FBI Interview


Ann Charles TV-Bay Magazine
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This issue we chat with Ann Charles, a freelance Broadcast Technology and radio production consultant.

Give us your elevator pitch. Who are you and what do you do?

Hello, I'm Ann Charles and I'm a Radio Production and Technology Consultant. I help individuals and companies get the most out of their station's technology so they can make the best programmes in the world.

How did you get started in the Broadcast Industry?

I've got a slightly unusual background, because I started out as a radio producer and then became a broadcast engineer - not many people have that combination!

I started out working for BBC Local and Regional radio and tv in the East and then went to London where I was a children's radio specialist and also worked for the BBC World Service. In local radio, you have to be able to turn your hand to anything, so I was always interested in the techy side of things as well. I applied for an internal development post as a specialist on radio playout systems and from there became a project manager, working on the two largest projects the BBC had ever done - at the same time, and with the same team! It was pretty full on...

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I'm a programme-maker at heart and also think that the technology side of things is really creative. I don't want to choose so now I run my own business so I can do both.

I left my job on what was meant to be a sabbatical but it turned into starting my own business so that I could work in radio in other countries. This led me to teaching journalism in New Zealand and also training broadcast engineers in South Sudan.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in the industry?

Radio and broadcast is very competitive so I think we all have those days of feeling like we aren't good enough. I've worked in teams which mostly had women and teams which mostly had men. When I was working in technology projects, I was the most 'senior' woman in a department of 150 - that was a bit of a challenge. Everyone's experience varies. I would never have considered technology if it hadn't been for some wonderfully supportive and encouraging male colleagues who really boosted my confidence to get stuck in to this part of the industry. Equally, I think there is a lot of subconscious sexism and stereotyping that can make life difficult, even in 2016.

Why did you join the FBI? What would you like to get out of your membership?

I have been involved with Sound Women (an industry body supporting women in radio) and it changed my life, so I was delighted to see another organisation beginning which supports women doing work behind-the-scenes. I recently attended a session in London and met some brilliant women working in TV and parts of the industry I don't normally get to learn about.

I'm looking forward to seeing some of them again at IBC later this year - it's my first time attending, and I have already received some excellent advice!

What is your current project/focus:

I've set up a company with colleagues to deliver Radio TechCon - the UK Radio industry's technical conference. I like to keep busy!

Do you have any particular industry insights to share?

I've been lucky to work in radio around the world and one thing we do really well here in the UK is working together across commercial and public sector in order to boost the industry as a whole. I think this is something we should be really proud of and something all broadcast industries could adopt - we really are stronger when we remember to collaborate as well as trying to beat each other in the ratings!

Final thought?

Every person really can make a difference and I think sometimes just by being out there and having a go you can help the next person coming along believe it is possible.


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Contributing Author Ann Charles

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