Role-Voice of reason
Let me introduce myself my name is Lizzie Darragh and I’m an energetic, bubbly and caring 24 year old student from Belfast. I have a deep passion for performing arts and inspire to be an actress in the future. I have been in theatre productions and short films from a very young age , I have always enjoyed being on stage on in front of a camera it makes me feel alive !. I’m a political activist as I want to make in my local community and be involved in the change of our world for the better.
Through Cool Choices I hope to gain a deeper understanding of how radio works and all the different roles that come together to produce a show. I also hope to have a lot of fun, develop friendships and hopefully get an opportunity to do some presenting work.

Wonderful recording ,time flying ,end of days!

30 October 2015

Well we have come to the very last blog entry from my time here at the cool academy, although I have had so much fun here, learnt a lot and discovered that I am still just as confused as to what career I would like . I would love to write scripts, be a presenter, a Politian and possibly even a social worker. At least I can say I’ve developed my confidence and skills surrounding my many hope full career goals lol. Over these past five weeks we have had an extensive look into the background of radio and during this process I even play a role in our broadcast that I could happily stay here doing for life (presenting of course) . Our last days have been filled with frustrating OCN paper work, cookies on behalf of our lovely Lindsay, laughter and yet sadness as we sit around our rectangle table in the cool academy for the last time. This is an experience I will never forget , it has helped to make me radio ready  , I’ve picked up new skills, meet lovely friends I hope to keep for life and most importantly created memories and a broadcast we can all be happy with forever. As you have all probably guessed by now I am very sentimental and soppy so I would like to play tribute to the lovely people who made this experience possible and all those smart smiley people who have helped us along the way.
David Corrscaden (Daddy Dave), you’ve always been there for a lovely chat (or kick into action) in the morning, full of words of wisdom some I sure you make up on the spot but regardless we enjoy the banter.
Steve Turnbull You have had the great honour of teaching us all how to speak properly lol , you have been a great laugh and so encouraging thank you for everything, I don’t think I’ll be a DJ anytime soon but I appreciate that you made me feel relaxed enough to at least give it a try 
Rebecca McKinney you have the patience’s of an absolute saint, without you on this experience I would have beat my head off a wall a few times lol. You have been so supportive, and helpful. With beauty and girl power you keep us all in line with a word of encouragement or pulling us into line when required, and never falling at times to having us almost falling off our chairs with the banter. Thank you for taking the time to work with us and letting us get to know you more.
Not forgetting the lovely Clare and Lindsay you guys get the pleasure of having our lovely company for a few more weeks and I wouldn’t have it another way. You guys deserve a medal for your support, encouragement, patience and babysitting skills lol. I’ve really appreciated every kind word to pick me up and every wee chat to keep me going. Thank you
Finally my cool choices crew you guys have really made this whole experience!!!! We have had some laughs, arguments and faced some weird situations but hey we did it , we did it together and now were stronger for it go out and rock the world guys!!!!!
Anyone out there considering whether to take up this experience or not I urge you to go for it I will never forget this experience and hope this is the beginning of my own cool adventure!

Times ticking away Tuesday

28 October 2015

The countdown begins as it dawns on us all that we have just four days left including today at the cool academy. There’s a nervous yet excited feeling spreading throughout the team as every moment now is precious to be productive for the final broadcast. As I know I’ve shamelessly mention throughout this blog that I’ve found a talent within myself for script writing so I was happy when David Corscadden asked me to take up the task of creating a script for another my cool choices recruitment advert. I gave it my best shot and now will wait to see what happens when it reaches the desk of the hilarious script writing genius Keith Law. There were a lot of different tasks undertaken today form helping to construct the newsletter to be circulated to cool employees all over the building and recording of our skits. Today was extremely productive as we all ushered about in our own wee task forces completing a range of activities. I have to admit it was little cringy and strange to hear my recorded skit played back its weird yet exciting to hear your own voice blasted out over a studio.

Monday confession

I am so pleased to be able to officially clear my name of the accusations made on behalf of Matt McAdam. I was horrified to be falsely accused in the middle of last week of defacing Matts shoes with a black coloured biro. I strongly announced my innocence only to have it shoot down as Matt claimed I had both motive and opportunity! I may have but it wasn’t me I wouldn’t do such a childish act of revenge for my American horror top which Matt defaced with a pen the week previous. I was biding my time for an act of revenge but as luck would have it and in a divine act of karma it was relieved that Matt did in fact draw upon his own shoes accidently and since has been made to apologise profusely to the cohort that I Lizzie Darragh am innocent of drawing on the said shoes. Now that I have publically named and shamed Matt I shall return to the business in hand. Today I must admit was an extremely frustrating day , team work I am to understand is defined as all people within the team pulling their weight to make the end product come together however I have felt that there is a few members of the team who slacked yesterday to say the least . We were also visited by the lovey inspirational Anita who runs the Don’t Bully twitter campaign. She is such a strong young lady who has been through so much and been able to turn her negative situations in life into positive, for that and how she helps others cope with hard times she is in my eyes a modern day hero. I wish her all the best with her future and thank her for taking the time to come in, meet with us and share her story. Myself and my co presenter worked hard on perfecting exactly how well will say our script when it comes to recording it , I did struggle with the word commodity which had become a tongue twister of comm, com, commidittiy after much practicing I have now nailed the ability to be able to pronounce this word correctly… I hope ….. Wish me luck I think we are recording tomorrow!!!

Freaking Script finishing Friday!

As you can see from the above title after a lot of hard work, concretion and giggles we have completed our script. I’m so proud or my co presenter Matt and myself that we were able to ignore all outer distractions and bang our heads together to create a script which I think perfectly captures the caring, bubbly and energetic side of our group. There’s one week to go here at the cool academy and already I can feel my reluctance to leave, we have learnt so much here, had so much fun, made memories that will last forever and build friendships that mean so much. I’ve particular enjoyed getting to know Rebecca more, now when I listen to the cool breakfast show it is just like sitting in on a conversation with Paulo, Pete and Rebecca only we can’t talk back to them (that would be weird walking to the bus while talking out loud to the radio/ voices in my head as I wear ear phones lol). I thought the hard work had already began but coming into our last week we need to really work hard to pull this all together and make sure all the elements of an awesome cohort 4 cool choices take-over is ready to be broadcasted.

Thoroughly awesome Thursday

Today we continued to write our script, it’s kind of funny how much I’ve got to know my co presenter that we are able to pre-empt each other’s reactions to what we say. I’m really enjoying script writing it’s something I’m finding comes quite natural to me especially with my background in performing arts. I also got to sit in on an interview with my good friend and favourite political councillor the hardworking and extremely lovely Nuala McAllister. I particularly found her interview to be inspirational she gave us a lot of usable content and great insight into how a person in the public eye handles criticism and negativity on social media. The hilariously funny Keith Law came back into see us today he listened to our skits and I’m extremely pleased and proud that he approved the skits I wrote, he also gave us helpful pointers of how to make them snappy and shorter to effectively get the point across.

Wonderful Onesie Wednesday

23 October 2015

Today the cool academy joined in on cash for kid’s funsie in a onesie have to admit the idea of wearing my onesie on the bus from Belfast to Newtownards was slightly daunting however when I was walking to the bus station on this cold morning I was pleased that my onesie was fleecy therefore I was cosy and warm . Some might have argued that people where giving me funny looks due to me being out in the morning in a onesie but I felt it was looks of jealously due to my warmth. After a quick few group snaps in our onesies we were joined by John Rossborough a presenter on downtown radio and an extremely intelligent guy. John gave us a history of where radio came from and it has developed into what we are all used to hearing today. It was an extremely interesting presentation which included sound clips from really early radio that sound so alien compared to what we are used to hearing today. After lunch I sat down again with my co-presenter Matthew to work further on our scripts. It’s strangely hard but difficult at the same time to make sure its natural yet entertaining and easy follow and listen to.

Twist it about Tuesday!!!

Due to unforeseen circumstances we had to recast my co presenter, as it was a difficult decision for our group to make we allowed our voice recordings to be taken to the head bosses of cool FM for them to make the decision. The first half of the day for me was spent sort of floating around in-between the other departments as I couldn’t really start to script anything without knowing who my co was and how the dynamic would work with the two of us. After lunch however it was decided me and Matthew should work together, therefore the rest of our afternoon was dedicated to starting to script the cool choices take over show.

Monday Madness !!!

Excitement is in the air as we have two weeks left here at the cool academy to create our broadcast. Today marks the start of all hands on deck and no reins as we “cohort 4 “ are now in control and in charge we have been equipped with all the relevant information and equipment , our wonderful mentors are there if required but they keep a certain amount of distance as it’s up to us now . I feel ready to rock this cool choices take over, but also at the same time nervous. It’s also a great comfort to know Rebecca is close at hand for everyone and particularly us as presenters to look up to for guidance and tips of this job role we are about to take on. I spent a lot of time writing scripts and getting to know my co presenter Nathan.

Funky Film Friday!!!

20 October 2015

Today the academy was visited by the extremely talented Simon Hutchinson who is a professional photographer and the exact one who took all our cool choices images for this site (told you he was good :) ) . He allowed us to grill him on how he got to where he is today and it’s an extremely interesting story of how a hobby became a career. After lunch we were joined by Adam McPeake the founder of Hype Factory, an amazing videographer and also a colleague of the above mentioned Simon. His story was a little different than Simons as he knew what he wanted to do as a career and had been practising and applying it into his life from his teens. He shared with us videos he had created when he was in school on not so state of the art equipment. It was a simple video of his friends skateboarding although it captured your attention, and engaged you, I was memorised of the high standard of what could be created with a good eye and school cameras. The main message both Simon and Adam portrayed is that it doesn’t matter about the fancy kit; it’s the talent, hard work and commitment that makes a master piece. They encouraged us all if we had an interest to get stuck in and see what we could create , as I am more interested in the performing side of things I was more than happy to offer myself as an actress to the other amateur videographers within the group. Throughout this experience of meeting different cool workers and exterior contacts, there is an unmistakable theme of everyone enjoying the job they do as it’s something they love. Many would also go as far to say that being paid is a bonus!. I hope one day I too will be as happy with my career.

Big decision thirteen day!!!

Today began with a sense of nervousness as to which roles we would all be given. As I boarded my bus from Belfast my mind wondered over the past few weeks and how far we have all came as a group and how much we have all accomplished. All our voices were put to the vote for the two presenter roles, we decided as a group and took a vote based on whose audio we thought sounded best. I was over the moon to get a role as one half of our presenting duo. In the afternoon the presenters and news crew got the opportunity to watch Steve Turnbull in action as he interview Tine Tempha and Katy B about their latest collaboration. I have to admit this was a pretty awesome moment that will go down as a day to be remembered (unfortunaly we couldn’t see either performers but we hear them :) ). Steve is such a natural interviewer , he made it look so easy but I suppose that cool as a cucumber on the radio style comes with years of experience. Rom a ten minute interview Stevie managed to get a lot of information as he knew exactly what to ask. This was a great learning experience for me as a presenter and also the news team who will be doing the interviews as we got a first-hand example of how it’s done and to a high standard. Today confirmed to me that presenting is something I could definitely see myself doing in the not so distant future if I have the opportunity. I have always wanted a career that I enjoyed that didn’t seem like work because it was fun.

Totally awesome twelfth day!!!

14 October 2015

Today has been one of my absolute favourite days; we went down to the studio to record an competition promotion to hear what we all sounded like on the radio, it was so exciting as this was my first ever experience in a radio studio . Although I found it a little strange hearing myself back I loved it and I discovered that doing this gave me the same feeling of adrenaline that I get when I performing on a stage or do some live speaking and presenting work, it’s all most as if I could punch a lion lol (which I obviously won’t as am such an animal lover). Steve was very patient with us all talking us through how to speak and correctly pronounce everything. I spent the rest of the day a little frustrated and inpatient to see who had got our presenter roles, I can honestly say I am extremely keen but what will be will be and I am a strong believer in what is meant for you won’t pass you by. After having a lovely lunch on a nervous tummy we sat down and discussed the different roles within our radio show in more depth and how many people we need in each department. We also brainstormed a little about who we would like to interview and how they would be relevant to our overall show. Today had a lot of sweet and deep moments, I feel like I’ve gotten to know Rebecca even more as we had a lovely chat over lunch. Being a part of the cool academy is more than being a number in a group we really are like a family and it’s so great to know we are all hear for each other, even if you don’t say anything to someone they can pick up when you’re not yourself and come to chat with you or share an encouraging word or smile.

Tenth day and its going fast.

13 October 2015

Today started a little more relaxed, Lindsay gave us the opportunity to make sure we had all our paperwork up to date, so much happens in the academy so fast that if you fall behind it could be detrimental to the team as you would properly spend the rest of the course chasing your tail to catch up. However the support and encouragement we are given from Lindsay Rebecca Steve and David they wouldn’t let that happen. As we have come to the end of our second week I have found myself reflecting on how we all came together five weeks ago complete strangers with one main interest that we wanted to be a part of cool choices , now we are developing a friendship and teamwork skills that will last a lifetime, we are laughing, working, brainstorming, eating and singing together( yes I said singing lol due to boredom waiting for the bus to go back to Belfast a few of us have discovered a hidden talent as an A Capella group, keep your ear to the ground for the “Coo-A-pellas “ coming to a street corner near you lol ). We had DJ 101 with Steve Turnbull this afternoon, to be honest I was surprized at how much I actually enjoyed getting hands on with his decks , it was scary because there is so much buttons and switches but really fun to be able to mix up tracks and take different elements of songs and put them together. Steve has been DJing for years and it shows he is so confident and quick at what he does it’s like watching a master at work, and you can tell he has a deep passion for it as his eyes light up like a child a Christmas. Much respect to Steve for knowing what every button and switch does and for doing it so quickly. We wrapped the afternoon up with a marketing talk from David he taught us the importance of correctly marketing a product to achieve the best possible consumer response.

All aboard on the eleventh day !!!

Unfortunately due to my tooth trying to kill me I began my day with a trip to the dentist thankfully I got an early appointment and was able to make it into the cool academy in time for Paulo Ross for a talk on social media the do’s and don’ts and what is appropriate content to get the web views up. Paulo set us a task of creating memes of nostalgic, funny or serious local news stories. The big child in me put her heart and soul into reflecting back to my childhood and bringing back nostalgic memories of 90s yoghurts. After lunch I set upon the task of making my idea into an actual sharable picture which will be submitted to Paulo with the possibility of being put onto the cool Facebook or twitter. We wrapped up the day with presenting skills with the extremely talented Rebecca. I was in my element as presenting , public speaking and performing arts is the main way I want my future career to go, I was also given a lot of lovely compliment’s and constructive criticism of how I can improve my public speaking .

Ninth day technical time

9 October 2015

We were visited by the main man Mark Mahaffy managing director, he gave us all an interesting insight to his role, his responsibilities and how he got to where he is today. Something interesting I’ve discovered along the way is that quite a lot of people who are now successfully workings within radio have a history working in journalism. After indulging in the tradition of Curry Thursday we were honoured with a software editing master class with Steve Turnbull , although editing isn’t something I can ever really see myself doing it is a great to have some sort of understanding of the editing process of audio. I have to give some acknowledgement and credit to Steve, Pete (and anyone else who has this ability) for their skill and understanding of the technical computer programmes mixing desks and turn tables. Apparently according to Pete eventually it becomes as automatic and natural as driving a car (which I also as of yet cannot do). We also had the results of our first brief; the anticipation was thick in the air as we were hanging in an air of suspense wondering who the lucky winner of three sets of tickets would be. Unfortunately it wasn’t my group which consisted of myself , David and Bart, although I was pleased for my fellow group members who did win as I felt the tickets went to those most deserving and also the people who wanted them most . On an unrelated note I am however attending a concert soon lol we are all great friends within this cohort and that’s why we are better than before!!!

The edgy eighth day

8 October 2015

We had a Q&A session with the legendary Pete Snodden; this allowed us to find out all the details of his past that shaped him into the presenter he is today. It was great to hear that he had a dream and desire of becoming exactly what he is today, although I have only met him briefly in the past I couldn’t help but feeling a sense of knowing Pete as I’ve grown up listening to him on Cool. The session installed me with a sense of hope that with hard work and commitment it is possible to build your perfect career.
After lunch the Hilarious Keith Law came back for us to present are radio advert scripts , we have been put into groups for this task and I was paired with Bart and Danny, together as a collective we came up with three brilliant (if I must say so myself) scripts. We even used an app to record one for Keith to listen to which myself and Bart performed the characters, I absolutely loved this task as it fed perfectly into my background of performing arts and writing. I was in my element and quite possibly found a future career in advertising writing and performing, I am my own sound machine .

Seventh heaven day

As you may have noticed I had to skip day six which I have decided to referrer to as the sickth day as I was ill. I had such a bad toothache and had to unfortunaly pay a visit to my dentist due to this I had to miss the visit to the visit to the breakfast show to watch the professionals at work. As you can probably guess I basically ran into the cool academy this morning I couldn’t wait to catch up and begin again after the weekend. Today was packed with information with a morning visit from Richard Ross commercial manager; he is the main man in sponsorship and promotions. He taught us the difference and the benefits of a company taking out a radio sponsorship or a company promotions. He shared more skills around doing briefs and presenting briefs and set us another group challenge, which due to the previous experience of doing a brief we were more than ready to rock this!!!
In the afternoon after a lovely lunch and a nice chill with the group Keith Law came to see us he is a downtown country presenter and commercial production. Keith is absolutely hilarious I haven’t laughed so much in such a short time; he gave us the task of scripting a radio advert for Butchers.

Fifth day rocking it

We had a great start to the morning after a short walk past the beautiful duck pond . Our cool academy day began with a visit from Simon Mann the commercial director. He opened our eyes to the importance of adverts on the radio, how to use the demographics to know who your adverts are reaching and what they may desire and how radio has become more assessable recently through podcasts, apps, computer’s and mobile phones. Simon also set us a task with a brief to come up with an idea of how to promote a company with a completion and a broadcast. When we delivered our ideas he was very impressed, to be honest I was quite pleased with my groups brief as it was the first time we had ever attempted to construct anything like this it was a great learning experience to be thrown in the deep end and if you read my next blog you will see that this came in extremely useful.

On the Fourth Day

The day started out very foggy and I referring to the weather and not my head although it was a little until I woke up properly. We have a visit from Luke from HNH who was the creator of the cool choices website; he opened our minds up to blogging and how to do it effectively. Towards the afternoon we were to focus on the topic for our broadcast however we faced a few challenges within our group and had to find tactful and adult ways to calm and dissolve the issues, this was a great learning experience for us all. Most importantly today we got to indulge in a cool FM tradition curry Thursday and I have to admit it was yummy!

Third times a charm.

Day three and as I rose from my bed to catch the early bus from Belfast to Newtownards I was absolutely tired but the excitement for the day ahead help to push me on . On the cool agenda today was Q and As with the lovely David McCammond deputy programme controller he gave us an insight to what his job role was, how music is selected and a run-down of the numbers that make everything happen, this was followed by another Q&A with the lovely Florence Ambrose features co coordinator, health and safety officer and first aider. After a lovely lunch that was top quality we had a tour of the cool FM studio, being one of two girls we like to stick together so we joined the tour being led by the awesome Rebecca, she introduced us to all the people who make the magic, all the different departments and most importantly (to me) the cool, downtown and downtown country studios. Personally I found the studios to be smaller than I thought, very technical and professional. In my own head I had built up an impression from listening to the breakfast show that Paulo, Pete and Rebecca chilled out in the mornings on a sofa having quality banter that makes the listener feel comfortable and relaxed but yet prepares you for the day ahead. However from the studio tour I’ve realised that there is a lot lot more work, different roles and professionalism goes into creating a successful show. We had a listen to the previous cohorts broadcast to be honest a part of me was slightly intimated by how well they did and what would be expected of us, on the most part I was excited to get hands , make the most of this opportunity and our show. It’s going to rock!!!!

Take Two

Today didn’t start well for me at all I wasn’t feeling myself or on top form, it went to show how much we had bonded together as a group already as my lower mood didn’t go unnoticed especially by Lyndsay and Rebecca (it’s a female connection lol ), but after a few wise words of support and encouragement followed by giggles and great banter from my group it didn’t take long to pull me together again . we had a birthday celebration for David the baby of our group as he turned 18, and provided us with a perfect excuse to indulge in some beautiful chocolate cake and the most amazing m&m cookies baked by the lovely Lyndsay . We ended today by a lovely and extremely funny memory from our photo shoot poping up on the way home as we were asked to say the word Rhubarb in a French accent , random I know but it worked , well I think we got some amazing snaps for the website . Laughing helps bond a group together and today we definitely did a lot of that.

Here we go!!!

Day one of Cool Choices and I couldn’t be more excited to get stuck in. After managing to find my way to Kiltonga Newtownards of which I am proud as I’m quite a home bird and rarely travel outside my own small area of the city. Upon walking up the stars into the cool academy and I got a deep sense of happiness to be here and determination to make this one of the best experiences ever! Today we got a full introduction into what is in store for us over the next five weeks. Meeting everyone was a little nerve wrecking but it didn’t take long for our group to bond although we are all very different, crazy , unique but still wonderful in our own ways it works because everyone has a different view or opinion to bring to the discussion. However within our group there is only two females so we need to work together to bring balance into all group discussions. We were given the opportunity today to interview Rebecca and Steve to get to know them better, although some of the group asked extremely random questions I can honestly say they both answered with honesty, humour and a lot of personality!!! I really appreciated it as it helped developed a working and supporting relationship. I feel fully prepared to rock this experience, bring it on!!!!