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Agenda: Radio is not just a sound sensation at this academy of opportunities

'IAm not answering that question.

You can find the answer to that question all over the internet ... "

My heart sank.

What had upset international megastar and platinum selling artist Usher to such an extent that he was refusing to answer a question from a 15-year-old girl?

Usher was the biggest booking and the biggest logistical challenge when he appeared at the very first BBC Radio 1 Academy. And at that point it felt like we were about to have a problem.

"The reason I'm not answering that question is that it won't help you. It's not about you. What can I help you with?" Usher continued.

Usher understood. He got it.

Radio 1's Academy is not just another promotional opportunity for artists. It is not an opportunity for them to trot out the same anecdotes and platitudes in the hope of gaining a few more fans or sales.

Radio not just a sopund Rather, it is about trying to make a practical difference to young people who walk through its doors.

This week, ahead of BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend, the Academy has opened its doors in Glasgow.

We have taken over the Queen Margaret Union building over the course.

It is a collaboration between BBC Radio 1 and BBC Learning, and it is made up of hands-on master classes and question-and-answer sessions with inspirational figures.

We want young people who have come along to be inspired about what to do with their futures and how to achieve their dreams.

We want them to secure practical experience that will help them achieve their goals, but also experience new things that will build their confidence, regardless of the direction their lives take.

Of course, the headlines go to some of the big names that have joined us during the week.

This ensures that the event feels cool, attracts attention from young people and, importantly, feels nothing like school.

We have used the pulling power of BBC Radio 1, and the goodwill of many people, to ensure we were joined by some amazing people at this year's Academy.

Among those who have taken part in the workshops are Biffy Clyro (yesterday), Richard Branson, Kevin Bridges, Rita Ora, Example and Emeli Sande.

We have also brought the full range of BBC Radio 1 presenters including Nick Grimshaw, Fearne Cotton, Scott Mills and Greg James to cover the Academy, and use them to participate in the various workshops.

This has ensured that a UK-wide light has been shone on the youth of Glasgow as we celebrate all the creative stuff they get up to.

Across the week we have had eight live broadcasts planned from the QMU, so there has been no avoiding the Academy.

One of the things we've learned after two years is that the most successful sessions we run at the Academy have practical outcomes.

This is sometimes quite a terrifying prospect, for example when I hand over the opportunity for Academy attendees to produce an hour-long documentary which is broadcast on BBC Radio 1.

In previous years, people who have come through the doors of the Academy have designed Big Weekend event T-shirts, done live mixes for BBC Radio 1, had articles published and helped put on BBC Introducing concerts.

There were even more exciting opportunities for young people who came along to this year's Academy ... and it was all free?

This has been BBC Radio 1's opportunity to start to build up our relationship with young people from Glasgow.

We have offered opportunities that money can't buy, and a range of experiences which will enhance any CV.

I have already had the pleasure of interviewing someone for an entry level job at Radio 1, who told me she was inspired to get into radio after having attended the very first Academy.

Perhaps she was the young lady whom Usher refused to answer ...

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Arts and Entertainment

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