19 May 2015
Paul Arnold, audio producer
Paul has been an audio producer for 13 years and lives in Hertfordshire. He previously worked for BBC Radio as a studio manager and producer, and now combines working for his own company and themedianet. He has a passion for bite-sized audio and loves innovative, interactive ideas. In his spare time he writes songs and plays the saxophone.
What is themedianet?
themedianet is a network designed to support, encourage and inspire Christians and others working in the media. We do this through emails and networking on social media and in person. This was an opportunity for me to connect my work and faith more closely.
Tell us about your career highlights…
After a music degree I joined the BBC as a studio manager, initially with Radio 3, but found the work in drama and comedy more challenging and creative. I became a producer when I joined the team at BBC7. I made bite-sized audio for them and for Radio 4, especially quirky, interactive drama projects.I think Chain Gang is the work I'm most proud of, a three-minute drama with a great cliff-hanger. We asked listeners each week to come up with a plot for the next episode, dramatised it and recorded it. Great fun.
What is the greatest challenge?
Media folk can be a bit of a cynical bunch, so the idea of faith, and standing up for something you believe makes a difference, can be rather counter-cultural. Working patterns can also make regular commitments to a Sunday service or house group tricky, too.
What about opportunities?
For one, it's never been more important for people to understand faith issues. We need to find ways of doing this that meet people where they are, and take them on a journey. The success of Tony Jordan's Nativity and The Ark shows that there are opportunities to tell stories about faith that can be enjoyed and understood by all. It's also very important that we are active in secular media, helping to choose the stories that are told and how we tell them.
How can the Church engage better with the media?
The Church needs to understand that it's all about relationships. Get to know your local newspaper reporters, radio producers and presenters. They need local stories, but their duty is to their audience, not you. So find out what makes a good story for them, and give it to them. They'll love you for it.
How does your faith influence your work?
I've always tried to keep an ear out for issues that have come up, so I've sometimes raised things I thought were a problem with other producers, or conversely allayed their fears that a particular line in a script was terribly offensive. I've also had the chance now and again to produce items that can tell something of the Christian story, like some pop-up dramas I did called Easter Diaries. Tim McInnerny as Herod was just brilliant.
What are your top tips for others who might want to go into this industry?
These days everyone has access to the tools they need to make great media and also to an audience. So go ahead and make some stuff and get it out there. Then ask as many people you can about how it could be better. Have a look at the things you admire and try to work out what makes them good.
What inspires you?
I've always found Romans 12 an inspiring, but challenging passage. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is —His good, pleasing and perfect will."
What is your vision for the future?
I'd like to see a media that's infused by biblical values - honesty, justice, a concern for God's world, the poor and the outcast, and an understanding and tolerance of faith and faith issues.
Please pray for those working in the media, that they can bring light to dark places, heal wounds and bring communities together. Also for God's protection for those working in dangerous situations, in order that we can better understand our world.