Student Radio And Building A Portfolio

(Pic: Curtis Kennington)

(Pic: Curtis Kennington)

By Mariella de Souza (@energeticsloth)

At the start of my final year at university I’d found out that the student radio station was seeking presenters.  I’d never done anything radio-related before and there wasn’t a large amount of criteria that applicants needed to meet. All you had to do was deliver a pitch to the radio team, explaining what type of show you’d do.

The position was open to all students with an interest in delivering music, discussion & debate, news – anything that people wanted to listen to, really. I saw it as a creative form of public speaking that would be an exciting experience for a budding journalist.

I’d just returned from my Erasmus exchange year in France and had acquired a taste for French jazz and contemporary. My friend was in the same position and was also keen on joining. I thought it would work better having a co-host to get discussion flowing, so we decided to pitch together – the idea was a radio show based on our love for France.

We’d centre it around French culture, our exchange experiences and diverse francophone music. It would be an excellent outlet to share our passion for the country whilst encouraging other students to pursue their own exchange experiences.

After a 20 minute pitch and discussion with the committee, we secured a weekly prime time slot. They loved our idea and the niche concept. We were so excited – after what was a relatively simple process, we now faced immense scope to create our own show. ‘La Boulangerie’ (meaning ‘The Bakery’) was born.

And so it began. We were informed about the schedule, content restrictions (e.g swearing) and the exciting protracted deal with Ofcom to make the station the first FM university station in the country. We didn’t know this detail before, and that made things all the more exciting. Maybe it would even happen whilst we were working there!

We learnt about the Myriad audio system, the process of uploading, reformatting and logging music under strict music copyright guidelines. It was a really professional setup. The station had its own building with a recording studio and a large Star Trek-esque board with three monitors to manage the audio.

Each week we jotted down script, accounting for every minute, calculating song length and discussion topics. Some weeks we had guests discussing topics such as food, music or travel around France. We would put out whimsical questions to listeners, provoking debate, to great reception. Our listeners came from our show’s Facebook page, our friends, family and campus adverts. The station had its own popular website too.

Then the news came that Ofcom had agreed to make Insanity Radio an FM station. It would be broadcasted to the local area. This was a historical agreement. We would be reaching a wider unnumbered, anonymous audience.  This made us take everything even more seriously. It was great to receive messages on air that a random listener loved one of the songs or was responding to a poll we’d put out.

In addition to walking away with our degree scroll at graduation in one hand, we were carrying an excellent media portfolio in the other. Testing the waters, gaining experience and spearheading your journalism career is ten million times easier at university than in the competitive world after graduation. It was such great fun and employers are always intrigued how I came to be a radio DJ!

Got a blog idea you would like to write about? Send us your pitches or Tweet us your ideas @JournoGrads and we’ll take a look!

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