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This article was written on 25 Feb 2015, and is filled under DJ, Music, Radio.

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Ruth Barnes: Radio presenter


With women so often under represented in the music industry, Ruth Barnes is fighting the good fight with her show The Other Woman, the UK’s only all female new music playlist. Catch her at it on Saturday afternoons between 5 and 6pm on Amazing Radio. Here’s what she gets up to the rest of the time.

OM: Can you describe an average day at work?

RB: Sitting at home and listening to lots and lots of new music, submissions from artists themselves and just general mooching around online looking for the ‘next big thing’.

OM: Have you always wanted to be a radio presenter ?

RB: Absolutely. Since first tuning into my student radio station as a teenager in Cape Town I wanted to be part of this secret, back then anonymous, world of people with fabulous voices playing weird and wonderful records on the radio.

OM: What was the hardest part about becoming a radio presenter ?

RB: There’s a long answer to this question! Realising that just having a good radio voice and a passion for music wasn’t enough. That wasn’t going to immediately land me a job. You have to have more to offer these days, a speciality – with me it quickly became women and new music. This has been a huge bonus when it comes to selling myself, pitching ideas and getting work as I’m a specialist, not *just* a music fan.

OM: And what’s the best part of the job?

RB: Meeting the bands, recording sessions with them and seeing them sometimes go onto great things.

OM: Do you feel you’re treated differently in your industry because you’re a woman?

RB: Again there’s a long answer to this question! There are certain areas that are the domain of men in broadcasting and trying to break into specialist music can be very difficult. There are so few women presenting specialist music shows, if you look at 6 Music it’s really obvious. It’s like men have the kudos to present themselves as music specialists. Women have to contend with taking time out to have families which breaks their careers up and it can be very challenging getting back into the swing of things. I think in general there’s a women problem on the BBC which needs addressing, as well as issues of race and age. It sounds very white, male and middle-aged a lot of the time! There are times when I was treated badly at the BBC, misogyny is everywhere, but being freelance for most of my time working there I was completely powerless. I really hope the environment changes for the better when a whole generation of middle-aged, middle management move on or retire.

OM: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given? And what other advice would you give to anyone looking to become a radio presenter ? What qualifications and experience do you need?


You need a speciality, carve out your niche and start broadcasting NOW. There’s no excuse to not already be broadcasting on a community or online station or even just podcasting yourself, it’s so easy.

Build up a social network around what you are doing and you’ll be in a powerful position; make yourself indispensable to those radio outlets that want to look hip and cool and down with the kids. Make yourself that kid they want to be down with. Do your own thing – club nights, a record label, whatever it takes – and you’ll get noticed.
Work in radio as much as possible but don’t necessarily do a media degree unless you want to be a news journalist. Someone with an arts degree is far more interesting to a radio producer than someone who studied media.

OM:What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in the workplace or in your career?

RB: Not being pushy enough

OM: What does success mean to you?

RB: Making radio programmes that I’m proud of and getting random emails from people I don’t know telling me how much they’ve enjoyed something I’ve made and presented.

OM: What’s your feminist wish for the future?

RB: I want to hear more varied women’s voices on the radio, a broad spectrum discussing everything from football to specialist music!


Sound Women– check out their forthcoming ‘Future’ festival.

Tweet Ruth here.

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