I had never really given radio a second thought before I got into journalism. Back home, as soon as someone starts speaking on the radio, we change the channel — radio news and talk radio programs aren’t a big thing. So it was a shock to me when I came to the UK and learned of so many radio programs listened to by so many people, like the Today Programme and 5Live to name a couple. It was an even bigger shock to me when I got work experience for the most listened radio program in the country, the Jeremy Vine Show. I had worked in television before, and I’d done some freelancing in PR, online journalism, and writing articles for print — but I didn’t have the slightest idea where to start when it came to radio.
The two weeks I spent at BBC Radio 2 wasn’t like your usual work experience. I didn’t spend the week making tea and photocopies, or sitting around watching others work — I spent my two weeks at the Jeremy Vine Show doing the same kind of work that was expected from producers on the team. I pitched and helped develop stories, did background research on stories and typed up any relevant info for Jeremy to know on the show — including profiles on celebrities like Prue Leith, whose life story I had already googled months prior thanks to my obsession with the Great
British Bake Off. I was in a work environment with people of all ages and from all backgrounds, but all of the like-minded. From the first day, I got along with everyone so well and enjoyed so much of what I was doing that the long, arduous shifts seemed to breeze by. Amidst jokes about Greggs sausage rolls, laughing with a caller who had a blender from the 1950’s, and taking pictures with the Jeremy Corbyn 2018 annual, we were covering serious issues like Mugabe’s resignation in Zimbabwe and the Argentinian submarine that went missing. And not only was I interacting with all the brilliant journalists in the BBC offices but because the Jeremy Vine Show is a phone-in show, I got to speak to a few incredible callers as well. One woman told me her father had served as Mugabe’s lawyer for years. Another man phoned in and told the story of how having to shower after PE in school gave him years of struggling with anxiety.
I learned so much from not only what I did in those two weeks, but from everyone, I spoke to, and I cannot wait to have the opportunity to go back upon graduating this week.
Oh, and I got to meet James Blunt too, so that was a bonus.
The advice I would give to other students? Do not reject an idea only because you haven’t considered it previously. My work experience at the radio, which was by far one of the best professional experiences I have had, illustrates accurately the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and diving into unknown territories.
– Berni Botto is a 3rd year Journalism and the News Industry student