Big recruitment of new broadcasting talent as BBC local radio enters new era

The BBC is launching a huge search for new broadcasting talent as it seeks to reinvent its local radio stations.

  • Open auditions to be held across England to find the radio stars of tomorrow
  • Work already underway to reinvent the BBC’s 39 local radio stations
  • 15 hours of new local programming broadcast every week
  • Shows fronted by diverse new talent including the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid, a finalist from The Voice, and the 24-year-old Director of Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Open auditions will be held across England to find new presenters. The aim will be to offer successful candidates regular shows on their local station.

The talent search is a key part of an ongoing plan to reinvent BBC local radio, first announced by the Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall in November 2017.

Last year, in the biggest shake-up in a generation, each station launched 15 hours of new, original content every week. It came after the shared weekday evening programme was axed in October.

The replacement local evening shows have focused on bringing new talent to the BBC and covering subjects not usually heard on BBC local radio.

An award-winning London comedian, a former Leeds United footballer, the current Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid, a finalist on The Voice, and the 24-year-old director of music at Pembroke College, Cambridge are just some of the new stars getting their first break in broadcasting in the new evening line-up.

Now it’s hoped holding open auditions will uncover even more new talent. The plan has been announced today by BBC England’s Head of Audio and Digital Chris Burns.

She has also revealed the BBC’s 39 local radio stations in England will work to modernise the music they play, focus on reflecting the communities they serve beyond just reporting news, and partner with other parts of the BBC to provide a platform for their local content including BBC Sounds.

Chris Burns says: “We need to change because the way in which our audiences are consuming audio is changing. The success of streaming services, podcasts and catch-up radio prove there is much more competition for people’s ears. But it also proves the demand is there. The market is expanding.

“This is an exciting time for radio and there is a unique opportunity for BBC local radio. As commercial radio becomes increasingly network based and local newspapers face continuing decline, I want us to make localness our key feature. Our role is to reflect the communities and own the local conversation, on all platforms – linear and digital.

“And we must be the entry point for new talent into the BBC. BBC local radio has a great tradition of uncovering and nurturing new talent. That must be strengthened as we seek to engage younger audiences.”

Chris Burns was appointed to run BBC local radio in 2018 and started the role in November. She has outlined her plan for the service, focusing on uncovering and nurturing new talent, increasing visibility in local communities and appealing to younger audiences. The nationwide talent search is a key part of the plan. The audition process will be turned into a podcast.

Stations will be launching their talent searches soon, with BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s search already underway. Similar searches have already been run by stations in Humberside, Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield. The aim of the open auditions is to find potential presenters who wouldn’t normally emerge through the conventional BBC recruitment process.

Six million people listen to BBC local radio in England every week. The changes have been brought about following an announcement in November 2017 by the Director-General Tony Hall who renewed the BBC’s commitment to local radio. Lord Hall said BBC local radio stations should reflect their community and establish their own sound and personality.

Since then the 39 local radio stations in England have all recruited a community producer and launched an unprecedented amount of new programming in the evenings and appointed presenters new to radio.

The new presenters include:

  • The Director of Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge Anna Lapwood (the youngest director of music in the college’s history) presents Classical Cambridgeshire on Radio Cambridgeshire.
  • Singer Letitia George, who was a contestant on The Voice, presents The C Word on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire.
  • Anand Bhatt presents The Curry Show, the BBC’s first ever radio show dedicated to curry.
  • Summaya Mughal is the new evening show presenter on BBC Radio Nottingham. Summaya was selected following an open audition.
  • The Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid is one of the presenters on Radio Sheffield. He is the first Lord Mayor to have his own show on a BBC Radio station.
  • Award-winning comedian Judi Love presents The Scene on BBC Radio London which discusses some thought provoking topics with artistic people.
  • Former Leeds United player Sanchez Payne is one of the presenters on the Monday Night MixTape on BBC Radio Leeds.
  • DJ and rapper Vital (real name Vernon Caisley) from Wolverhampton is the presenter of BBC WM’s Tuesday evening show which aims to promote local artists.
  • On BBC Radio Humberside, the line-up includes a new show for Kofi Smiles who became the station’s Face of Hull in 2017 following an open audition.
  • Kyle Walker presents The Dead Good Show on BBC Radio Manchester looking at topical issues that matter to young people.
  • Lucas Yeomans brings new music to his evening show on BBC Radio Stoke as he explores upcoming music acts from the region.

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