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How to become a radio broadcaster

PUBLISHED: 14:35 16 September 2013 | UPDATED: 14:35 16 September 2013

Pupils get their first taste of radio at the studios of Eagle Radio in Guildford

Pupils get their first taste of radio at the studios of Eagle Radio in Guildford

Eagle Radio

In the ever more competitive world of media, pupils in Surrey are getting a much-needed foot in the door at the first local commercial radio dedicated to schools...

It’s a common lament nowadays that children spend too much time glued to their computers, either in front of their games or on facebook. But given the chance, and the right encouragement, they still seize the opportunity to fire their own imaginations and they love the opportunity to experiment in new areas.

At 96.4 Eagle Radio in Guildford, the introduction of an education-based station called Eagle Extra has ignited a passion in students across Surrey and proves that, when handed the reins, they can produce some amazing results.

Launched in April 2012, Eagle Extra is the only local commercial radio station in the UK that has a regular schedule of schools programmes in which pupils can actively take part in both the creation and presentation of the output.

“Some stations choose just to play 24 hours of music on their Medium Wave frequency but we decided to do something more positive with ours,” says programme director of Eagle Radio, Peter Gordon. “We already had links with local schools through drama and workshops and we soon realised that the students get really fired up about radio.

“Once they come into our studios, they learn how it links in with all the modern gadgetry that they already love. Although we’re officially an analogue radio station, we are incredibly multi-platform. We get the students to interact with the website and various apps and make sure everything fits into a modern context.”

Spreading their wings

Part of the UKRD Group, a company that specialises in local commercial radio and encourages its radio stations to keep challenging the way they broadcast, Eagle Radio was always determined to think outside the box. With that goal in mind, and spurred on by the strong links the station already had with schools in Surrey, Eagle Extra was born.

They now work with pupils of all ages, from primary schools to sixth formers, from state to private schools, and its appeal extends beyond the students. The teachers love it because using radio adds another dimension to the curriculum, both in traditional methods such as script writing and music and also through advanced sound effects and some wonderful gadgetry.

A quick listen on any day of the week reveals the diversity of programmes broadcast by the schools: concerts, news items, coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year, languages, and interviews with the great and the good of Surrey. Anything and everything can be tackled.

To give just one example, St Dunstan’s Catholic Primary School in Woking found that studying the Tudors became considerably more interesting when radio skills were incorporated into the lessons. One of the children’s favourite workshops included broadcasting a war report from The Battle of Bosworth. Jo Costin, a teacher at St Dunstan’s, shares their enthusiasm.

“The children are really enjoying the activities and the outcome was brilliant!” she says. “The project is truly cross-curricular and the children are transferring their skills well. I was doing some work on newspapers today and asked what the purpose of a headline was – I was very impressed when one of the children responded with ‘hook and tease’ – all thanks to Eagle Extra!” Range of abilities The station also works with special schools in the area and finds the medium has remarkable results for students with a range of abilities. They discovered that children who say little in normal school lessons often come alive in front of a microphone.

“All the staff commented on how well-pitched the session was for our students, and how flexible the tutors were to the students’ individual needs – including having much-needed ‘noise breaks’!” says Mira Cooke, of Pond Meadow School in Guildford. “The students particularly liked hearing their voices edited immediately they finished recording!”

The programme manager for Eagle Extra, Chris Howell, says the intention is to be a community station where skills, knowledge and enthusiasm are shared across the board.

“In addition to working with around 80 schools since our launch last year, we forge links with local organisations and, where possible, we get them all together,” he says. “We recently teamed up with local venue GLive to produce Peter Pan as a radio drama, which was recorded in front of a live audience on Fathers’ Day.

“The broadcast included 15 young people from a mix of schools around the area, including George Abbot, St Catherine’s and Lanesborough Prep School. GLive hosted the event in their studio and the play was directed by GLive’s creative learning manager, Jo Wright. The collaborative effect of this type of programming is incredibly invigorating for all parties concerned and they learn so much from each other.”

The station now has five studios available for workshops and courses – and the team are looking forward to working with more schools in the future.

“Our Broadcasting for Schools courses have proved that radio is a great tool to support learning and a fantastic way to empower each pupil to have a voice,” says Peter Gordon. “Our doors are open to all and we want to encourage young people and schools to approach us with any ideas they have for radio. It’s a fantastic medium, and almost anything is possible.”

***

Need to know...

Eagle Extra broadcasts on 1566MW or listen via the website at eagleextra.co.uk. The Broadcasting for Schools courses take place on full or half days, and can be a one-off, weekly or termly. For more information and details of prices, call 01483 300964 or see eagleextra.co.uk

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