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BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3

Matthew Dodd, Radio 3's Head of Speech Programmes, introduces this year's New Generation Thinkers

This week the first of Radio 3's New Generation Thinkers 2012 take to the airwaves. Ten academics, all at the start of their careers, will be making their debut broadcasts on Night Waves in their new role as the station's scholars-in-residence. It's been a stimulating and fascinating journey to get them there.

At the and of last year, Radio 3 and our partners the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) put out an appeal for applications from researchers who wanted to turn their scholarship into programme ideas. Within a month, we'd received hundreds of entries, covering everything from the history of medical science to arctic studies and bilingualism. A team of producers and AHRC staff sifted those down into a group of 60 finalists - who were then invited to attend workshops at the BBC in London and Salford where we made our final selection. You can find out the group and their specialisms by following this link. And so now the real work: listeners get the chance to hear the winners take their first steps as broadcasters.

But this of course is only the beginning. Over the next twelve months producers from Night Waves will be mentoring the NGTs to help them develop their ideas. They'll be making regular appearances on the programme, they'll be writing and presenting their own edition of The Essay, and they'll be appearing in front of audiences at Radio 3's annual festival of ideas, Free Thinking. They'll also be working with our colleagues in television arts to develop ideas for the screen.

The aim of the scheme is to find a new generation of academics who can bring the best of the lastest university research and scholarly ideas to a broad audience. It's part of Radio 3 dedication to commissioning and developing emerging talent in music and the arts - already flourishing elsewhere on the station in the New Generation Artists or World Routes Academy.

I've no doubt that the hunt for these new talents is good investment for the future. In a couple of week's time, the NGT scheme has a mini-landmark when Laurence Scott, a graduate of its first year, hosts a Sunday Feature about neglected Victorian writer George Reynolds. It will be the first full length documentary to be presented by a Radio 3 New Generation Thinker.

We're looking forward to many more.

Find details of the 2012 Thinkers (BBC Press Office)

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