‘I want to make a documentary about poo’

“I want to make a documentary about poo!” – it wasn’t the opening line I’d intended to give when asked to pitch an idea for a BBC Radio 4 documentary.

But having spent the day hearing from journalists and producers at the #podiumtraining19 day at Google HQ in London, that’s what I came out with – an idea for an in-depth look at food allergies and intolerances.

During the day, myself and 80 other aspiring media professionals heard from journalists, podcast producers, social change campaigners and audio specialists. The topics ranged from the process of producing a BBC Radio 1 documentary, to pitching your ideas to commissioning editors.

Stephen Titherington from the BBC World Service gave an inspiring opening speech about making engaging content. He gave some great examples about how to attract audiences, even when you don’t have the latest and greatest equipment.

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Sky News treated us to two speakers. Louise Hastings discussed the different ways to enter journalism, as well as what was happening in the newsroom that day. It was the day Theresa May announced her resignation, so they made a swift exit to get back to duty.

It was great to hear from Kumba Kpakima and her route into the field. She chose a Sky News apprenticeship over university and recently won a Young Journalist Award. She told us how her first ever documentary now has over one million views on YouTube – impressive for someone so young!

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Sam Bailey was recently appointed Managing Director of the Audio Content Fund and was interested to hear about the barriers young audio producers face. There was a consensus that a lack of funding, studio space and high-quality equipment are the most significant factors preventing us from producing the content we would like to. I was happy to hear that funding will hopefully soon be available for Podium.me journalists.

josie verghese bbc young reporter

Throughout the day we also heard from: producer and reporter Simona Rata; executive producer Sue Bowerman; Broadcast journalist Josie Verghese from BBC Young Reporter; Safiyyah and Mya from RevolYOUtion; David Prest from Audiotrain; and podcast producer Anna Siwecka.

The highlight of the day was when we were each given the chance to pitch our podcast or documentary ideas to the commissioning editor at BBC Radio 4, Mohit Bakaya. There were some fantastic ideas – everything from a young person’s experience of narcolepsy to the crisis of finding student accommodation.

Mohit Bakaya BBC Radio 4 commissioning

It was a wonderfully supportive environment with the audience whooping and clapping after each pitch. I still can’t quite believe I got up on stage and said (to the man I hope to one day be my boss!), I’d like to make a radio documentary all about poo.

I left feeling optimistic and inspired. Anyone who says audio is dying is wrong and that was proven at #podiumtraining19. See you next year!

#podiumtraining19 Photographs by Hardeep Kaur Dhadda

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