I’m Natalie 22 years of age from Bangor

It’s been a long time ambition of mine to get into the music/media industry. I’m excited about being part of the Cool Academy. I’m an extremely motivated person and I believe the confidence, new skills and experience that I’ll gain from it will help me achieve my goal in life, which is to have a career within the media.

I have an A level in Creative Media and have had work experience at the BBC and Cinemagic. I enjoy music, fashion, art and photography. I’m easy to get on with and love a good challenge. My life motto is: Dream, Do, Believe, Achieve. So bring it!

Final Chapter

2 July 2015

As this is my final post, I’d like to express my gratitude to ‘Daddy’ David, Steve ‘The Rave’, Rebecca ‘The Beauty Queen of Cool’ thank you so much for all the time, encouragement and support you guys have afforded us.. and to the team at Cool FM thank you for having us. I’ve had the time of my life here at the Cool academy, gained a wealth of knowledge, new skills and met some wonderful people along the way. And so as I turn the last page of my ‘Cool’ chapter’ I shall begin a new adventure.. Salute

La fin

Our broadcast is near completion and what a journey it has been. There’s been highs and lows and everything in between. I’m so unbelievably proud of how far we’ve came! what a team, what a journey! Well done team cohort 3!!

It’s the final (cool) countdown

30 June 2015

And so it’s our final week at the Cool Academy, violins at the ready *cues sad music and sheds a tear* full steam ahead team *choo choo* no slacking allowed. Editing is still underway, and we’re chasing some last minute interviews, but other than that things are going as planned and falling into place rather nicely. We got this no sweat!

Media Bus ‘wheels in motion’

We planned our media bus visit in more detail, assigning roles in each department and figuring out who was going to be where and when on the day. Planning the visit to the Belfast Activity Centre was a bit of a strenuous task and it seemed at the beginning to be a bit of a pain in the derriere, with all the risk assessments and figuring out how we were going to cope with all the young people from the different youth groups. So we devised a rotating plan that in turn (pun intended) meant no one would be left with nothing to do. Goes almost without saying it was such a relief once everything fell into place by the end of the day! Ready for the road

Tying up loose ends

A day consisting of being here, there and everywhere. Blogging mad, editing, time stamping audio files. Each production department working their socks off as per getting tasks nailed. We had regular update meetings, so we knew how far on we are and what still needs to be completed. Steve and TJ had been working hard on the music montage of body image related song clips. At the end of the day got an “exclusive world premiere” of the final edit. It sounds, drum roll please….AMAZEBALLS!! They did a fantastic job combining so many inspiring song clips into one montage that fits perfectly, made me feel all lovely inside.

U turn back to reality

On the mid-week agenda for some of us that were in were (1) getting stuck into updating our blogs and (2) lending a helping hand with editing the audio files destined for our broadcast. It felt more like a ‘laid back day’ after having the media bus out at The Belfast Activity Centre the day before.. but yet we were as productive as ever!

Studio Super Stylin’

29 June 2015

A telephone interview was scheduled in with the ‘Style Queen’ herself, Cathy Martin (Founder & Director of CMPR and Belfast Fashion week). Unfortunately for us Cathy had a busy day ahead in ‘Sweet Paris’ so we rescheduled the interview for another day and time that suited Cathy best. I got in touch with the Life Therapies Clinic and arranged another telephone in studio 1 with Bridin McKenna (Director & Psychotherapist) at the Life Therapies Clinic, Belfast. Steve and Ryan were in the studio at the time and helped encourage me. Bridin spoke in great detail about what treatments her clinic can offer towards people who suffer from a wide range of eating disorders. I was so pleased with how well the interview went and that I managed to get some decent content provided by the wonderful Bridin for the editors to do their “thang”.

On the road

Today was the day we had the privilege of taking the Cool FM media bus to the beautiful grounds of Barnetts Demesne, where we setup outside the BAC centre and got organized into our teams. After a quick brief we were ready for the challenge that lay ahead. I feel like we managed the groups rather well. We worked brilliantly as a team and met the quota figure for the Cool Choices programme. Such a good feeling knowing that we successfully managed the Media bus.

OCN sugarushhh

26 June 2015

OCN/ Cookie, doughnut day. We spent the whhhhole entire day filling in our OCN qualification booklet with the knowledge we’ve gained so far from being part of the Cool Academy. Quite an intense day of writing, felt like I was writing a series of novels. Clare and Lindsey kindly brought in cookies and doughnuts as a “bribe” I mean it felt like it was a bribe, so therefore it was a total bribe. I felt like the cookie monster because I got so excited about them, was a much needed and appreciated energy boost.

Road tripping to Ballymena

Michael and I set off on our journey up to Ballymena with the H4 recording equipment and questions for the young people we were going to meet at the Start 360 centre, TJ met us there. I felt privileged to be afforded the chance to sit in and experience their ‘tea talk’ which just so happened to be focused on ‘Body Image’ so it was a wonderful opportunity to hear the thoughts and views straight from the young people themselves. We managed to get a few interviews from the young people at the centre; it was interesting to get their opinions on body image. I really enjoyed interviewing and working with TJ and Michael, I felt like we made a great team. Successful job done!

Broadcast Jigsaw

25 June 2015

As a group we started adding a few more pieces to the “jigsaw” by forming a timeline on the blackboard for our chosen subject Body Image. This helped us to visualise the layout more clearly as it’s taking shape. Then we spilt into our departments and started ringing a number of organisations we had previously researched and arranged interviews around our studio schedule. It made it more real knowing that the wheels were set in motion towards gathering content for our broadcast.

Tunned into Mr Radio’s broadcast history

John Rosborough ‘Mr Radio’ is the guy who knows everything there is to know about radio, a wealth of knowledge. John spoke to us in great length about the history of radio and how Downtown radio/Cool FM came to be. I found it incredibly interesting listening to John and the audio clips of pre and post war radio stations. Every radio station has it’s own style and format, some chatty informal whilst others are geared towards a more formal audience and less airtime is used for music. I found it slightly amusing that my sister shares the same name as a British radio station, called Radio Caroline. And also fun fact BBC Radio One shares the same birthday day as me (different year though)

Nigel’s Journey through Journalism

17 June 2015

Nigel Gould Head of News and Sport Department at Cool FM and Downtown Radio, spoke to us about his journalism career and some of his most memorable moments to date. It was interesting to hear about his past interviews and career highlights. “Small team delivers big news” and Nigel and his team are a fine example of this. It’s so important to remain impartial, keep the story accurate and balanced, know your facts, listen to who you’re interviewing and understand the subject. Ethics play a very key role in this industry and human interest is key for the success of any story. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an interest in journalism.There’s a story out there, it’s up to you as a journalist to turn it into news. I’m looking forward to adopting this with out broadcast development over the next few weeks.

Marketing & Sales with the Mann Simon

15 June 2015

Michael O’Connor (fellow participant) started gathering footage of us all which is going to be edited into a video diary based our time at the Cool Academy.
Local band Ash are playing at the Limelight in Belfast on Monday and some of us may get a chance to interview them regards our chosen broadcast topic ‘Body Image’. We’ve been researching the band and have brainstormed some question ideas. We’ll be recording samples of our voices and will decide as a group who will be the interviewer. Commercial Director Simon Mann called over to see us at the Cool Academy and presented a PowerPoint presentation on Marketing and Sales. I found it rather eye opening and I feel like it’s sparked my interest within this area as I’ve already had some experience with creating advertisements in the past whilst I was on a media training course.

Social Media and Cash For Kids awareness day yay :)

Paulo Ross very kindly gave up some of his morning to come speak with us about social media/networking. My eyes were opened as to how a certain video or photo can be that explosive that’ll blow up the internet (not literally of course!) and reach so many hits, views, likes, shares around the world. It all depends on the nature of content, how relatable it is and the time of day it is posted. The major social networking sites that play a key part in the social interaction with target audience are Facebook and twitter.
In the afternoon Darren Fowler (founder of the charity Cash for Kids) talked about the charity and the work it does for children under the age of 18 who are affected by illness, disability or who are generally disadvantaged. It’s amazing to hear the heart touching stories were Cash for Kids has helped make a massive difference by improving the quality of a child’s life.

For more information on how you can help, go to:

Take 2: Studio vibes

We started off the day the same way we ended it by continuing on with our interview questions for David and Rebecca. I enjoyed this as it felt very much laid back and I learnt more about interview techniques. Florence Ambrose (Features/Programme Co-ordinator) spoke to us about Health & Safety and held a mini quiz regarding it. This actually helped me learn more about the safety risks and hazards that could be a potential problem on a daily basis in the workplace. Rebecca McKinney and David Corscadden took us in separate groups on a tour around the station. I was really excited about this part of the day as we got to see all the different departments; Sales and Promotions, News Room, Studios, Engineering and Programming. Siobhan McGarry is one cool lady; she was on air in the Downtown studio and invited us in for a chat. I felt the buzzing atmosphere being in a studio. You’d think that the presenters just sit there and press a button for music etc but there’s so much more going on, watching multiple monitors, keeping track of the time, music, jingles, adverts, interviews ,phone calls and social media. We got to sit in the voice over studio with Steve whilst he recorded his voice for an advertisement. In the afternoon Steve Turnbull taught us how to edit sound files using Adobe Audition for the production of audio packages. Studio imaging is the use of music to reflect the subject matter. Learning the initial steps again of adobe audition has helped refresh my memory.

Getting Started at the Cool Academy

The lovely Rebecca McKinney presented an insightful PowerPoint presentation on social media; internet blogging, online personality and networking. I found this quite thought provoking as I’ve never really given a second thought about what I post online and how it can reflect on you as a person. A quote that stood out to me was “The ones who say you can’t and you won’t are probably the one’s scared that you will”

Rebecca and Steve Turnbull took us through the stations weekly schedules and the weekend formats. We learnt about the different departments that in the afternoon we thought of some interview questions to ask David, Rebecca and Steve, from this I learnt how everyone’s path into the industry is different and I found this somewhat weirdly reassuring that if you have the drive and the passion it can take you anywhere regardless of your education history.

insight into the magical world of Technical Wizardry (sound engineering)

11 June 2015

Richard Hoey (sound engineer) took us on a tour of the studios and told us about the history of the station and how it came to be many moons ago. The detail put into the design of the building is just mind blowing, sound proof rooms etc. I noticed in the studio the windows were at an angle so I was intrigued as to why that was. Richard informed me that it was to prevent the sound reverb bouncing off each other, hence why they aren’t designed to sit parallel. To be honest, I thought I’d be bored outta my mind with the technical side of things BUT I was pleasantly surprised at how interested I was listening to Richard’s wealth of knowledge, such an exciting job and I can tell how much he just loves his job. By far I think my favourite part by far this week!! I’m definitely interested in learning more about the technical side.

Cool’s Deputy Dave

David McCammond also known as ‘Deputy Dave’ (Programme Controller) spoke in lengthy detail about his role at the station, from what I learnt it’s not an easy job to say the least. I mean running 3 stations; I imagine the pressure to meet listening figures and maintain them is high. I’m so impressed with how well the stations listening figures continue to grow in numbers, absolutely phenomenal.

Breakfast show/Q&A with thee Pete Snodden

Upon arriving bright and early at the station some of us got a chance to sit in on the breakfast show with Pete and Rebecca. Pete ‘showed us the ropes’ so to say, I was so amazed at how much multitasking is actually required to run the show. To the listeners who think the presenters have an easy job, I assure you they don’t. Once we returned back to the academy upstairs we then thought of questions to ask Pete after his breakfast show. I asked ‘what advice would you give to someone who was beginning to pursue a career within the industry?’ He gave some valuable advice regards my question and basically said ‘If you’ve got the passion for it, definitely go for it’.

A day full of epicness with epic people

Photographer Simon Hutchinson taught us how to take “the perfect selfie” using our mobile phones and recommended some apps to download that would be of some use for manipulating the image, colour filters. We got to see what our personal photo shoot images looked like before he worked his magic. Such an amazing photographer, in my personal opinion he looks like a cross between Wentworth Miller and Nick Jonas. It’s a compliment

Wayne Denner (Youth & Digital communicator, online reputation speaker Social Network developer)…Needless to say the list is endless. Wayne’s such a great guy, he gave up 2 hours of his day to come and speak with us regards online safety and personal reputation on the internet. I definitely learnt a lot more about being safe online and being careful about what you post online because at the end of the day it, depending on the content almost always has a possibility of reflecting negatively on your reputation. “You are your own biggest threat online” is a quote that stood out the most to me. At the end of the day Wayne held a mini quiz and the prize was a signed copy of his book “The students guide to an epic online reputation” which both Melissa and I won. I started reading it as soon got home that evening. I highly recommend giving Wayne’s book a read as it’s packed with ‘epic’ ideas and advice.