Published November 10, 2011, in MSUM’s, The Advocate
Benjamin Atkinson, an exchange student from Lincoln University, had a strategic motivation for his American exchange. A broadcaster and author, Atkinson came to America for not only the experience of studying abroad, but to advance two of his passions in life – radio and writing.
“My main reason for coming to America on the exchange was to promote my two novels that I’ve written and also to promote my radio show as well,” Atkinson said. “I have a country music radio show back in England, so obviously America is the place to come.”
The 20-year-old sophomore hails from Melton Mowbray, which is a town in the Melton borough of Leicestershire, England. At Lincoln University, he is studying media production with an emphasis in radio.
Growing up, Atkinson’s parents surrounded him with eclectic tastes — music from around the world. This spawned a love for the unique — one distinctive love of his being country music.
Britain is not exactly known for its love of country tunes, but after sitting in as a guest listener during a country radio program, his interest grew, and he began volunteering at the station. He had rarely heard country music being played on the radio, only the songs he heard his parents listen to in their home.
After months of assisting the program, Atkinson was left with the responsibility of keeping the show alive after the producer of the show had to leave for career-related reasons.
“I was suddenly thrown into the deep end one year later with this show that I had to present because there was nobody else who could do it,” Atkinson said.
“Then I spent three years falling in love with the music.”
Atkinson is still presenting his syndicated show and doesn’t get paid a dime for doing it. His country music show is played on three different stations in the East Midlands of England and is the only show of its kind in the area.
While in the states, he is still broadcasting his show back home by planning and airing it on campus. He also has a show on KMSC Dragon Radio which airs on Wednesdays from 4:30-6 p.m.
Along with interviewing songwriters from the United Kingdom, Atkinson has procured interviews with other musicians on local and national tours. He has spoken to a few Texas-based songwriters as they have traveled through England.
This week, Atkinson will be perusing the Nashville area. Due to the existence of his syndicated radio show, Atkinson was able to acquire a press pass for the Country Music Association Award show this week.
By attending the international media launch at the CMA awards and interviewing up-and-coming artists such as Marlee Scott, it will build credibility for his radio program and resume. Atkinson also has interviews scheduled with Lynn Anderson and Charlie McCoy, older country music stars.
Another passion Atkinson fuels is his love for writing.
“At the age of 16, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll start writing and see where it takes me,’ and started writing my first novel called ‘The Kraken’s Curse,’ finished it — didn’t think I would finish it, but I finished it — and then started writing to publishers and agents with this work,” Atkinson said.
“I was getting, almost a day or two days later, letters back saying, ‘Sorry, you’re too young.’ It was clear they hadn’t read what I’d sent them. At that time, I realized publishing is a closed circle. You couldn’t get published without an agent, and you couldn’t get an agent without already being published.”
After dealing with those frustrations, Atkinson decided to start his own publishing label after approaching his school for funding. With the funds gathered by his supporting school, he was able to publish his first two novels under his own label, King Edward VII Press. He paid a third party to print 200 to 300 copies of his novel, which were sold out in his hometown.
His first novel, “The Kraken’s Curse,” takes place on the coast of Dorset, part of England’s southernmost coastline.After his father’s mysterious disappearance, a young gentleman away at school travels back to his hometown to try and piece his father’s whereabouts together and discovers more than he was expecting.
“Walking on Cinders,” a story surrounding three British soldiers striving for a future of peace amidst war-torn Europe is the second novel Atkinson published. He hopes to promote this second work by speaking at book club events and meetings throughout the area during his semester abroad.
Atkinson has set-up his own website (www.walkingoncinders.com) and also utilizes Facebook, Twitter and blog sites to promote his two novels. Plans for a third novel are already in the works.
For more information on Atkinson’s writing and radio journeys, visit his website at www.benatkinson.org.uk.
BY MEGHAN FEIR