Training and Development Bursaries

The Radio Academy is a registered charity, dedicated to the promotion of excellence in the radio and audio industry in the UK.  As part of this work, we look to support people at any stage in their careers who want to take part in training or development opportunities, but might not have the means to pay them out of their own pocket.  This might include ticket costs, transport and/or accommodation costs, whether in part or in full.

At various points in the year, we will advertise opportunities for bursaries for our own events, or third-party events that we've partnered with, and these will all be listed on this page.  We're also open to direct approaches for funding for specific training and development opportunities that you can show would have a measurable impact and benefit on your career - just drop us a line.  We will usually ask that you provide us a write-up of the event or training that you attended, and how it has helped you.

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In March 2022, we gave six bursaries so people could attend The Podcast Show 2022.  We look forward to hearing the reports from our recipients later this year.

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In Nov 2021, we contributed five additional bursaries to the Radio Tech Con bursary scheme, and gave every recipient free Radio Academy Membership too.

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In June 2021, we gave five bursaries so people could attend Podcast Day 24, a virtual conference with speakers across three continents.

Bursary reports for The Podcast Show, May 2022

Andrew Stuck wrote:

The podcast show was quite an eye-opener to me I haven’t been to a trade show for more than three years and I was really surprised just how many other attendees there were.

Questions quickly came to mind: Were each of them podcast creators? What were their roles within which organisations? and how far had they travelled?

I wasn’t able to come on the first day, so I feared I might find it hard to get in with the ’swing’ of the event, but that wasn’t to be the case at all, in fact I found people really open to chat about podcasting, where they were from and how long they had been podcasting.

I was flabbergasted before the show by just how many different presentations were being offered. Each of the various streams of presentations and lectures, offered something of interest to me. There are so many I thought it might be difficult to work one’s way round each of them. What caught me by surprise was how popular some were with queues forming outside some of the stages well before the events started.  The show was well structured, even with so many parallel themes, most people kept to time, so it was possible to move from one stream or event to another (if there was a seat to be had!).

I come with wearing two hats. I have a podcast - talkingwalking.net - in fact I’ve been podcasting since 2008, which I found out meant that I was a real ‘podcaster grandfather’ to many of the enthusiasts who were attending. My podcast is something that I publish on a rather peripatetic basis, around my own work schedules. I’ve not really been looking to be held to a rigorous schedule or even, to commercialise it. However, the show has made me think again.

So I was in part interested in finding out how to make my podcast catalogue more discoverable (it disappeared from Apple after my 26th episode for no apparent reason) and also learn a bit more about how others were developing their audiences.

My other hat, was that a couple of years ago, myself and two other audio producers, had set up a social enterprise called walklistencreate.org to support fellow artists, performers, producers and writers, which is very much focused on people who use walking as part of their practice and to make audio pieces which are called ‘Soundwalks’. We celebrate them during Sound Walk September and have started an Awards scheme for the best newly created soundwalks. The skills and technology for making soundwalks are little different to that for making podcasts and so I thought there could be opportunities to broaden the reach of our social enterprise into the podcast world.

Gosh! There’s a lot of catching up for me to do in terms of podcasting, that’s for sure. When I started, back in the days of dial-up modems, it was important to keep your size of your podcast less than 10MB and there was no way in which you could monetise what you were doing, let alone seize an opportunity to make it your full-time career.

It was clear that from several of the Show’s presenters, that a lot of the planning and marketing for podcast success is really no different from that for any successful product whether digital or analog, and quite a few of the presentations seem to treat their audience as being naive.

Brand sponsorship and promotional advertising, as well as subscription models for podcasting were all things that I knew about, but I hadn’t really experimented with. What was clear was that many podcasts were focused on audio drama and ‘true crime’ in particular was a popular topic. Conversations between hosts on politics, relationships, health / well-being and sport were clearly popular too, as was comedy. So, in someway, I can feel assured, as I’m still ploughing a narrow field with perhaps fewer podcast competitors for audiences.

Thanks again for The Radio Academy for making it possible for me to attend.  Over the coming months, maybe together we can create an opportunity to inspire podcasters to try their hand at creating a sound walk or two.”

Rachel Porter said:

The key thing about any festival is that, inevitably, it’s impossible to see everything, which is why the accompanying app was a huge asset in working out how to navigate the day - allow time for networking too, if you can.  I hope that many of the talks were recorded for attendees to access at a later date, as the wealth of knowledge is priceless.

Personally, I was looking to draw on experience from all kinds of areas - both creative and business-related - in order to get a feel for the industry as a whole and its direction of travel, as well as augmenting my skill set with some great tips.

Key takeaways for me were: whilst immersive sound is critical to any great podcast because it’s such an intimate medium, too much can be gimmicky (from Reimagining Podcasts); Hannah Maguire and Suruthi Bala from Redhanded shared their learnings from building a community through membership, such as being realistic about what you can offer, creating a tangible difference between tiers, diversifying when you’ve plateaued, being live to what other podcasts offer their communities and how to connect to audiences.

Other talks’ tips from across the festival included: look to the US market for inspiration; think about the 360 version of the podcast (which includes video, of course!); be consistent with your audiences when it comes to releases; keep your audience engaged by making it feel less like a podcast than stepping into a world, make a dense story accessible; and make the most of your meta-data, packaging and SEOs!

Smashing myths was also a theme that I picked up - particularly important at a time when the market might feel saturated. Mike Newman from Audioboom summarised this most succinctly in his keynote: there aren’t too many podcasts, he reassured us, there are enough listeners, there is money in podcasts.  Does an audience care if they don’t know the host? 90% said no.

The most impactful talk for me, though, was ‘Sound sounds: 7 secrets of immersive storytelling’ with Bernard P Achampong (founder of Unedited).  Not just in terms of how much we, as an audience, took away from the session, but with which he presented his talk: warm, inclusive, accessible, at turns dark, but for the most part beautifully imparted.  The big takeaway? Use silence. A lot.

Bursary reports for Podcast Day 24, June 2021 

George Luke wrote:

A whole day devoted to sharing insights and answering questions on all things related to the art of podcasting - what’s not to like? 

My Podcast Day experience began just as the Europe sessions were beginning.  I’m normally an early riser, but the Australia sessions were a bit too early in the morning, even for me. And so I rocked up to my laptop, first coffee of the day in hand, in time to catch some sage advice from the team responsible for Spotify’s The Receipts podcast: “Love what you do. Listeners can hear a lack of passion.”

More great advice followed throughout the day. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” Jake Warren, founder of Message Heard, told us. “Have purpose,” said Lory Martinez from Studio Ochenta. Various other people whose names I can’t remember right now were just as lucid: “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” “Never imitate.” “Own your niche, and then you can build from it.” “Invest in quality.” It was good to hear people be honest about things that hadn’t worked, and not just giving us the success stories.

The one message that came through the strongest is the one thing that’s always been top priority for anyone involved in any kind of storytelling or communication: Know your audience. And, of course, LISTEN! Just as writers should be good readers, us podcast makers should make the time to listen to some of the material our peers are creating. Not that anyone who’s into making podcasts should need an excuse to listen to them.

A few weeks have now passed since Podcast Day 24 happened, but I’m still catching up on sessions I didn’t get to on the day and revisiting the ones I did. That’s how rich the programme was.

Joyanna Lovelock wrote:

I was particularly interested in the European leg and in contributions from UK, although I watched some contributions from other European countries like Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland, Berlin and Netherlands.  I also watched a little of Australia and North America, but felt more comfortable with the European Day. Some useful tips did come out of the European countries from France and Germany. Particularly France, who spoke about the advantages of publishing your podcast on the web, which is something I have started to do myself already.

All the sessions were enjoyable, informative and valuable. In each of them there was always a little gem, at least, that could be found and taken away. In some ways, I had already started to do some of the ideas that were suggested and that have been proven by podcasters and producers, and this encouraged me to carry on doing what I am doing.  In other instances, it encouraged me to take a greater look at what I am currently doing and consolidate these new suggestions and ideas.

Overall, it was a great experience for newbies (like myself) and even had added benefits for seasoned podcasters. Rhianna Dhillon was a great host, ably assisted by Matt Deegan. She has a great calming and reassuring radio/audio voice and kept the Europe part of  ‘show’ rolling for the long hours. The experience was far more interesting than I imagined it would be. It’s made me think more about how I can improve on the production and presentation of my own podcast. And I am grateful for the opportunity of attending.

Pascal Maguet wrote:

Podcast Day 24 was an incredibly informative and useful experience for me. I’ve recently taken up a producer role to reboot an outlet's podcast, so being able to get meticulous insight into what the industry landscape looks like, not just in the UK but in Europe and the rest of the English-speaking world, was invaluable.

I was able to build on my knowledge of commissioning, distribution, sponsorship and so much more and that was just from watching the Europe section live! I still have the US and Australia segments of the show that I am slowly but surely making my way through watching on the catch-up feature.

Although it was amazing hearing all the stories of podcast creatives throughout the show, there was definitely one talk that really stood out to me. Hearing Dan Maudsley speak about his experiences as a podcast creator and journalist after being diagnosed with ADHD really got to me. I myself have been diagnosed with ADHD recently, and sometimes I’ve felt that the audio/radio sector can be a difficult place for a neurodivergent person to operate in and succeed, so hearing an accomplished member of that industry describe how they succeeded not just in spite of, but in several ways because of, their condition was really inspiring to hear.

I’m really grateful to the folks at Podcast Day 24 and the Radio Academy for giving me the chance to attend my first big podcasting conference. I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise and I know that the things I’ve learnt will stay with me a long time.

Kirsten O'Brien wrote:

I was thrilled to receive a bursary for the Podcast 24 event from the Radio Academy.  Having only started my own podcast a couple of months ago, I very much feel that I’m at the start of a huge learning curve. 

On the day of the event I started watching the live sessions and since then I’ve been dipping in to the content as it’s all still there on the website to watch.  I noticed there were some common themes emerging amongst podcasters but also it was reassuring for me to see that there are many different ways to approach podcasting, in particular the session Redhanded’s Guide to Getting Funded which talked about using Patreon and how you can earn money from your listeners, was eye opening to me!

Some sessions are an hour long panel format but also the 10 minute sessions with one person chatting in brief about their podcast or company are as informative.

Stand out sessions so far are Peta from NRK Norway who gave some really concise rules on starting up a podcast – have a clear concept, be genuine, create original content, do great storytelling, plan for social media and the web have great graphics. And Lory Martinez the founder of Studio Ochenta, France who simplified things further by saying what is the purpose of your podcast, why do you want to tell this story?

It’s great to watch some of our homegrown talent chatting about how their podcasts came about like Fearne Cotton and Dane Baptiste but also it’s interesting to listen to something totally new like Shima Oliaee the co producer of Dolly Parton’s America.

I have prioritised the European content as that is most relevant for me but I think I will eventually manage to get through all of the content over the next few weeks, having the access to be able to pop a bit of it on for a listen at home is really useful.

I definitely have some take home information to help me out going forwards, the key thing for me is finding out more about exactly WHO my audience is, but I was also reassured that a lot of what I’m doing seems to be on the right track and that there is no definitive route to a successful podcast.