The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to Internships

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October 7, 2014 by johnnyseifertradio

Everyone knows that the boring jobs in life have  boring suited and booted people working from 09:00-17:00….but not us here in the radio industry. So instead of the Dolly Parton classic for the boring people, I thought I would jazz it up and put on a remix for you as we are the fun people!

Today I wanted to blog about the truth behind carrying out work experience placements and internships. I have been very lucky in the past three years to have carried out work experience and internships at community,local,regional and national radio stations across the country and therefore I can understand the differences in how they work and what the purpose of the radio station is aside from playing music from selected playlists. For example, when I worked at a local Heart Fm for three weeks I saw it as a business. A business that was owned by Amazing Radio in contrast to most Heart stations being owned by Global Radio. Yes, there was a Breakfast show and a drive-time show with the rest of the output being networked from London but the majority of workers were ex-accountants, estate agents etc: who could help generate profit. In contrast, working at BBC Radio 1 I could see how news stories are treated on a national level and how important news packages were with varying audio sources for Newsbeat.

Who am I? When I heard about the idea of going on ‘work-experience’ I never knew what to expect. I knew I would travel to a radio station and meet celebrities and share my passion of music and radio knowledge, but what actually happens? Do I take my own lunch with or is it provided? What is the dress code? Are you allowed to be seen with your phone and on social media? It is common that you are given the advice, you only get out what you put in, but is that strictly true?

The Good– In some places, work experience is encouraged and your supervisor will make a plan for you so that you can see all aspects of the radio station and work in different teams be it Breakfast for three days, mid-morning for a day and drive time for a day. This is an excellent way of seeing how different teams work and how the production changes for each show. At a bonus, you will not just work in radio production (which we all want) but actually work in radio sales, copywriting, research and social media which all also have teams with in a radio station. Furthermore, you may be lucky enough to sit in the studio and watch a show being presented by just the presenter with no producer. At times, you may think this is a bit tedious, I have seen them present a link, I have seen them do a segway and I have seen them line up the ident to the intro- why do I need to see this for three hours? There is so much to learn. It is common that on commercial stations that presenters will play a sweep of songs. For example, Magic FM play at 22:00 “10 @10” commercial free. This gives you an excellent opportunity to speak with the radio presenter, find out how they got to be at that radio station, share influences (everyone loves talking about the radio g-ds) and ask questions that you may not feel you could ask in a public place. My advice would be on your first day to write a list of things that you want to find out whilst you are at the station. For example, if you are a radio student at University, put in to practice what you have learnt and show off that you can record and edit a vox-pop on your own.

The Bad– I remember I worked at a radio production office which had a team of four with the use of lots of freelancers to produce their work. I had not taken my coat off yet on my first day when I was told to carry out a shopping trip to the local Sainsbury’s for accessories such as toilet paper. I also remember at the same company travelling around London in the middle of nowhere to deliver packages. At the time, I was annoyed and thought that I am not gaining any experience in radio which is what I was there for. However, two years later when I am looking to get employed I have seen duties such as this listed and can turn around to the company I am applying for and say LOOK I HAVE DONE THIS!

The Ugly–  According to OFCOM, there are 362 radio stations in the UK. This means that is likely that there is a local and a regional station falling into your local TSA. If this is the case then you are lucky and do not need to travel for a long time. Everyone knows that there is not much money in radio and you do it for the passion so be prepared to spend money on trains, staying in hotels to work on the Breakfast show and long hours. However, I can personally say it is worth it and you will get so much more out of it. As a naive first year student back in the day, I complained about the hours and that I was not always given tasks to do. The smaller the station, the less likely they have work for you to do and it can get infuriating turning up everyday to the office and not being given a single task. But, that day you decide to quit, it could be that a big task is given to you which means showing off what you can do. Stay with it, moan to a friend just do not quit! Don’t forget you need to start from the bottom to make your way to the top!

I hope what I described to you helps motivate you for when you go on work experience. It is hard to get and can feel at the times that the stress and journey is not worth it, but one day it will all make sense when you least expect it!


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