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Students start-up UTC Reading radio station and are on-air within a week

Three Year 12 UTC Reading students have created a student-run radio station within a week, to help build a strong sense of community at the UTC.

Benji, Reilly and Oliver decided to setup the station, as they wanted to engage students from all year groups to build unity within the school, whilst also developing key leadership and communication skills to add to their already outstanding CVs.

Benji said: “We wanted to setup the student radio station at the UTC to bring students together and give them a platform to express themselves.

“Once we had agreed we were going to do it, we set it up within a week. Reilly developed our website in around two hours, we secured a room at the UTC to run it from, we ran a test broadcast and then went live the next day!

“I volunteered at a radio station previously so already have some experience, as well as running podcasts when I was younger. Reilly has a background in website development and Oliver has many skills favourable to this field and was a great fit as producer.”

The station, UTCR Live, is currently available online via desktop or mobile, however, the students are in an early development phase of creating an app as they already have Apple and Android developer licenses via their student company.

Throughout the day, music is played from playlists put together by the students. The team then go live with interactive content a couple of days each week, including student update bulletins from the leadership team. 

UTC Reading Principal, Jonathan Nicholls, said: “With enterprise being one of the core values of the Activate Learning Education Trust (ALET) and of the UTC, I was so pleased when the student presented me with their idea of the radio station. Not only does it provide them with the opportunity to develop a range of skills that they already have but it also provides a platform for the students and staff to discuss topical content over the course of the year. The great thing is these students are in Year 12 and will continue into Year 13 which means they have plenty of time to really build this platform and leave behind a legacy for others to pick up and take further.”

The students said, “All of us are studying a triple BTEC and are using both our free periods and out of hours to run the radio station. Our UTC day starts at 8.30am but we are in from 7am to get on air. The Breakfast Show runs Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 7.30-10.30am and it includes news, weather and content that we’ve discussed that morning. We also run features on sport and politics, most of which are pre-recorded. 

“All of our pre-recorded content goes through three rounds of approval before going live and we have checks in place to ensure the presenters, and its guest, understand the importance of professionalism and building the reputation of UTCR Live, therefore not swearing! To get the buy-in from our Principal, Jonathan Nicholls, we put to him our case for the station, how it would be run, and all of the rules and regulations, so that it could go ahead.

“We have a phone line setup and digital channels so that people can communicate with us. The broadcast equipment, such as mixers and microphones are all our own and the server we use is all done through our own company.

“Most of the UTC now knows about this station, but we are fine-tuning it as we grow. Success to us is simply having a station setup, running, and drawing in listeners who stay and enjoy our content. The aspiration would be to run a series of networks across our Activate Learning Education Trust schools.”

Benji said: “I would like to have a career with the BBC so am hoping gaining this experience will stand me in good stead. I joined UTC Reading for its computing offering and enjoy being able to study this as well as being creative with running the radio station.”

Reilly is looking to go into web design, whilst Oliver is hoping to be a broadcast engineer for a radio station.  

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