How to get ahead in Radio: Tips from a Creative Access Masterclass at the BBC

Getting a job in media is hard. As a white, public school educated woman, I found it hard. So without these advantages, getting a job in media is at least doubly hard. Creative Access provides paid internships in the creative industries for young graduates from ethnic minority backgrounds to increase their chances of securing full-time jobs and increase diversity in the creative sector. In advertising, diversity is a hot topic. The Campaign ‘School Report’ now lists the % of BAME staff. In Media, we have a collective responsibility to ensure our industry accurately reflects the society we serve.

The event was introduced by Ben Cooper, Controller of BBC Radio 1 and 1 Xtra, and Siobhan Kenny & Clare Bowen from Radiocentre

Radiocentre has an ongoing relationship with Creative Access to support this ambition and on 21st March we supported their Radio Masterclass at the BBC.  Ben Cooper, Controller of BBC Radio 1 and 1 Xtra, Siobhan Kenny CEO of Radiocentre and I set the context for a career in radio, before handing over to a panel of young radio professionals, chaired by Angie Greaves from Magic. Panellists were Kiss DJ Neev Spencer, Austin Daboh, music manager at Radio 1Xtra, Jagruti Dave, producer at LBC and Radio 1Xtra presenter Jamz Supernova. After a lively discussion and robust set of questions from the floor, here are my 10 tips for young people of all backgrounds to consider if you are serious about a career in radio.

  1. Luck goes a long way – but you make your own luck. Being in the right place at the right time is rarely a matter of chance. Through hard work, commitment and enthusiasm, you can weight the dice in your favour.
  2. Never take ‘no’ for an answer. Don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t get the answer you want. Most of the panellists had to keep knocking at the same doors over again in order to get their feet in!
  3. Don’t be too narrowly focussed on your goal. The route to your dream job might not be the route you think! Be open to new experiences and opportunities.
  4. Say yes to everything (even if you don’t know how to do something). If you are asked to do something – just go for it, then find out how and look for the people to support you.
  5. Someone is always watching you… When you think the work you do isn’t being noticed, there will be someone quietly observing. Always put on a positive face – you don’t know who is watching.
  6. Network, network, network! Be nice to everyone you meet and surround yourself with people in the business. You never know when they may be able to help you (or how you may be able to help them).
  7. Be direct. You can’t afford to be coy about your ambitions. Tell people what you want (without being completely delusional – we can’t all be Grimmy!)
  8. Think about radio in the broader context. Radio is not just a box in the corner – and nor is it just about music. Radio is about speech, commercial opportunities, social media, video… when you are going for a job in modern radio it’s important to think about it as a multi-platform medium.
  9. Brands as well as bands. Radio offers lots of opportunity for creative people working on ads and brand-partnerships. Brands are doing more and more interesting things in radio and it’s a great time for young people to get involved.
  10. Work hard. Did I mention it’s hard to get into media? Well, the hard work doesn’t stop once you have a job. It’s an industry full of energetic and talented people and that’s what makes it fun. Keep up your graft and your enthusiasm and you will go far.