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Authenticity, organisation & integrity; radio wisdom in MediaCity…

We didn’t think we could top our radio masterclass in London, but our Salford radio enthusiasts certainly gave it a run for its money…

Siobhan Kenny, CEO of Radiocentre, the industry body for commercial radio, opened the evening for us with a message on the importance of emerging talent in radio and how we must nurture those upcoming in the industry. This set the tone for the rest of the evening; encouraging young people to pursue their passions with the knowledge that being yourself is the ultimate asset.

Siobhan then handed the mic over to our charismatic chair, Jessie Aru-Phillips, journalist and podcast producer for The Sista Collective on BBC Radio 5 Live. As an ice breaker, Jessie asked the panellists to reflect on their journey into radio and how they’ve worked towards their current position. Each professional revealed their top tips and secrets about how to make yourself stand out in this competitive industry, all of which we’ve neatly arranged for you below…

Rozina Breen, Head of North, former Head of News at BBC Radio 5 Live kicked off the conversation with her take on diversity in radio. As Head of North, Rozina has learnt to appreciate the importance of different talent. She emphasised how much she has enjoyed “giving a voice to the North. Giving people with different stories a chance to speak. They have something different to offer from those in London and they should be appreciated.” In the middle of Salford’s MediaCity, this point particularly resonated with the audience. Knowing that the beauty of radio is that it is all about engaging with your local community and that is equally as important everywhere we go.

 

Jessie agreed with this statement, highlighting how her early experience working with BFBS in Afghanistan was all about knowing your community and making sure your radio show serves them. “Engage with your community! It’s what keeps my energy levels up for the whole show. No matter where in the world you are, the people around you are so important to making a successful show.” It’s easy to get complacent if you’ve been doing a show for a long time so this is the perfect way to ensure that your presentation skills are always improving and never lagging behind.

Dotun Adebayo, (or the ‘Night Watchman’ as he likes to be called) presents the ‘Up All Night’ on BBC Radio 5 Live. His experience in nocturnal shifts makes him an expert in the sustenance of energy. He’s all about how ideas fuel your show and keep them fresh: “The entire business of media is predicated on ideas. Ideas can come in many formats. Even if you have a thousand ideas that’s never too many!” What makes you go further, is your ability to turn all that energy into ideas that have been refined. The best way to do that is to “keep on listening. Each programme has its own twist. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t.” 

All of this advice may seem great if you already have a show…but, as Tim Pemberton, Managing Editor at BBC Radio Gloucestershire, suggests – why not make your own show? “In today’s world, there are so many tools at your disposal. It’s very different from when I started. What’s stopping you from making your own show? Make use of the full range of outlets out there – start your own podcast, show, or whatever else.” He stressed how important it is to show your passion and interests; spot a gap in the market and make it happen.

 

Shreni Yajnik, Assistant Producer at Free Radio completely agreed with Tim. As a newcomer to the industry she quickly learnt that “You can’t just tell people what you do… you’ve got to SHOW them! Radio is all about being creative so make sure you have created something tangible that demonstrates your skills. You want your personality to shine through.”

 

Swarzy Macaly, Breakfast Presenter at KISS FM rounded off the panel with her advice for those looking to break into the industry: “Know what you’re good at but always be prepared to learn. Believing in yourself is the best thing you can do. And if you have to, fake it until you make it!” It was this confidence that was noticed by KISS FM in 2016 when Swarzy won ‘The KISS Chosen One’ and propelled her into success. We’d suggest that you definitely take her advice! If you want to hear more from Swarzy she’s kindly written this great Twitter thread to summarise her thoughts.

A huge thanks to our outstanding panel for their time and true industry expertise. A special thanks to our partners at Radiocentre and the BBC for hosting and organising such a wonderful opportunity for our budding broadcasters.