Explore: Media

Radio Producer
BBC Belfast

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Helen T

00:01 My name is Helen T I work for BBC Radio Ulster and I work as a radio producer.

00:08 I work on an entertainment programme so we would talk to kind of celebrities or local people who are in kind of in the public eye and then I also put together the music for the programmes so I pick through CDs and decide what’s gonna be on the radio. So that’s what I do, before we go on air and then when we go on air during that time I’m there to help guide the presenter through the programme, make sure they have all the information that they need, put the phone calls through to them, and just make them aware of what’s going on outside and help them do the best programme they can.

00:39 It’s a great job, I love my job, this is the job I’ve always wanted to do. I didn’t study media I didn’t do, I don’t have any qualifications whatsoever, to do the job that I do. I went to university, studied bio-medical science, from there went back to university and did a PhD in bio physics and that was enough to make me realise that, actually life’s too short.

01:04 The biggest single turning point in my life was, when I was twenty- one and one of my best friends died in a car crash, and that was another thing that made me realise that life is very short and you have to do what you want to do. Did some research to figure out how I could get into radio, realised that actually you don’t really need qualifications in the media and I got into this job by doing the CSV which is a course you can do, at the time when I did it through New Deal, so if you were on the dole you could come in and do a short training course that involved a placement in the BBC. And once I got my foot in the door, I never left.

01:40 So when I left university finally I worked in a coffee shop for a year so that I could build up my contacts within the BBC and get as much experience as possible and then after about a year I took the plunge, left that job in the coffee shop cos I thought if I have no income that’s gonna force me to get work in the media and so, there were weeks where I worked and my income was fifty pound a week and I had to survive on it.

02:05 I grew up in Ireland, in Donegal, in the eighties, where there wasn’t a lot of money, people really valued having a good job, and, in the little country place where I came from the thought of going and working for the media just seemed like a job that somebody else did, it didn’t really strike me as a job that somebody like I could do. And I was really good at school, I was really good at science and maths but because I was good at one subject I was sent down that route and I didn’t really have the strength or didn’t really have the right guidance from my careers teachers I think, to say follow your heart, so I ended up doing my degree in biomedical science.

02:49 Even when I was finished my degree I was twenty-one years old and I still at that point didn’t have the full confidence to say, this isn’t what I want to do. I suppose in some ways I felt that I had done what my parents might have liked, that I’d, you know, used my brains, got myself a really good degree and now I was gonna take a chance to do what I really wanted to do. And I gave myself a year to see if I could do that and after a year I was kind of half way there so I gave myself another year and that was what it took.

03:13 My father is a farmer who then supplemented his income by working on building sites, my mother had a great job in the civil service in Ireland up until the point when she got married. A job for life is not the norm any more you can actually change careers quite easily. Well I have only recently been made staff producer and it’s taken five years of working on short contracts, so this is actually the point where I want to be at. This is as far as I’ve ever dreamed of, because all I want to do is make programmes.

03:46 END

Helen T works for BBC Radio Ulster as a Radio Producer. She works on an entertainment programme talking to celebrities and local people, she also puts together the music for the programmes. After completing her PhD in Biophysics, Helen decided that she actually really wanted to work in media, and she had only been going down the science route because she had been good at that in school. She took the risk and finally managed to land herself a job with the BBC.

More information about Arts officers, producers and directors

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

42%  male 
58%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Arts officers, producers and directors assume creative, financial and organisational responsibilities in the production and direction of television and radio programmes, films, stage presentations, content for other media, and the promotion and exhibition of other creative activities.
Entry can be via academic qualifications, BTEC/SQA awards, diplomas or degrees in sector-relevant subjects. Apprenticeships are available at NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in some areas.
  • Chooses writers, scripts, technical staff and performers, and assumes overall responsibility for completion of project on time and within budget;
  • Directs actors, designers, camera team, sound crew and other production and technical staff to achieve desired effects;
  • Breaks script into scenes and formulates a shooting schedule that will be most economical in terms of time, location and sets;
  • Prepares rehearsal and production schedule for main events, design of sets and costumes, technical rehearsals and dress rehearsals;
  • Ensures necessary equipment, props, performers and technical staff are on set when required;
  • Manages health and safety issues;
  • Selects, contracts, markets and arranges for the presentation and/or distribution of performance, visual and heritage arts.
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