Freelance life at BBC Radio 4

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Hugh O’Connell

JMU Journalism’s former Website Producer, Hugh O’Connell, has used his talent to earn shifts at BBC Radio 4 after an initial work placement earlier this year.

After completing his Journalism degree in May, in which he specialised in radio content, Hugh was recommended by lecturer Richard Rudin for a month-long placement. He worked on the consumer affairs programme You and Yours, which has over three million listeners.

Having impressed staff on the programme during his month of work experience, Hugh was offered further freelance shifts throughout the summer.

He said: “Not only was I getting paid but I was gaining invaluable experience at one of the country’s most respected and influential radio stations that would look impressive on the CV of any recent journalism graduate.”

You and Yours broadcasts from Manchester four or five times a month, the rest of the time being produced in London. However, there is an enormous amount of research that goes into producing one hour of content for Radio 4 which both surprised and intimidated Hugh.

He explained: “I had to get to grips with ideas and subjects very quickly as well as generate my own ideas. At the beginning it was intimidating but as the weeks progressed I became more and more confident in dealing with any subject thrust upon me.

“The experience was undoubtedly invaluable but above all I enjoyed it and finding work I enjoy so soon after graduating has been a great outcome.”

His work as a researcher included setting up everything from the increasing popularity of table tennis in the UK to the solicitors’ professional indemnity insurance market.

Hugh hopes to be back at the BBC again soon with the goal of landing something more permanent when a number of BBC departments move north to Salford Quays next year.

UPDATE: Hugh is now a full-time journalist for a news website in Ireland, The Journal, based in Dublin.