The former Heart and Radio Broadland studios at St. George’s Works in Colegate will re-open in autumn after UEA’s Broadcast Journalism Course Director Prof Mark Wells spotted the studios just days before they were due to be demolished.
The three existing broadcast studios are now being refitted to industry standards. There will be a radio presentation area, a television news studio as well as an audio studio. New teaching and meeting spaces are also being created.
The studios will become a training base for UEA’s journalism and media students after the University signed a 10-year lease with Our Place, owner of The Shoe Quarter which operates the St George’s Works business hub.
Prof Mark Wells said: “For the University, with its expanding journalism and creative practice programmes, it was too good an opportunity to miss.
“Our Place quickly put demolition on hold, and gave the University the opportunity to develop a plan to make use of the site's unique features.”
Maja Anushka Park-Roesel, who is studying UEA’s Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, said: “I’m really looking forward to having another space in the heart of Norwich to work and investigate from! Being able to get to grips with cameras and microphones is a great way to learn practically.”
Radio shows were broadcast from the studios for nearly 35 years, which first opened as Radio Broadland headquarters in 1984. At its height almost half the population of Norfolk and North Suffolk tuned in to the station.
Local presenter Chrissie Jackson worked there for 27 years after sending in a demo tape with the words ‘please hear me’. Alongside founding presenter Rob Chandler, she presented the breakfast show from 1986-1999.
“What exciting news and what a fabulous opportunity for our future broadcasting faces and voices of the future,” said Chrissie.
“My first audition was in Studio 2 in Colegate. I remember the feeling that I’d finally found what I wanted to do with my life. I love the fact that those studios will be buzzing with people again.”
Radio Broadland became Heart Norwich in 2009 before finally closing in 2019.
Permission to change the use of the studios to education has been granted by Norwich City Council.
“Journalism is a people-business,” Prof Wells said. “From this central location, students will be within easy reach of the all city and county authorities, its usually flourishing arts and performance locations - and of course, Gentleman's Walk and the market place - where it's always possible to find interesting opinions.
“For the last ten years, we've been working from EPIC Studios in Magdalen Street. It was great working there, with access to their modern facilities, but with new courses and more students, we have outgrown the space available to us there.”
UEA launched a new BA in Broadcast and Multimedia Journalism in September alongside the MA degree in Broadcast and Digital Journalism it already offers.
“We are very much looking forward to a positive and collaborative relationship with the UEA,” said Giff Mulley, Head of Property and Estates at the Shoe Quarter. “We are delighted that the broadcasting heritage of the building will be retained to support and educate the Journalism and Broadcasting talent of the future.”