My names Catriona, The main passions and hobbies I have are dancing, writing and music as well as my interest in radio.

I am 22 years of age and my enjoyment and critical interest in the media (television, journalism, music, radio and new media) has grown over the past few years and has led me to finding the Cool Choices Programme.

I have many skills which I am able to contribute to media job roles and being on Cool Choices will enable me to gain more insight into media and allow me to gain extensive knowledge into many areas within the media industry.

The last week to the last day of creating our broadcast and this experience.

3 July 2015

This week was filled with interviewing people for our broadcast on body image, blogging, writing for our OCN qualification and my role as a reporter means I collect the audio content by carrying out interviews. Two of my teammates who are also reporters also did the same. We also contacted people via telephone, email or face to face to see if they wanted to be interviewed for our broadcast as well as discussed what questions we should ask them. We managed to get all the content we needed and the broadcast is now fully complete.
I have enjoyed every day at Cool FM as I was able to be as creative as I could be, not one day was the same and everyone Ive met in Cool FM has been more than helpful and kind to me. I also developed many skills I forgot I had and now feel confident I will succeed at pursuing a career in my passion- Journalism.
Thank you
– Catriona

Planning the Media Bus outting

From the 18th to 22rd of June we having been planning our trip to BAC (Belfast Activity Centre) on the Cool FM Media bus which we will be going on, on the 23rd of June. We want to gather content for our show from peers that are teens to 20s. First we made a checklist of what we will need to bring such as :
• Checklist (X1)
• Schedule For The Day (X5)
• Clip Boards (X4)
• Pens (X5)
• Survey Sheets (X60)
• Lanyards (Everyone bring theirs)
• H4’s (Rebecca McKinney bringing X2)
• Laptops (Get them on the bus the night before and bringing X2)
• Headphones (Molly, Racheal and/or Catriona bringing their own X3)
• Risk Assessments (Molly and Natalie X15)
• LUNCH (if bringing any/sandwiches prepped on Monday)
• Travel Reimbursements Forms + Money (Caoimhe and Clare X15 plus extra)
• Cool Choices Flyers + Application Forms (Flyers having X100 different ones from Start 360 and of Cool Choices and X20 Application Forms for Cool Choices)
• Media Bus (X1)
• Michael O’Connor’s Laptop and Headphones (x1)
• Speakers (X2)
• Chargers For Laptops (X2)
• Batteries For H4’s (X4)
• Microphones For H4’s (X2)
• Steve’s Laptop With Music Playlist (X1)
• Steve’s Microphone (X1)
• Steve’s DJ Turntables (X1)
• Dictaphones (For backup X4)
• Bus Number To Get To The Place (X1, 8B or 8A at 9.06AM at City Hall left side)
• Bring Suitable Clothing e.g. coats, hats etc.

We planned the day by making another list of what everyone would be doing e.g.

9.30am – Arrive at BAC
Set up
10.00am – Begin
Icebreakers-> Surveys -> Interviews -> Bus -> Surveys
Icebreakers – Michael, Melissa and Conor
Surveys – James and Kyla
While ice breakers are on-going, Nathalie will take 6 people to begin surveys (Kyla and James)
Interviews – Cat and Rachel
Nathalie and Aaron will guide the first group on to interviews while others gets another 6 to begin surveys
Editing On The Bus – T.J, Adian, Ryan and Michael
Nathalie/ Aaron will direct the group onto the bus. If there isn’t enough room for everyone to edit, some of the editing team should run a mini Q&A to pass time
Surveys – James and Kyla
As group gets off the bus they should complete their ‘after surveys’ with James and Kyla
Grit – arrive at 10am till 2pm
12.00pm – Lunch
12.30pm – NRC guys arrive
2.00pm – switched onto employment group arrive (Start360)

Planning our broadcast – Body Image

We have started creating out broadcast on the topic of Body Image. Body image is how you view your physical self, including whether you feel you are attractive and whether others like your looks. For many people, especially people in their early teens, body image can be closely linked to self-esteem. We chose body Image as our topic as Cool FM listeners are in the age range of 16-24.

Steve Turnbull and Rebecca McKinney drew on the blackboard what our plan is and how we are going to link our sub topics and categories together, decide what order in which they should go. The first thing we focused on was the impact of media Images and other outside Influences as in our early teens when we become more aware of celebrities and media images that can affect how we feel about ourselves and our bodies as we grow into our teens. Advertising, particularly for fashion and cosmetics, has a powerful effect on how we see ourselves and how we think we should look. Women’s magazines in particular have a tremendous influence on body image, with researchers reporting that teenage girls rely heavily on them for information on beauty and fashion, valuing their advice nearly as highly as that of their peers so we agreed as a group to ask every person we interview Who their celebrity idol is and if they think are any celebrities who are positive role models for young people. Because the media has had so much of an impact on our society that plastic surgery is no longer a rare and obscure condition, Plastic surgery was our next topic to focus on, Rebecca wrote down names on the blackboard of possible people we could interview who have had cosmetic surgery who we later contacted by phone that same day. In Western culture, media has a huge influence on women’s body image, and we definitely see higher rates of eating disorders in the West.

Lastly we put together a music montage of relevant songs relating to body Image with positive lyrics and discussed how we will use sound bites, analogies and anecdotes to get our information out there in memorable way. I couldn’t wait to get started collecting the audio.

Interviewing Ash

2 July 2015

Today I interviewed the band Ash in Limelight Belfast to get content for our broadcast on body image. Ash are a very successful alternative rock band from Northern Ireland. Before this interview I had prepared questions typed up and printed out to help prompt me as without them I would be stuck. I look forward to the day when I can treat an interview like a conversation I might have whilst sitting face to face in a café, think off the top of my head and most importantly be able to guide the conversation to the most important elements. These are all skills I hope to develop one day but for now, printing questions is definitely a good idea.

When we made the questions as a group we entered the mindset of our audience which is critical when conducting any interview, we thought what would our target audience like to know about Ash so we could teach them unique insights into how body image effects celebrities and bands.

Before the interview took place I felt apprehensive as I didn’t know what kind of mood Ash would be in but luckily David Corscadden told us to start off with a question about the band or themselves because even if someone is not in the best mood to talk, asking personal questions can be beneficial as everyone’s favorite subject is themselves, it worked very well and the interview went smoothly. Every member of Ash had a great personality, were great storytellers and didn’t seem overly prepared for our interview.

We did a great job of making it a success too by listening carefully to their answers as we understood the person or people being interviewed does the talking and we are simply a facilitator who is there to extract the best information we possibly can by using the right questions. The only talking I did was a brief introduction of who I am and what the interview will be focused on – Body Image.
The content we got was terrific and interviewing Ash was a great experience.

Meeting Wayne Denner

Wayne is an award winning entrepreneur who helps business and organizations protect themselves online and he came in today to share his knowledge and teach us how to do the same.
Wayne calls himself the Digital Ninja because he said he works with people from all over the globe, attends meeting all over the globe on the topic of social media and digital media.
The first thing Wayne said that caught my immediate attention was “I set up Northern Ireland’s first social media platform, before Bebo, Myspace,Twitter and Facebook”. He started by explaining how we can start using social media to demonstrate our strengths and shine a positive light on the unique interests and hobbies we have.

Wayne taught me that I need to be aware of my digital footprint as recruiters routinely check search engine results to learn more about potential employees. Wayne suggested we think as much about our online persona as much as our interview attire when we get called for a job interview.

Wayne explained, if you search your name on major search engines and social media websites and notice the top results are from non-professional sources linked to your name then you need to update your profile. He also advised we all get a LinkedIn account as it has high visibility on google search results. I found this piece of information very helpful.

Wayne has a great book out at the moment that I plan to buy soon called ‘The students guide to an epic online reputation’.

Meeting Simon Hutchinson – Photography

Simon Hutchinson is a photographer who took our profile photos for our Cool Choices blogs, Simon came in to talk to us about photography, show us our photos and teach us all about photography and how to take better photographs.
Simon told us how much fun he has working with people and capturing moments and the joy he saw on people’s faces when they saw their own portrait and actually liked what they saw. He said photographers that are very famous more often that not, not respectful of females, but the type of photography he likes to take is a positive experience for him and the person getting their photo taken.

Simon taught me how to see texture, light, shapes and colours in photos and how to bring them out even more by downloading certain applications to edit the images.
I take photos everyday of people, my dog and nature, it’s something we can all do anytime and place and all we need is our camera phones and we can keep and relive the moment forever. Simon inspired me to be more creative and it was a privilege to have to met him.

Meeting Richard Hoey , going on a tour of Cool FM and Downtown Radio

Today I met Chief Engineer and Information Technology Manager of Cool FM and Downtown Richard Hoey, he explained his job is to operate, monitor and adjust audio and sometimes video equipment to regulate the volume and ensure quality in radio, broadcasts, concerts and other performances. He explained that becoming a sound engineer will require you to have expert knowledge of radio and your equipment as you will be working on live radio and must not make any errors. Richards job is very important as he must be observing monitors and converse with station personnel to ensure that programs are airing and control audio equipment to regulate the volume and sound quality during radio.

Richard took us on a tour of the building and brought us to the section of the building where all the electronic equipment and devices were, where he monitors and maintains transmission feeds and regulates the visual and audio components of broadcasts. He showed us where he repairs equipment, a colleague of Richard was repairing a few wires whilst we were on our tour.

Our next stop of the building was inside Downtowns radio booth/room were Richard explained to us that whilst Cool FM and Downtowns station is smaller and rooms are smaller, it is still important the room is comfortable for the announcer and a guest to talk comfortably. Richard also explained the windows in Downtowns’ radio booth are there to bring outside light in and also provide real time weather information to visitors and listeners.

Richard explained because radio fundamentally works with voice and music and in the booths, two to four speakers can talk across the table at once so the importance of the low to high frequency sound is vital in the limited space and since there are microphones that can be easily affected by outside noise, construction of the whole building is important to prevent outside noise being mixed into the broadcasting.

I really enjoyed learning about the technical side of radio, and feel I gained a lot of knowledge from Richard and touring the building with him.

Pete Snodden

Today Pete came in to talk to us about his journey and how he got into radio. Pete said he always wanted to be on the radio and work in the media sector from he was very young but that dream quickly faded away as many people told him he could never do that job,he felt pressure to go to University like everybody else and he did, Pete studied Business at the University of Ulster. He got great exam results but had no idea where to go from there. One day he got his foot in the door at Cool FM and quickly became a presenter and producer at Cool FM in 2004, producing Northern Ireland’s number one breakfast show ‘The Pete Snodden Breakfast Show’ from there he became the presenter of ‘Cool Afternoon Show’ in 2012 and now he hosts the breakfast show every morning alongside Rebecca McKinney and Paulo Ross. Pete said his ultimate dream job is to have his own show on TV but before that he would like to have his own talk radio show.

Working towards gaining my OCN qualifications

29 June 2015

I spent all day working on my OCN Media Qualification booklet which was based on my experience at Cool FM and the knowledge I’ve gained whilst being a part of Cool Choices and meeting Cool FM’s’ employees and self employed presenters, I hope whoever is marking my work can read my writing and I pass with flying colours because it would be a marvelous qualification to gain, id be very proud of it.

Learning from John Rosborough

John Rosborough spoke to our group today a bit about himself and his 36 years being in radio. He has 21 years behind him at senior management level at Downtown Radio and Cool FM. And another 8 years as Managing Director of Citybeat and U105, he also hold a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering so as you can imagine, he had a lot of wisdom to share. He came prepared with audio clips from e and post war times of what the radio sounded like and took us through the evolution. We had a few laughs at some of the audio, the adverts and music in my opinion is a step down from what we hear today on our radio stations. It was an interesting to listen to the radio clips and notice the progression made up to this day.

He talked about how he loves how people can phone in on the radio and express their views and how people listen because they learn a lot from listening from the radio.

John is definitely a genius in my opinion as he’s so experienced in wireless radio as you can see but did you know he’s about to launch a fourth station called Belfast FM and hopes to get a frequency for this station over the next 2 years.

John was a very down to earth man, I later caught up with him outside Cool FM by chance at lunch time and he was talking more about how he got to into radio and his enthusiasm for Cool FM and his upcoming station and all it will bring to listeners.
I felt privileged to have met Mr.Northern Ireland Radio and to have shook his hand.

Nigel Gould- Davies just walked through the door – Journalism!

Nigel Gould- Davies came to talk to us today. If you did not know, Nigel is the Head of News and Sport at Downtown and Cool FM, he told us about how he used to be Deputy NI Secretary and before that worked for the Belfast Telegraph. I had many questions for Nigel as I know of his work and his profession and he is such a big name. I knew I could learn a lot from him within the one and a half hour he was talking to us.

Nigel spoke about how a journalist respects the necessary confidentiality of his sources and how he has seen other journalists cause unnecessary pain and humiliation of the innocent and those who have suffered for their own financial gain. I know of journalists who spin a great story and lies to the readers or viewers, True journalists like Nigel know the quality and diversity of sources and how they are hugely important.

He explained that everything he puts out there and good journalists has to be independent, free from bias and of course be of a top standard and how important it is to be impartial, meaning you should report all sides of a story. I like to write blogs online on blogspot on the topic of politics, although it gets great views and I am proud of my work I learnt from Nigel I should report both sides of the story even if it appears one side is wrong because a good journalists collects all sides of the story and then lets the reader decide what is right or wrong based on whatever is broadcasted or written.

He also touched on how stories must be timely, if your story can’t relate to what’s happening at the time or isn’t relevant to what is happening now then its not worth putting out there sometimes. Journalism is all about the current present.

I learnt that all journalism must be impartial, timely and truthful. I already knew these basic rules but I think I forget most of them as I’ve broke most of them. From now on I will quote all my sources, not talk about myself or my own knowledge because facts are important.

I found today very inspiring and I was definitely over the moon to see Nigel walk through the door because I knew I was about to hear amazing stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. His talk to us left me feeling that I can make it as a journalist of a sort and find my own “voice” and that my writing style isn’t bad because it’s not perfect.

Blogging about today has taught me that both journalism and reporting are linked careers and not everyone needs a degree in journalism to succeed as a journalist so I am looking forward to working hard and hopefully one day make a living as a journalist myself and love my job as much as Nigel does.

Learning about Commercial Teams job at Cool; Think of Ideas for Tall Ships !

26 June 2015

This morning we got a presentation from Simon Mann, he is the Commercial Director of Downtown and Cool FM , he is mainly responsible for the management and strategic development of Downtown Radio and Cool FM’s commercial team with key responsibility being airtime, sponsorship, promotions, creative, online, interactive and new revenue streams. He talked to us about how he is an accomplished advertising professional in advertising sales and management. There were many talks from a lot of amazing inspirational people but Simon was my favourite by a mile, I found his presentation very interesting and his tips very helpful.

After a lunch break we were given a group task By Simon, The task was to think of ideas for on and off air publicity for Tall Ships which is coming in April, we had to think of how Cool FM could market themselves at the event. Simon was thoroughly impressed with how well we preformed, he loved all of our ideas and said he will consider a few. We managed to cover all areas of the event down to ideas for hashtags that people can use on social media websites. I felt proud of my own ideas and hard work.

Social Media & Interviews

This morning Paulo Ross who is on the cool breakfast show every morning and plays a key role in Programme Support and Social Media Management came in to show us a presentation he put together on the topic of social media which was all about how to build up an online following. Paulo told us how he loves being responsible for the increase in popularity of the Cool FM Facebook page and responsible for getting people to interact with the page and each other on a day to day basis and how this is beneficial for Cool FM as a business.
He explained to us how important the timing of posts is and showed us examples of how quickly posts can go viral online with great timing being a factor as to why, as well as them being relatable, short and snappy.
We were given the task of choosing three posts for Paulo to schedule to the Cool FM Facebook page so as a group we picked a few images and videos we liked as individuals then chose the three best as a group and narrowed down our choices. It was so fun!
In the afternoon we learned about Cool and Downtown’s own branded charity from Darren Fowler whom is the Charities supervisor at Cash for Kids. Cash for Kids is Bauer Radio’s network of local charities, which operate across 21 areas around the UK. Our mission is to respond to the needs of children in our communities, and we aspire to enable all children to live life to the full and achieve their individual potential. He had a great presentation prepared to present to us with stories, funny quotes and all the facts about the charity, he also shared knowledge about how he does business with big companies and corporations like Asda, Tesco and others he partners up with and why the charity is so attractive to big companies like the above due to their logo and figures. The charity is continuing to grow in success, it is without a doubt one of the best charities around as in 2014 it had a contribution of 8.5% which is plausible figure they are very proud of.


I was excited to be informed that myself and Melissa will be interviewing the rock band ‘Ash’ In Limelight. This is a dream for me to be able to experience what it’s like to be an interviewer so I’m very much looking forward to the experience and seeing how I do at this task. Everyone else in the cool choices group will have an important role in this project so the interview runs smoothly, all audio is captured and most importantly, the questions are amazing. The interview will be mainly focused on body image as this is our topic we chose for our podcast so after being assigned roles by David we wrote down relevant appropriate questions, David, Rebecca and Steve proof read them and David emailed them off to Ashs’ manager.
That about concludes today in Cool FM.

It all starts here…

15 June 2015

Hello, and welcome to my first blog and official day at the Cool Academy

Today was fun from the start of the day as Rebecca presented a very informative presentation about what we will be taking part in and doing whilst at Cool FM during the upcoming weeks. It was a motivational PowerPoint about our work experience here at Cool FM , it included quotations and interesting tips on how to succeed along with motivational quotes and Rebecca also informed us we will be receiving a timetable with information about how we will spend each day at Cool FM. I will be working on the media bus, recording audio for our podcast we are producing throughout these 5 weeks, meeting various experts from the media industry, I will be learning interview and presenting skills as well as blogging skills from all the experts here at Cool FM!

We also received hand-outs showing all the departments within Cool FM and who in Cool FM works within that department, the departments within Cool FM, are advertising, engineering, sales and promotions, programming, presenting, news and social media.

The last 2 hours of the day we focused on an exciting task which was given to us by Rebecca McKinney, Steve Turnbull and David Corscadden. The task was thinking of questions we would like to ask them about themselves, their journey as to how they achieved their roles at Cool FM, their lives, or any questions we may have for them. The answers from them were very inspirational and information packed. It was a very exciting and busy first official day for me.

It’s all about the intro’s…

My second day at Cool FM Today. I got to continue asking David and Rebecca questions we may have. After that quick session of question asking and answering we were split into two groups; the group I was in went on the tour with David, we got to see the whole building, meet the whole team at Cool FM who make it all happen, all of the staff and production teams, journalists, we were lucky to get into the recording room with Siobhan McGarry who waved us in, this was really unexpected by everyone and a great surprise, she was playing songs, before we left we all said hi to all the listeners. It was really interesting to see the radio studio itself, all the equipment, Siobhan did a great job of explaining what all the computer screens and buttons do in a simple way. It was very inspiring, we also got to hear Siobhan talk to the viewers, she explained how important it is to be enthusiastic and keep people tuned in with personality when talking to the audience. She informed us she had a hot topic to chat about the lunchtime hour, “Should Runners Carry Doggy bags with them!?” It was very entertaining and helped me get a feel of what inside a radio office is like.

Everyone we met along the way was so friendly, We met Steve Turnbull in the corridor on our tour and he kindly invited us into the recording studio so we can see how advertisements are recorded, it was a once in a lifetime experience to get to see a radio presenter get their advertisement voice ready to record a radio advertisement and see the professionals doing their job at Cool! Overall it was a great experience; it was without a doubt the highlight of my day at Cool FM.
Later that day we got a visit from Florence Ambrose on the topic of Health and Safety at work. Florence has many roles at Cool FM and is an important part of the team. I really liked this lesson with Florence as she reminded us how important safety is in the workplace. We were assigned a small task from Florence and that was to walk around the room looking for any hazards, we all spotted the hazard immediately – The door was open and the fire extinguisher was holding it open. Florence also briefed us on how to escape if there is a fire and the importance of wearing our lanyards, signing in and out of the building on our own check in and out list for the Cool Choices participants and explained why all these regulations are completely necessary to keep everyone safe in the building at all times and to make sure all in the Cool FM premises know how to escape if there is a fire and remind us of simple rules here at Cool FM to keep everyone out of harm at all times. The last thing Florence did was test or knowledge as a group about Fire Safety; she brought a prize with her, which is always fun! Melissa won for the most correct answers and won the prize of a bag with lots of goodies in it. I learnt a lot from Florence on this topic that I didn’t know before and will remember in the future. And I got a copy I of the Health and Safety policy at Cool FM which was taken from the staff handbook.

After Lunchtime we all got a nifty presentation from Steve Turnbull on the topic of imaging which was very interesting.