Course Leader for MA Media Production
Sam Coley is an Associate Professor (International) for the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University. He is also Award Leader for the MA Media Production at Birmingham School of Media, where he teaches a range of undergraduate and postgraduate audio production modules.
I primarily specialise in radio production, teaching documentary production, commercial production and general radio presentation skills.
I came from an industry background and began my career in commercial production. I’m originally from New Zealand and worked for several radio stations back home before taking up the role of Northern Creative Director at the TRN radio network, based in Auckland. I also worked in the UK radio industry throughout the Nineties. I’ve always enjoyed producing music documentaries and have created several series and one-off features for radio networks in New Zealand and the UK. I joined Birmingham City University in 2005, where I’ve been able to balance my interest in teaching, research and professional practice.
Most recently I have produced work for Greatest Hits Radio and the Absolute Radio networks, so I have existing connections with the UK commercial radio industry. However, over the years I have also developed contacts within the BBC, community radio, and podcasting communities. So that covers quite a broad range of platforms and production styles. Fellow staff and technicians from the Birmingham School of Media, who specialise in television production, also come from industry background, and have extensive contacts within the UK’s television industry.
It’s always rewarding when students achieve their ambition of gaining industry employment. My students have managed to secure a range of professional positions, in freelance and full-time positions. For example, a recent student specialising in television has been working on ‘The Great British Bake Off’, one of the UK’s most popular shows. Another of our students, who focused on radio production, has secured a position at BBC 1Xtra.
One project that comes to mind was called ‘Cities of Sound’, a series of radio documentaries produced for the Greatest Hits Radio network, and broadcast across the UK to over a million listeners. The project was supported by the Audio Content Fund during the COVID-19 crisis and employed media students from Birmingham City University, along with other UK Universities. These students were paid to produce content for the series and gained valuable work experience during the pandemic. We had positive feedback from station management and listeners – and it was a great opportunity for the students to put what they’d learnt in class into practice.