Getting stuck in to radio news

Oliver at the mic during his placement

by Oliver Morgan
BA Journalism Studies

This year, I got stuck in with everything that’s been sent my way. From enrolling in the University’s e-mentorship scheme with Kate Bradbrook from BBC Look East; being tutored by Bethan Davies from Global Yorkshire; and heading to Leeds to experience life at the Radio News Hub, it’s certainly been a busy 12 months. Life at uni is what you make of it – and I think I’ve done just that!

My first taste of the ‘real’ journalism world was through my radio mentorship, which I applied for back in January thanks to the Department of Journalism Studies’ collaboration with Bethan, who’s usually based up in Leeds.

From the start, Bethan was fantastic, and the approach of setting achievable goals motivated me to get the job done. Radio news can be a cut-throat world, but her step-by-step guidance gave me the confidence to expand my journalistic horizons and think in a creative and less conventional manner. I learnt that listeners don’t want ‘boring’: they want to be transported through the power of audio.

Perspective

Tasked with creating a 90-second package for LBC News, it was fulfilling to think I wasn’t just dabbling in the world of ‘student’ journalism, but I was actually creating something that could potentially be meaningful for a wide, national audience base: it put the world of radio news right into perspective.

Approaching this with the right mindset, an open mind and just a sprinkle of creativity, this was a marvellous, albeit virtual, opportunity to start the new year. Notably in tandem with our first newsdays as second years, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I embraced the critiques I received and took it in my stride, using all of this extra knowledge this in my uni work – and I think it worked wonders!

Oliver prepares to enter the Radio Newshub building

‘Embracing the challenge’ was the order of this mentorship. It was fulfilling to produce news packages without it being assessed, submitted as uni work, or given a grade by lecturers. Bethan was there to provide guidance, and it was great to view what I’d made through the perspective of someone who’s currently working at the heart of the radio industry.

For that reason, it was refreshing to take on this virtual experience, and a great way to learn how to juggle multiple tasks at once!

After the virtual lives we’ve all adopted this year, it was exciting to be invited to the Radio News Hub in Leeds in April and June. Following the necessary Covid guidelines, this experience was almost novel.

For the first time in so long, travelling, getting stuck in, and engaging with like-minded people in the same building reminded me just how important such spaces are in the world of journalism. Filled with camaraderie, the atmosphere was motivating, productive and fast-paced: you certainly don’t get that when you’re online.

Motivation

Approaching this placement, I went in with an open mind and an eagerness to take as much as I could from the experience.

From keeping up to speed with the news during my train journey to taking part in the day’s news meeting, it was imperative to remember that this was an opportunity where slacking wasn’t on the agenda. They set me to work straight away, which put the pressure on, but it was hugely motivating to feel I was a valued part of the team that day.

I produced news packages, kept on top of the daily agenda and prepared copy for hundreds of radio stations across the UK and around the world – not bad for my first time on the job!

Oliver Morgan

I produced news packages, kept on top of the daily agenda and prepared copy for hundreds of radio stations across the UK and around the world – not bad for my first time on the job! It’s a strange feeling to know some of my work was broadcast, but it was a thrill to be a part of – you certainly don’t get this experience at uni!

Lining-up with my newsdays, it’s reassuring to know what I’ve been doing throughout my course is emulated in real life. The main takeaway was experiencing the life of this close-knit news-hunting team, though – it was humbling to be allowed in and made me consider radio journalism as a future career path.

Even though it was just for one day, there was so much food for thought to take with me after this adventure. Through intrepid persistence and maintaining a clear goal throughout my pursuit of work placements, I’ve remained motivated even during this pandemic. Yes, workflows might have changed, but journalism in the ‘real world’ hasn’t stopped. It’s something many are tentative to dabble in, but you’ll never know what you could experience if you don’t put yourself out there!

Sheffield is independently rated by the Complete University Guide 2022 as the number 1 university in England for studying journalism. Want to see journalism’s bigger picture? Study with us.

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