From working on documentaries for national television to presenting his own BBC radio show, Rakeem Omar is putting his Investigative Journalism MA to good use.
Photo credit “kapn__”
The De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate left a career in banking to pursue his passion, leading to a role presenting his own weekly radio show on BBC West Midlands.
Rakeem earned his break into the industry after appearing as a guest on the local radio broadcaster shortly after graduating. He made an impression and was invited back several times, eventually landing regular segments on two different shows.
In July, he was asked to permanently join the team. “Having this opportunity just feels so unreal. I am so grateful, excited, nervous and more, all at the same time. It still hasn't sunk in,” said the 27-year-old from Birmingham.
“Part of being a presenter is just sitting behind the mic and being myself. If you can be yourself and do a good job at the same time, isn't that the point of it all?
“When I look back I am proud of myself for sticking with it and continuing to chase after the things I believed I could achieve.”
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Rakeem describes his new show as ‘three hours of artists, music, debating and games’, for which he applies all the skills that he learned on his MA.
He said: “There is so much more that people don't see or hear about. A lot of planning goes into radio shows. This could be anything from coming up with ideas, doing vox pops out in the streets, getting guests, doing pre-recorded interview segments, liaising with artists and editing audio.
“I have learnt so many things from my MA that are still being applied day-to-day. From researching and finding sources to dealing with vulnerable interviewees and scripting, I feel it has given me an advantage in radio.”
Since graduating last year, Rakeem has worked with fellow DMU graduate Chanell Wallace on her BBC Three documentary exploring the effects of knife crime, as well as other documentaries for BBC One and Channel 4.
He also investigated the case of a woman who came to the UK from Jamaica aged eight and entered foster care in her teens. She endured a 30-year battle with the Home Office, but thanks to Rakeem’s article she was finally granted indefinite leave to remain and compensation.
“I actually used my skills to help change someone's life for the better. It's crazy because that's the whole reason I became a journalist,” he said.
By day, Rakeem works as a community journalist with the Birmingham Mail, exploring issues that affect the city's young people and ethnic minorities.
His advice to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps is simple: “Starting out in the industry can be really tough, but I’m glad that I kept my head up and stuck to everything I believed that I could do.
“I hope that any current or prospective DMU student does the same. Don't give up on yourself."
Posted on Tuesday 15th October 2019