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MA Radio Production

BBC-placementI recently finished a four week placement at the Planning Unit at BBC Radio 4 and am heading back to Bournemouth feeling more knowledgeable, better connected, and better prepared for August and the job hunt which will come with it.

I applied back in February for BBC work experience. I had previously applied several times over the past few years, but had never been successful until now (which shows you just have to keep trying!). There are a range of placements you can apply for through the BBC across television and radio and I have always gone for the Radio 4 options as this is ideally where I’d love to work later on down the line. I was so delighted to hear in March that they had been impressed by my application and were willing to offer me four weeks in the Radio 4 planning unit. I would be working at broadcasting house in London assisting the team which co-ordinates content and guests for a range of Radio 4 and World service programming.

One of the best things about this placement was that I actually felt useful. My duties were to organise the books and press releases which were sent to the office every day, enter the information into the planning base, and put the books to be reviewed on programmes on the correct shelves. I also was the first point of call for emails coming into the planning unit. These mostly comprised of press releases, and invitations to exhibitions, galleries, and film screenings.

As well as working on the administrative side, I was given the opportunity to sit in and observe a wide range of programmes being recorded and broadcast. I was able to sit in the production booth for Midweek, Last Word, Woman’s Hour, Outlook, The Film Programme, Front Row, Thinking Allowed, Saturday Live and Any Answers, watching the Studio Managers and producers communicating with the presenters, and monitoring the timings. As well as observing I occasionally acted as runner, meeting guests at reception and bringing them up to the studios. I particularly enjoyed this role as I got to meet so many interesting people and felt like I had an active role in the smooth running of the programme.

As with many media placements, this opportunity was unpaid. I was very prepared for this, as I’ve been told frequently throughout my studies to expect the early opportunities you get in this industry to be voluntary. Of course, this wasn’t without its challenges. I was extremely lucky to be able to stay with some relatives in London, but finding accommodation within commuting distance of Broadcasting House can be a challenge; I also had to budget carefully over the four weeks to be able to factor in travel and general expenses. However, I would definitely say to anyone with the option to do work experience that the investment is worth it. I have learnt so much about the process of radio production and met industry professionals who’ve been more than happy to pass on advice and guidance about getting into the BBC. On top of that, I had a really enjoyable time briefly being part of a world I’m so interested in joining.

My first advice to anyone who lands a media work placement would be to go in with confidence. Be friendly and chatty and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I made plenty of mistakes, but it’s a learning opportunity, no one expects you to be perfect, and if you ask for guidance you’ll probably learn more in the process. Secondly, talk to everyone you can. Just because someone’s a senior producer doesn’t mean they’re not interested in talking to you. I spent half an hour explaining my MA project with a prize winning features maker who was very interested to hear about my ideas and to offer advice. Of course you need to be punctual, professional, and really try your best to do tasks to the best of your ability, but the most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself!

By Olivia Beazley

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