Jeff Zycinski

Former Head of Radio at BBC Scotland
BA(Hons) in Social Sciences

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What did you study at university and what are your memories of your time there? 

I did the BA Honours in Social Sciences back when it was known as the Glasgow College of Technology. The course had two subjects that really interested me – sociology and psychology – so I stuck with those for all four years and majored in psychology by the end of it.

In those days it was a much smaller campus, same grounds but with fewer buildings and smaller buildings. Overall it was good. As all students will tell you the four years just seems to fly in and the first year seemed long but the subsequent years were a blur. I enjoyed it, I had good friends, I took part in the student magazine, which was known as ‘Techbeat’ at the time, and that gave me a portfolio of articles which served me well when I applied to do a postgrad in journalism when I left. 

I’d always had an interest in radio and an interest in journalism so I did the postgrad course in journalism in Cardiff. My extracurricular activities served me well in my future career. 

Then where did your career take you? 

So I did the postgrad course there and as part of that you went on student placements and one was to Moray Firth Radio in Inverness, and afterwards they offered me a job and that got me started in my career in radio. I spent about a year and a half there, and luckily it was a busy time with lots of news stories. I then joined Radio Clyde and stayed there for three years and joined the BBC after that. 

I worked as a senior producer in the Borders where I had to come up with programme ideas and pitch them. I then I went senior producer to Inverness in charge of a team doing a daily programme and then went to Glasgow. In 2003 I got the chance to be acting Head of Radio and tried to impress during that period, and so by 2005 I was made permanent Head of Radio in charge of BBC Radio Scotland. 

What advice would you give to students studying now? 

I think the best advice is to enjoy whatever you’re doing at the moment and get as many opportunities out of it. I enjoyed my academic studies at Caley but enjoyed the extracurricular stuff as well, and making a new set of friends. Live in the moment and enjoy life because you never know what’s going to happen. Then after that, be flexible – life doesn’t turn out exactly as you plan it but if you’re flexible and willing to take opportunities as they arise 

To be honest the thought of going to Inverness for the first time scared me more than if it had been London or Paris because I had no idea what it would be like, but it turned out to be a wonderful place where I eventually decided to live. There’s always going to be things you’ll learn from any job, widen your contacts and get as many experiences as possible. 

And what have you been up to most recently? 

I left the BBC in April of last year and I’ve been doing a wee bit of lecturing in the north of Scotland, Aberdeen and Inverness mainly, and I’ve spent the last six months writing a book which is my memoirs of my 30 year career in radio, called ‘The Red Light Zone’. It’s being published in January 2019 so I’m working on that and preparing for the launch. It starts with that early career in Moray Firth Radio and Radio Clyde and then the bulk of it is the 25 years working for the BBC, and the last 12 as head of Radio, running BBC Radio Scotland.

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