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Student Radio AwardsI made it onto BCU’s radio wall of fame… after all the blood sweat and tears haha (so many tears!!)

This was a recent post over on my instagram, many thanks to all at the Student Radio Association, Birmingham City University (The School of Media), BCUSU and of course all whom contributed to the documentary.

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Recently I was very fortunate to be shortlisted for The Russell Joslin Award by the BBC, an award in memory of Russell Joslin, ‘a much-loved broadcaster and journalist in the region.’

‘The ambition with this award is to provide an opportunity to gain a stepping-stone into the broadcasting industry to a deserving candidate who shares Russell’s passion for stories and commitment to local journalism.’ (BBC, 2015)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the final recipient of the award, however I must express how grateful and humbled I was to be shortlisted, along with seven other deserving individuals. The background to the award is heartbreaking, yet is something which really spoke to me. Russell’s story has been widely publicized in the past; after struggling with mental health issues it was reported that sadly Russell lost his battle and took his own life.

Radio for me is a huge part of my life, but so is discussing mental health. And this opportunity presented me with the chance to find new ways to portray stories that add to the positive representation of mental illness.

The concept of the award is to allow for an individual to gain the opportunity to cover local journalistic stories. Spending four weeks at a local BBC Local Radio Station (West Midlands, Coventry and Warwickshire, Shropshire, Hereford and Worcester or Stoke) as well as two weeks in the newsroom of Midlands Today / Inside Out in Birmingham.

Though I am of course gutted that I didn’t receive the award – I know that I already have a wealth of experience within the radio industry, and the offers whom were shortlisted really aspired to gain further insight and hands-on experience! I was also really really impressed with the other candidates – their concepts and passion reminded why I love the creative industries so much! 🙂 I also had an absolute blast at BBC WM, the team were really lovely, and I’ve made some new friends (both candidates and staff – so, pros and cons aye?)

Being true to myself though… radio isn’t the driving force behind my work, its the portrayal of stories, the crafting of peoples’ experiences and being able to present individuals with a way to express their thoughts and adventures. That to me is what makes radio so fun, it’s the foundation in which radio (or TV) is built upon. I am fascinated by stories, but I have already trained in radio – so I’m already armed and ready with the requisite skills – and my intentions for the near future are to continue making and creating texts’ that demonstrate my passion! (Which currently is Dearest Someone, – and let me tell you… I absolutely love managing and running this site!)

This all sounds rather romantic haha, but I really have been inspired by the guys at the BBC. 

Find out more about the award here: https://audioboom.com/boos/1962524-the-russell-joslin-award (via. BBC Radio Shropshire).


My background:

Discovering and presenting stories to the world is something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. During the process of working on an audio documentary project entitled ‘Boscastle: 10 Years On’ I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, undeniably I have dealt with a lot – however I chose to blog about my experience, in order to make sense of it all and to speak to others. I have been very overwhelmed by the response my blog received, and I continue to blog regularly about my experience with Mental Health and keeping the discussion of Mental Health ‘Human.’ My Blog, Dearest Someone, strives to give a human feel to a topic that is often perceived as a taboo matter – this is something which I really find passion in.

I find passion in uncovering stories, yet presenting them in a way that has feeling, and others are able to relate. I find great comfort and excitement through my Dearest Someone, blog however I also blog personally – about my everyday life (maybe slightly banal compared to the mental health blog!) I like to explore, and document my adventures. In the future I wish to continue working in a role that allows me to explore and uncover stories, and possibly become an advocate for mental health (primarily PTSD – as it’s not just members of the Armed Forces who struggle with this!)

Russell Joslin

New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programmes

I am incredibly proud to be a part of Scratch Radio, the station based at the Parkside building here at Birmingham City University. Last week the School of Media sent a team out to New York, in which we picked up Silver for ‘Best Student Station.’ There was no Gold presented, which in fact means, we are the best in the world! (Blowing the trumpet here slightly…)

The winning audio featured content which was produced during an intensive two week project, which I managed. Part of my contribution to the station was featured within the award-winning audio (within the first five seconds you can hear me chuckling away). In addition to this a large percentage of the audio was from shows produced by the team I headed when I was project manager of the ‘Two Week Takeover.’

Scratch Radio won International Silver Award in the Best Student Radio Station category. (There was no gold winner). This follows the station’s success in winning the “Midlands” category of the 2014 UK Radio Academy’s Nations and Regions Awards.

The station has received honours at the 2015 New York Radio Festival – International Radio Program Awards for The World’s Best Radio Programs.

Here’s a link to BCU’s press release about the success: http://www.bcu.ac.uk/news-events/news/birmingham-radio-students-walking-on-air

For me it is tricky to select a primary interest in regards to the creative industries and culture; my key interests change as I gain more experience within the industry. I am quite interested in radio production – in terms of documentaries with an intended demographic that represents me. However I have recently developed an interested in social media: its usage and application to topical debates. This leads me to consider the extent in which social media is relative to creative and cultural debates. ‘Social media’ is a very broad interest – honing down this area to include other interests such as deciphering how social media is utilised by ‘creative businesses’ within Birmingham (or other locations) could provide an interesting point of study for me.

I’ve also very recently become interested in digital democracy and the use of online tools within politics – I’d like to find a way to relate this to research, I feel the most feasible way is to consider consumption. However, this is still a work in progress.

I am also interested in the ‘cultural turn’ – the shift from cultural to creative industries and how this is emulated within policymaking – something which has developed from previous personal research concerning the Creative Industries and Cultural Policy. I feel that a key focus for me currently is to examine participation within the cultural industries, whether this is through social network analysis or the study of cultural policy.

To summarise:

  • I am interested in the production of cultural policy and how this affects (in a measurable extent) the consumption/participation of creative and cultural activities. In a sense here the production is the policymaking process – which would be an interesting point of study.
  • I’m interested in creative and cultural participation within Birmingham (also how this compares to other cities.) I could observe social media usage – for example a creative business in Birmingham could use social media as a tool for increasing participation.

Related sources:

Bakhshi, H., and Throsby, D. (2010). Culture of Innovation: An Economic Analysis of Innovation in Arts and Cultural Organisations. Nesta.

Bilton, C. (2012). Manageable Creativity. International Journal of Cultural Policy: Creativity and Cultural Policy. Vol 16, No 3, pp. 25-39.

Boda, S. et al., (eds) (2006). When Culture Makes the Difference: Heritage, Arts and Media in Multicultural Society. Rome: Melter ni Editore.

Johanson, K., Glow, H., and Kershaw, A. (2014). New modes of arts participation and the limits of cultural indicators for local government. Poetics. Vol 43, pp. 43-59.

Written by Ella Robson, initially published on behalf of Birmingham City University for their blog.

This blog was originally published here: http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/views/2014/11/10/scratch-radio-at-the-student-radio-awards/


Ella Robson is a current MA Student at the Birmingham School of Media, where she also studied BA (Hons) Media and Communication, graduating with First Class Honours. Ella currently works both for the University, as a School Rep and Student Academic Mentor, and actively volunteers at various radio industry organisations. 

Thursday November was a fantastic day for Scratch Radio. The Student Radio Awards, supported by BBC Radio 1 and Global took place at the Indig02 in London, and students from all across the country joined forces with industry professionals to celebrate another successful year of student radio.

Scratch Radio, the Birmingham City Students’ Union station, headed to the awards with three nominations; one of those nominees being me. Two of my fellow students, now graduates, were nominated in the Best Journalistic Programming category, Johnny Seifert was nominated for his incredible work in ‘Auschwitz Remembered’, and Emma Boyle for her documentary ‘The Student Underworld.’ For me it was the Best Interview category, in which I was nominated for an interview from a recent documentary I produced ‘Boscastle: 10 Years On.’

Student Radio, I believe, is highly influential and important in the career of any student wishing to work in the radio industry. Moreover I feel it is an incredible feature of Birmingham City University; Scratch Radio allows students to work creatively and indulge in something which can not only further their university experience but allow them to shape their futures.

Finding out I was nominated for an award was highly overwhelming for me as the interview I entered is particularly personal due to it being an interview with my mother. The staff at Birmingham School of Media and my colleagues at Scratch Radio supported me throughout the process of making the documentary and at the awards; I couldn’t be more thankful.

As a nominee I was offered the fantastic opportunity to visit Broadcasting House, home to BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, and also Capital Radio London, home to Global Radio – with brands such as Heart FM, Classic FM, XFM and many more! The day was brilliant, I really enjoyed the tours, and the awards ceremony, yet the most pivotal moment was the feeling of winning Silver for Best Interview. During the awards I was sat with the team from Scratch Radio and when my success was announced my colleagues and friends were incredible. The feeling of camaraderie that I felt in that moment really cemented my love for the guys at Scratch Radio – these are students who share similar interests as me, and are really passionate about the station and Birmingham City University. I believe it is wonderful that something as simple as audio can bring people together, and create a team, just like the guys at Scratch.

The success at the awards certainly is significant for Scratch Radio, and I. We received Silver for Best Interview, yet we also received Gold for Best Journalistic Programming. Emma Boyle was honoured for her documentary ‘The Student Underworld,’ receiving Scratch’s first Gold award, and completing a fantastic evening for the station.

Throughout my time at the university I have participated with Scratch Radio several times; though I began to help out more regularly during my third year of my undergraduate course. The move to The Parkside Building has been brilliant for Scratch Radio as it has made the station more central for students from all campuses, and thestudio facilities now available mean that Scratch Radio can stand out more than ever before.

In January 2014 I was project manager for the Two Week Takeover on Scratch Radio; I can quite happily say that, despite how stressful it was, those two weeks were packed full of some of my favourite university moments. Being able to work in a friendly, fast-paced environment such as Scratch Radio pushes you to work to your very best, whilst remaining creative, and passionate. It is highly enjoyable being a part of Scratch Radio, I have been able to interview musicians, create documentaries, produce radio shows, present and so much more!

I only hope that this success continues for Scratch Radio, and the other Scratch teams in Birmingham City Students’ Union. Scratch Media has grown wonderfully this academic year, and I feel that this success is only going to continue, helping to craft and produce industry-ready professionals and provide students with a unique, fun, place to develop and learn.

I’ve been involved in fundraising with Global Charities for roughly three years now, and this previous weekend reminded me just why I love helping out! Global’s Make Some Noise is the brand new national charity, a charity that works to support and help disadvantaged young people and children across the UK. Previously Global Charities consisted of charities such as: Help a Capital Child, Have a Heart and The Classic FM Foundation. All of which I’ve had the pleasure to support – therefore I wasn’t sceptical when I was asked to help out at an event for Make Some Noise. 

The event, Run For Home took place last weekend, (Sunday, September 28th.) It was the first fundraising event I’ve supported in Birmingham (usually I help out the London teams) and I had a blast. The generosity and enthusiasm of those taking part was incredible, which made my day fantastic. Not to mention the morale and enthusiasm of Global’s staff (well done to all who worked – it was a very long day!)

A quick run-down: (no pun-intended) Global Radio listeners (from Capital, Heart and Smooth) opted to raise money for Globals Make Some Noise by participating in ‘Run For Home.’ Listeners were dropped off at a super-secret location, up to 100 miles away, (Milton Keynes) and were faced with the challenge of returning to Birmingham (Edgbaston Stadium) without spending any money. The concept sounds crazy and very challenging, and it was fantastic to see how many people took part!

The concept was made even cooler by Global offering a prize for the most creative return back to Edgbaston Stadium. Which meant tonnes of fancy dress; ranging from Where’s Wally, Toy Story, Builders, Angels and Nuns to the Jamaican ‘Cool Runnings’ Bobsledders team.

Globals Make Some Noise 2

What I found particularly interesting was the cross over of Global Radio listeners; the event participants consisted of Capital FM, Heart and Smooth Radio listeners – all of whom quickly mingled and became friends. It was great to see Global listeners interact and enjoy themselves. It was also great to see Global Presenters work with each other even though they belonged to different stations – the atmosphere was great and I feel it truly represented the high-spirits and positive attitudes of all involved! 

I worked as Event Staff throughout the day, this meant encouraging and motivating the listeners, getting them to take part in #FakeSomeNoise, whilst keeping them exciting and calming their nerves before the big adventure! I accompanied them to Milton Keynes (feeling like a proud parent when the people from my coach left amidst the many other listeners.) Then I returned to Edgbaston Stadium and supported staff throughout the day, interacting with listeners, families and friends, and conducting many many quizzes. I had a fantastic day, packed with happy people and great spirits! 

Globals Make Some Noise

Find out more about Global’s Make Some Noise here: http://www.makesomenoise.com/?gclid=CjwKEAjwkrmhBRD49Mbm_MvruWsSJAAEDt13CJbv_bZdxyrdY-_on0iPKEe7fga6GC85JajMyBrathoC5KPw_wcB 

Working in any industry can be challenging – I’m sure you already know that, studying and learning doesn’t mean that you will succeed. (Dependent on how success is measured – we all have different views.) To me, success is being able to work in an environment which keeps you working hard, yet allows you to thrive, and live a happy life. (Cheesy – sorry.)

I’m a recent graduate, in Media and Communication – and I’m embarking on the ever-pleasant adventure that is job-hunting. Though it can, at times, be highly frustrating (when you receive amazing feedback but you’re still jobless), yet I’m quite enjoying exploring new companies, and learning the ropes of an industry that I love. Admittedly, I’ve only applied to two jobs and was fortunate to interview for both – I feel confident in applying for jobs that I feel I’m suited for, which people may say is risky. Several times my family and friends have advised me to just find a job and stick at it… I know they’re not suggesting this in a negative manner – they just want me to have a job. Though, I feel that after three years of working hard at university I owe it to myself to carry on in this path and work in the creative industry.

This is why I feel that having a ‘mentor’ or ‘contact’ in your chosen industry is a great help, and is also a great way of meeting like-minded peers! Some may argue that ‘mentors’ are individuals who feel they have reached ‘success’ and want to brag about it – I say, this is absurd.  This is a matter of opinion, however – the information, and guidance, I have received from individuals within the radio/events industry has been very valuable to me. I am extremely grateful that I am able to contact people who have experience and knowledge of an area that I am still learning about. 

I think mentors are a very valuable point of contact as they can advise and tell you tales of their struggles and challenges, keeping you motivated (though they don’t have to do this – so be nice!)