Proud to be part of the Bauer Academy

The Bauer Academy is run by Bauer Media, who own various national brands as well as local radio stations across the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Local radio stations in the group include Radio Aire in Leeds, Viking FM in Hull, and Key 103 in Manchester, and the national brands including Kiss and Absolute Radio.

The idea behind the Bauer Academy is to bring forward new talent, in a way that the company can give something back to the industry that they are a major player within, and by giving the students “hands on” experience from within a commercial setting, they can bring forward new blood into their radio stations or into the wider media sector.

I first noticed the Bauer Academy courses earlier in the year, but with the other stuff going on, I didn’t feel able to commit to the sessions offered. Thankfully for me, the courses continue to run throughout 2015.

Initially, I committed to 3 courses at various stations across the North of England. “Step Inside and Present” at Radio Aire in Leeds, “Introduction to Commercial Radio” at Key 103 in Manchester, and “Advanced Presenting” taking place at Viking FM in Hull towards the end of the year. However since my initial foray into the Bauer Academy, I have also completed a further course which looks at News Journalism called “News in Today’s World”.

There are so many good points to the courses, that I sound like a sales agent for the Academy. Not only do you get training from experienced professionals within the industry, but you get to use the systems used in a commercial radio setting. You’re also with other talented people who are looking to break into the industry from a variety of backgrounds and ages, and you learn from them as well, because we have all had different introductions to the industry, be that hospital or community radio, or during their time at college and/or university.

Step Inside and Present is a 6 week course, designed to give an overview of the first steps of presenting a show in a commercial radio station. Led by Ant Arthur, who is both a Regional Producer for Bauer Media, and also a presenter on Viking FM, the style of training is both serious, but light hearted in the same manner, which allows for great interaction between the students and the course leader, both in the sessions and away from the classroom as well.

Introduction to Commercial Radio is a course over 2 days, which gives students an opportunity to record their own jingles, and develop ideas for a new radio station. The course content gives an overview to the different strands that go into developing a commercial radio station from Sales and Marketing, Show Content, Advertising, and Demographics. The course was led by Alex James, the breakfast presenter currently at Radio Aire, and cover presenter for other shows across the Bauer Radio Network.

Today’s News is a course that gives you hands on experience of what is news, and what you need to cover in order to give punchy bulletins to an audience within a 2 minute window.  By going out into Manchester City Centre, looking around for stories, taking vox pops and then creating a 15 minute news package, recorded in the studio, and edited together, it gave a brief insight into what happens in news rooms across the Bauer Network on a daily basis.

I feel very honoured to be part of the Academy, and the contacts made, and meeting and networking with other people in my position, and also with industry professionals has been invaluable.  The skills I have gained, together with my current experience within the industry and the first year of my degree, has given me a lot of additional knowledge and understanding of the way in which radio works in the United Kingdom.

Job Interview

I haven’t had a job interview for ages, and to be frank, I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like!  The company that I have it with have been very flexible with my proposed working pattern, to allow me to work full time through the holidays, and work part time through term time, as long as I can commit to one evening a week, and weekends.  

The extra money I will earn by doing it, will allow me to live, without dipping into my inheritance.  There will be no big parties during my studies, I want to focus on ensuring the best grade in my degree, and getting the necessary work experience which means that I can get a good job once I graduate in 2017.

I’ve used a weekly planner to make sure that I can commit to the job, and to studying 50 hours a week, both taught and home study time.  I will probably listen to every album I own during the study time, and I’ve got plenty of those to get through.

Living on my own means that I can keep track of my study, and there will be blog posts long into the night, where I am learning and reflecting on the knowledge I am getting.  I’ll be taking full advantage of the fact that University opens early, and closes late, with the days that I am in lessons, using the software and technology available to me.

All work and no play may make Jools a dull boy, but the investment of time and energy will be worth it, and I can make my friends and family proud of the work I am putting in.

Law Exam – Reflection

Today was the big day.  After the mock exam a couple of weeks ago, I was concerned that I had peaked too early.

Passing the mock was a big thing for me, as I don’t perform all that well in exams, with the mental recall under pressure, but pass it I did.

I felt nervous going into the exam, but once in, I knew that I could cram no more, and just had to get on with it, read the questions and try to put down as much as I could during the lesson.

Thankfully, I passed, along with the other 4 members of the group who sat the exam, so we were all very happy with the end result.

I will still be learning more about the subject over the next 2 years, brushing up on the knowledge that I will need, moving forward into my journalism career.

Reflections – How to approach a degree when you’re nearly 40!

Returning to do a degree when you’re getting on for 40, is many things. Exciting, daunting, a new voyage of discovery…but to be doing a degree at my age is all of those things and so much more.

As the title says, how do you approach things? Students living away from home, maybe for the first time, have a different culture. There can be a tendency to partake in a little more alcohol, have late nights out, and rebel against the “norm”.

I’ve seen that before, done it, and got the T-shirt, plus matching accessories.

I’ve returned to education having been in the real world of work for almost 20 years. Retail, IT, Driving, Warehousing, Caring, Food Production, all things I’ve had a dabble at over that time. It pays the bills, but I never really found “it”. The job you can say, hand on heart, this is the career I want to do until I draw my pension when I’m 65 (or whenever the government of the day allow me to retire!).

Before Mum passed away last year, she told me to “go and do something with your life, don’t be driving that van until you get to my age.”

Given that she had terminal cancer, and only a few days to live, those words stick hard in my memory. We had both seen my dad work until he was 53, take early retirement, enjoy 5 years of relatively good health, and then be diagnosed with cancer, which he succumbed to after 2 and a half years of treatment.

He passed away aged 61, and if he hadn’t retired, he would have worked through his illness, not enjoying the fruits of his labour, the holidays, the fishing trips etc.

I guess my journey has shaped my view on the world, and the way in which I take all opportunities afforded to me.

My approach to my degree is that of a job. There is a process, there are deadlines, there are regular evaluations, and at the end of the year, time away from studies, to use constructively, be that working, a little holiday, and preparing for the next job (that being Year 2)

Thinking of the course as a 9-5 routine is a good place to start. By getting up and on, using the time constructively, and making progress each day, helps to keep the work flowing, rather than a mass panic at deadline time, rushing the work, and missing out key items.

Of course, 9-5 jobs don’t always just consist of the time at work, there are sometimes occasions when you bring your work home with you, preparing for a presentation for example, and the time boundaries get blurred, and Uni is no exception.

When you look at actual taught time in class, I only have 16 hours a week, with direct contact with a lecturer. 16 hours a week I hear you cry…that’s only part time!!

16 hours a week is enough to scrape a pass for a degree, but I don’t want to scrape through with a 3rd, I want to aim for the skies, and get the end of the course, knowing I’ve done everything I possibly can.

So 16 hours is a starting point. Add to that the 6 hours a week, I do on the radio, which has only just dropped from 8, then the number of hours is starting to increase. Getting experience in a variety of fields, is very important, and this is just one area that I’m looking to explore.

We are now at 22 hours a week, and the next addition is where is really kicks in. I have a rule of thumb for studying. For every hour in class, there should be at least the same away from the classroom. Now that could be reading books, researching on the Internet, working practically with the software, or any number of different ways of learning. So by adding that time to the current total, increases the hours to 38, which is pretty much the same as a 9-5 job.

There is an old saying “You only get out what you put in”, and if you’re willing to invest a considerable amount of money in a degree – 20 grand in tuition fees, and probably the same amount in loans over the three years, then you’ve got to invest the time.

It might not make you popular with friends and family, because you’re working hard, and not having a social life, but think of the long term investment. Getting a good degree, a wealth of work experience during it, making sure that no stone is left unturned, is worth the sacrifices. When hopefully at the end of it, there is a job you enjoy, a good wage, and the satisfaction of having letters after your name.

Mind you, degrees are like tattoos…once you’ve got one…one is never enough!!

Creative Futures – Research, research and….research!

One major advantage of the Internet is that you can read….lots!  Lots of different subjects, from authors around the world.  However, it’s not just the written word, there is also a wealth of audio and video resources to use, from podcasts to news channels from all over the globe.

In the lesson on Monday, Sally opened up her Lore channel to the group, and there are many resources, videos, and different ways of telling a story.  I like to think I’m a well read man, but some of the ways that you can report news opened my eyes to different methods of reporting.

One particular way of covering a story was from The Guardian, which was all about the Bush Fires in Australia in 2013, and the link to it is here.

Rather than being a flat news story, this feels more like watching a documentary, with sound, video, interviews, and interactive maps, and has shown be a different way of approaching reporting.

I’ve dabbled with the resources in and I’m in no way even part of the way through, but by reading through the next 3 years, I will be adding to my knowledge, and also sharing the resources that I come across with the rest of the group.

By sharing, together we learn as a group, building on our own strengths.  Using the books, websites and applications, that will open new avenues, and make me think about different ways of representing news stories.  The way in which news is reported has certainly changed, and I intend to be at the forefront of that change.