SRA Training Day – Steve Austins Guest Lecture

Steve Austins is the editor for BBC Radio Wales, the BBC’s national English language station based at broadcasting house in Llandaff.  Radio Wales’ target audience is anyone living in Wales or who has an interest in it, and the station highlights stories from across the nation that would be of interest to the stations target audience. Going into the lecture I thought that it would be interesting to get an insight into the radio industry from a professional angle and compare it to what I’d learnt and been taught about the industry and the medium from university.

Steve Austins

In the guest lecture that Steve hosted, one of the first things he’d said was that there is no defined route into the BBC and the same applies to the rest of the radio industry/ media as it is gets increasingly harder to break into the industry in the first place. Steve mentioned that even he had noticed a change in the BBC in the 20 years he’s worked for the corporation and that it’s harder than ever to get a job with them than it was when he first started out, with this in mind Steve then mentioned how crucial it is to have work experience in addition to a media degree if you’re looking to break into the industry and be successful, it was said that when employers look at prospective employees CV’s it’s great that they have a degree on there but the next question that employers will usually ask is what else have you got to go with it? What practical work experience have you got to back up your degree with?

As an employer Steve said that he takes as much interest in the amount of practical experience an applicant has, as much as whether they have a degree or not. With this in mind it was said that if you have trouble breaking into the industry that community radio should be one of the first places you go to, so that you can get the experience you need before trying to break in the industry again. A good audio reel is key to marketing yourself online and it allows employers to get a feel for who you are and it gives an insight into what your presentation style is like. This made me think about what I could do to make myself stand out with the hope of being employed in the media after graduating, it also made me question whether I have enough experience under my belt that would make me employable to a professional station.

 

“What unites your audience? When you find out jump on it and put the hours in”

 

Steve also talked about listeners and branding, he said “what unites your audience? When you find out jump on it and put the hours in” In the case of Radio Wales Steve said that when the 6 nations Rugby tournament is on, Radio Wales transforms into a station that covers nearly all aspects of the tournament and they become “Your 6 nations station” over the course of the tournament as that is what unites Radio Wales’ audience. Steve talked about planning ahead in terms of station output and said “You plan an essay so why not a radio station?” Steve talked about the major events that would come up over the next year and how Radio Wales would be incorporating the events into the stations output for example increasing the stations coverage of the 6 nations tournament, the centenary of the beginning of WWI, and the 100 years since the birth of Dylan Thomas.

I thought that the guest lecture that Steve gave was really insightful! I realised that radio stations operate in a similar way to most businesses in other sectors. B having clear branding that the listener can engage with and tailoring a stations output so it covers upcoming events such as the WWI centenary to meet the needs and expectations of the target audience. It was interesting to hear how one of Wales’ leading radio stations is dealing with the ever changing world of media, and how factors such as Social media affects the stations output and how it is also incorporated into the stations output.

The main points that I will take away from Steve’s guest Lecture are that:

  • Clear and effective branding is essential to building a successful station
  • What makes me standout from the rest of the crowd when applying for jobs?
  • It’s as much about making your own luck as it is getting lucky yourself

Image taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/cymruwales/commissioning/whoweare/commissioners/steve_austins.html

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