The University of Lincoln hosted a “Radio Academy Masterclass” on Saturday, November 28th. It was the first one to be held in the East Midlands for four years, and was mainly attended by journalism and media production students from the university, as well as people from Siren FM and Gravity FM, Grantham’s community radio station.
It involved a talk from Rhys Hughes, an executive producer at BBC Radio One, as well as speeches from Tim Johns, BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s station sound producer, Rod Whiting, BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Breakfast Show presenter, and Rob Persani, from Radio Rutland.
Rhys Hughes started the day with by introducing the work he does on Radio One, explaining that the BBC are pushing multi-platform skills, such as working with websites and podcasts, because they are “connecting with the next generation of Radio One”.
He also explained the recent changes in the Radio One schedule, where established presenters such as Edith Bowman and Jo Whiley were replaced with younger presenters Fearne Cotton and Greg James, as a move to “connect with audiences”.
Hughes finished his talk with a presentation on creativity, and the way Radio One makes itself “distinctive and memorable when there is so much media noise out there”. This is a process that involves a lot of research by producers into their audience, to gain a better understanding of them and how to improve the station’s output.
In an interview with The Linc, he explained the importance of students for the future of radio: “I think students are the life blood of the media industry because, particularly with Radio One when our target audience is 15 to 24, up to 29. We need to connect with the next generation and we need to bring people in from student radio. We have Greg James, who started out on student radio and now he is on afternoons on Radio One.”
He also explained why he wanted to be a part of the day: “I decided to be part of this Radio Masterclass because I am from Lincoln originally… I really enjoy being involved with students and their enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me, because you can, when you work in the media, become a little cynical about things.”
Tim Johns, BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s station sound producer, also spoke on the day. He talked about the importance of sound in radio, and not letting “journalism rules” take over. He explained that every bit of sound on a radio station is important as it is essentially “branding and marketing on air”.
Rod Whiting, who is a lecturer at the University of Lincoln as well as working with BBC Lincolnshire, talked about reporting on location, and the amount of preparation that is needed for that. Whiting also spoke about the best bit of his job which, he says, is meeting new people: “It’s great when you meet new, interesting people… It’s the everyday people who we take for granted who have the best stories.”
The last lecture of the day came from Rob Persani, the deputy station manager of Rutland Radio. He spoke about the importance of knowing the audience and the listeners of a radio station as it helps to know “what you can give your listener’s that they can’t get elsewhere”.
After the talks the participants were given the opportunity to create their own, hour-long show on Siren FM, called “The Radio Academy Show!”. They were split up into five different groups and given an area to concentrate on, such as news, interviews, and location reporting.
Alex Lewczuk, a senior lecturer at the university and the presenter of Midweek Drive on Siren FM, said: “Given the time constraints and the amount of material we were doing, and [that] the presenters had limited training, we made a commendable hour of broadcasting.”
Rachel Whitaker, who helped present the show, said: “It was a fantastic insight into the potentials of radio and into what I can achieve if I set my mind to it.”Tweet