Entertainment & Culture

Want to be a radio presenter?

Ever thought about being a radio presenter? Well now might be your chance. Read on to learn about SWINDON 105.5 community radio from founder Shirley Ludford, and how they’re always looking for new talent.  

My philosophy is that if something feels right, give it a go as you never know where it will lead.  I am Swindon born and despite living in London for a short while, and in Corsica for a year, Swindon has remained my home.

The knowledge and understanding I have of my home town helps me be as effective as I can in working with and promoting local people and communities, which has remained a passion throughout my life and exactly why is set up SWINDON 105.5, an inclusive radio station for all.

Setting up SWINDON 105.5 radio station

My first job was at Wiltshire Radio, presenting a weekly programme for blind and partially sighted listeners. From there, I went onto BBC Wiltshire, where I stayed for 13 years. By then I felt it was time to do something to encourage others, of any ability, to get into radio. So I headed back to Swindon to start teaching the first ever evening radio courses at one of the town’s colleges. During that time I was approached by three local chaps who asked me to help them set up a trial community radio service, and so we did.

We received a lot of positive comments from everyone – the locals themselves, the police, schools, musicians and community groups. So I decided to go big with the station, officially launching SWINDON 105.5 a year later.

The station has gone from strength to strength, but the community is still at the heart. My aim is to help people, and so SWINDON 105.5, which has the moto of ‘daring to be different’, is open for all to gain experience and develop skills for the work place and a bright future.

Getting involved

The station is a totally accessible and inclusive service for all ages and abilities. We welcome students from schools, colleges and universities, as well as placements through Job Centre Plus.

I believe in looking at what people can do, not what they can’t do.  That’s when helping make a difference really begins.

We also run projects with ex young offenders, addicts in recovery, neighbourhood and cultural groups. It’s brilliant seeing people develop their skills and confidence.

You can see more information about courses and volunteering on the SWINDON 105.5 radio website.

How to get started in radio

Gaining real experience and demonstrating you can do a job is just as important as qualifications in Radio.  Take all the opportunities available to you – and keep a contacts book.

Get practical experience too – check out your local college for media courses.  This all helps show your genuine interest.  I have many people contact me and say they want to join us because they like music…. we all like music.  What is your real motivation? Think about it before contacting any station.  Listen to various presenters and stations to hear what you do and don’t like in styles, learn from all of them and be willing to put in the hours to learn.

How to get noticed

Do the job well. Radio can be too safe…  think and plan outside the box. Get out and about/find ways and reasons for getting your name out there. What makes you different from other presenters?  Make use of social media and keep a contacts book.

Support for the station

SWINDON 105.5 is a non commercial, not for profit service and my biggest job is fundraising for all we do.  My biggest concern is having to find almost £40,000 a year to run it 24 hours a day – and that includes my own part-time salary.  Supporting us as a friend helps us meet these costs as well as replace and upgrade essential equipment as needed.  We currently need to replace our training studio broadcast desk.  We have a gift-aid localgiving page on our website if you’d like to support, or find out more about volunteering to run SWINDON 105.5 radio.

Most memorable moments whilst broadcasting

There really have been many and very varied unforgettable moments…

  • Being Pudsey and dancing in the middle of a capacity crowd football match.
  • Prince Charles talking to me for some time, thinking the TV mic I held was plugged in.
  • Making a mistake when introducing a member of Bucks Fizz in my morning show – and getting the B and the F mixed up (I ended up on the BBC blooper tape!).
  • A guest’s  old and tired Daschund being introduced to do a back flip… the drum roll sounded, and all the dog did was sleep. But the audience thought it was so funny we were inundated with calls wanting him back the following week!

What I enjoy most about presenting

Making a programme come alive, being creative, having guests go away feeling happy and proud of their experience. Does that inspire you to get into presenting?

You can find out more about the radio shows broadcast at SWINDON 105.5 radio by visiting the website.

By Shirley Ludford

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Are you keen to work in the entertainment industry? We’d love to hear your story, so get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com or leaving your comments below.

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