Start your career on the airwaves
So, you’re looking to get your start in the world of radio?
Like many roles in media and journalism, radio can be a highly competitive industry. Demand for jobs in radio and competition among job seekers remain high, yet the amount of quality opportunities is quite limited.
However, radio’s competitive nature is also its greatest advantage when it comes to apprenticeships. In the media industry experience always trumps qualifications, and there’s no better way to gain hands-on experience than an apprenticeship.
If you have the passion, drive, and determination to pursue a career in radio, maybe you can do this through a creative apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships in radio
The radio broadcasting industry requires a plethora of different talents and skills in order to function effectively and continue putting out news, entertainment and music onto the airwaves.
Radio production needs creatives. You could start your career as a Radio Broadcast Assistant, with pathways into working as a researcher, a writer, a producer.
Likewise the technical and operational aspects of radio need a constant influx of talent professionals from broadcast and audio engineers to data analysts and accountants.
As far as apprenticeships go, there are a couple of different frameworks that employers can and will use to train up apprentices in the sector. This includes Production Assistant (Screen and Audio) and Radio Network Technician to name a few.
What companies can you look out for?
The BBC has a long history of traineeships and apprenticeships, regularly recruiting early-career talent to join its ranks.
From on-air experience to digital and engineering, apprentices will get some amazing experience working at the BBC. It can be great way to get your foot into the door of one of the UK’s biggest broadcasters.
Check out this interview from 2017 from a Broadcast Production Apprentice at BBC Radio 1/ 1Xtra.
Wireless operates many successful radio brands in the UK and Ireland, including popular stations such as talkSPORT, talkRADIO and Virgin Radio.
TalkSPORT — the largest sports radio in the world! — launched its apprenticeship program in 2020, which covers journalism, media and on-air radio skills.
Keep an eye out for their apprenticeships!
With over 25 million listeners across their radio stations, including the UK’s favourites Heart, Capital and Classic FM, Global Radio is a great place to learn and grow if you’re ambitious about a career in radio.
If you’ve secured at least 3 AS levels or 2 A Levels, you could be in a great position to apply for one of their broadcasting apprenticeships .
Bauer Media is an international media powerhouse, with over 15,000 employees — one of them could be you! Their radio arm is called Bauer Media Audio, and they have their own dedicated learning and education academy, Bauer Academy.
All of Bauer Academy’s apprenticeships last at least 12 months with Ofcom-approved, skilled tutors so you can learn broadcast production, media production and more. Find out more on their website.
As one of the leading commercial radio station operators in the country, the LincsFM Group runs local and national radio stations. They’re based in the centre of Lincoln, so this could be a good option if you live in the Midlands.
Although they don’t currently have any apprenticeships available, it would be worth staying up to date with their vacancies for future schemes.
If you have a passion for radio broadcasting and a love of music, Planet Radio is looking for people like you. Home to some of the world’s biggest radio stations — Absolute Radio, Heat Radio, Kerrang!, Kiss, Magic and Planet Rock — Planet Radio doesn’t currently offer apprenticeships, but they do have a popular work experience scheme.
Their work experience program runs for two weeks and is designed to give you all-round experience of how radio stations work. You’ll cover on-air presentation, production and operations, amongst other things.
Check out their website for info on when their work experience application process opens.
Something a bit different
The world of entertainment is bigger than just radio. If you’d like to try your hand at other areas of media, take a look at the apprenticeships below:
UK Music Apprenticeship Scheme
Apprenticeships in the music industry are varied and you could learn about live events, promotion, creative and digital media. You could work for a label, learn how to produce music or maintain instruments. Ever dreamed of working for Universal Music, Domino Records or CODA Agency? Now is your chance!
Some examples of jobs in this industry include assistant recording technician, music project planner, music assistant apprentice and music instrument technician.
WMC (Wales Millennium Centre)
WMC is the home for arts in Wales. They run a year-long scheme that allows you to achieve a Level 3 certification in Technical Theatre: Sound, Light and Stage. Combining creative hands-on work in rigging, electrics, sound and lighting with nationally-acclaimed study, this apprenticeship is a great choice for a career in theatre.
Royal Television Society
Pretty much all the big players in TV offer fantastic apprenticeship schemes — these include Sky, ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC. You could work in a range of disciplines including digital media and production, to help kickstart a creative career in entertainment.
Other companies where you can find training opportunities in the entertainment industry include Betty, Creative Access, Fremantle and Media Trust.
Getting radio work experience
The best way to start gaining experience in radio is to start small. If you’re at school, college or even university, there’s a chance that there’ll be a student radio station or club that you can get involved in.
Hospital and community radios are also a good option and are often looking for volunteers. There will also be a multitude of local radio stations where you live — some of which may even offer work experience or apprenticeship opportunities!
If you can’t find any local work experience, why not make your own! With even the most basic audio recording equipment you can record yourself to practice your audio production and presenting technique, create demos to show to potential employers, or start a podcast on a topic you are passionate about. Radio has a long history of ‘do it yourself’ success, so why not give it a try?
Going live in three, two, one
A career in radio can be rewarding and, most importantly, varied. If you decide not to pursue the creative side of radio, you could look at the technical/production side or alternatively you could foray into other areas of entertainment, such as television and theatre.