrounds. The aim of these interviews were to assess how the cultural climate you grow up in has any link to your hair removal practices as an adult. Whilst the limitations of the radio form prevents me from researching a larger sample of participants, I felt these four interviews were sufficient for our purposes. The most different perspective came from Trong, who responded by the facebook callout in regards to not having enough hair to remove. His perspective was immediately a point of difference, as well as coming from Vietnam where I was shocked to here that women having body hair held severely negative consequences (ie. they were called ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’) after hearing this I had to ask the question a few different ways to actually understand what I was hearing. This is a perfect example of the cultural differences we were trying to investigate.
The interview process made me see how different types of interviews can be used for different content. For example, vox-pops are short and sharp and can be used to get a general understanding of the topic. I put in the outline that a montage of these could be used in the intro to almost overwhelm the listener, and then branch out in to discussion and insight offered by the one on one interviews.
Conducting interviews with people I didn’t know very well was also a good experience to have during the semester as it will likely reflect how radio production could work for me outside of uni. I really made an effort to be as organised and informed as possible on topics, even with guests that I didn’t book so I could treat their time with us on the show or in one-on-one interviews with insight rather than ignorance.
Granted at the time of this, I am yet to hear the finished feature, I am content that we approached a topic that goes largely undiscussed by the mainstream media, and even at a personal level may open up discussions amongst our peers into challenging why we hold the views we have as it became apparent in our interviews that our approach to hair removal is almost largely autonomous and seen as a natural thing to do. When an idea like this seems ‘natural’ it is then of interest to take a step back and as “why” is this a ‘natural’ attitude?
From this assignment, my interest in media particularly in the form of radio has been maintained, and further stirred to see what more content I could make. I now see myself more confident in presenting and also have a better sense of the methods of which to organise and produce radio. These two skills I hope will be transferred in my efforts to do more radio related tasks after the semester and post-graduation. The Room With A View studio has offered me a chance to operate in a professional environment and elaborate on skills in the radio production method. A main challenge in this class has been the subjectivity of what makes for a good interview. There are a multitude of variables, that can influence this and it’s hard to assess what conversation may emerge from an interview until you meet the participant. In future, I would always continue to talk to them beforehand to firstly put the interviewee at ease, and to also assess their style of talking and any subjects that would want to focus on. I found this conclusion based on the feedback of my one-on-one interview.
Research for further insight can be found on my blog post called research.