Help me become a radio documentarian in the UK
October 26, 2006 4:15 AM   Subscribe

What's the equivalent of Public Radio in the UK? I've become hooked on This American Life over the web, and I would like to get involved in something similar over here. Bit

After finding a link to a This American Life show about living on an aircraft carrier, I checked out AskMe for more info and found a thread full of recommendations. I've since been listening to them and been completely hooked. And I've got to thinking that it's something I'd like to try out, perhaps first as a volunteer, but eventually as a job.

So, I think the most obvious is Radio 4, but what are my alternatives, given that getting work with the BBC without experience or the ability to do unpaid/very low paid intern or work experience is pretty tough?

I'm totally up for doing stuff unpaid on my own time, though due to work it'd be mostly weekends. I'd also like to do documentary/storytelling based stuff, rather than DJ'ing. My first thought is that I could simply put up a podcast on my site and start putting together my own stuff, but if there are resources or places I could channel this intention and get feedback, training and experience, that'd be ideal.

What say you Green?
posted by Happy Dave to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
The BBC pretty much dwarfs everything radio in the UK, but regional stations are much more accessible to contributors than the nationals, in part because they're often looked down upon by those entering the trainee programme.

You're in London, which means you don't have the advantages of someone in the far corners of the country, but there are more interesting options (Resonance FM being the obvious example) among the community radio stations that have sprung up at the right-hand side of the dial over the past decade.

I'd try podcasting. Low barriers to entry, builds familiarity, gives you a portfolio.
posted by holgate at 4:30 AM on October 26, 2006

I'd second Resonance - I know 3 people who've done shows for it who were artists/comedians with no background in radio. Perhaps check out Oneword - it's clearly run on a shoestring and you might find a place for yourself somehow.

The traditional place to start is hospital radio of course.

As far as the Beeb is concerned, there are/have been documentaries on all the networks, not just Radio 4. BBC 7 has been looking for original material. If you're interested in the BBC, nowadays it's supposedly not experience that accounts instead it's all about Talent. (Also, getting work at the BBC is not difficult if you have admin skills and come in the temp route but getting the job you want will be.)
posted by boudicca at 5:36 AM on October 26, 2006

Don't forget the BBC World Service or 1Xtra. And the fact that a lot of the BBC's radio is produced by independents, eg Somethin' Else. A friend has made radio documentaries for all three.
posted by i_cola at 5:57 AM on October 26, 2006

If you actually have some material you've put together, try getting the names of specific producers who cover that field within either the BBC or Independents (hint; listen to programme credits!) and write them a nice letter directly, including a CD.

Outside the BBC, there's Resonance as others have said, and I seem to remember that when I used to live in London LBC used to run a couple of feature programmes every day. And apparently oneword is a speech station, but I've never really listened to it meself.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you'll probably find that you know someone who knows someone who's involved in either a pirate station (boo, hiss | cheer, whoop) or a community station with an RSL.
posted by Luddite at 9:21 AM on October 26, 2006

There's always hospital radio.
posted by popcassady at 11:11 AM on October 26, 2006

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