The Ariel Trust was founded in 1981 to open up the world of radio broadcasting to young people.
The catalysts for this ground-breaking venture were two studies, one by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Broadcasting Authority, the other by a leading charity, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. These seminal reports both concluded that, although young people listened to a lot of radio, they had little understanding of how programmes were made and broadcast. Something needed to be done.
The result was the Ariel Trust, an independent charity, committed to bringing radio broadcasting, and the opportunities that it has to offer, within the reach of young people.
Ariel's original mission remains central: to develop communication skills, creativity and confidence through the medium of broadcasting; guide our students to new achievements and open up access to new opportunities and jobs. In practice, many of these have been within the broadcasting industry, although we have never seen this as our primary goal.
From the beginning we have had strong and productive links with the industry. The foundations were laid by our first director, Phil Pinnington, who came to Ariel from BBC Radio Merseyside where he was Deputy News Editor and Producer. Phil also initiated Ariel's innovative work programme and high-quality courses, working with a wide range of students from mainstream and specialist schools, youth and other groups. And, with funding from the Carnegie Foundation, we were able to develop pioneering work with students with physical disabilities.
Ariel has never measured its success simply by the quantity of its broadcast material, but its productions do often feature on local and national radio, both BBC and commercial stations.
The vast increase in commercial radio stations in recent years is continuing to offer exciting new opportunities. Ariel continues to be in the forefront in working with this expanding sector. Training placements for Ariel students in the new commercial stations, and in BBC stations, have further strengthened our standing with the industry, evidenced by the numbers who have found jobs in local, regional and national radio stations.
Fully in step with the digital revolution, Ariel provides students with new technology, and, in its outreach work, brings industry-standard equipment to schools and other users.