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Creative Access alumna, Amrit Matharu: Launching my career in radio

Creative Access alum, Amrit Matharu was completed her internship at BBC Asian Network in January 2016. Since then, she has been offered a full time position with the station and has now been given the opportunity to present her own radio show. In this blog piece, Amrit talks about how she developed her passion for radio and how Creative Access helped her achieve her career goals. 

Sometimes the dreams you have are the ones you didn’t even know you had. And that’s exactly how I have to explain this moment! I’d forever watch people on telly whether they were news readers, cooking presenters, Konnie Huq from Blue Peter or Fearne Cotton on Radio 1 and think, I could do that. It was only until I was asked to be in a short student documentary at university that I actually considered seriously thinking about a career in the media.

I went off to uni as a 18-year-old geek who was so inspired by my school teachers, I was certain that teaching is what I wanted in a career. With a passion for most things teenage girls do, music, fashion, hair and make up, I also knew that I had a passion for writing. There was something that connected with me in the process of stringing words together to convey emotions and feelings. I guess you could call it the power of language. I was fascinated by reading books and discovering people’s stories. After one teaching module in my English Language and Literature degree, I realised that I couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork involved in teaching. I wanted to make a difference now. I started a blog, on the most randomest of things from how I cut my mum’s Shalwaar Kameez and turned it into an outfit fit for the club, to interviewing some guy rapping on campus who started trending on Twitter! I realised I had a voice. Thus I was asked to be filmed in a documentary, and you know what… I loved it! I loved that I was telling a story. I loved that I was engaging with an audience. I loved that I was broadcasting.

I remember that specific moment in my life when I realised, this is my future. I wanted to tell stories. It’s all fine and well thinking back to my Eureka moment but I had no idea how I was going to make it happen. I continued blogging, even YouTubing and after university went off to ‘work’ for a magazine and newspaper in London… But of course I was new to the industry and had no idea how it actually worked. I didn’t get paid but that was alright if I was completely in love with it… Wasn’t it?

After nearly two years of writing for several publications, frustration got the better of me. Why couldn’t I get a paid job in this field I was beginning to have so much experience in? I decided on whim that I’d try my local BBC station if they had any admin or office work going… In my head I secretly hoped I could do some writing for them online. A receptionist picked up the phone and said “you’ll have to email so and so…”. I’m just being fobbed off I thought, but actually to my surprise I got an email back from someone inviting me for a chat. Here’s where it all happened. I was introduced to the world of radio.

Joining community radio was one of the best things I could recommend for someone who wants to join a career in the media. I learnt how so much of the industry works just by being involved in one single area. Within two months of volunteering in local radio I joined BBC Asian Network on the Creative Access Intern Scheme. I had a job. A real job – where I got paid! I trained as a production assistant and after a year began working at the Asian Network as an Assistant Producer. Deciding where to start with all the amazing opportunities I’ve had at the BBC would be torture, because they’ve all be great.

But this by far is the greatest! After seeing my favourite personalities like Fearne Cotton and Anita Rani over the years, and more recently my fellow colleagues at BBC Asian Network present, it just highlighted to me how much I have actually always wanted to do this. But I never believed it could happen to someone like me.

My dreams have become a reality. I’ve been given an opportunity that I never even knew was possible for me to achieve.  If I someone told 5 years ago that I’d be presenting a show on the BBC, I would have laughed in their face. I believed that things like this happened to superly talented people, not some daydreamer snapping her life away on Instagram!

I’m excited and nervous at the same time. A huge thank to everyone who has been so supportive and had a part to play in this journey. This experience has taught me a lot about self-belief and achieving your goals. If the plan doesn’t work out, change your plan but never the goal.

This Sunday (5th June), Amrit will be sitting in for Jona Kotnis on BBC Northampton’s Asian Show. You can tune in to the show here.