"Think of Clearing as an opportunity and a chance to be the master of your own destiny.”
When BBC Broadcast Journalist Toby Friedner didn’t get the A Level results he was hoping for, the University of Bedfordshire offered him a lifeline through Clearing which led to his dream career in radio.
Toby, 42, who works for BBC Three Counties Radio based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, faced the possibility of not being able to study psychology as he had originally planned when he got his A Level results in 1994.
“When I got my results I didn’t do very well and I thought: ‘Oh dear, what am I going to do now?’”
It was a conversation with his mum that led Toby, who lives in Buckinghamshire, to decide that a career in radio was something he just had to pursue.
“My mum asked me what was I passionate about, what made me want to get out of bed in the morning, and the answer was radio. I had a little radio by my bed growing up and absolutely loved listening to it.”
After a little investigating, Toby discovered that the University of Bedfordshire, then known as the University of Luton, offered a course in Media Performance with Radio. He rang the Clearing hotline, was invited to an audition and was offered a place.
“Luton was 30 miles from my house, so it was close enough for me to go home but it was far enough away for me to get some independence,” said Toby.
“I was overjoyed. I took to the course like a duck to water. Being at Bedfordshire were some of the best years of my life and I made some great friends.”
With the guidance of his lecturers, including Principal Lecturer Dr Janey Gordon, Toby and his cohort went on to start up Luton FM, which would go on to become Radio LaB, the University’s community radio station – Toby was the first manager.
“The feeling of running our own radio station was amazing – that experience really stood us in good stead,” said Toby.
The course gave Toby the skills and confidence he needed to carry out work experience with a number of radio stations during his course.
When he graduated with a first class degree in 1997, he walked into a job with BBC Three Counties Radio, where he has worked ever since, preparing news items for the weekday afternoon show and some of the weekend programmes.
Toby has some words of wisdom for anyone facing the prospect of going through Clearing. “There is no shame in going through Clearing. Think of it as an opportunity and a chance to be the master of your own destiny.”