Radio Training Grants Up For Grabs

By Creative Skillset’s Jo Welch

Until recently, if someone had said “Free Money” to me, I’d think of the Patti Smith song…  Of late, the phrase has popped up on a Creative Skillset flyer, to publicise funding for freelancers usually offered courtesy of the Film and TV Skills Fund.

Now, for the first time in 20 years, we are absolutely delighted that with a pot of cash provided by the BBC, we can offer funding for freelancers in Radio!

You can get funding for courses in any of the areas identified by industry leaders as priorities for the industry, so that the training you take will actually help you to get work in this ever changing world of Radio and Audio.  This means craft & technical skills, including editing, social media, multiplatform content development and distribution and sound engineering, or business, teamwork and management skills are all covered too.

80% of the cost of training – and some associated costs – are on offer, so do think about which skills you’ve wanted to update but maybe haven’t been able to afford to.

You have to identify one or more courses – worth up to a max of £1500 – to actually apply for the money, so talk to colleagues and friends, and research online to make this money work for you. The pot is not large but will be opened twice this year.

If you’re struggling to find a training provider or a solution that meets your needs, please do take a look at Creative Skillset’s course database and follow this link to find out more and to apply:

Read the guidelines carefully too – this offer is for established working freelancers who don’t have support with their training needs.  It’s not for employees, students or anyone who’s just entered the industry.  Making the choice to live and sustain the freelance life is a tough one – we hope this fund can give you a boost for your skills and make getting the next job a little easier.

Creative Skillset is the industry body which supports skills and training for people and businesses to ensure the UK creative industries maintain their world class position.

What winning “Best New Radio Presenter 2012” means to me

by Emma Barnett

Emma Barnett Arqiva Radio Newcomer of the Year

Emma Barnett Arqiva Radio Newcomer of the Year

I began presenting my own first weekly radio show on LBC 97.3 last October, after a roller-coaster few months of cutting my teeth on the overnight stint.

Having proved my mettle with the wonderfully varied range of callers you get between the unusual hours of one and five am, I was asked to host the station’s Sunday drive time show.

I was unbelievably thrilled and jumped at the chance – having adored radio since I can remember being trusted by my parents to handle a piece of technology. I then even went onto write about the radio industry in my first journalism job in London for Media Week – and still do from time to time today in my weekday role as The Telegraph’s Digital Media Editor.

Getting to host my own talk radio show felt like I was finally joining the industry – instead of being an outsider looking in.

Which brings me nicely onto what an important moment it really was winning the best ‘Newcomer of the Year’ gong at the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards a couple of weeks ago.

Having worked so hard each week for the last nine months with my great producers, Carl McQueen and Emma Gilbert, to make sure I am fully across the biggest news stories of the day, asking the audience the right questions, getting the best guests to comment and crucially – establishing a strong rapport with the LBC 97.3 listeners – winning the award was a major deal – not to mention a big shock. (I still owe Lou Birt, LBC’s deputy chief, fifty quid having bet against myself).

From covering the Queen’s historic Jubilee river pageant (soaked head-to-toe on a slippery South Bank while donning a useless bright pink mac) to providing rolling news and raw reaction from the Lockerbie bomb victims’ families when the story of the convicted bomber’s death broke just before I went on air – presenting my first radio show has been anything but dull.

The award has done three things: given me a great feeling about what I do on air each week, further boosted my ambitions for the show and won me lots of praise from those present on the night after I told the awards host, Christian O’Connell, where to sling his hook (obviously in a cool tongue-in-cheek style) – after some annoying heckling that he probably wouldn’t have doled out to a man!

Every single week I get paid to talk to incredible people about the biggest issues of day. I have learned so much from the spirited debates that go on every minute on LBC 97.3 and want to thank the fantastic callers for bearing their souls each week – even the ones I disagree with.

I have also loved becoming a part of Sound Women over the last year. Radio still has a fair way to go in order to even out the gender ratio – both in front and behind the mic.

But in spite of this issue, being gallantly championed by Sound Women, two things remain a constant in the radio industry: it’s bloody friendly and provides really exhilarating experiences to all those who have the pleasure to work in it.

And that’s why the medium continues to thrive in the digital age. People love the intimacy and the impact of aural communication. I always say that radio stations, especially speech ones such as LBC 97.3, are the original social networks.

Presenters pose a question, make a comment or impart some breaking news – and the listener responds and reacts in real-time – every single hour of every single day.

In fact the whole experience is even better in many ways as it is editorialised. On the web nothing is moderated in real-time. People can write dreadful things to each other on the likes of Twitter or Facebook and there is no editing.

But when creating a live radio show, presenters and producers plan the topics and guests. And each call, text, tweet and email is checked before making it on air – just to ensure the conversation will be enhanced by every contribution and not stalled or disrupted in any way.

Facebook and Twitter have yet to put enough editorial controls in place that pre-emptively disallow harmful words or edit the content flow to make it a more enjoyable experience. Radio – with all of the listeners’ amazing calls, tweets, texts and emails – is still leading the way on that front.

And that’s another big reason why it’s a real honour to have been named best new commercial radio presenter of 2012.

Edith Bowman & Harriet Scott Launch Sound Women’s First Networking Event


By Rebecca Maxted, Producer at Wise Buddah

The BBC’s Director of Audio and Music Tim Davie played host to a networking event for Sound Women members at the brand spanking new Broadcasting House on Tuesday 19th June.

The evening kicked off with a special networking workshop, ably led by Sue Ahern and Natasha Maw from the BBC Academy packed full of tips our networkers could arm themselves with for the event.


In all honesty I was pretty terrified before the Sound Women Networking Event, as I knew that it was such an amazing opportunity…but I also knew how terrible I was at approaching people I didn’t know, or ‘networking’ as you might also like to call it. But after some wise words from Sue Ahern I felt as ready as I’d ever be… 

 Jade Hutchinson, AP, Wise Buddah

Primed by the pre-drinks workshop, the networking event itself seemed much more manageable. I was pleased to see that Soundwomen had bagged a shiny, new, high profile venue and we weren’t just shoved in a faceless meeting room somewhere.

Kirsty McQuire, Speech Assistant Producer


140 Sound Women members and radio VIPs gathered in the Media Café overlooking the subterranean open-plan news floor at the BBC’s gleaming new Broadcasting House for the main event, nicely timed to precede England’s Euro 2012 match against Croatia (it wasn’t planned, apologies to those who missed kick off!).

Tim Davie kicked off proceedings, warmly endorsing the work of Sound Women, welcoming everyone to the BBC’s brand new building and talking about the importance of networking in our industry. He also kicked off a quick sprint of ‘networking bingo’ where Sound Women members and guests were given topics to kick-start conversation and the opportunity to win a bottle of bubbles for the swiftest movers.

Our attendees had the chance to chat to the likes of Clive Dickens from Absolute Radio, Gwyneth Williams from Radio 4, Rhys Hughes from BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, 6 Music’s Liz Kershaw and Sunta Templeton from Capital Breakfast.

It was a whistlestop affair as everyone was ushered into seating positions to hear speakers Harriet Scott from Heart Breakfast and Edith Bowman from BBC Radio 1. Edith and Harriet shared their stories of ‘making it’ in radio, how they juggle their family lives with their high profile careers, and the art of being a co-presenter versus going it alone. 


We were delighted to see all the activity on social media and twitter and receive positive feedback about the event – at least one Sound Women has already got a big new chunk of work out of it – and were doubly excited at the promise made by Tim Davie to hold other events, including at other regional BBC hubs. Next stop, Manchester!

I loved being in a room full of people with the same passion as me and I made contacts with people I would never otherwise get to meet so that was really rewarding. The cherry on top for me would have been to get some producers also chatting about their experiences alongside Edith and Harriet…

Sara Sesardic, Freelance AP

[View the story “Sound Women – Networking Event” on Storify]