BBC broadcasters including Kirsty Young, Jenni Murray and Victoria Derbyshire have given their support to a new scheme acting as mentors to 20 female presenters from across BBC Local Radio.
The new mentoring scheme was launched this week as a joint venture between Local Radio and the Networking and Development Group, Sound Women, with support from the BBC’s Diversity Centre.
The mentoring process begins this month and will provide the local radio broadcasters with six months of mentoring sessions, with the aim of building skills, confidence and ambition and the ultimate goal of securing higher profile programmes or shows on bigger stations.
Matthew Barraclough, Local Radio Development Editor, says of the project: “We’re thrilled with the support we’re getting from our mentors. This scheme allows 20 of our current crop of female presenters to work with some of the biggest names in the radio industry, it really is an incredible opportunity for us.
“A lot of our focus has been on finding new talent but this mentoring scheme is aimed squarely at the huge talent pool we already have, and who we hope will go on to inspire others to follow them into BBC Local Radio.”
57 applicants from across BBC Local Radio applied for the scheme. They were asked to submit a short piece of audio and complete an application form, after discussing their career progression with their managers. Sound Women selected the successful applicants.
The mentoring scheme is one of a number of measures that BBC English Regions is pursuing in an effort to increase the on-air representation of women across its network of BBC Local Radio Stations.
The initiative also has personal support from the BBC’s Director General, Tony Hall. When the scheme was first proposed in December 2013 he said: “This is a great opportunity. We want to encourage women presenters and offer first-rate support for them – and our brilliant local radio stations – across the country. This mentoring scheme is one of a number of ideas we have to help develop the incredible talent our country has to offer.”
BBC Local Radio approached the campaigning group Sound Women which already runs a national mentoring scheme for women in the radio and audio industry. Sound Women agreed to provide a bespoke scheme for 20 female presenters in local radio, with the majority of the funding for the project coming from the BBC’s Diversity Centre, which already supports the UK-wide scheme.
Sue Ahern, Board Member overseeing training from Sound Women, says of the BBC Local Radio initiative:- “This is not only fantastic news for the radio industry, but also for listeners too. It will bring better balance and representation of women – their thoughts and views to the airwaves.”
Funding for the project was granted by the BBC’s Diversity Centre. Amanda Rice, Head of Diversity sees this as ‘a key priority for the BBC.’ She says: “Increasing the representation of talented women from a range of backgrounds on air and screen is incredibly important to us and will help us connect with an even wider audience”.