When Tom Hinckley from Shock Radio submitted his Demo Factor entry at #SRACon 2018, he had no idea he’d get picked… let alone end up winning! We asked him how it felt to get up in front of the Demo Factor judges…

I actually nearly didn’t go to SRACon last year. I had gone home for Easter but got convinced by my mum that I had to go! So I managed to quickly book an AirBnB, worked all night to get a demo together, and jumped on a train to Norwich. Before I knew it I was jumping in an Uber from my hotel off to find everyone from Shock who was already there. I managed to find everyone quickly at the event and Alex, Shock’s Station Manager, grabbed a drink with me and we spoke about the strange feeling of potentially getting picked out of a room full on incredibly talented students. It was such a unique feeling, I was so nervous and excited.

The way that Demo Factor is set up makes the event feel really special. Imagine the radio version of X Factor. Everyone sits down, the room packed with nervous students. There is a loud countdown and the big words come up on the screen behind the judge’s table situated on stage. Out walks Chris North, Paul Sylvester, Aled Haydn Jones, Pandora, Jocelin Stainer and Jordan North! I’m bricking it at this point, I was at Demo Factor the year before and I knew the judges would be very honest when it came to feedback, so this certainly added to the drama of the night.

We go through a couple of rounds of people, starting to get gold buzzers here and there from the judges. People sounded really really good, but the further we go along the more convinced I am that I won’t get picked. Then two rounds later as I’m not really paying attention I hear my name and everyone around me start to scream. As I see my name up on the screen, I slowly start to walk to the front, where I meet Ben Burrell. After lots of hello’s my demo was played. Before I knew it I saw Chris and Pandora reach for the golden buzzers. I was over the moon and received some lovely feedback from the judges.

When it came to the choosing of the winner my heart was in my throat. I was against some great competition in Kaylee Golding, Jake Peach, Kerrie Coshan and Harry Benjamin, who will all undoubtedly go onto be great radio presenters or producers. When I heard Chris North say ‘The winner is… Tom Hinckley’ all I remember is being tackled to floor from my friends at Shock. To this day it is still one the happiest days of my life. After being on stage I met with all of the judges backstage and exchanged contact details and got told they would all be in touch. I went on to enjoy the night with everyone from Shock and SRA at the afterparty.

I really couldn’t believe that I even got picked. It’s so worth entering because you never know – this year it might be you!

Soon after SRACon, Chris North was in contact and told me that he had organised for me to go down to BBC Radio 1 to chat with Aled Haydn Jones. I had always dreamt of seeing BBC Radio 1 and I’ve wanted to be a presenter there since I was 16 so I was very excited. Aled was welcoming and showed me around the studios, which felt so surreal. Afterwards we sat down and spoke about what kind of presenter I want to be and what I can do to achieve that. Since then we have stayed in contact over email where he provides great feedback on my demos.

Paul Sylvester organised a week of work experience at Bauer for me, which was insightful and just genuinely really enjoyable. The team at Bauer showed me the ins and outs of commercial radio and I got to help produce on a variety of shows across Absolute and Kiss. They are a great group of people and made me feel very welcome. They also took the time to get me in a studio and allowed me to make another demo, which Paul then gave me feedback on.

Demo Factor has provided so many opportunities for me. If you are an aspiring radio presenter or producer that you have to enter this competition. It is one of the highlights of SRACon and it certainly proves that student radio provides some amazing opportunities and contacts in the world of radio.

Demo Factor will return at SRACon 2019 in Swansea. Start working on your demos and keep an eye on our socials to be the first to know when submissions are open!