Thomas

Living in Newtownabbey, I was a student in Queen’s University that studied Music Technology as well as Creative Multimedia beforehand. Although I live with having Asperger’s Syndrome, and forced to face its challenges, I always aim to be the best that I can be and push myself towards bigger, newer things. In saying that, my current aims are to achieve the training and experience of what I’ve studied in a professional environment, and improve myself to hopefully work with sound and music in any area of the multimedia industry.
Regarding my interests and personality, I’m pretty much a geek. I enjoy video games, internet browsing, listening to music, and a little bit of anime in my spare time, although I like to go hiking or do other outdoor activities like Archery when there’s the opportunity. Every now and then, I study Music Theory, and play a little Guitar, but it’s nothing professional; however, I am interested in learning to play the Piano. Admittedly, I’m a rather quiet person and act quite reserved, but I always enjoy being part of a good conversation and aside from learning and gaining experience in professional work, I would like to meet new people, develop friends and contacts, and overall build up my confidence as a person.

Journal Entry 6 (01/02/2016)

18 March 2016

Staring off with the second week at Cool FM, I decide to switch up the blog a little with some audio entries. For today, we meet with Pete Snodden to talk about presenting, and discuss presenting skills with Rebecca.

Journal Entry 5 (29/01/2016)

5 February 2016

For today, a lot of our time was spent around one department of Cool FM, which was Sales and Promotion, and for the first part of our day, we had Simon Mann , the head of sales and promotions, give us a presentation. I honestly enjoyed listening to the presentation Simon gave us as I never thought there would be so much to think about when you’re promoting a product or service. Plus, it was good chatting with Simon and had a good laugh together with the group.

It wasn’t all about a presentation and chatting though, as Simon gave us an actual brief, which is surprisingly for the Euro 2016 Cup in France. For this brief, we were gathered together in several groups and had to come up with as many ideas we can think of that can help promote the Northern Ireland team for the Euro Cup. I’ll be honest, football isn’t a sport I know much of, or have any interest in, but being able to help the Northern Ireland football team for a recognised tournament is cool to do. So, I got to work with the group I was in, we worked really well together, came up with numerous ideas that sound good, and we all had fun and enjoyed interacting with each other. I think I must’ve gotten lucky with the people I was paired, because we got a lot done, and had time to chat away.

At this point, the brief was the only thing we worked on for the rest of the day, aside from working on our blogs and trying to keep up-to-date with them (which can be hard to manage). By the end of it, we were told that Simon will be coming back on Monday to listen to our pitches for the brief; with that, we were told it would be a good idea to choose the ideas we think will be best and prepare a presentation. So, we’ll have to spend some time before then to get something ready, but with how well we did during idea discussion for the brief, I have confidence we’ll have something good for the pitch on Monday.

So, while it was a slow start to the week, it did pick up and we got to do some actual work for Cool Fm, which I’m glad went really well. Even though I didn’t get to do any audio work, we’ll likely do it next week, and I’ll be looking forward to it. Speaking of looking forward to something, I actually won some tickets to a Belfast Giants game in the Odyssey’s SSE Arena as a gift for paying attention to Simon’s presentation, so I’ll be planning to see a hockey game this February.

Honestly, it’s been a good week to start with Cool Fm, and I hope it’s something that keeps going.

Journal Entry 4 (28/01/2016)

Today we had a presentation with David McCammond, the deputy programmer for Cool FM and got to chat with him about how programming works in the station and even how it carries out its broadcasts on a daily basis. I thought it was great to hear David talk about how they select their songs for the broadcasts, how they handle the day-to-day tasks and even how they gather their statistics in order to plan their next actions. However, before David came in to talk, we had a simple activity where we make a guess on how many listeners they get a week, one for those listening to Cool FM alone, and one for the 3 stations together (Cool FM, Downtown Radio, and Downtown Country Radio). To be honest, my guesses were around 2 million and 4 million respectively, as I took into account the people that would listen to their stations digitally (over the internet). But, apparently I was way off the mark. It turns out that they have around 300,000 listeners on Cool FM alone each week, but this number is based around the people that listen locally, or located within their TSA, which means Total Service Area. So, had they included people who listen digitally, my guess would be more accurate, but oh well. I still enjoyed the presentation from him, and he was good to chat with. I even got to learn more about how Cool FM targets its audience and what they do to appeal to them; it certainly makes you think how much you have to do to keep people entertained.

After the presentation with David, we spent the rest of the day focusing on our broadcast, debating on which topic we should go for. From our debate, we had the choice of Mental Health, Addiction, or Young Unsung Heroes to choose from, with myself and a few other leaning towards the Unsung Heroes topic. However, we were struggling to agree on one topic as we all had different opinions and reasons for our chosen topics and against the others.

I ended up having to leave early though, as I had to go to an appointment for 4pm, so I missed out on the rest of the debate. However, I did catch up with everyone and found out that a topic hasn’t been chosen yet, but the group did watch the last Cohorts’ broadcast to get some ideas and inspiration. I would’ve like to see the previous broadcasts as they would undoubtedly be helpful for gaining ideas and possibly agree on something. It seems people in our group are rather strong about our chosen topics, just like I am with the subject of Unsung Heroes, but we will need to agree on something soon, especially as Rebecca, Steve, Clair and Lynsey would like us to decide on one by the end of the week. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the broadcast, but I hope that Unsung Heroes gets chosen. It’s quite different from the usual topics based around young people and has a more positive theme; in fact it could also change the publics’ viewpoint on young people (even young people themselves!)

Journal Entry 3 (27/01/2016)

For today, we had the opportunity to meet with Florence Ambrose, a Health and Safety officer in Cool FM who came to our group in order to teach us the Health and Safety guidelines that apply in their office. While I had some experience of working with Health and Safety during my Music Technology degree, I took interest in knowing the guidelines and what we should do whenever an incident arises. Although I already knew most of the guidelines from before, and the fact that Health and Safety is mostly having common sense, I at least know how to properly handle a situation in Cool FM that will appeal to them.

Admittedly, the Health and Safety guidelines was pretty slow, but it was nice getting to talk with Florence, and learning about what she has done for Cool FM since 1980. Apparently, she is also a Fire Marshal and a First Aider for Cool FM along with a man named Richard. She also assisted in a number of projects, one of which was surprisingly the first Live Aid charity known as Band Aid to help feed the children in Ethiopia during 1984. I was surprised that she helped organise such a large project, but kind of amazed at the same time now knowing I got to meet someone that brought such a world-renowned project to fruition.

After the guidelines were done, we had a small quiz which I assume was meant to ensure we remembered what we learned. It reminded of some of the quizzes I used to do back in school with my class, and while some of my school memories weren’t the most pleasant, I oddly enjoyed the quiz as simple as it was. To be honest, I ended up placing second in the quiz, which was pretty good even though I didn’t win anything, although it bothered me how quickly people “buzzed in” to answer some of the questions. Makes me wonder if they knew the answers beforehand… well, aside from that thought, I had fun with it. When it was over, we had a quick look at the OCN workbook we will be working on during the programme, covering subjects from Audio to Health and Safety.

At the moment, things are pretty slow, but it’s in the middle of the first week, and I have a feeling it will pick up. I’m really looking forward to seeing the studios and getting the chance to work with them on (hopefully) some audio work.

Journal Entry 2 (26/01/2016)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it into Cool FM today as I was invited to the MAC Theatre to help them set up a concert for a local group called The Villagers. I really enjoyed getting down to the MAC and help the staff with the rigging work as a technician, but at the same time I feel bad that I couldn’t be at Cool FM. I was able to chat with the others that were there today to find out what I missed, and apparently, they got a tour through the studios, which annoys me because I was looking forward to seeing them and discovering what equipment they use and how they work.

Aside from the tour through Cool FM, they met with Luke Gill, a web designer from HNH Designing who created the Cool Choices website for Cool FM, and gave us an explanation on how to use the website, as well as the importance of using Social Media to bring yourself forward and find employment. It all sounds really helpful to know and it’s something I wish I could have heard. I appreciate nearly advice on finding work, but also, it’s a pain trying to figure how to log into the Cool Choices website, so learning how to would be fantastic.

After the talk with Luke, Steve continued with the subject of using Social Media, but focused on how to be careful with Social Media and protecting yourself when using it. Although I don’t use Social Media that much, I understand that it’s very important to protect yourself online and to be careful about what you do or how you bring yourself to others. From scammers, to Cyberbullying, there are a lot of dangerous things on Social Media, and it honestly worries me how much it happens and how severe the consequences are. But, I think it’s something that can get better if people push to minimise these risks, although it will take a while.

Also, I heard from the others that they split the whole group into two for the tour around Cool FM. While one group went on the tour, the other got to talk with a person that was previously part of the Cool Choices programme, named Matt Murdoch. Apparently, he came into the programme through the Prince’s Trust employment and training scheme, and has become a paid freelance worker for Cool FM’s Sponsors and Promotions department making competition testimonials. Even though I wasn’t there on the day, it feels reassuring to know that people have achieved something like work out of this programme. I just hope I can earn something from this at the end.

Journal Entry 1 (25/01/2016)

After spending a day on Wednesday the week before so we can get our bearings of the Cool FM radio station and the area, it was much easier for us to be introduced to the whole Cool FM programme today.

However, since we did go to Cool FM last Wednesday and got introduced to parts of the programme, not a lot happened aside from meeting Steve Turnbull, a presenter and DJ mixer that covers the evenings and Saturdays; a few icebreakers to get to know each other more; some insight into the structure of the programme while we’re at Cool FM; and we got to have a little interview with Steve, and Rebecca who we met while at Start360 and on Wednesday last week.

I’ll be honest, the day felt rather slow and icebreakers always tend to be rather cringe inducing, but this our first day here and introductions have to be covered, so it didn’t bother me so much. However, I did enjoy talking and interviewing Rebecca and Steve, especially getting to chat with Steve on audio editing and mixing. I enjoyed working with audio while studying in university, and I’m hoping to gain some experience of working with audio on a professional level, and while unlikely, gain some employment. Steve told me that we’ll be doing some mixing and editing later in our time here as we work on our broadcast, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Overall, while things are slow to start, I’m pretty sure it will pick up as the weeks go by, and become more fun as well.