How studying at UEA kickstarted a career in radio
Kitty Perrin studied BA History and Politics at UEA from 2018-2021. Kitty has since been working as a presenter and producer for BBC Radio Norfolk. Kitty recently told us all about working in radio, UEA memories and how a history degree kick-started a radio career.
I spent a year on the French Revolution, a topic I knew nothing about prior to university. My lecturer David Gilks made our class so invested in the story that we started getting annoyed when the textbooks had ‘spoilers’.
What have you been up to since you graduated?
Since I graduated in 2021, I have been working full time as a presenter and producer for BBC Radio Norfolk. I host a youth programme for ages 14-23 called The Social and new music show BBC Music Introducing in Norfolk. I have also been working as part of BBC Radio Norfolk’s community outreach team, BBC Voices, delivering talks and radio workshops out in the local community.
What was your ambition for your career when you started at UEA? Did you have a specific career path in mind?
I was keen to work in media and I had always loved the idea of working in radio. But when I started at UEA I was looking to have a career in news journalism because I didn’t really know what else was out there!
Tell me about your experiences studying at UEA.
I found out about UEA from past students I knew and they all said the same things about how open and creative it felt, how beautiful the campus was, and what a perfect student city Norwich is. The first time I visited I was blown away by the beautiful campus and instantly felt at home in Norwich. The History and Politics course there was also by far the best I’d seen, with a huge range of modules that allowed you to explore lots of different eras, communities and subjects. It felt really modern compared to lots of the other courses I’d seen which seemed like they hadn’t been updated since the 70s.
My days before the pandemic were better for obvious reasons, however some of my favourite moments on the course were in my final year where I was able to spend time deep diving into subjects I really loved.
I spent a year on the French Revolution, a topic I knew nothing about prior to university. My lecturer David Gilks made our class so invested in the story that we started getting annoyed when the textbooks had ‘spoilers’. I also loved writing my dissertation on BBC Music Introducing, an idea suggested to me by my supervisor who was aware of my work outside of university.
Did you participate in clubs or societies while studying at UEA?
At university I was part of the student radio society LiveWire1350 where I hosted my own show. This taught me so many skills I would later require for my job at BBC Radio Norfolk and provided me with experience in a live studio setting which was essential to me getting the job in the first place.
Has your degree influenced your career?
The research element of my degree has been hugely beneficial to my work in radio. Being able to scan through lots of text and unpack key information quickly is essential in live on-air radio and scanning through hundreds of books when writing history essays was great practice! Constructing a compelling narrative from factual information is also essential in broadcasting, and studying history and politics taught me how to do that.
What personal or professional achievement are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my work on the youth show The Social where I have been able to offer young people a platform to talk about the things that really matter to us. Personally, I am also really proud of the way I have built my own community here in Norwich in a relatively short space of time and made connections with so many people in the region. In some cities the students feel very separate from the rest of the residents but my experience in Norwich hasn’t been like that at all.
What were your experiences of Norwich as a city? Is there anything in particular that you miss or have fond memories of?
I LOVE NORWICH. There is nothing I miss because I am still here and (I hope) I won’t be leaving for a long time! It is a perfect city in my eyes with loads to do and see whilst retaining a real community feel. I am a singer-songwriter and the local music scene here is absolutely incredible. There are so many brilliant independent venues and many more fantastic local artists performing in them.
I was also amazed to find that Norwich has an incredible queer community at its heart and as a gay woman I have always felt comfortable and welcome here.
Would you recommend studying at UEA? Why?
YES! UEA is FULL of very knowledgeable passionate lecturers who genuinely care about you and what you want to do. I never felt invisible whilst studying there. They are always up for hearing your ideas and give students to freedom to tailor the course to their own interests.
It is also a sociable university with a beautiful campus that has everything you need and is also easily accessible from the best city in the UK.
Is there any advice you would give to current students, wishing to follow a similar career path to you?
Tell the university staff and lecturers what your interested are and what you’re thinking about doing after university so they can help you work towards your goals whilst you’re studying.
Volunteer and get experience whilst you’re at Uni. University is hard work and demanding but you also have lots of time to do other things so use that time. I started volunteering at BBC Radio Norfolk in my first term at UEA and began presenting my first show at the start of my second year.
Be persistent! If you email someone asking for work experience and they don’t get back to you, just ask again. Showing that you really want something and you’re prepared to work hard to get there is (in my opinion) just as important as having the skills.
What is next for you?
I hope to continue to work in radio for a while as there is still so much I want to learn but I don’t know where I might end up in my career!
Kitty Perrin studied BA History and Politics at UEA.