The Radio Industry Diversity Group, made up of major radio groups, unions and the SRA, is launching a new campaign to interest more ethnic minority students in radio.
The Student Radio Association is teaming up with students and lecturers at 50 universities and colleges round the country, to promote radio during freshers week.
The “Represent!” campaign is in response to employers in the commercial sector and the BBC who told the Radio Industry Diversity Group that student radio is a key entry point into an industry which has substantial under-representation of black and ethnic minority workers. If more BME students get involved in student radio, a couple of years down the line it is hoped it will lead to an increase in experienced BME applicants for radio industry jobs.
The Student Radio Association, a member of the RIDG, represents more than 70 radio stations at universities and colleges round the country. Run by volunteers, these stations spark interest and develop new talent from each new intake of students and are a key route into a radio career. The Student Radio Diversity Group (SRDG) was set up under their auspices to take the campaign forward jointly with the RIDG.
Major broadcasters are actively supporting the campaign. From the BBC, Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 4, 6 Music, Asian Network and 5Live are backing it. Commercial stations supporting it include Kiss, Choice, Galaxy and Xfm.
BECTU, the broadcasting union, is also playing a leading role in the campaign which has the support of the TUC and the University and College Union (representing lecturers) and the National Union of Students.
Posters will go up on campuses all over the country during freshers’ week drawing attention to the local student radio station, and lecturers and the NUS will draw students’ attention to the campaign. The SRA will issue a programme pack giving suggestions of programmes the 50 participating radio stations might want to consider running during the month-long campaign.
Heather Davies is coordinator of the Represent! campaign for the Student Radio Diversity Group, and events and admin assistant at the Radio Academy. She commented: “The exciting thing about Student Radio is that it has near complete freedom to explore the creative potential of the people involved – the more people we can draw in and help to realise their potential, the more fruitful and exciting our shared future will be”.
Tim Davie, director, BBC Audio and Music, said: "Student radio is a key source of talent for the BBC. We're delighted to back this campaign which aims to make student radio – and therefore the industry – more inclusive of the whole of British society."
Andrew Harrison, chief executive, RadioCentre, said: “Student radio supplies a wealth of talent to commercial radio and so we’re delighted to be supporting this campaign. Our stations appeal to listeners with a range of different interests and offer an exciting variety of job opportunities, from presenting to news and sales, and we hope this campaign will inspire talented students from a similarly wide range of backgrounds to get more involved in radio.”
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The TUC welcomes this joint initiative between BECTU and the radio industry aimed improving the representation of black and minority ethnic students in student radio. This is a good example of what can be achieved when both sides of industry work together.”