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Being LGBT+ in UK Radio & Audio
This webinar shared the varied but very real lived experiences of LGBT+ colleagues working in broadcasting in the UK. Presenters, DJs and producers from across the rainbow family spoke about how things had changed in the industry over the last few decades and the challenges that they faced being out and proud on air and in the work place.
It was hosted by award winning presenter and DJ Kaylee Golding - who also shared her own personal experiences of being an out, gay, black woman in the industry. She found that the smaller stations were reluctant to cover Pride events, whereas bigger stations like Radio 1 encouraged her to talk about her sexuality on air.
She was joined by Rock FM’s breakfast co-host Olivia Jones, who has experienced negativity from listeners in the past for mentioning her wife on air. However, she says it’s important to be true and authentic and only this week had an honest discussion on air about whether she had maternity or paternity leave when her wife gave birth.
Shivani Dave is a freelance producer and presenter who resisted coming out when they heard colleagues being derogatory about Sam Smith’s identity. They told us they’ve now gone on to feel welcomed at other stations and able to talk openly on air about being non binary.
Getting into radio in her 50s, Steffi Barnett talked about how she’s always been an out and proud trans woman in radio. She says she doesn’t go on-air on BCfm as a trans female though – she’s a presenter foremost.
Ashley Byrne, the creative director of Made in Manchester, criticised the media for ignoring bisexuals and said we all needed to do more to understand what bisexuality is and to cover bisexual stories.
Having been in the industry for over 30 years Scott Mills, explained how he’s also seen the workplace and the audience change over the decades. He told us he now feels much more comfortable mentioning his boyfriend on air than he would have done in the 90s.
This fascinating webinar ranged from discussing workplace culture to audience reactions, to management styles and mental health, all with a view to making broadcasting a more tolerant and diverse place for LGBT+ workers.
Meet the panel
Scott Mills (He/Him) - Scott is a radio presenter whose career started when he was just 16-years-old, when he joined Southampton commercial radio station Power FM. In 1998 he joined BBC Radio 1, and having presented in almost every daytime slot on the station, now hosts the 1-4pm show Mon-Thu and The Official Chart on Fridays. Scott can also be heard Saturday mornings alongside Chris Stark on BBC Radio 5 Live, and is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 2. Scott hosts the Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals on BBC4, and appeared in Strictly Come Dancing in 2014.
Olivia Jones (She/Her) - Olivia Jones is a presenter, producer and writer living in Manchester. She is a champion of new music and was shortlisted as Best Music Presenter at the ARIAs 2020. Olivia has written scripts for digital content with MTV and Global and as a journalist for Refinery29 UK, Stylist, DIVA, and The Huffington Post.
Shivani Dave (They/Them) - is a presenter and producer with journalism training and a specialism in a dynamic blend of pop culture and science & tech. Starting their radio career at the World Service, in three years Shivani has gone on to present and produce content for Radio 1, Radio 4 and a number of other outlets. They produce the award-winning independent LGBTQ+ history podcast, The Log Books, bringing you untold stories of British history and conversations about being queer today. Shivani has used their voice as a non-binary, South Asian person to advocate for more representation and nuance with stories that centre LGBTQ+ communities and people of colour.
Steffi Barnett (She/Her) - In what can only be described as an accidental radio career, Steff Barnett was inspired by the pirates of the 60’s. Her 13th birthday consisted of two Garrard SP25 decks and with her Grandad's reel to reel, she made her own shows. A family and career in drugs (Astra Zeneca, then ICI), meant radio wasn’t to be. But after retirement, joining hospital radio started something she wasn’t expecting. She didn’t have much confidence and had what she considered the death nail for getting on air - her Bristolian accent. Station managers didn’t seem to worry though, so she was dragged onto GlossFM, then onto other stations finally ending at BCfm. Since then, she has done local BBC TV and radio and is executive producer at ShoutOut, a weekly LGBTQ magazine show taken by 12 stations. She has won Best Broadcaster at the Bristol Diversity Awards. ShoutOut has got to the finals twice at the British Podcast Awards and received a BBC Gillard award for its Outside broadcast of Bristol Pride, taken by ten stations including two local BBC stations. She does two other shows for BCfm, bookending the weekend with the Friday Commute and Monday morning’s ‘HandBags n High Heels”. At 68 Steff is still going strong.
Ashley Byrne (He/Him) - Ashley is the Creative Director of the multi award-winning independent production company Made in Manchester (MIM) which makes dozens of programmes a year for networks in Britain and around the world. Ashley's main job is coming up with ideas - across comedy, drama, documentary, history, debate and social affairs. MIM has produced many programmes with an LGBT focus over the years. Before Ashley set up MIM, he was a presenter, journalist and news editor in newspapers and commercial and BBC radio. Ashley is also the main host of the Distinct Nostalgia podcast which meets actors, writers and producers of some of our favourite tv shows and films from the past 5 decades. And together with journalist Nichi Hogdson and activist Lewis Oakley, Ashley is also co-host of Bisexual Brunch, the ground breaking regular podcast aimed at providing a voice for bi people all over the world.
Kaylee Golding - our host (She/Her) - Kaylee is a DJ and an award-winning presenter. She is originally from Birmingham but is now living in East London. Hence why she follows the slogan “Your favourite Gyal From Brum”. Representing who you are is at the heart of all of Kaylee’s work. Kaylee was selected to cover early breakfast during Radio 1's Christmas programming in 2019. In addition to this Kaylee covered Weekend Breakfast on BBC Radio 1XTRA on Boxing day. Kaylee can now be heard across a range of station these include a weekly show every Monday on Reprezent Radio, a weekly new music feature on BBC Radio WM, and a bi-weekly show on Gorgeous FM and No Signal Radio. Kaylee also won E4’s talent search and is currently part of the E4 Academy. Kaylee has also just started presenting for MTV UK. She is currently presenting MTV’s TikTok content.
The event was produced by Emma Goswell, who is host of the ‘Coming Out Stories‘ podcast and is editor of the book of the same name. She also works for Gaydio.