BU’s BIRSt station scoops two wins at Student Radio Awards


An online radio station run by Master’s radio students at Bournemouth University picked up two prestigious prizes at the Student Radio Awards (SRAs).

BIRSt is run by MA Radio Production students, with an innovative mix of music, drama, and features.

It won a Silver Award in the Best Station category, while Richard Spalding received Silver in the Kevin Greening Award, which recognises creativity and innovation, for his BIRSt feature Teabagging.

The BIRSt team at the station launch with BBC Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey

The BIRSt team at the station launch with BBC Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey

The Student Radio Awards are run by the Student Radio Association, and took place in London on November 7.

They celebrate the best of student radio nationwide, as well as launching the next generation of radio talent into the industry – with previous winners including Radio 1 DJs Greg James and Scott Mills.

Jo Tyler, Radio Production lecturer at BU, said: “It is an amazing achievement for BIRSt to win these awards at this level.

“Set up as an internet station since 2000, BIRSt has challenged students to consider different ways of broadcasting from the outset and is very much where the radio industry is heading now.”

She added: “The BIRSt 2013 team rose the challenge of producing interesting, creative and engaging content for an under-served younger audience globally and I pleased to say that many of the cohort have already secured jobs with the BBC and other broadcasters for their work.”

Bournemouth University students Charlotte Gay and Aoife Allen were also shortlisted for this year’s SRAs in the Best Female Presenter and Best Newcomer categories respectively.


Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey helps students relaunch online radio station


Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey was at Bournemouth University to help students relaunch online radio station BIRSt.

Jane, who is a presenter on the station’s flagship Woman’s Hour programme, opened the first live broadcast by popping a balloon filled with confetti and blowing out the candles on a cake to commemorate the launch.

She was then interviewed by one of the students – covering topics like her career and her love for Liverpool FC and baking.

BIRSt is an online radio station run by MA Radio Production students every year, with each year’s team putting their own take on it.

The station is now in its 14th year, and this year has been completely rebranded – with a new orange colour scheme and a revamped website.

Jane said she was impressed by the work the students had done.

She said: “I think it is really brilliant – they are clearly really passionate about radio – and I thought the interview was great.

“In a way, they are ahead of the game – with the internet, this stuff is accessible, which is what is so great about it. They have got so many more opportunities to be heard.

“I think here, you can take all the creative chances that you might not be able to in the industry.”

BIRSt will run for 24 hours a day online, combining archive material with live broadcasts and packages created by current students.

This year, the students plan to work on new-format specialist programming that can’t be found anywhere else, as well as expanding its music programme and features repertoire.

MA Radio Production student and BIRSt station manager this year Tom Gerken said: “We were keen on trying something really new to inspire our listeners and peers.

“We are just trying to do something which hasn’t typically been done before.

“We want it to be a station where people can experience things which they wouldn’t on any other.

“We want anyone who tunes in to go: ‘that’s weird, I’ve never heard that before’ – hopefully we are going to be giving people something new and brilliant.”

He added that it was great to have someone as high profile as Jane Garvey to help relaunch the station.

“To have someone from Radio 4 come here and be happy to talk to us on air is a great start,” he said.

“We have been tweeting about it all day, so that is hopefully going to help us get listeners from the launch, which is really key.”

Jane also offered advice for anyone hoping to break into the radio industry.

“Be prepared for rejection and don’t stop putting yourself out there constantly,” she said.

“Something that I’m quite passionate about is that you should be open to everything – just because it isn’t your dream job, don’t think you don’t need to do it. Be interested in everything.”

You can listen to BIRSt by visiting www.birst.co.uk and clicking the Listen Now icon. The station can also be found on the TuneIn Radio App on both iOS and Android systems.

Find out more about MA Radio Production at Bournemouth University