I’ve felt it before, and I had an awful feeling it was coming again today.
It’s currently Monday 7th April and as I write this, it’s been about three and a half hours since I received the phone call I’d been dreading – the phone call that would either make or break the last six weeks of effort. A phone call that I knew in my heart of hearts the result of as soon as I woke up this morning. The dreaded no.
As some of you know, I was one of the final ten candidates for the Traffic & Travel and Web Content Apprentice position at the Manchester-famous Key 103. This was, as I pointed out in the interviews, the position I’d been waiting for – a position that would play to my strengths as an absolute radio nerd, as someone who has to write and rewrite statements on a daily basis, as someone who is used to dealing with the public on the phones and face-to-face. Yet it was still not to be.
Almost three years ago, I got rejection after rejection thanks to universities, but I was okay, because I had the BBC Production Trainee Scheme to fall back on. As you might have guessed, the email came through telling me I wasn’t being put forward. I wept. A lot. For forty-five minutes to be precise. I was that much of a mess that I collapsed in tears in a stairwell at school, having to be comforted by one of my maths teachers. Not my finest hour. But I learnt a valuable lesson that day – never get your hopes up, cause they very rarely pan out when they’re your only option. And I stuck to that until this past week. I had exit strategies planned. There was a nagging voice in my mind telling me not to get my hopes up, but I ignored it. Much to my current regret.
I’ve a lot to be angry about – the feelings are still very raw. This is the first time I’ve ever been called “too laid back”. The ideas that I thought were genius went down like a fart in a lift. The fact that someone else will get an opportunity that I can only dream about frustrates me infinitely, and that is going to last an awfully long time. But I’ve also a lot to be proud about. I beat out (at least) 130 other people. I got more excited and passionate about anything than I have in the past three years. But this sort of thing has screwed me over royally when it comes to emotions. And that’s not to say I’m not immensely frustrated at one person – myself – for the things that I had pointed out. There is no-one else to blame but myself for this situation, and that’s probably the worst thing about this situation.
I have however met a lot of really lovely people.
Firstly, thank you to Helena Priest and Alex Sherriff from Learning Unlimited for being so lovely and putting up with my emails when they were in charge of the process. Thank you for teasing me so much when they rung me up about whether they’d put me through or not. Thank you for being so chatty when the final fifteen were stuck in that room for three hours. Thank you above all for not breaking my heart on my 21st birthday. That I am grateful for.
Thank you to Kate Cocker and Holly Smith from Key 103. Thank you Kate for being upfront with me this afternoon – I’m not sure I could have coped with another minute of pontification and then being told I’m crap. Thank you for giving me actual constructive criticism – I might never have been called “too laid back” before, but I sure as hell will never be called that again. Thank you for pointing out that I may have slightly over-thought the logo idea, despite my best intentions.
Thank you to Adam Catterall – you brightened my day last Tuesday by actually remembering that it’d been my birthday the week before. Thank you for being an absolute legend when I met you and was stupidly nervous. Thank you for sharing my sense of humour (“What the BLOODY HELL is that?!“) when it comes to item choices. Thank you for showing me what a real radio presenter looks like – I have the utmost respect for you.
Finally, thank you to everyone who I met and basically competed against. Aaron and Tatum – I am insanely jealous of you both, but I have faith that you were the right two to go through. James – I am honestly still in shock that you did not make it to the final two. I was convinced you would be the biggest stumbling block to me getting the job. As it happens, the biggest stumbling block was my own damn self by the look of things! Richard – you are absolutely crazy, but in a good way. We were the last pair who were interviewed together standing, and you did a complete 180 when it came to personality between that and the final fifteen day! Who’d have thought that someone who was a little bit quiet one day would be probably the second loudest person in the room three days later? You and James were the two I was most worried about facing, and the fact that all three of us went out together is a huge shock to me. To everyone else who I haven’t mentioned – the process wouldn’t have been the same without you guys, and I am so proud to be a member of this tiny group.
I’m unlikely to forget this experience – for better and for worse – for an awfully long time. I entered this process as someone who had lost his passion and way when it comes to radio, and I’ve left it being so into it that I threw an adult tantrum two minutes after getting off the phone. It has reignited my passion for the radio to the point of no return. Watch out radio stations – I’m coming to get you.