Behind the Scenes of Verbal Discharge
I believe that true beauty can be experienced in many forms. It can be seen with your eyes- In particularly well-built walls, in Pixar movies and in Claudia Winkleman. It can be felt with your hands- Look no further than warm towels, broccoli and, in my daydreams, Claudia Winkleman. It can be tasted- Cyril’s Cup Cakes visits the University of Derby every Tuesday between 10 and 3. But most of all, it can be heard- Every Thursday between 5 and 7 on Phantom Radio, in an edited format every Friday on iTunes and VerbalDischarge.co.uk, and in the voice of Claudia Winkleman.
I am, of course, talking about the current holder of the UDSU Award for Best Radio Show, Verbal Discharge. The first result when you type ‘Sex with Hitler’ into iTunes, Verbal Discharge produces literally some laughs week-in, week-out. The show is hosted by four exceptionally talented, amazingly funny and outstandingly self-absorbed Derby students: James Bosson (22, from Macclesfield), Robbie Owen (14, from Habsro), Jordan Reynolds (Ageless, from the Blood Mines of Telford) and Ben Knight (Unknown). However, true beauty doesn’t come easily. Toy’s stories need animating, towels need warming, brownies need baking and Derby’s premier radio show called Verbal Discharge requires a great deal of preparation.
Each episode begins life as a Dischargelett, a kind of sentient potato with controversial opinions on Syria. This Dischargelett is then handed to our top team of gardening experts, who fail to cultivate it into a show, because they don’t exist. We then begin from scratch and start writing material and coming up with content ideas. This can be the most difficult part of the process; the equivalent to broccoli growing its’ hair, or getting Claudia Winkleman to provide consent. The writing stage is where the show comes from, and where the quality is ultimately decided. As Janet Barker, the show’s producer since 2021, always says “I know, when I see James writing that latest True or False quiz, tied to his desk, fingers worn away, operating he keys with a shower of blood pouring from his thumb-stump, that we have a good show coming up”. You should see Janet at parties. She’s a hoot.
The next part of the Discharge process is the taping of the show. As the program goes out LIVE on Phantom Radio between five and seven on a Thursday, you might think you know everything that goes on here. And you do, because if you listen live nothing is edited out and we all sound like massive dummies.
The third stage is the Aquatic Ruin Zone. Throughout the three acts, horizontal arrows fire from off-screen, and you want to make sure you avoid them. The stone pillars will rise up and down as you go, so remember to use Tails’ flight ability to get through the stage with minimum discomfort. You should be able to clear the first two acts in about four minutes apiece, though the boss on act three may take you slightly longer.
Following this, we edit the show down into a consumable podcast format, often adding music and sound effects and bells and whistles (Quite literally in the Christmas show). It serves to make the show better, more consumable for you, the listener. It’s like eating one of Cyril’s brownies, rather than slopping the chocolate cake mix into your mouth. Both are wonderful, but you could only really get away with one of them in public.
Everything else just kinda happens by itself, which is a miracle, but that’s the benefit of using Dischargeletts rather than recording a show the traditional way. In fact, the only thing left is for you to listen to it. Without your listenership, Verbal Discharge will remain largely the same as it is now, bright and beautiful as Claudia herself.
This has been an elaborate plug for Verbal Discharge, on Phantom Radio every Thursday between 5 and 7PM, then available the following day, any time, on VerbalDischarge.co.uk and iTunes.