OPINION: how student radio is driving my aspiration

OPINION: how student radio is driving my aspiration


By Benji Hyer, a student at Birmingham University, and a young radio presenter on BurnFM and Wizard Radio.

I have always aspired to be a broadcast journalist. With such technological advances in the industry, it is where the future of news lies.

At every stage of my school career, I have strived to gain opportunities to get involved in radio or television.

After a short period of work experience at Sky News and appearances on BBC Radio 4, I was fortunate to be given a show with ‘Wizard Radio’, a fast-growing young adult internet station.

Since May last year, I have hosted my own two hour weekly phone-in show for the station during which I debate with the public and MPs on contemporary and controversial political topics live to thousands of listeners.

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I presented that from my own bedroom at home, so the prospect of university excited me greatly because now I had the chance to take advantage of multiple more opportunities to feature on radio in a real studio.

All the big names in broadcasting that I wished to emulate had to start their journey somewhere, and I guessed it was student radio, so that’s where I headed.

Within the first week of university, I had acquired a slot on the University of Birmingham’s ‘Burn FM’ station.

My vision was to present an hour-long programme called ‘The Topics’ on current affairs ranging from UKIP to Israel to Oscar Pistorius.

My expectations were relatively low at first, however the show was an instant success. We’re only in our fifth week now, but we’ve already managed to reach triple digits in terms of listenership (although I’m sure my grandmother contributes to that figure by refreshing the page a hundred times), and thanks to the editors, our show’s content is appealing to a wide audience.

I’ve recently held interviews with the university’s ‘Justice in Palestine Society’ after our UK Parliament officially recognised Palestinian statehood, and Hong Kong students during the pro-democracy protests there.

Yet by far the most significant coup came during mid-October. BBC Newsnight and Dragons Den host Evan Davis was speaking at the university, and I managed to sneak in to the hall with a microphone and dictaphone.

As Davis was about to start his talk, I nervously approached him and requested an interview after the lecture. He kindly accepted, and I frantically began preparing questions.

We later sat down together for a good 15 minutes, and I was able to record his views of Scottish independence, the economy … and of course I asked who his favourite Dragon is!

He left in a hurry – probably off to do better things than chat with a teenager who fantasises about doing his job – but before leaving, commented in a very flattering manner that “you’re like a young version of me … [and] you’ll go far”.

After lengthy days socialising in the ‘Jewish bubble’, I find it almost therapeutic to sit down at the end of the day and discuss the headlines on air with fellow politically-passionate individuals.

Hopefully, both ‘Wizard Radio’ and ‘Burn FM’ will grow further in the coming years and my involvement in both shall continue.

You can tune in to my ‘Wizard Radio’ show every Sunday from 2pm-4pm at www.wizardradio.co.uk/listenlive, and listen to ‘The Topics’ on ‘Burn FM’ every Tuesday from 9pm-10pm (possibly changing to a 1:30pm-2:30pm slot on Fridays) via www.burnfm.com/player or catch a recording of the show on the station’s ‘News’ page where you can also find all programmes and full interviews to date.

Follow me on Twitter: @benjihyer

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