“You can’t handle the truth!”
When I was five, I had a “radio show” called Bela’s AM Music. I was the presenter and I sang all of the songs – mostly just “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan. I had a jingle and everything. So you could say I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in radio. Except, I didn’t! Growing up, I was obsessed with legal dramas like LA Law, Ally McBeal (I wanted to be Ling) and then I watched A Few Good Men. I watched Tom Cruise shout “You can’t handle the truth!” in the courtroom scene, the drama! I was sold on becoming a lawyer. Cheesy but true.
Possession is 9/10ths of the law
Fast forward quite a few years and I completed my law degree and the Legal Practice Course. The media sector seemed exciting to me so I worked as a legal assistant at Discovery Channel and ITV Sport. I’ve watched football with my dad from a young age so working on contracts for the Champions League and World Cups was ideal for me. I did my training contract in-house at ITV and at two law firms – DLA Piper and Slaughter and May. 18 months later, I was a qualified solicitor. An officer of the court, whoo hoo! Soon after, ITV went through a re-structure which meant my role would change. Now was the perfect time to try something new, something I’d always wanted to do.
I applied for a place on the Broadcast Journalism diploma course at the London College of Communication. After verbal and written tests at a group assessment day, the candidates were split into two separate rooms. It was exactly (not exactly) like The X Factor – one room had made it onto the course but the other group was sent home. Being one of the only “mature” students, I felt self-conscious at first. But it wasn’t long before the other students realised I was just as immature as them and we all got on great! The course was perfect for preparing me for my first job in radio.
Werk Werk Werk
Whilst I was at LCC, I did unpaid placements at Radio Jackie and ITV Central in Birmingham. Once I graduated, I worked for free. A LOT. Then I got my first paid radio job at Time 106.6 and Sunrise Radio. After I’d gained enough experience, I moved onto Heart Four Counties where I was the drivetime newsreader. I commuted from London to Milton Keynes and picked up a shedload of Nectar points. After almost a year, I decided to go freelance – I worked at LBC, talkSPORT, Heart, Eagle Radio, BBC Berkshire and BBC Asian Network. Six months later, I secured a full time job at BBC Asian Network. I went from working as a reporter to producer to news reader to presenter to editor. The good thing about the BBC is that you can work across different departments. I’ve presented sport bulletins on BBC 5live, BBC World Service and a TV report for BBC news channel. My end goal? Full time presenter. Or part time presenter, part time blogger! It wasn’t an easy choice swapping my legal eagle life to go back to university and even though I earn less now than what I could be earning as a solicitor, I’m lucky to be doing something I’ve always wanted to do 🙂