When it came to do the research for finding my work experience, I undertook many different avenues. I had originally already done some work experience at the BBC for a day and had done a bit of shadowing at Kiss however I wanted to try getting an internship somewhere and find out that Radio X did a 3 month internship which looked amazing and so I ended up applying for this. Unfortunately, it didn’t go anywhere and so I continued looking at other ways I could gain experience.
I then went to BBC introducing last year and although this wasn’t specifically a “radio event” it was great for meeting lots of people from the music industry and so I ended up meeting one of the presenters from Radio X who was giving a talk. I had listened to his show previously and asked if there was any way I could help on his show in order to gain some more experience. He did happen to be looking for someone and so I started helping and gaining some “work experience” from doing this over a period where I looked after the bands, he had coming in to perform live in the studio.
Although this was helpful and did help me get some experience I needed to try and find more in order to build up a much higher number of hours. I researched online and found websites such as Gothinkbig who are a company who work specifically with Bauer media to give young people opportunities within the media industry and they hold lots of networking events which I went to such as one of them being called “How to get into Radio” where I got to meet lots presenters and producers generally already working in the industry. The key things they emphasised on was being persistent and keep applying for internships and network and ask to help out and work for free in some cases.
The main piece of advice I gained from this talk via Gothinkbig though was to look outside the box and look at a wider range of jobs and work experience. For example, not just applying for producer or presenter roles but look at all aspects of the media such as the digital side, content side, social media, engineering, marketing etc. All these other things that would be another way of getting work experience and putting us in the right direction of where we wish to go. This is something I feel I was lacking in before because I was always applying for general radio internships but wasn’t looking at further roles/work experience that could be available.
Another website I looked into was the Pips, who give really good advice in terms of practicing presenter demo’s, approaching people in the industry and rather than just applying for things online, more importantly just emailing and either asking to meet people for a coffee and find out more about what they do or get advice from other people who are already working in the industry. This was a much more informal way of doing things but was another approach in order to try and gain work experience.
Whilst I was doing these things over a few months I was still occasionally helping on a show at Radio X. I found out from one of the producers at Radio X that LBC were looking for more Technical Operators. I looked into what a Technical Operator did and found that I already had a fair few of the skills because I knew it involved driving a desk, segueing up idents on a playout system and controlling the mics. So, I found out from this producer who oversaw employing Tech Op’s at LBC and from this I got in touch and met Ben who’s now my boss at LBC and I have been working there for just under a year now. I had listened to some shows on LBC previously before meeting just so I had a better idea about what the station was about and involved.
When it came to coming up with an idea for my audio project I struggled at first because it was so broad in terms of what we could produce and the basis of the criteria was to find a commissioner who supported our idea and was happy for us to go ahead with the project. I discussed with my tutor that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for an idea, and they suggested I do something on music and DJ’s as this was something I was already passionate about and wanted to learn more. I was already working for a DJ agency called Piano DJ who are a company based in Essex and distribute DJ’s and other musicians to play at weddings. Because I already knew the owners of the agency I then came up with the idea of investigating what it’s really like for people who DJ and perform at weddings and to look at peoples experience of this.
I thought that this would be an interesting idea to go ahead with because generally everyone loves music and lots of people experience getting married in their life and so I felt that this was the best way to go about doing this project. Furthermore, I then emailed James and Nina Hughes who are the owners of Piano DJ. I pitched this idea to them, and they were both very keen and happy for me to go forward with this idea and with them being my commissioner.
I have learned so much in the past year or so doing my placement at LBC. I started off there by doing some Tech Oping on the Sunday shifts. When I first started there, I knew nothing about politics and now I’ve learned about who the main three political parties are, generally more about Brexit is this is something they don’t stop talking about and about various politicians. This may not be radio related but It’s something I knew virtually nothing about before starting there and I’m very happy to have learned more about these things.
What I’ve learned:
In terms of radio it’s been invaluable. I now know how to drive a logitek desk, edit pre-recorded shows together using Burli and Adobe Audition CC. Researching and booking guests for shows. People skills, because you work with so many different producers and you speak to the general public when taking calls on the phones. An example of when this all started was when someone called in sick after a couple of months of me starting the placement, they needed someone to come in at 4AM to AP on early breakfast and then on the morning shows.
I went in with no experience of working on these shows previously however it was great because this was when I started to learn how to use phone box, how to take calls in a quick and efficient way. Recording interviews and editing Steve Allen’s podcast.
One day I was asked to OB produce Jacob Rees Moggs’s show in Windsor where he was staying. Because I could drive it worked well for them and so they showed me how to use a Tieline, setup the backdrop with the branding and iPad to film the show live. I then drove to Windsor where I had half an hour to set up all the equipment. It was quite a stressful process and after setting up some of the kit I suddenly realised that myself and some of the other producers had forgotten the Tieline and I had to improvise using the other equipment there.
I was on the phone to other engineers from LBC. We had thirty seconds to spare and we made it on air just in time however after 15 minutes of us being connected to the hotels Wi-Fi we lost signal and I couldn’t get us back on air. This was a particularly difficult day because it was very spontaneous, and I had been shown all of this in a very short space of time however it really helped me to handle pressure well and although I had made a mistake of forgetting the Tieline, I learned how to cope and use other bits of equipment in order to get us back on air.
In terms of what I’ve learnt from working with a commissioner is you have to make yourself available lots and work under pressure around schedules for example I wanted to interview one of the DJ’s and both Nina and James to get their inputs to go into my audio project.
I had to work out timings of what day/weeks we were able to do this as well as keep to time as I only had a couple of months to put this audio project together. It was certainly difficult because James and Nina both live in Ibiza and so trying work around that was a good challenge. I also learnt how to use a Marantz in order to go out and interview people which I think is a great skill I couldn’t do before. One mistake I did make a lot to start with was the audio levels when mixing the project. I didn’t really have a good idea of how to balance out the gain of all the different levels especially when it came to the different clips I had when editing the final sequence together however over the period of weeks and editing the drafts I had together I feel as though I generally did start to improve a lot and was really happy with the audio levels in the final mix.
My Future Prospects:
Overall, drawing on my experience so far I’m not entirely sure where I would like to go next however I feel the closest I would pick is either working as a presenter within music radio, whether this is working on Kiss, Capital or Radio 1. These are the sort of stations that certainly appeal to me; however, I would also love to produce on a national breakfast show too, I would be happy either way if I could get to any of these positions. I feel as though I have a fair amount of experience of working in talk radio now and feel as though I could definably transfer the skills I’ve gained in this area in order to work in music radio.
One of the practical steps I’m going to take is keep on doing what I’m doing and keep applying for jobs via Media UK if anything comes up working in on any kind of music radio station. Another step I wish to take is keep on producing demo’s and sending them out to music stations, I have been doing that recently lots at Heart. Because I’ve done some work on their street team I’m able to go in and use their studios to practice my presenting which is hopefully a step in the right direction.
Furthermore, I’m going to keep emailing and meeting new people to whether that’s asking following up people from the BBC and asking if there’s any work experience opportunities or even just meeting for a coffee. I’m also going to keep looking out for the BBC internship scheme on their website as I know they get people to do their internship at Radio 1 and 1xtra every couple of months which could be a good way in. Finally, one last step I’m going to take is to keep going to networking events and awards ceremonies. Whether that’s going to the audio production awards and meeting new people or the SRA’s. BBC introducing etc the list goes on.
Links to websites that have helped me:
GothinkBig – https://gothinkbig.co.uk/
The Pips – http://www.thepips.co.uk/
Media Info – https://media.info/