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8 February 2023

Hits Radio hosts Gemma Atkinson and Mike Toolan meet class of young apprentices for National Apprenticeship Week

Bauer Academy apprentices at Hits Radio’s Manchester studios with presenters Mike Toolan and Gemma Atkinson for National Apprenticeship Week

The BBC’s next generation of production talent took part in a very special week of training with Bauer Academy at the Bauer Media owned Hits Radio studios in Manchester, coinciding with National Apprenticeship Week.

Highlight of the week included a Q&A session [Tuesday 7th February] with Hits Radio Drivetime presenters Gemma Atkinson and Mike Toolan which explored how best to understand your audience.

Gemma and Mike, who have known each other for over a decade having first met in pantomime at the Manchester Opera House, discussed what they felt made a good producer – ‘brings out the best in a broadcaster’ according to Mike and ‘let’s you be yourself’ said Gemma – as well as sharing their career paths from regional Breakfast radio to a national Drivetime show listened to by 1.4million people every week.

Hits Radio Programme Director, Paul Gerrard then hosted a Q&A for the students keen for advice on making it in the media industry. Paul said: ‘It was a pleasure to host the Bauer Academy apprentices, not only today but for the whole of National Apprenticeship Week. We hope they found the session today invaluable and got the chance to take advice and encouragement from two of our most talented presenters.’

Sophie Phipson, 20 is on the BBC’s Production Fast Track apprenticeship. She said: ‘Speaking to Gemma and Mike today was really great. I loved when they said that with radio, you’re talking to someone as though it’s a direct conversation and for them the audience feels as if they’re also speaking directly back to them. That’s a really intimate, wonderful relationship to have with the people you’re creating content for.’

Other workshops that took place during the week include an exploration of how we communicate with audiences and how that changes depending on different platforms, and the importance of market segmentation.

Courtnay McLeod, Director – Bauer Academy said: “Being immersed inside Bauer Media means Bauer Academy can give learners unique industry experiences, with opportunities to connect and collaborate with leading Bauer Media professionals. It’s great to see BBC apprentices benefit from our practical training and spending time with presenters and other Bauer Media staff.   This is so valuable as it provides learners with both inspiration and insight.”

Two other students – both also on the BBC Production Fast Track scheme – shared their thoughts on what they’d gained from this in person experience:

Emily Dawson-Masterson (20) shared that: ‘I found it really interesting learning about actual production workflow and the ins and outs of  production processes.  I don’t come from a media background so I’ve not really thought about that much, but Gemma and Mike were quite inspirational talking about where, once you’re in the media industry, it can take you.’

Hawwa Fatima Butt (21) said: ‘I’m currently at BBC Radio Manchester and it’s great because you gain a load of transferrable skills. I’ve learnt a lot this week but if I had to pick one thing in particular, I would say the engagement with the audience and knowing the competition has been interesting and so helpful when thinking about your own brand.’

Bauer Academy currently deliver two apprenticeship standards for the BBC – Production Assistant Level 3 and Media Production Assistant Level 4. Between them they cover three internal schemes from the BBC including BBC Production Fast Track, BBC Production Management Fast Track and BBC Hub. BBC Hub is a pilot currently being tested in the West Midlands for a wide range of creative, gaming, cultural and digital businesses in the area; creating apprenticeship opportunities in a scheme that is co-ordinated and managed by the BBC.

The apprentices will be working across the UK on a number of BBC radio and television programmes including flagship soap EastEnders. Others will also have the opportunity to gain experience working with teams from BBC News, BBC Radio, BBC Arts Music and Events as well as the BBC’s Children’s channels. All apprentices taking part in the Bauer Academy training will have honed their production, professional and creative skills as they look to achieve their apprenticeship standard and take their next career steps in early 2024.

– ENDS –

About Bauer Academy:
Bauer Academy is a unique training provider owned by and located inside one of the world’s biggest media businesses, Bauer Media Group. We deliver Apprenticeship training to individuals already working in the media industry to develop their skills as well as young people wishing to gain media specific qualifications on entry to the industry. We are on the Register of Government Approved Apprenticeship Training Providers and deliver courses in a vocational learning style, offering work-based experience throughout.

The Bauer Academy also proudly runs a number community projects in partnership with various other businesses, with grants and funding including the Big Lottery, Princes Trust, European Social Fund and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. These projects help to create unique training projects for both private and public sector clients.

About Bauer Media UK:
Bauer Media UK reaches over 25 million UK consumers through a portfolio of world-class, multi-platform media and entertainment brands including heat, KISS, Grazia, Empire, Magic, Absolute Radio and the Hits Radio Network. These brands offer commercial partners access to highly engaged audiences, with creative solutions underpinned by insight and instinct. Bauer Media UK is part of the Bauer Media Group, one of the world’s largest privately-owned media businesses with media assets all over the globe.

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