Radio station work experience is a great way to get into radio for the first time. It can help you to develop contacts in the radio industry and find the specific type of radio work you’d enjoy doing.
How I Started In A Radio Station
Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells was the very first place that I practiced my radio skills. Hospital radio is a non-profit set of radio stations in the UK that people can join to learn how to become a radio presenter along with other tasks associated with working in radio while broadcasting to patients during their stay in hospital. Community radio didn’t exist as it does today at the time I got started in radio otherwise I’d have been knocking on the door of my local community radio station too!
The next step for me was to get stuck in at a local level and after writing many letters to radio stations all over Kent and some in London too I finally got accepted on a work experience placement (back in 1995)! The radio station was called Kfm and it was based in Tonbridge, Kent, UK.
Radio Station Work Experience Tasks
My big tip to you, if you’re looking for work experience or an internship at a radio station, is become great at making cups of tea and coffee. You will soon become the star of the radio station if you know how to make a good cup of tea. Many radio personalities I worked with seemed to be powered by lightly caffeinated beverages.
Two anecdotes from my first days in radio that I hope you won’t repeat yourself. The first was when I made a cup of tea for the afternoon presenter (who liked his tea strong and told me to crush the tea bag as hard as possible). I ended up splitting the tea bag and all the black tea bits escaped into the mug. I added a splash of milk – without noticing – and dropped it off to the presenter who took a sip just before opening the microphone to speak. The rest is history!
The second time I made tea it was for four people. I was a young teenager and ready to impress with my tea making skills but forgot one thing – a tray. On my way to the programming office I splashed some boiling water on my hand and tried to keep my cool as I delivered the mugs to the intended recipients with a scolded hand!
Answering phones can be another big part of a work experience placement. They may pop you on the main switchboard or (if you’re luckier) you’ll get to answer listener phone calls. These calls can range from, “I’ve lost my dog” to “I never received the prize I won two months ago on your radio station”.
I was asked to seek questions for competitions but, back when I started, I was not provided with Google instead I had a big encyclopaedia and sheet of paper to work with.
Finally, a task you most likely won’t get today, I was often ask to file records into their correct places. This involved wading through scores of vinyl, CDs and minidiscs. Thank goodness for mp3 files and hard drives!
Will I Get On Air?
Yes, if you’re persistant. Don’t expect to go on air during your first day. Get to know people around the radio station and make yourself useful. When the opportunity comes up (a presenter is taken ill) you could be in the frame for the gig. Also, take advantage of the studio facilities to practice and make a demo for yourself.
Find A Department You Like
I was always attracted the most to radio production and playing with audio that’s why I spent many hours with a chap called Dave Owen who was head of production at Kfm in Tonbridge. He taught me much of what I know and still practice today when it comes to audio production. Often I’d enjoy the job so much I’d be in the studio until 2am making jingles and promos. It was great to learn how to play sound fx in from minidisc and use a real vocal fx box which is rarely practiced today with inventions like Adobe Audition and Pro Tools.
Work Experience Questions
Have you got any questions about radio station work experience? Leave them in the comments below.