Ben Atkinson

Presenter, Musician and Writer

Ben Atkinson sitting on some steps and playing a Mandolin


Ben Atkinson is a presenter, musician, and writer, currently studying for his PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Lincoln in the UK.

As a presenter, Ben is a familiar voice on independent radio across the UK and internationally, having hosted his syndicated radio programme, Ben’s Country Music Show, since 2008; the show now being broadcast on stations in the UK, Ireland, and Australia. Starting his radio journey as a teenager, Ben trained at the University of Lincoln, graduating with a BA(Hons) in Media Production and an MA in Digital Media. He then went on to be part of the prestigious BBC Production Talent Pool, where he honed his craft with placements at BBC Local Radio and the World Service.

Ben’s love of music started at an early age, and he was encouraged to pick up the guitar by his primary school music teacher. Since then, he has discovered that music runs in the family, with a piano teacher, two opera house orchestra musicians, and an armed forces band member in his family tree. Ben developed a love for American roots music, including country, blues,, and Americana early on and later taught himself to play the mandolin. In 2020, during lockdown, Ben recorded and produced his debut album, Cold Hard Shoulder, which consists of songs written over the past decade as well as new songs composed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A second album, My Next Thirty Years, will be released in 2021, to celebrate his 30th decade.

As a writer, Ben has written two novels which were both published independently while he was still in his early twenties. The Kraken’s Curse (2008) is a YA story of fantasy and intrigue set on the beautiful Devon coast, while Walking on Cinders (2010) is a dystopian tale of a bitter global conflict and those who are fighting in the closing days of war, both in London and France. Walking on Cinders is notable as being one of the first novels by a British author to be promoted widely on social media, selling 1000 copies as part of the ‘1000 Books to Sell Project’ in 2010/11. Ben has been working on his third novel throughout 2019/20.

For many years, Ben was self-employed as a web and graphic designer – running his own design agency, Tall Lime LTD, which was named a finalist in the ‘Best Digital Startup’ category at the Lincs Digital Awards in 2013. You can find out more about this and his other projects, in the previous work section of this site.

In March 2020, Ben combined all his interests together to embark on a new challenge, a PhD study in music. Working in the discipline of Ethnomusicology, Ben will investigate gender biases and the opportunities for women in American country music – seeking to examine how technological change and social movements have impacted the issue in the 21st century.

'Cold Hard Shoulder' Album

Ben’s debut album, Cold Hard Shoulder, is available everywhere now! Made up of country/folk songs that Ben has written over the past ten years, plus some new tracks that were written during the last year. The album’s first single, I Never Liked Coffee Before You, premiered on digital platforms and on iTunes, Apple Music, and Amazon and the full album was released on Friday 28th August.

On 26th May 2020, the single received its radio debut on BBC Radio Lincolnshire as part of the BBC Uploads project which features creative work produced during social isolation. All proceeds from the album will be donated to local NHS charities in the UK as support for their work during the pandemic.

Find out more about the album here and order your copy on CD, vinyl or digitally right now on Band Camp. The album is also available to stream on all digital platforms.

The Music That Made Podcast

In late 2020, Ben launched a new radio show and podcast called ‘The Music That Made’. It builds on a show he originally presented during his student radio days at the University of Lincoln. Each week the show is broadcast on 103 The Eye, Hermitage FM, and Potters Bar Radio in the UK.

The show is also available as a podcast exclusively on Spotify, with new episodes dropping each Tuesday evening at 9pm.

In this new show, each week Ben will take a deep dive into the career of one artist. He’ll look at their influences, their career highs (and lows), and who in, in turn, they went on to influence. Along the way, there will be special bonus episodes and interviews with musicians and journalists. You can listen to all the episodes broadcast so far in Season 1, below.

Walking on Cinders 10th Birthday

Walking on Cinders book coverIn 2020, Ben’s second novel, Walking on Cinders, turned 10 years old. This is the novel of which Ben remains most proud, bringing together as it did so many of his interests and ideas in one story. The novel is a dystopian tale set in a future London on the brink of war and it follows three soldiers from the United army and the Forces Sweetheart, Miss Marmalade, as they find themselves at the centre of the closing days of the conflict.

Walking on Cinders, marked the launch of the ‘1000 Books To Sell’ project in 2010 and Ben set himself the challenge of selling 1000 books in a year. Through this project, Ben became one of the first authors to harness the power of social media, gaining press coverage for the campaign in both the UK and USA. A series of book tours followed, with Ben visiting schools and Sixth Forms. This was particularly special, given that the novel had been published by King Edward VII Press, a label launched to publish Ben’s work by his former school, King Edward VII, in Melton Mowbray.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Walking on Cinders, Ben read the whole novel live on his Twitter account each evening during the first Covid-19 lockdown. You can find all the videos on this playlist on Ben’s YouTube channel.

After almost a decade, Ben is working on a new novel and he has been writing throughout 2019 and 2020. Find out more about Ben’s fiction writing, here.

Ben Atkinson: Writer and Presenter – Showreel 2021

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Recent Blog Posts

New Video: Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

By now you will have heard the very sad news that we lost John Prine, one of the greatest songwriters in American history, to the horrible COVID-19 virus. John was often compared to Mark Twain in terms of his lyrical talent and his songwriting was some of the best I’ve ever heard, equally as impressive […]

The Countdown to Lincoln: An App Development Project

Last year, I had the opportunity to work on a project which was delivered in partnership with School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln and lead by Andy Beggan, Dean of Digital Education. In my role as Digital Education Developer, I lead a group of student developers from UoLCompSci as we set out […]

New Video: Humble and Kind

Cover of Tim McGraw’s Humble and Kind from the album Damn Country Music. I know the original is by Lori McKenna and I love her version. But I’ve used the chords for Tim’s track here. Wonderful song, either way!