Radio Production

This course is designed for broadcast assistants (within music radio). It'll give you more of an understanding about the different roles within a production team for music radio. You'll learn the difference been a broadcast assistant, an assistant producer and a producer, how they work together and what a radio studio looks like (tour) and what systems it's made up of. This course is designed for anyone interested in getting into radio production or someone just starting out as a broadcast assistant.

****The course contains video, audio, questions and quizzes*****

The course will take XXX minutes to complete.

1. At the end of this section, you'll be able to navigate your way around a radio studio and be aware of the systems used.

Guide to a radio studio including systems

Quick Recap

are an essential piece of kit for the whole team. Everyone needs to be able to listen to the shows output. The are also vital. They're what let you play audio out of the desk. You have one assigned to each microphone in the studio (if someone will be talking in that mic).

is the playout system used to play all the music during shows.

There is a separate system for playing things like jingles (industry terms are: BED's and STING's). This system is called 

2. At the end of this section, you'll understand what a broadcast assistant does.

Duties of a broadcast assistant.

Broadcast assistants are the first rungs on the radio production ladder. It's the job where you'll learn the most as you'll proabably be doing a wide range of tasks from making playlists, editing audio, scanning social media platforms (research), calling guests, making tea and generally filling any gaps should anyone need you to do anything.

"Nuts and bolts of radio production" - Team Assistant, 1Xtra Harrison Stock

Some Broadcast Assistants duties can include:

  • Make montages to go on air
  • Come up with ideas for the show (new features, new ways to make online content etc)
  • Make playlists
  • Take out the swear words out of the songs - editorial guidelines
  • Genealogy - website says what track is playing when there is a mix being played
  • Music reporting (so that artists get paid when they're tracks are played)
  • Getting guests on the line
  • Making sure the rest of the team has what they need, updates to scripts,

A broadcast assistant can be responsible for:

  • Getting callers on air
  • Editorial content and output

3. At the end of this section you'll have heard from an assistant producer and how she got to where she is

In convo with Sarah Dray: Assistant Producer

Sarah Dray is an assistant producer at Radio 1 and 1Xtra, currently working on Trevor Nelson’s daytime show. She talks about her career journey so far, working with her heroes, as well as the importance of standing out from the crowd.


What was your first job in the media and how did you get it?
I worked at my student station whilst at university where I was head of programmes and music manager. I also helped out at a local community station, Express FM, where I answered phones, booked guests and undertook interviews. Both of these were unpaid roles but really helped me gain the basic skills I needed to work in radio.

My first paid role in the media was working for BBC Blast. I started off on a work experience placement for three weeks, helping out on their tour and events. After this they decided that they liked me and invited me back to be a freelancer with them in the summer months. I worked at their head office in London, helping them with their annual tour. This job helped me get my foot into the BBC.

How long did it take you from there to doing your current job?
From working at BBC Blast it took me about six months to get to Radio 1 and 1Xtra. I was a freelancer and already a phone operator on Radio 1’s The Surgery. Then I noticed a unit assistant job at Radio 1 being advertised. I applied, and even though I didn't get the job, they employed me as a freelancer and the rest is history.

Did you do any formal media training?
I did a degree in media studies at the University of Portsmouth and when I started out in radio, I shadowed other unit assistants to learn how everything worked. 

Was there a formative person or programme which made you want to work in the media?
I had always been into radio. I remember I used to make my own shows and mixtapes when I was younger. I didn’t want to be a presenter so it wasn’t until I joined my university's student station that I realised I could have a career in radio that was behind the microphone. I always enjoyed listening to Edith Bowman and Colin Murray in the afternoons, and Zane Lowe, however I think it was Radio 1 as a whole that made me excited about working at the BBC.

What programmes are on your must-view or must-listen list now?
I have varied music taste. Pete Tong and Annie Mac are always on my must-listen list. I always try and listen to as much of Radio 1 and 1Xtra as I can and love discovering something new. TV wise, I’m loving Frozen Planet at the moment. Anything with David Attenborough is a must watch.

Has there been a moment where you’ve thought, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this”?
Everyday I get this feeling. Being a unit assistant across Radio 1 and 1Xtra means I’m constantly moving around the shows and experiencing something new. I get to work with great people and presenters, and be a part of some really special programming. 

What’s been the proudest or most memorable moment of your career so far?
There have been quite a few memorable moments, however I think my proudest moment was when I was chosen to represent Radio 1 at the 2011 Underage Festival. I had to organise and undertake interviews with bands and go to the event and collect vox pops from the young people. I then produced packages which were played on Annie Mac and Nick Grimshaw’s show. It was really great to hear something broadcast that I had organised and made. 

Most useful skill you’ve developed?
Radio 1 and 1Xtra are great for development. For example, when I joined I would say I had basic editing skills, but now I feel very confident in my editing ability and have even put together pre-recorded shows. I have also learnt to be much more confident since working at Radio 1 and 1Xtra, I feel it has really brought the inner me out.

Hardest lesson learnt?
I knew the media industry was a competitive place to work, however it wasn’t until I started working in it that I realised just how much. I’ve learnt to have a thicker skin than I did before.

Which tools do you use to keep up to date on the industry?
Radio Today on Twitter always has the latest radio news on it.

Who has inspired you the most?
I once worked with Annie Nightingale on one of her shows. She has been in the business a long time and she still has so much passion for radio and music. I’ve also read her autobiography and the challenges she had to overcome to be on Radio 1. It makes my journey seem so easy. Even though I only worked with her very briefly it really inspired me and it’s something I won’t forget.

What three tips would you give someone wanting to do your job?
 - Never give up. I made working at Radio 1 and 1Xtra my only focus. Everything I did, I made sure it would help me towards this goal. I was also lucky that my parents were supportive. I’m not sure I could have done it without their help, especially in those moments where I was getting no work at all.

 - Get as much experience as possible. This doesn’t just mean getting lots of experience with just one station or company. Help out at a few. I spent hours and hours at my student station, but when I started work I soon realised that student radio alone wasn’t enough. There are hundreds of people wanting the same job as you, so you have to do everything to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

 - Be prepared to work hard and always give it your best.

4. At the end of this section, you'll know how a producer fits into the team and what their duties are.

In convo with Dellessa James: producer, Radio 1Xtra

Producer Dellessa James has been working with Radio 1Xtra's DJ Charlie Sloth for two years. She describes how pushing boundaries and taking the show to different levels and audiences is all part of the day job.


This is what I do
I work on Charlie Sloth’s Drive Time Show on BBC Radio 1Xtra. I have been producing Charlie since July 2011, when he only had one weekend daytime show, until now where he is on every weekday, 4pm – 7pm, entertaining the nation.

My role varies from day to day. I book guests, I have editorial responsibility for the show, I come up with creative ideas, I seek out relevant new music suitable for the show and I generally try and keep across the world of youth and entertainment, as on the show we always like to put our unique own spin on things. I have worked across many shows on Radio 1 and 1Xtra, plus I have also worked at BBC Three Counties and BBC Radio Gloucestershire as a broadcast assistant - I've worked for the BBC for just over 10 years.

Who I work alongside and where I sit in the overall production
As a producer I work within the Radio 1 and 1Xtra Radio Division for the BBC. I have an editor who line manages me and below my role I look after an assistant producer (AP) and team assistant, plus a presenter.

What my typical day involves
I normally start the preparations for the show before I leave my house in the morning. Just like everyone else I scan through Twitter, Facebook, blogs and the news websites to see what’s happening in the world that is relevant to young people and 1Xtra’s audience.

Then I normally plan the show in my head on my way into work on the train (I also check my work emails, so I am ahead of the day before I get in and hear my colleagues ask me ‘Did you get my email?’). Then once I get in to BBC New Broadcasting House, I have a production meeting with the AP and I delegate tasks and complete a running order. Plus during the week other parts of my job include editing, planning and attending the playlists meeting.

A moment in this production I’m particularly proud of
There are many moments I am proud of, as on the show we always continue to push boundaries and take the show to different levels and audiences. But we are getting known for our video spoofs and making songs live on the radio. Our spoof radio drama The Kronicals of Kim & Kanye got an amazing reaction from our listeners, so I am very proud of that. Also Charlie Sloth’s radio show recently won a Bronze award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards for Best Entertainment Programme and he was also nominated for the category Best Music Radio Personality of the Year. For me personally, that was a great achievement as I edited both entries that we submitted.

I am a very hands-on producer, as I have very high expectations for the shows I am responsible for. I am also not afraid of getting my hands dirty, as I enjoy completing a project from start to finish.

Something I learned that I'll take on from this production to the next
One thing that I learned from this radio show is about appreciating the audience and rewarding them for listening and being involved with the show, as we do try to create a family and community (this could be as simple as giving them a shout out or favouriting one of their tweets).

My biggest surprise
My biggest surprise was working with Charlie Sloth, as I did not know what to expect from him, as his personality was larger than life. Here’s a quote from the judges at the 2013 Sony Radio Academy Awards: "Charlie has a personality that knocks you over like an express train. His enthusiasm for the music and his love of life shine through on the air.’’

The programme I'd kill to work on
Randomly I would love to work on, or at least get an insight into, the TV show Celebrity Juice. I am not even the biggest Keith Lemon fan, but the creative ideas that go into the show completely connect to young audiences.

In convo with Dari Samuels: producer, BBC Radio 1Xtra

From a degree in management studies and a love of hip-hop to waking up a nation of young urban music fans - we find out how producer Dari Samuels has forged a career at BBC Radio 1Xtra.


Briefly - what is your job and what are your key responsibilities?
I produce the 1Xtra Breakfast show for BBC Radio 1Xtra – a national station dedicated to hip hop and r&b music.  My main responsibility is to lead a small team of production staff and presenters that creates a radio show, plus supporting multimedia content, for young fans of urban music.

What was your first job in your area and how did you get it?
My first paid job in radio was an entry-level position, a broadcast assistant at 1Xtra. I got the job by applying for one of the positions advertised in a national newspaper.  There was an application form and two interviews I had to get through.  I hadn’t previously worked in a professional radio environment, but I did have experience of doing student radio, DJing, being a freelance music journalist, and helping a friend set up their own small independent record label.

How long did it take you from there to where you are now?
I’ve been working at 1Xtra for 12 years, five of them as a producer.

Did you do any formal training?
I’ve got a BSc in Management Studies from Royal Holloway, University of London.  In terms of media training, I’ve done that on the job, through BBC-run courses and by learning from experience.

Was there a formative person or programme which made you want to work in your area?
Nelson George is an American culture critic who was one of the first mainstream journalists to write about the hip hop music scene in the 1980s.  He’s gone on to write books and make films about various aspects of African American culture.  After reading a couple of his books and seeing him appear in documentaries, I could see how it was possible to build a respected career out of showcasing, celebrating and critiquing urban music.

What is your favourite TV/radio programme or online offering at the moment? 
I used to play a lot of sports when I was young, so I’m a fan of the My Sporting Life radio show on talkSPORT where I get to hear some of my childhood sporting heroes talk about their eventful careers.

Has there been a moment where you’ve thought, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!”?
Not really - although my job gives me the opportunity to meet some famous people and experience some exciting things, I’m always aware that I’ve got a job to do.  Yes, it was great to be able to fly to Nuremberg and watch an England World Cup football match live in the stadium; but along with the enjoyment came the pressure of having to deliver quality content about one of the world’s biggest sporting events.

What’s been the proudest or most memorable moment of your career so far?
An early highlight was getting the chance to interview some of my favourite music producers and DJs for a radio documentary I was making about the history of remixing.  An even bigger boost came later on, when I was contacted by an editor at the BBC World Service who had enjoyed listening to the documentary on the radio and wanted to broadcast it on his own station.

What things do you always have with you – physical objects and personal skills?
My mp3 player - so I can check out the new music that my audience is listening to, as well as the tunes I enjoy listening to. 

Most useful skill you’ve developed?
Adaptability - I continually have to adapt to changes in audience tastes, work practices, industry trends and available technology in order to remain effective in my job.

Hardest lesson learnt?
If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.

Which tools do you use to keep up to date on the industry? 
I use Twitter to keep up to date with the views of influential industry figures, and I use YouTube and listen-on-demand web sites to check out what the competition is doing.

Anything you know now that you wished you knew then?
You don’t have to be the boss to be a leader in the workplace.

Who has taught/inspired you the most?
The audience ultimately decides if the content I produce is a success or a failure.  So, they are the ones who teach and inspire me the most.  I spend a lot of time looking through the comments that they make via social media; plus, when I’m on public transport, I eavesdrop on conversations other people have to find out the things that my potential audience are talking about, and the issues that are most important to them.

What three tips would you give someone wanting to do your job?

1) Get relevant experience.
Bosses tend to prefer hiring people with experience rather than novices with enthusiasm.  So, relevant experience is invaluable, even if it’s only through work experience or a hobby.

2) Build a reputation.
In order to progress, you have to maintain a professional attitude and work hard to build yourself a reputation for delivering results.

3) Stay connected to the real world.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the hype, spin and gossip that fills the media world. So, it’s important to have friends outside the industry who can provide you with priceless reality-checks. 

What are you up to next?
Making sure my alarm clock is set - when you produce a breakfast show, you’ve got to be out of bed very early!

Quick Quiz: A producers responsibilities can include:

  • Booking guests
  • Coming up with ideas
  • Scanning social media platforms (research)
  • Making sure guests don't swear!
  • Development for the rest of the team members
  • All of the above
Which of the following do you think is correct?

5. At the end of this section you'll have more of an understanding of what it's like working for one of the nation's biggest stations.

Untitled content

*Unable to attend audio on this free account (asking me to upgrade first) but I'd put this podcast here: 

Working in radio production: A day in the life of 1Xtra

Everything you wanted to know about working at BBC 1Xtra. We hear from a few of the 1Xtra family including head of programmes Rhys Hughes and producer Alex Lawless.

Behind the voice of the DJ, radio production is a team effort. This week we find out about what goes on behind the scenes at BBC Radio 1Xtra in a panel discussion from the 1Xtra Live event in Leeds. 1Xtra breakfast DJ Yasmin Evans spoke to her 1Xtra colleagues: team assistant Harrison Stock, assistant content producer Keturah Cummings, producer Alex Lawless and head of programmes Rhys Hughes. They each talk about their individual routes to 1Xtra and their day-to-day responsibilities. And they give advice for anyone trying to get into radio.

According to Rhys, there's never been a better time for radio. But if you want to get involved, make sure you have the skills you need – which include shooting and editing both audio and video, coming up with ideas and using social media.