Staff Spotlight: Shell Zenner

Senior Lecturer Shell Zenner discusses her new show at Amazing Radio.

By Lauren Bickerdike


Senior Lecturer Shell Zenner is a radio presenter, music journalist, and a successful portfolio worker.

Throughout her career, Shell has worked for Amazing Radio, XS Manchester, BBC Introducing in Lancashire, Manchester and West Yorkshire and BBC 6 Music.

Shell also works in voiceover and has podcasted for various clients, including BBC Sounds. She often hosts events, chairs music panels, DJs, and works in artist development. In addition, Shell assesses funding applications for PRS / PPL, Help Musicians, Come Play With Me, Music:Leeds and more.

We caught up with Shell about her new daily weekday show at Amazing Radio, her passion for new music and artists, and thoughts on the Music Journalism module at Leeds Conservatoire.

Hi Shell - can you tell us about your steps into music journalism? How did it all begin? 

You work predominantly in radio - had this always been your passion? 

I think radio is such a unique platform - you're instantly able to connect to a listener, it's personal, informative, and it's escapism. Music can change your day and mood instantly, and that's why it's so special to me! I guess I realised I was a laboured writer, and it's much quicker to talk, and in my view, you make a better connection.

What was your first radio job?

I started in community radio! Salford City Radio gave me an hour a week, and I spent £43 on a dictaphone from eBay and taught myself how to interview people and edit the audio. It wasn't really at the quality needed for radio, but it gave me the building blocks to know how to make features and put radio together. I was already programming and self-curating my hour weekly, so I was learning new skills all the time. It was a great way to gain experience on how to work a live desk and react to situations while broadcasting live.

You spent six years working for BBC Introducing. Can you tell us a little bit about your work and experience here? 

I started working at BBC Introducing in Lancashire as a Team Assistant, which means I was mainly working behind the scenes. I was listening to and shortlisting tunes, swear-editing, importing for airplay, creating social media assets, booking guests, filming sessions and editing videos. After a year, I moved to Manchester Introducing and eventually got a staff producer job at BBC Introducing in West Yorkshire. I was responsible for producing Live outside broadcasts from Leeds Festival, and Wakefield Long Division Festival. I produced a BBC Introducing show from BBC Introducing Live that aired on every BBC local station and BBC 6 Music.

At the BBC, I also presented BBC Introducing across BBC Radio Lancashire, Manchester and West Yorkshire, and the BBC Introducing Mixtape on BBC 6 Music. It was fun, and I learnt a lot!

I also presented and produced BBC Sounds podcasts; it was good to work on a wide variety of content for the BBC, and it helped me demonstrate that I have a wide range of skills too!

You have a new daily show on Amazing Radio! What kind of things can listeners expect to hear if they tune in? 

Amazing Radio is just the best. It's a joy to be able to support new artists and play the best new music daily. There are sessions, interviews, records of the week and showcases of events and festivals. I'm just so passionate about what we do at Amazing Radio! I've been part of the team for a decade, and the reality that an artist from anywhere in the world can upload their music without management, label, a big team or budget can get their music on our playlist fills me with positivity.

You can catch Shell live on Amazing Radio in her new daily weekday show between 12 and 2 pm, or on Thursday evenings from 7 pm.

How can artists/bands submit their music for potential airplay on your show? 

It's really straightforward! You just need to set up a profile on the Amazing Radio website. I always recommend uploading your best tune. It's always better to upload a focus track rather than several tracks. Remember to also add a photo, a biography, tell us a bit about the track and tag in your social media handles too so we can shout about you. You can even upload videos. Soon we'll be launching AmazingTV!

As module co-ordinator for Year 3 Music Journalism at Leeds Conservatoire, what do you think is special about the course? 

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Student working in our fifth floor study space. 

It's such a relevant and current subject! It's really immersive, and ultimately it offers an insight into how the media works for musicians or those wanting to work in the music industry. Many people working in the music industry end up working in portfolio careers, so it's a really great place to learn some skills that you could find help to supplement you or provide extra avenues for insights into the industry.

The module takes in fascinating subjects such as ethics in journalism and factors influencing modern journalists and allows the students to demonstrate their journalistic skills by writing news pieces, reviews, opinion pieces and features alongside gaining interview skills.

A range of media is incorporated into the module, and it's always changing too! This year we touched on the Astroworld Disaster, high profile Copyright claims involving Ed Sheeran, Four Tet's legal battle with Domino Records and more. I like to think that the course is fresh, insightful and innovative. Ultimately we all have different backgrounds, views and opinions and that's what is so special about journalism. I hope to empower and encourage students to work with their skills and experiences.

If you had any advice for those wanting to develop a career in Music Journalism, what would it be? 

Be your authentic self, be inquisitive and be interested! It's really that simple!

You can catch Shell live on Amazing Radio in her new daily weekday show between 12 and 2 pm, or on Thursday evenings from 7 pm.

Submit your music for Amazing Radio via their website.

By Lauren Bickerdike

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