A podcast festival

for Birmingham

Wednesday 5th June 2024

9:30 – 5:30 PM

Birmingham City University, Curzon Street B4 7BD

Presented by 

Celebrating the super-diversity of Birmingham by platforming diverse voices and growing the podcast eco-system in the West Midlands.

Whether you are already podcasting or if you are thinking to start a podcast, or just curious to find out more, then this is the place to come to learn and be inspired.  


Come and join podcasters and audio professionals in the heart of Birmingham city centre, to pick-up podcast skills to jump-start your podcast or to develop your podcast idea.  It’s the ideal place to learn the ‘how to’ of podcasting whether you have a podcast to showcase your expertise and passions, or professionally, to showcase your company or brand. 

Key Partners

#UniPodFest's Special Tribute to the late, great Benjamin Zephaniah

Sadly, the West Midlands lost one of its most respected and well-loved creative icons; Benjamin Zephaniah.  The poet, author, academic, activist and spoken word artist loved Handsworth, which he called ‘the Jamaican capital of Europe’.  UniPodFest pays tribute by exploring his rich contributions to podcasts, with special guest George The Poet, hosted by Benjamin’s lifelong friend, Dr Martin Glynn.   Not to be missed

Photo by David Morris Creative Commons

George the Poet is a London-born spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage. His innovative brand of musical poetry has won him critical acclaim both as a recording artist and social commentator.  His work has been broadcast to billions of people worldwide.  ‘Have You Heard George’s Podcast?’ has won a prestigious Peabody Award, 5 Gold British Podcast Awards, including the highly coveted ‘Podcast of the Year’, an NME Award, two Gold ARIAS, three New York Festival Awards and more.  The University of London presented George with an honorary doctorate in literature and his PhD research at UCL focuses on the socio-economic potential of black music.


Dr Martin Glynn has been a long-time friend to Benjamin Zephaniah and spoke at his funeral.  Dr Glynn is an author and senior academic and one of the last remaining British based dub poets of his generation. Recipient of the Churchill Fellowship for a project on fatherlessness in Baltimore USA, Dr Glynn’s other books and writings include, ‘Invisible Voices’, Black Men, Invisibility and Crime as well as  ‘A Who Seh: Reflections of a Lost and Found Dub Poet’.

Benjamin Zephaniah loved to say he was, ‘born and bred in Brum’ although he struggled at school and faced many terrible instances of racism, he was a steadfast activist and campaigner for justice.  

Fighting for Justice 

His cousin Mikey Powell was killed after being arrested by West Midlands police in 2003.  Mikey – a father of three from Lozells – died from asphyxiation.  He was hit by a patrol car, restrained and stopped breathing in Thornhill police station, Handsworth.  

Ten West Midlands police officers were charged with criminal offences and were cleared of any wrongdoing in 2006.  

Black Lives Matter

Following the death of George Floyd in the USA and the global Black Lives Matter protests, Benjamin Zephaniah recounted what had happened to Mikey, highlighting a poem he had written 42 years earlier called, ‘Dis Policeman Keeps Kicking Me To Death’. Zephaniah’s words and activism are pressing, important and extremely relevant today. 

schedule + speakers

The day runs from 9.30 am – 5.30pm, but please arrive anytime from 9.15 as that’s when registration opens.   

Panellists and speakers have been invited from the BBC, Spotify, Goalhanger Podcasts Serial Productions (New York Times audio) and ITV this year again and more very special guests are joining the line-up.


Host: Rakeem Omar


Rakeem Omar is an award-winning journalist, BBC presenter, DJ, and Documentary Filmmaker.

He was the first Breakfast Show presenter of colour on BBC Radio WM interviewing the likes of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Alison Hammond and RAYE. He is also a presenter at BBC Radio 1Xtra regularly covering daytime shows live from Birmingham. 


Rakeem has also presented for BBC Radio 1 selected as part of the Christmas guest presenter takeover of 2020 showcasing the best and emerging talent – he went on to host Early Friday Breakfast, Weekend Breakfast cover and multiple Radio 1 Big Weekends.


As a Channel 4 Investigative Journalism MA alumnus Rakeem has worked not only on screen but also behind the lens with BBC One, BBC Three, BBC Radio 4, Channel 4 & MTV on current affairs and documentary programmes. Rakeem has hosted some of the biggest events including Table Tennis at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham Festival, TedX, The Mobos red carpet, Pride of Birmingham Awards and more.

A very special keynote address from a journalist who has hosted one of the most listened to and groundbreaking podcasts in the world. ‘Serial Productions’ part of New York Times Audio, changed the podcast medium when it launched with an investigative true crime podcast that revolutionised the way audio stories are told.


This has continued with the global number one hit podcast, The Trojan Horse Affair.   In the podcast, Hamza Syed – a Brummie who is studying for his Masters in journalism after leaving medicine – and his American co-host Brian Reed go on a search to find out who wrote a letter that detailed an apparent Islamist plot to take over Birmingham’s schools.  He speaks to Festival Director Nina Robinson via video from his home in New York about impartiality in journalism, Birmingham’s bankruptcy and more. 

Cutting through the noise in a competitive podcast landscape.  With a literal explosion in sports podcasts, the appetite for sports podcasts remains strong, but how do you make your podcast stand out?   



Chair: Adrian Goldberg, BBC investigative journalist (BBC Radio 4 File on Four, Five Live) and host of The Liquidator – a podcast for West Bromwich Albion fans, celebrating its 200th episode.  Adrian is also editor of the Bylines News Podcast. 


Guests:  Natasha Henry is a women’s football editor and freelance sports journalist for The Guardian and broadcaster who has worked for, BBC Sport, The Voice newspaper and The Telegraph. She is a natural on the audio waves and has hosted and appeared on podcasts such as the Football Digest by Reach Plc.  She is also former publisher and editor-in-chief of Women in Sport magazine.


Sal Ahmad (video link) exec producer of the award winning ‘Zero Ducks Given’ podcast and is an exec producer for TalkSport.


 Jon Gill podcast lead producer for Goalhanger Podcasts.  Goalhanger produces the award winning, ‘The Rest Is Football’ Podcast with Gary Linekar, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards. Jon has been with Goalhanger since 2017 working on a wide range of television and podcast projects.

Enjoy a hot or cold drink at the Parkside café on the 3rd Floor.

For a successful podcast, you have to not only be a podcaster but also an entrepreneur, aka a ‘Pod-trepreneur’.  A whole other set of business skills and business mindsets go into being a pod-trepreneur and our panel break this down with expert tips and tricks. 

Chair: Marverine Cole, Broadcaster for ITV’s Good Morning Britain – Marverine is an experienced journalist spanning a career working across many of the UK’s most trusted news organisations including Sky News, Channel 5 News and the BBC.


Guests: Award winning content creator and host of the Emma Conway, Brummy Mummy of 2, Emma Conway is a social media influencer @brummymummyof2 who started her podcast just last year.  She has 182k followers on Instagram and is across most of the platforms and works with brands including Walt Disney, M&S and McDonalds.


She’s also an award winning radio presenter and host;  In the podcast space, Marverine is currently presenting and producing a politics podcast called ‘The Trouble with Politics’ which aims to shed light on perspectives skimmed over by the mainstream media to highlight the issues that matter to those who too often are made to feel like they are at the margins.

Taylor James is the host of a music and mental health podcast, The

Waffle Shop.  He says that he started the podcast after a life-changing event and that the podcast itself also now has changed his life.  Based in Coventry, Taylor has set up a podcast studio, is staging a live event and has been a judge for the British Podcast awards.

And Julie-Anna Needham is a podcast presenter and producer. She’s the host of the international business podcast Dealcast: The M&A Podcast and is the producer of several branded podcasts, including Barclays’ Mortgage Insider with Phil Spencer.

Julie-Anna is also the founder of Decibel Podcasts and is on a mission to simplify podcasting for small business owners.

Lunch Break at the Chat n Chai Room in the Curzon Building.

Curzon Room 1  (1st Floor) Pitching Your Podcast with Bernard Achampong via video.  

Nina Robinson Festival Director and Sumit Sharma in the room.  Sumit is a highly accomplished audio producer, podcaster, and former journalist based in Wolverhampton. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, MTV, Entertainment Weekly and the BBC. Sumit has worked on audio projects for Amazon, MTV, and BBC Wales. He’s also been a Head Judge for the Audio Production Awards.

Curzon Room 2  (1st Floor)  Ben Dodd – ‘How to reach your first 100 podcast listeners.’


Curzon Room 1 (1st Floor) ‘How to tell Podcast Stories’ with Perminder Khatkar.

Curzon Room 2 (1st Floor): Lisa Hack Tech and AI Tools

Sponsored by Create Central and chai courtesy of Dishoom.

Curzon Ground Floor Chat ‘n Chai Room.  Ninna Makrinov for an informal network session with industry pro’s, journalists and insiders.  Ninna is an organisational psychologist and coach and is also an Assistant Professor and Senior Fellow of Higher Education at Warwick University.  She facilitates conversations between festival go-ers and industry insiders for a session that is warm and fun.

Attendees go to Parkside for George The Poet and Dr Martin Glynn for the special Benjamin Zephaniah tribute. 

UniPodFest is pleased to welcome extra special guest, George the Poet whose hugely successful BBC podcast ‘Have You Heard George’s Podcast’ is both award winning and critically acclaimed.   George the Poet will be paying tribute to creative icon and dub poet from the West Midlands, Benjamin Zephaniah who passed away in December 2023.  He joins us at BCU with Dr Martin Glynn – lifelong friend to Benjamin Zephaniah. 

Together, they discuss Benjamin Zephaniah’s rich contribution to podcasts in a conversation covering black music, politics, race in the UK and more.


Tammi Walker is passionate about creativity and storytelling. With roots firmly based in News and journalism. In her current role with Audio Lab the accelerator programme for BBC Sounds, she is working with the next generation of audio and podcast creatives supporting them in their quest to upskill so they can create their own podcast series.


She branched out into the world of commissioning at BBC News running In Plain Sight a project which supported a wide range of talent with varying levels of experience to pitch and create diverse stories across multiple platforms.


Passionate about sports podcasts?

How can sports podcasters cut-through the noise by engaging and growing their audiences in a competitive podcasting landscape? Chaired by Adrian Goldberg host of The Liquidator podcast for West Bromwich Albion fans.


Getting into the podcast business mindset and understanding the marketing and media landscape relevant to all podcasters. What are the entrepreneurial methods you need to know to get your podcast noticed and working for you? 


We hear from a panel of business-minded podcasters. 

Networking Social - Chit Chat Chai

Meet audio industry insiders from the BBC and independent audio production companies, journalists, producers and podcasters over chai and chat.  

An informal networking space facilitated by a wonderful woman you will want to meet!


Speakers and Special Guests

Hamza Syed: Serial Productions

Co-host of the global number one hit podcast, ‘The Trojan Horse Affair’; an investigative podcast series by Serial Productions at The New York Times. Hamza delivers the UniPodFest keynote address on video from New York.

Bernard Achampong: Unedited

Co-Founder of ‘Unedited’ an independent production company making content for Amazon Music and BBC 1Xtra and companies such as Spotify and Audible.  Bernard explains how to pitch your podcast. 

Emma Conway: Content Creator

Influencer and Birmingham based podcaster, Emma’s podcast ‘The Phonebox Podcast’ has reached 200,000 downloads from launch in 2023.  Emma has over 400k followers  and is a true ‘pod-trepreneur’. 

Julie-Anna Needham: Pod-Host

Host of Dealcast: The M&A Podcast, and podcast producer for business podcasts including Barclay’s Mortgage Insider with Phil Spencer.  Julie-Anna is the founder of Decibel Podcasts, specialising in launching small business podcasts.

Adrian Goldberg: West Brom Albion

Host of The Liquidator podcast for Albion fans, nearing its’ 200th episode.  Adrian is also an award winning BBC investigative journalist and has made programmes for BBC Radio 4 + more.  He is also Editor and presenter of the Bylines Podcast. 

Ben Dodd: Captivate Platform

Ben achieved a first class degree in journalism and started work at Captivate - a podcasting host platform. He delivers workshops and audio/video content.

Taylor James: Podcaster

Taylor James is the host of the top 10 music and mental health podcast, The Waffle Shop that has featured guests such as Ed Sheeran and Sean Paul.  Taylor has also built Coventry’s first purpose-built podcast studio. 

Ninna Makrinov: Coach

Ninna is an organisational psychologist and coach.  She has facilitated workshops and social networking spaces and is currently an Asst Professor at Warwick University.

Perminder Khatkar: Senior Producer

Perminder is a senior journalist (ex-BBC) and podcast producer for True Thought Productions working on investigations.  She is also a trustee of The Radio Academy.  

Organisers + Advisors

Nina Robinson
Nina Robinson

Festival Director

As CEO of Birmingham based production company, Soundtruism, Nina has helped establish the Podcasting, Seriously Fund to the UK and brought you the Birmingham Podcast Festival 2023.  She is a Fellow of the Radio Academy and winner of a Peabody Award.  She worked for the BBC World Service as a documentary maker and correspondent for over 15 years. 

Dylan Hayward

Festival Producer

Having passed his journalism degree from Birmingham City University with first class honours and a prize for his journalism work, Dylan has since helped produced a BBC World Service documentary and has worked for a variety of local news publications.

Dylan works hard behind the scenes to bring you the best line-ups and ensures that the Festival runs smoothly. 

Harshad Mistry

Co-Founder Springboard Pictures

Harshad Mistry has 22 years experience in production at the BBC and is an RTS Award winner through his work executing ideas such as ‘Syria from Space’ , ‘World Cup in my Village’ and ‘One Night in Bhopal’. Springboard Pictures was a recent recipient of Channel 4’s emerging indie fund.  

Saskia Masaun

Journalist + Festival Ambassador

Since leaving BCU with a journalism degree, Saskia has been working as a reporter for Coventry Live and has also presented a BBC World Service documentary on the subject of Spiritualism and the Soul.  She is passionate about audio documentaries and is currently working on a long-form programme on understanding neuro-diversity informed by her own experiences growing up.

Dr Rachel-Ann Charles

Course Director, Birmingham City University

Rachel-Ann is a Course Director and lectures across undergraduate courses within the School of Media. She is also a Researcher and is an expert on community media in Trinidad and Tobago.
Roifield standing arms crossed smiling
Roifield Brown

Executive Podcast Producer

Roifield has 30 years of experience in media and is an experienced teacher and speaker on podcasting.  His podcasts have been downloaded over 5 million times with credits including Audio Up in Los Angeles and The New Statesman.  Roifield put on a workshop at BhamPodFest on connecting audiences. 

Sumit in a black jumper
Sumit Sharma

Executive Audio Producer

Sumit Sharma is an audio producer and podcaster co-host of the rap podcast, Breaking Atoms and has featured in Forbes, The Independent and The Guardian. He has worked on audio projects for Amazon, MTV, and the BBC.  Now based in Wolverhampton, Sumit appeared on a PodFest panel in 2023. 

Marverine Cole

ITV Good Morning Britain Newsreader

Marverine Cole is an award winning journalist and broadcaster who is newsreader for ITV’s Good Morning Britain.  She is also a regular commentator on Channel 4 and has worked as a reporter and broadcaster at Channel 5, Classic FM,  and the BBC.  

Amy Delauney

#UniPodFest Socials Producer

Amy is a freelance audio producer and recent graduate of Birmingham City University, receiving a first class degree.  She hosts the ‘Would You Wanna Be Gen Z’ Podcast and has had her work played on BBC Radio. 

What People Say about UniPodFest

Today, the PodFest in Brum has been the bomb, So many people, so much talent, so glad I was there, privileged to be a part of it. 

A quick email just to offer my hugest of huge congratulations for Saturday’s event. You put such a fantastic program together – I learnt so much from the speakers and came away burning with thoughts and ideas. Well done – an amazing job!

The podcast tech workshop was incredible, Lisa really knew her stuff, she was being asked some highly technical questions and it was impressive how she provided high value answers that you could see were appreciated.

Great event, please do another one next year!

Had the most fabulous day at the #bhampodfest23 met some wonderful people who inspired me to get on with my podcast.

Typically these kinds of events – and I’ve been to quite a few, can be quite dry, but this one was genuinely interesting, engaging and a lot of fun. I would love to be involved with it again next year.

Be inspired

Come to meet audio professionals with years in the industry and to listen to insightful panel discussions on topics such as sports and influencer podcasts and narrative storytelling techniques.

enter the #UniPodFest
podcast award

UniPodFest is pleased to announce a Podcast Competition awarded to the best podcast already published or for an idea for a podcast, yet to be made. If you want to pitch your podcast idea, please write us a paragraph which explains what the idea for the podcast is and what it is about, give it a title and email contact@UniPodFest.co.uk

If you already have a podcast that has been published in the last year and has not been broadcast on a major network (such as the BBC) student radio is fine – then email us the link to be in for a chance to win a great prize.

The prize:

A Podcast Microphone


Development feedback advice from an industry expert.  The feedback will be delivered to the winner in an online call lasting approx 30 mins.     

#UniPodFest Podcast Award's Terms & Conditions

Only one entry per person is allowed. It is free to enter but you must be in attendance at UniPodFest on Wednesday 5th June to be declared the winner and receive the prize. Only entries received before Sunday 19th May 2024 23:59 will be considered, so get your email into us before then! Contact@UniPodFest.co.uk

Directions to # UniPodFest

Walking Directions from New Street station:  Ascend the escalators at the A end of platforms, choose the exit where you see Five Guys and walk outside walking towards Boots. Cross the road at the crossing and walk left. You will walk under an underpass. Cross the road at the end of the underpass and walk left along Moor Street Queensway. Turn right at Clayton Hotel.  Walk around towards Millennium Point building. You will see BCU Parkside as the next building along and Curzon Building is across the road as you continue straight, past Parkside. 


By Train:
Birmingham New Street or Moor Street Station.
By Bus:
14, 55, 66, 94 (buses stop on Jennens Road)