Sue Ahern’s Sound Guide to Networking

Sue Ahern is Training Director at Creative People

It was my great pleasure to meet so many wonderful women at the recent networking workshop. For those of you who couldn’t attend here are some tips which really work.

1. Pick your venue
There are plenty to choose from. If you don’t like the vibe of one organisation’s events, try another. You can choose gender-specific hosted events such as Sound Women or industry specific occasions, such as the Radio Festival.

2. Go ready to give
Don’t come with the goal of getting something. Give something first. Don’t worry about the quid pro quo. The benefit of helping may not come immediately, but it will in six months to a year.

3. Know your elevator pitch
You are not there to make a sale so you don’t need to close the deal. You do need to let people know who you are and what you do in a way that makes them want to hear more. The idea of the elevator pitch is that it’s short; you have a limited amount of time to hook people with what you do. So you prepare a paragraph that indicates what you do and gets their interest (and helps them remember you) in the time it takes to do a short elevator ride with someone. It should be no more than 20 seconds or three to four sentences. Although it should be prepared, it has to sound natural, not as though you’ve given the same speech to a hundred people. If it sounds too rehearsed, you’ll sound like a sales person.

4. Ask questions
Women are great at building closeness and connections through conversation. By asking questions you’ll engage the person and really get to know what they do. Still not comfortable? Pretend you are interviewing people for an article about the event; get the who, what, and why. Make the task less personal.

5. Don’t stay in your comfort zone
To network well you should have conversations with several people not just cling on desperately to the first one you talk to.

6. Make it a game
How many business cards can you collect in one hour? Work with a friend: the one with the most gets a free lunch.

7. Follow up afterwards
If you want to get to know someone better, follow up after the meeting with a phone call, a one-on-one meeting or connect with them on LinkedIn.

8. Take the pressure off
You aren’t establishing a long-term relationship yet. You are just opening the door to possible relationships. If someone seems interesting, contact them later to get started on that relationship.

All of these ideas serve one purpose, to take the focus off you—nerve-wracking!—and put it on the other people—interesting! Look past the crowd of strangers and see the individuals, some of whom can help you and some of whom you can help.

10 Years of Community Radio – and the Women Who Got Me Started

A blog from this year’s CMA Live by Liz Hardwick

At most broadcast-based conferences women are in a minority, and there’s often just the singular token female speaker; but the Community Media Association (CMA) are setting the bar much higher. On Saturday June 16th the CMA held their annual conference in Bath with an itinerary of inspiring presentations – and women made up 50% of the speakers.

The conference was held to celebrate 10 years of community radio and the advent of local television. The highlight of the day for most people was “In conversation with…” Zane Ibrahim, formerly of Bush Radio, South Africa.

Zane was one of the “fathers of community radio” and we remembered how powerful his words really were. Many years ago Zane summed it up by saying “community radio is 90% about community and 10% about radio” and this year he provided us with another epic quote to live by, “all you need is a microphone and a great heart.”

Community radio is about empowering people, giving them the skills to make their own media and offers opportunities mainstream media never would. Once you see the effect of community media on the people involved, you’re hooked for life! I love it, my passion for community media will never die, it’s people like Zane who help you re-focus your efforts to be smarter, supportive and to remember to go out and find the stories that matter to the community.

Zane explained he was very passionate about women being involved in community radio as they were the ears of the community and women best understood what radio can accomplish. Perfectly fitting then, to see 47% of the delegates female at CMA Live this year.

Community media tries to be inclusive of everyone regardless of gender or any other demographic, be that for volunteers or the staff that run the radio stations. There are many key players in the community media sector who are female and have helped shaped the sector enormously.

Before I started my own business DigiEnable, I worked as a Station Manager/Technician at community radio station, Preston FM. It was women like Mary Dowson from Bradford Community Broadcasting (BCB) Cathy Aitchison from the Women’s Radio Group and even the Director of the Community Media Association (CMA), Jaqui Devereux that were women I’d aspired to be like.

Another positive promotion for women in community radio at the conference saw Lesley Pullar, a previous CMA Council member, awarded CMA’s first lifetime achievement award. Positive role models like these, make being a woman in media a lot easier. If they can do it, maybe I can too?

Issues discussed at the event included the largest problem in the sector at the moment – funding, along with Local TV, Arts and Community Media and looking to the future of community radio. I was invited to talk about #solomo – Social, Local, Mobile and how the future of community media will include multi-platform content. Could the future of community radio mean you can listen, learn and interact with your nearest community radio station via a geolocation app on your smartphone?

This year’s CMA conference was very poignant for me, having recently left Preston FM. My heart still lies in community media and I want the whole world to know they can get involved if they want to. It was great to see so many CMA members feeling the same and standing side by side in solidarity.

Can you say I am equal to the least of you?
If you think you’re better you have a problem

Zane Ibrahim

A Musical Pioneer – DJ Angie Dee

Angie with Norman Jay


Angie Dee was one of the first female commercial radio DJs and a pioneer of black music…

My love of music began when I was about 7 years old. My Mum bought me my first battery operated record player which was bright red along with a few red 7” vinyl nursery rhymes. A few years later I got my first radio and hid it under my pillow. The scratchy sounds of Radio Luxemburg at bedtime rocked me to sleep. When I was about 10 years old I was given a record player so all my pocket money went on an eclectic mix of music, ranging from the Trojan Tighten Up albums, to chart pop music in the charts. But I really loved Soul music. My friend’s parents would play a stack of old soul, blues and ska 7” records on their gram (a huge piece of furniture that bought the room to life with its vibrating bassline). It was probably shipped over from Jamaica as I had never seen one like it before. Then years later I began to listen regularly to Radio London and became a huge fan of Robbie Vincent, Tony Blackburn and Greg Edwards. And so my record buying increased.It wasn’t until I heard David Rodigan interviewing Bob Marley in 1980 that I got into the lyrics of reggae. I was the only female in the local record shop every Saturday morning. As my collection grew I began playing at friend’s birthday parties, then swiftly created my own sound system which was quite unique at that time. City Limits called me ‘The Pioneer of Women’s Sounds’ and Black Echoes wrote about me, although Time Out weren’t interested – apparently I wasn’t feminist enough.

I just loved the ‘double take’ mainly from the men who realised it was me stringing up the speakers, connecting the record decks and of course spinning the vinyl.

They would often come up and say, ‘You really play well for a woman and a white woman at that!’. I really wasn’t aware of how unique I was at all. I got a natural high when I played and all I wanted to do was entertain. I certainly wasn’t trying to compete with anyone, especially men. My ego was always in the next room yet I felt quite powerful orchestrating my audience, singing along with them to every record. I never dreamed that years later I would be working in the same radio studio presenting and producing my very own radio show alongside a couple of the DJ’s I grew up listening to.

Then an advert caught my eye in my local newspaper, to volunteer at Radio Thamesmead, South London. RTM didn’t have any female DJ’s or any female specialist music presenters and I was their first. I thought I was going to learn engineering skills but once they knew I collected records, ran a sound system and had a passion for my music they offered me a two hour Soul and Gospel show. No training was given, only instructions to sit behind and watch the guy in the studio and take notes! It was quite isolating at RTM being the only person in the building late at night and then having to lock up the entire building.

Little did I know those two years at RTM gave me confidence to work on pirate radio for a few years, once again being the only female DJ. My experiences in pirate radio were the same, with feelings of isolation and having to work out of some unpleasant buildings in some very unsafe places. But I didn’t really notice that all through most of my life before I worked on the Pirate scene I didn’t hear one single female DJ on the radio, except Annie Nightingale.

In 1990, Kiss FM in London were seeking DJs and I was lucky that Grant Goddard who worked at Kiss at that time had also worked at RTM when I was there. He remembered me, heard my demo and played it to the MD. At that time I believe I was the first female DJ presenting a specialist music show and a couple of other women were on the news team. I felt I was very lucky to last nearly a decade presenting five shows a week, and at reasonable hours in the evening for the last two years of my career at Kiss. My first shows had been between 4-6am! They were very popular according to my RAJAR figures and I always wanted to do a daytime show, but somehow that never materialised. I often wondered why most female presenters/DJs were on very late into the night. It isn’t as if we are not popular – we are.

During those years with Kiss I was able to present shows for other stations including Brazen Radio and JWave in Tokyo. When I left Kiss in 1999 there were a few more women DJs on the station compared to 1990, and perhaps I was instrumental in that. On my last day legendary DJ David Rodigan reminded me of my achievements, and how rare it was to have had such longevity in radio.

Had I been more visible and had a mentor would that have changed things? I think it would have to some degree, but it can be pretty lonely not having other women supporting you. I just wish Sound Women had been around years ago.

Looking back on my career, I think the media industry needs to have more of a balance with more women’s voices being heard during the daytime. I look forward to a day when our talents are recognised, there is more transparency around equal pay and training opportunities, and women of all ages are supported to join and continue their radio careers.

DJ Angie Dee
Representing the Sound Women Group for Wales