Activities per year
Teaching and Administration
Sports Journalism Programme Leader
For the past 4 years I have had the honour of being Sports Journalism Programme leader, a role I take very seriously. I am always looking at innovative ways we can improve and enhance the course. Along side Paul Marsden (one of the other main lecturers) we have developed a number of different strategies to make the course as relevant as possible. Under my stewardship we have got the programme revalidated and changed from 20 to 30 credit modules. This included revamping the Level 5 and 6 Sports Reporting modules – with Pitchside This module challenges you to work as a sports journalist within a ‘real world’ context. It requires you to cover a sport/sports team in the West Yorkshire area as a patch reporter for a ten-week period. This involve going to press conferences, games and events as access and availability dictates and filing content to Yorkshire Voice, LTU’s outward-facing online news platform. I have also used my links within the sports community to secure placements for students – and bring in special guest sessions for the Level 4 sports Journalists (this year Bradford City CEO Ryan Sparks came in for a mock press conference, and former Leeds United player Ben Parker joined us for an interview session. Another part of my role within the Journalism Dept is organising the NCTJ pathway for radio. This has been brought in for 2021/22 – and means the level 5 students now have to take a NCTJ Broadcast regulation exam, a radio news exam, and produce coursework to pass. Within my role I have to spend extra time with the NCTJ students helping them progress through these areas with one-to-one sessions, group work, mock exams, and extra tutoring. As you can see from the above, I do take on quite a bit of extra activities which I feel only enhance my value to the University and give impact to my worth. But first and foremostly – I am a lecturer. I love talking and guiding students through their university pathway. I have been voted by students as ‘Best Lecturer’ and ‘Favourite Module’ for the last 4 years – which shows I may be doing something right. Here is some of my MEQ feedback from the last academic year…
Darren is a great lecturer - makes it easy to take everything on board.
I like how hands on it is. I've enjoyed getting into the radio and podcast studio and actually creating
I like that Darren gets us to do a lot of different things in the lectures.
I love the practical aspects such as being able to record the podcast in person
Having the creative freedom to create my own work in the way I want. Getting to use the professional
I learnt new skills and gained a better understanding of radio and podcasts.
The best aspects of this module were how fun the assessments were.
Working as part of a team for the Podcast was brilliant and producing a radio bulletin was also plenty of
Adventure – Presenting/Podcasting
I have been working with AdVenture through LTU for the last 3 years and have presented a number of sessions to outside business on how to present, and podcasting. My podcasting workshop has been particularly successful, and I have worked with a number of those businesses after the sessions helping to set them up and giving them feedback on their work. (These businesses include We Are Connected York, who have now set up a podcast as part of their PR strategies. Some feedback from my workshops… “A brilliant introduction. It was excellent; I knew very little about the steps required to put together a podcast prior to this session. We already have a podcast but record in a studio so it was good to go through the equipment and also how to monetise” “Presenter is clearly very experienced and generous with his knowledge; very relaxed. Everything was explained very clearly and in sufficient detail for those new to the subject to understand. Many questions were asked Very good presenter. He explained everything carefully and answered any question satisfactorily.”
JOURNALISM AND MEDIA WEEK
For the past three years I have been the project lead on LTU’s Journalism and Media Week. Taking over analready successful event, I wanted to try and make it even better. One challenging area, was getting engagement from other departments to get involved, and by utilising their contacts for the event. Now we have a member from Journalism (me) plus one from Media (Richard Greatrex) who I work closely with to organise the event. It’s a big event to take on, 20 sessions over 4 days of industry guests and speakers – but we have had some outstanding response from students and industry over it.
Journalism and Media Week 2021 took place in-person and virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic between
Monday 8 and Thursday 11 November 2021. I led a change to our normal (in person format) by introducing a new platform called StreamYard to the University in 2020. This allowed us to continue the event and produce something to a high professional standard. This meant working closely with our IT Dept to make sure the platform adhered to their policies before launch. Also, by using StreamYard it opened up JMW2020 to a global audience, and the possibility of international guests (Gillian Branstetter hosted a session on Trans Representation from Manhattan). In fact, after the success of 2021 – Tim Feather from Student Support asked for my help setting up the platform for the InLeeds 2021 event. A collaboration with LTU and Leeds Beckett, Leeds Uni, and others in which I have trained other Uni’s to work with the platform.
There were 20 sessions for this year’s event, with speakers including: Sally Nugent, Claire Ryan and Richard Frediani from BBC Breakfast, Emma Louise Jones from Leeds United TV, Empire Digital Editor-in-Chief James Dyer and editor, author, and journalist Terri White. A number of Leeds Trinity University Journalism and Media alumni, including BAFTA award-winning journalist and filmmaker Mobeen Azhar, also returned to deliver sessions.
I feel my work around the professional practice area is key to the role I play and the impact I have on the Journalism dept and Leeds Trinity University. I still work within the industry in a number of areas. I host two weekly radio shows, on BCB in Bradford (alongside my 9 yr old daughter…) and on North Derbyshire Radio – I present a weekly show for them, and a monthly movie podcast sponsored by Cineworld.
I am the owner and presenter of the LS11 Podcast (Leeds United) -with nearly 1,000,000 downloads. Students are now involved in the production of the podcast, with my company offering placements for L5/L6 students who run our social media, provide content on our audio/video channels through the Professional learning through work module. I have given many students over the last 3-4 years opportunities to develop as professionals – for example Owen Lockwood was a keen rugby league fan, who I got involved with the Full80 podcast as a producer, where he gained fantastic experience building the brand and podcast. Off the back of his work on the podcast he was able to gain employment as Media Manager at Featherstone Rovers. Another student who has benefitted from this collaboration was sports journalism student Sam Charlton, who was struggling in his final year, and on the brink of quitting the course. I intervened and tweaked some of the areas he was having issues with (his placement wasn’t working at all) and offered him a role within Proper Sport through his final year. This worked out very well for Sam, who not only graduated with 1st class honours, but also won the YEP Journalism prize and the sports journalism programme prize.
During 2020 I invested £5000 to build my own radio studio in my back garden for a number of reasons, one was to make better use of space, creating a work environment at home. But also, to add to my teaching ability for students. Now, I can teach online using all the equipment/software I would have access to at LTU, enhancing any online learning for students.
My other company I run is called Proper Sport – and we provide sports podcasts and streaming to a number of companies. We provide streaming of U23’s games for Huddersfield Town, live MMA events which students from LTU are part of the production process. Also, for 2 years we hosted a rugby league podcast using LTU’s radio studios (The Full 80 Minutes) where students were completely in charge of all the production. I feel this ‘real world’ work enhances student’s skills in a way no module can cover.
I am the matchday and event host at Bradford City – which has been a key area to enhance the Sports Journalism BA programme. Through my work with the club, we are able to provide matchday press passes, and host whole groups of the cohort at games aligned with their module assessments. Also, this link has provided access to the club’s management and staff for sessions with L4/5 students (notably CEO Ryan Sparks and media manager Lewis Redmond.) Students are also able to use Bradford City as their placement – with some fantastic success stories over the last 4 years. I host all events at Bradford City, most recently the Player of The Year Awards 2021/22. Many of the students I have placed at the club, have secured employment due to this relationship. Samuel Wright Current L5, Howard Bloom Graduated 2021, now in full time employment as Media manager at Barnet FC and Matthew Crowe, media manager at Oldham Athletic.
Ryan Sparks (Bradford City CEO) had this to say…
“Darren is an extremely professional, superb operator who is our first port of call for any events, launches, and media work at Bradford City AFC. The link between Darren, Bradford City and Leeds Trinity University dovetails perfectly for us as a business. We have access to high quality students across the journalism and media areas, offering them experiences in a real-world environment. Many of these students have gone on to secure full timeemployment with us, or other media teams across the EFL…”
Over the last 3 years I have been cultivating relationships with schools and colleges, and I’ve delivered a number of sessions on podcasting and radio with Outwood Academy, Pontefract College and Darlington College. I feel giving prospective students a passion for Journalism is key to the growth of our dept at LTU. This has already proved fruitful with a number of students being accepted on to the Journalism courses, for example – Zak Anderton and Oliver Allard (currently L5 Sports), and Simon Bullock (L6 Sports Journalist).
I combine all of this with offering my services to companies across the region, delivering sessions on presenting, podcasting, PR, and Journalism. Most recently (Monday 16th May 2022) I ran a session at ICS Digital in Leeds around connecting with Journalists and use of PR. ICS is a huge content generator for a number of sports betting websites and has already been a superb resource for placements for our students. Feedback from this session came from Heather Daisy (Strategy and Insights Partner at ICS) “Thanks to Darren for an insightful afternoon at ICS-digital. It was great to hear from both sides of the desk so to speak and learn from two experts with years of experience in both the Journalism and PR space. Plenty of information and valuable tips were shared about the ever-changing journalist and PR landscape, which will certainly prove useful for our Digital PR strategy moving forward. The Q&A at the end of the presentation was very well received, too.” Finally, I am researching at the moment the idea of offering enrichment activities for schools across the region, utilising my skills in broadcast and journalism to offer a ‘School Of Pod’. Within this, students will learn how to create, produce, and present podcasts/video. I will look to offer students at LTU the opportunity to work on this project as placements.
PGCE, Leeds Trinity University
Award Date: 28 Aug 2020
Presenter, North Derbyshire Radio
2021 → …
Matchday/Event Host, Bradford City AFC
2018 → …
Owner/Director, LS11 Media LTD
3 Jul 2016 → …