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Sam Coley

MA Media Production

Sam Coley index photo

MA Media Production

Find out more about the course

What have been your career highlights so far?

Being invited to join the Grand Jury of Judges for the New York Radio Awards was certainly a highlight. However, getting to interview the band New Order for a radio documentary was my best experience as a producer. I’m a huge fan of their music.

What is your favourite thing about working at Birmingham City University?

I really enjoy the process of seeing students’ media projects progress from rough concepts – to fully realised finished products. I’m constantly surprised by the diverse range of stories our students uncover. Helping these productions come to fruition is one of my favourite things about the job.

How did you come to your current role, what have you done before Birmingham City University?

I come from an industry background, mainly in commercial production, before working as the Creative Director of a radio network in Auckland, New Zealand. I’ve always enjoyed producing documentaries as a freelancer and have had my work played by broadcasters in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

What do you think sets the School of Media apart from other university media departments?

The staff are really committed to seeing our students succeed. We have a particular focus on ‘real world’ production projects which live outside of the classroom. The opportunity to collaborate with talented students from other faculties is another real benefit.

What are your main responsibilities as Course Leader?

As Course Leader of the MA in Media Production it’s my responsibility to ensure that each module runs as smoothly as possible. This entails, amongst other things, timetabling classes, booking production studios and classrooms, hiring equipment, letting students know about placement opportunities, and arranging guest speakers from industry to come in and share their experiences. I’m also available to meet with students to answer any questions they might have about the course.

What are your specialist areas of expertise?

I primarily specialise in radio production, teaching documentary production, commercial production and general radio presentation skills.

What are your research interests?

The central focus of my research is radio production, with a particular interest in the technical practice and theory of music documentaries. The historic, archival value of documentary work is another key element of my research. I’m also interested in the transition from analogue to digital production and how new online audio technologies have influenced audience expectations and their consumption of contemporary radio programming.

What can prospective students look forward to most when they join your course?

Having the space to develop your own ideas, alongside other like-minded students, is a real plus. Students are encouraged to explore their interests and experiences through their course work. Easy access to our state-of-the-art faculties helps our students to refine their productions to a professional standard.

What are your top tips for students thinking about joining your course?

Consume media as a critical thinker. Don’t just watch / listen to work you think you’ll enjoy. Start exploring a wider range of productions to build your understanding of the field. If you’re already producing content, keep doing it. If you’re not, make a start! You don’t need expensive equipment to make a worthwhile production – you just need a good story.

Why do you think it’s important to study a MA?

Studying an MA gives you the opportunity to follow your passions. It can challenge your preconceptions and open you up to new possibilities and approaches. Being able to learn alongside specialist tutors and technicians allows you to refine your existing skills while learning new ones.

What do you believe it takes to work in the media industry?

The ability to generate well targeted ideas is key. If you have a good idea and the ability to pitch it effectively – you’ll always be in demand. Ideas are the currency the media industry runs on.