Since I was a child I have been obsessed with TV, that magic box in the living room which is the hub of entertainment, excitement and imagination and a place where you could go to if you were seeking adventure, laughs or an education. I have adored radio for such a long time, a voice from that magic box in your kitchen or your bedroom, to help tune you into the day and is there when you need to tune out. And the BBC is a corporation the provides the UK and the world with both of these services and more. I have often thought of the BBC as a distant, magical land where anything is possible. You can be fighting an evil sorceress with Merlin, chilling with your friends on Blue Peter, revising like a maniac on BBC Bitesize, or listening to the latest hits with Nick Grimshaw
When I received the email from my tutor Caroline, about a conference being held over 2 days within the BBC HQ at Manchester MediaCity. The place that houses BBC Children’s, BBC Learning, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport, BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Breakfast as well as the BBC Philharmonic and parts of the Research and Development, Drama and Comedy. But after I requested to be a part of the team that would be going along to one of the conference days, I received a response that said something along the lines of , “I regret to inform you that all of the available places have already been filled’, after reading this line I felt distraught that I had missed out on a great opportunity… the greatest opportunity. I just decided to forget about it and keep moving, I turned my attention to my University work and to kick starting my own career. I had essays to write, presentations to create and then on top of the University work I had to work on my own talk-show, Ours, based in my home city of Liverpool and a documentary that I needed to do research for.
A few days passed I noticed a email from Caroline. ‘Here is the list of people going’ I thought to myself, ‘why would she send me this list? To tease me? Punish me? Make me feel worse about missing the opportunity?’. I opened this email and proceeded to read the list just to see who was having this incredible opportunity. And there it was, MY NAME! Never has my name looked so good in a email, I had to do a double take. Then I continued to scroll down through the email to see who was going to attend the next day. And there it was again the same beautiful 5 letters that spell out my name. A-A-R-Y-N. I am going to BOTH days?!
I don’t think i have ever conjured up a grin that big in my 20 years of life. I was going to the BBC, I was going to MediaCity and as if that was not enough I was going to meet some of the decision makers within the BBC some of their executive teams, the people that decide what is going on the air and what isn’t. NERVOUS!
Over the two days of the event we talked about software’s and hardware’s that will be coming into play over the next 8 years. SUPER exciting stuff. Then we went on the talk about the future from a journalistic perspective, talking about the variety of tools and rules that journalists of the future will be using and abiding by.
The registration began at 9:15 in Manchester, and that meant we had to leave Huddersfield at 07:45 to try and miss the morning traffic, and that meant getting up at 6ish. YAY! Early mornings!! But it was worth it. I got up (just in time) got dressed, wore my smartest clothes and stuffed as many business cards in to my bag as was possible, with the intention to shoot them all over the BBC Offices like ninja stars, ‘Network Ninja Mode’.
TUESDAY 01st APRIL 2014: (Happy April Fools Day)
When I arrived and I was completely taken aback but the immensity of what was happening. Me a boy from Toxteth, Liverpool was walking into a place were they broadcast, influence and entertain people all over the nation. I honestly began to give thanks to whatever divine power was at work right now, I was completely amazed. I kept thinking that I was going to wake up back in Liverpool in my bed and realise that these past few years had just been a dream, it would have been one sick and twisted April Fools day prank.
As I was guided through the day by the lovely team of volunteers to each of the presentations. I was bombarded with one inspirational story after the next, one success story after the next, but no two stories were the same. Each person had found their own way into the career that was right for them. I was surprised by how many people did not have degree’s, did not set out to be in the BBC, and previously did not know many of the softwares that I thought you had to be an expert in before they even considered to hire you.
Ralph Rivera, this is a name that I will not soon forget. Ralph is the BBC Director of Future Media and after we feasted on some ‘luxury’ sandwiches and fruit that were provided by our gracious hosts. We had the chance to meet him. His entire presentation was an experience that I will never forget but there is one slide that he showed that I will hold onto for as long as possible. He showed us a photograph of him as a youth, describing his childhood as being ‘hard at times’ and right next to it was a photograph of him shaking the hand of Queen Elizabeth II. He said, ‘…if you remember nothing from this day, the one thing I want you to remember is this slide…’ Dreams can come true ladies and gentleman, this man is proof.
James Everton, a commercial radio presenter. Despite looking a great deal younger than he is, James has one of the most impressive résumé’s I have ever heard. He has hosted tons of his own radio shows and to hear that from someone of my own age was inspiring and motivating. After he gave his talk I couldn’t help but feel like I had a lot in common with Mr. Everton. After speaking with him one on one he took my contact details and I have emailed him regarding some possible work experience he got back to me within days and was quite enthusiastic about getting me into the studio to have a look around. EXCITED!
While I was at MediaCity we got the chance to preview some up coming technology, we had a chance to preview The Oculus. For those of you who have no idea what an Oculus is, its basically something that takes watching your TV to a WHOLE other level. It takes what you are watching and quite literally puts you in the middle of it. The Oculus is a great pair of goggles and tracks your movements and allows you to view the scene in whatever way/angle you want to. Kind of like a virtual realIty. Mind-blowing right? The guy that presented this to us, Ian Forrester, was a black man. As a young black man myself, it was so encouraging to see someone who looked like me who made it into the magic box that I idolised as a child. He travelled to the magical land where I so wanted to be. He was also dyslexic. I am not saying this makes his struggle greater than anyone else’s but to overcome something like dyslexia I imagine he would have needed a very strong character and I admire that. So inspiring! Thank you Ian
To close the day we had a University Session. This was quite a daunting experience, because no matter where I looked I was confronted with the faces of people who I was competing against for a job. These are the people that I will need to outshine, over step and bypass on the ladder to reach my dreams.
On my way home I had a ‘Eureka’ moment, I need not concern myself with what everyone else is doing, my priority is me. I just need to look at what i am doing and just try and achieve my dreams. If I find myself doing something, just because I want to write it on my CV then that something is something that I shouldn’t be doing. I just need to allow my instincts to take control and listen to my soul, because they have a better idea of where I am going than I do.
WEDNESDAY 02nd APRIL 2014: The Big Finale
As the next day began, I think I was even more excited than yesterday … if that was even possible. More of my classmates where going today I couldn’t wait to share this experience with them. We even left Huddersfield slightly earlier.
I still cannot believe how lucky Stephen Berry is, I truly hope he achieves his dreams because a major door has just been opened to him. People would beg, scratch and steal for an opportunity like this. And now is the time for him to run through this open door and grab this opportunity with both hands and both legs. GO STEPHEN!
I also went to a presentation from a Senior Broadcast Journalist from BBC Three and after his presentation was through I asked about some advice on getting into presenting for BBC Three. He told me the he likes his presenters to have at least 2-3 years of local TV presenting experience and he would like them to be able to write their own script. However, he did take my contact details and said that if I ever wanted some tips on how to better my show reel he would be more than happy to help me out.
When I walked into the BBC Quay House, to my right there was the reception desk and just beyond the desk was the BBC Breakfast couch. I sat on the couch and for a short period of time indulged myself in some role play. I was a big time presenter sipping out of the imaginary cup when I heard a couple of sniggers and giggles from behind me, the receptionists had gathered to watch my performance. Mortifying.
At the end of the day, just like yesterday, we had a University Session, and there were a fresh batch of faces all wanting the same thing I wanted and craved, a job at the BBC. But after my eureka moment from yesterday, it was less daunting. I know that I will succeed regardless of whether i get employed at the BBC at ITV at Channel 4 or not, I REFUSE to fail. Towards the end of all the speakers an old family friend Cheryl, BBC Executive gave a short speech about opportunities to help shape the future of BBC Three as it moves and evolves into being on online channel. WOW! After her speech she greeted me with a hug and a short catch up conversation and then invited me down to her office to talk business. WHAT WAS HAPPENING? But before I had a chance to leave a camera man, who had been filming the whole day, grabbed me and asked if I wouldn’t mind doing a piece to camera about my opinion day. Like I would say no, come on, of course I said yes.
When I was through being interviewed I went down to see Cheryl, she was sitting at a desk overlooking the BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport, I was stunned, at a loss for words, but I had to pull myself together because the time had come to show her that I meant business. During our 30 minute long discussion she took me on, what I can only describe as a ‘private tour’. I got to see parts of the BBC that not many people get a chance to see, she opened up a whole new world for me. I was soaking in as much as my eyes could take. Unfortunately our conversation was cut short because my tutor had commitments that she needed to get back to Huddersfield for. So Cheryl and I parted ways, but not before she offered her help on my talk-show ‘Ours’ her words were,“If you want me to do a masterclass …or anything. I am there!’
As I left the BBC MediaCity, for what was hopefully not the last time, I couldn’t help be so grateful and astounded at what had just happened, and to think I very nearly never got the chance to go to one of these days, yet somehow I ended up going to two and meeting so many incredible people, learning things about myself and about how to further advance my career. This was an experience that I truly wish all my peers could of had. I wish others from different parts of the country could get a chance to experience this. As I got closer and closer to Huddersfield and my memories from the BBC drifted further and further into the past I was filled with a sense of motivation, no more sitting and waiting the time for action is now. Everything that is or was began with a dream, time to make my dreams a reality.
When I finally got through my front door late that night, and finished editing together the video. For some reason I decided I wanted to check my emails and what was in my inbox? an email from none other than, the team at Radio 1. WOW! Dreams here I come.