Back in the 1970s BBC Local Radio truly was of the area where anyone and everyone could offer their services to the regional output, since then university courses have taken president, often over talent, and now the beeb hopes to restore the balance, but not on a regional basis. The corporation is launching a new apprenticeship scheme aimed at giving people without a university degree a break into national radio.
The two-year scheme, believed to be the first of its kind, will focus on speech radio and will concentrate primarily on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. It will offer six placements.
The BBC Radio Journalism Apprenticeship will combine study at Lambeth College in London with work placements with the London programme teams of the BBC’s Radio Production department. Apprentices will be trained in every aspect of radio journalism, from how to create accurate and balanced reports, to how to write for radio, the web, and social media.
The aim is to appeal to people from a wide range of backgrounds who can demonstrate passion and potential rather than academic qualifications.
Ruth Gardiner, acting Controller of Radio and Music Production, says: “We want to give people who do not have graduate experience, but who listen to some of our programmes and who have a genuine interest in how such programmes are made, the opportunity to join the department.
“Apprenticeships are important because they help attract recruits from a wide range of backgrounds by offering the opportunity to earn while learning.”
BBC Radio Production makes magazine and conversation programmes as well as drama and documentaries for BBC Radio 4, Radio 3, Radio 2 and the World Service.
They range from magazine programmes such as Woman’s Hour and Outlook to weekly interview programmes like Midweek and Desert Island Discs. The department is also responsible for arts programmes like Front Row on Radio 4, Night Waves on Radio 3 and science programmes like Material World on Radio 4.
The documentaries unit has produced a string of award-winning series, including the acclaimed History of The World In 100 Objects.
Joanne Butcher, Chief Executive of the NCTJ, says: “The Advanced Apprenticeship in Journalism is a brand-new qualification developed by the NCTJ in partnership with leading employers.
“It provides a new pathway into journalism careers, combining learning on the job and at college, and to the same exacting standards we expect from all NCTJ trainees.”
The apprenticeship scheme and work placements will start in September 2013. At the end of the two-year period, the apprentices will have all the skills and knowledge needed to gain an Advanced Apprenticeship in Journalism, developed in conjunction with the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
Media critic Queenie Trout says, “Maybe with all the front line cost cutting on BBC Local Radio its time to open the doors again to those who want to make audio programming ‘for the love of’ rather than the pay packet. Let’s face it if utterly talentless people can be made famous by TOWIE, think of the talent that could be found via a voluntary scheme to assist in the poor money strapped regions of radio.”