That was the week that was.
It was the best and worst of times. A brilliant achievement from a brilliant team to sustain ten hours of live radio without the comfort blanket of a studio. But some of the stress levels will stay with us for a long time…..
Not having any broadcast quality lines installed in New York until an hour before the programme for example. Guests arriving at the same venue (COLORS restaurant) to be greeted by a sheet of tarpaulin over the front as they were putting in a new opening. Some went away as a result, thinking they must be mistaken.
In the end, it didn't matter. Thanks to the excellence of the guests at each venue, and their willingness to talk to us in moving terms about what was happening in their lives (the Katrina survivors in New Orleans and the 9/11 families in New York stand out here) really made the programmes.
It was, to be honest, a good chance to meet people from two of our very supportive partner stations WDET in Detroit and WETA in Washington and to get some feedback for the programme. The fact that it was mostly positive was also a bonus.
Not everything worked; sometimes people pressed their own agendas rather than dealing with the question in hand; sometimes and understandably, people got stuck on the specific and not the general.
Some of you told us it was a bit U.S-dominated, which is a hazard of broadcasting in one country.
Some of you also criticised us for the programmes having a "liberal" feel. And in some cases, that's fair but we arrived in these places to hear what people had to say and we tried to balance that with e-mails and contributions from outside. We didn't "set" the agenda, our contributors did, though I accept we invited some of them on to the programme.
Overall, it was in my view a great success, not only because we proved we can do it but because by broadcasting from people's back yards we heard authentic stories in a more friendly environment than if we'd invited them into a studio.
So thanks to all our contributors and to all the people at the venues who bent over backwards to roll out the red carpet for us. Thanks to the listeners who came out to see us. We had a small competition amongst ourselves to name the most inspiring people we'd come across during the week. After about the twentieth nomination we gave up.
Thank you. We have plans for other trips so please keep reading and more importantly, listening.