A successful Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) recipient spent 10 intense days following a prestigious UK cycle race to produce a podcast and open doors to new fans of the sport.
Sanny Rudravajhala followed the Tour of Britain this September with broadcaster Harriet Muckle and cycling journalist Katy Madgwick to make his podcast On Yer Bike.
The UK’s answer to the Tour de France, Sanny went to each leg of the race to capture live reaction from fans, interview competitors along the route and chart how the event panned out.
“Cycling can get quite technical quite quickly,” Sanny added. “We wanted to make something that is good, but doesn’t talk down to anyone and is accessible for new fans of the sport.”
He produced and released each episode the same day in order to bring the buzz of the race to the fans as it happened; Sanny said he “didn’t get much sleep” while it was being made.
The podcast also features presenter challenges and insights from professional cyclist and Grenadian national champion Red Walters, who raced in the tour last year.
Red said: “I’m here to tell you all the things you didn’t know you needed to know about what it’s like to be in a bike race.
“You’ll never believe some of things we have to do to get through a day on the road!”
One of Sanny’s interviewees was 85-year-old Brian Lewis, who became world champion at the Glasgow World Championships’ Gran Fondo Time Trial course this year as the only person to enter in his age category.
Sanny added: “Cycling is having a Netflix boom, just like Drive to Survive did for Formula 1.
“And we want to be there for new fans and make something a bit different for an already avid fanbase.
“We’re hoping to use the Tour of Britain as a launchpad to bring you inside the action of a live bike race experience, and to continue on to cover some of the major stories in cycling.”
The JDF awards bursaries to people from diverse backgrounds who need help funding the NCTJ’s Diploma in Journalism either as a standalone qualification or as part of a Master’s degree course.
Sanny used the bursary to study for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at the University of Salford in September 2020, and since then has become a familiar voice and face across BBC national radio and Sky Sports News on TV.
His major project to finish the Master’s explored cycling in Manchester.
Sanny emphasised the accessibility of the sport for aspiring reporters hoping to start a career in sports journalism.
“At the Tour of Britain, you can go up to the best riders and talk to whoever you want,” he said.
More than 500 JDF bursaries have been awarded since the fund was set up in 2005, enabling more people to access the NCTJ’s industry-standard journalism training and making newsrooms better reflect the communities they serve.
It is supported by more than 20 organisations including the Google News Initiative, the BBC, BMJ, CNN, FT, Channel 4, Insider, ITV, Newsquest, Reach and Bloomberg.
Ten episodes of On Yer Bike are available on all podcast platforms.
Find out more about the JDF and how to apply here.