I’m a social recluse who has graduated from UUC in Media Management and Policy, who is keen on all forms of media. I’m hoping to use this opportunity to get my foot in the door for a future career in the media sector. Keep an eye on this space and see how it develops.

Dapartmen experience – Commercial Production

30 October 2014

Just a quick wee follow up to yesterday’s morning post. The evening consisted of me sitting in with David Smith in the Commercial Production department and seeing how the commercials are recorded and edited. Coming from a film background and being trained in editing I was familiar with the process already, however there’s always more to learn. It was good fun and I love the hands on aspects of the role. Hopefully we can do more production and editing work as the course continues.

Department Experience

28 October 2014


To kick today off I had to force myself up very early this morning to arrive on time so that I could sit in on Pete Snodden’s breakfast show so that I could get a better understanding of how a three person show works (as that’ll be the structure for ours). After this I was allowed to sit in on Paul Kennedy’s show which was a great insight into how a show is structured around the hour.

We went in (myself and the two co-presenters for the take-over programme. Look up Sam and David’s blogs, they’re good) to observe how Pete facilitates the show with input from Rebecca and Paulo. These weren’t simple sit in and watch sessions, from this we saw how the show is scripted and what happens behind the scenes when still on air. It was invaluable to discover what work and planning remains to be done, especially when the show begins.

While it was great to see how Pete, Paulo and Rebecca interacted and worked fluently with one another, an aspect we aim to replicate, PK gave us just as much incredible insights into a live show, even if he is a one man show. PK helped us immensely in preparing the beginning of a show and how the first 10 seconds are the most important to grab an audience with the following 30 seconds are key to confirming you know what you’re talking about and truly engaging with the audience. Factors that we really need to fine tune for the recording of our take-over.

That’s all in the morning, the rest of the day is working with commercial production. Want to know what that’s all about and how it went? Then keep checking back and you’ll find out soon.

Another Super Duper Quick Recap

24 October 2014

Again, this is another quick recap to catch up on the days I’ve fallen behind on (because I know you’re very eager to know what’s been going on). So, on Wednesday we jumped straight into researching organisations and services that we can contact or talk about during our takeover of Sonya Mac’s Cool Clinic. After this intensive research period, we were all offered to apply for a programming role outside of the Cool Choices programme, myself and Sam were shortlisted to for that (yeah sure, read some of her stuff sure. Go ahead and branch out a bit here!). So there you go, this course doesn’t just teach you about the radio, the facilities and skills, it gives you plenty of opportunities to jump straight into working within the radio. If you’re looking for a way into the industry, this is just one great path to go by.

Now, straight to Thursday. On Thursday we all heading to Generator NI’s Output event which brought the music industry to Belfast and addressed the challenges and opportunities that the music industry presents, highlighting the key role that music and performance plays within Northern Ireland’s buoyant creative industries sector. With all that said, we got to see some great talks and interview some big names, along with some great (and some not so great) photos throughout the day. The personal highlight for me was getting to interview Andrew W.K. (a.k.a. the Party King).

And finally we’re brought up to Friday. This day we had another brainstorm session with the news team to generate ideas for their new road safety campaign (again the ideas were top notch, obviously). As always, it’s great to do these live briefs because it not only gives us more experience but continues to give us greater insight into how the station is run. Along with this, we are also given the unique opportunity to actually make a difference within the organisation and have our ideas taken on board.

Super Quick Recap

20 October 2014


I’m terribly sorry for the delayed blog updates (I’ve fallen behind by a good few days), so I’ll give a super quick recap on what’s been going on. Firstly, on Monday we got the results back on who the presenters of the Coolchoices hour special will be, and you’re now talking (okay, reading) to one of the two co-presenters. If you want to see who else got what then check out their blogs. So now that the presenters have been picked, we decided that wasn’t enough, so we all voted on who we think should get a shot at the other roles. And congratulations! You’re now speaking with (Fine, reading. Stop being so pedantic!) one of the commercial producers. Again, if you want to find out who got what, then check out their blogs (you never know, you might just enjoy them just as much as mine). We also got to pitch questions to our mentor, Rebecca McKinney, that she could use for an interview with Cecilia Ahern. And that was what happened on Monday.

Tuesday was just as jam packed as we got to brainstorm, develop and pitch ideas for the Cash for Kids programme. Now, I can’t give our great ideas away, but needless to say, they were spectacular. We also worked on our presentation skills more that day and continued to complete work for our OCN. All in all it was a good day that just pushed us out of our comfort zones, as usual, to make us more accustomed and more comfortable with standing in front of any group at any time and just present, well, anything. Trust me, it’s more fun than it sounds…seriously, I swear it.

Brainstorming – What’s the big idea?!

15 October 2014

Another great opportunity today with the promotions team, however this time it was for a client of CoolFM rather than for the station itself. While there may appear to be no major difference in which client the promotion is for as it all ends up on air, the limitations of how we can promote is a massive difference. While with the Jingle Ball we could use every avenue available from the station, this cannot be done with a single client.

During the brainstorm session of how we could promote for Chinawhite, all the outdoor, street activities and events that could be utilised by CoolFM for their own self-promotion, these methods are counterproductive when trying to do the same for a client. So, with all this in mind, we got to see how we could utilise the given resources to make the maximum impact with the fewest cost, so to increase profit margins. Not an easy feat, and not as boring as it sounds on paper (surprisingly, I know, it’s actually good fun running through multiple ideas to merge into one super idea).

What makes this process even better, and even more crucial, is that with commercial radio these promotions and adverts are what keeps the station up and running. It’s the money maker that pays the wages and keeps the Downtown and CoolFM radio stations world rolling.

Presenting ourselves and Sonya Mac Crashes a School.

13 October 2014

After going through our blogs we picked our favourite, then presented it to the whole group. The purpose of this was to get us out of the recording studio; which we had boxed ourselves into  earlier in the week and practiced like crazy for. With this on the spot style of presentation, it gave the group and ourselves, the opportunity to see how well we can speak in front of people. Why is this good? Well, now I know how terrible a stuttering mess I can be when thrown into something with little preparation. Why is this an invaluable lesson? Again, it shows how much work I need to do in pacing, keeping calm and basically just relaxing a bit and enjoying it. Otherwise, what happens? I-I-I-I-I-I can’t re-re-re-really get my p-p-point across the w-way I-I-I-I want t-t-t-to. See how hard that was to read? Now imagine how hard it was to say, out loud, in front of the group. But still, good fun (I know, not how I portrayed it but it was), great experience and great insight in my own, and the group’s, strengths and weaknesses.

After our practice speeches in the morning (you’ll be glad to know none of us plan to run in politics anytime soon) we got to see Sonya Mac crash into a school…for the CoolFM Road Safety roadshow, obviously. This was great to see presenters go out into the communities to try and make a real difference, rather than just host shows and play music. The roadshow was hard hitting and gritty, trying to portray a real tragic and horrific collection of stories that can easily be avoided. It just goes to show that the skills we learn through presenting are very adaptable and can be used in a wide range of events and situations outside of radio broadcasting.

Seeing the studio, building the studio, making our mark.

9 October 2014

We were shown around the studio and transmitting room today by the engineering department, we got the entire low down on how the studio works and that it is really just a control room. The real magic happens in the RECS room, which receives all signals from the studios and landlines, before broadcasting them across Northern Ireland. After this in-depth tour, we got to make our own studio from scratch which we’ll be using to create our hour long show for Sonya Mac. All of that was in the morning, it got better later in the day.

David McCammond came in again to speak to us about demo tapes and what makes a good demo. Once again we were given some great advice about how we should compose ourselves, how pacing makes all the difference and to show our personalities across on air. After these words of wisdom we wrote our own scripts, prepared (a bucket load), went into the studio and recorded our very own demos. Do you ever get heavy butterflies when you’re on a roller-coaster? Yep, that happened today. With everyone. And we’d still go through it all again.

Episode V – Cool Strikes Back

So, here’s a quick round up of the week far. We’re now into Week 3, and this is when this are about to kick off. We’ve been flat out this week developing ideas for our Social Event (more on that as it develops in the coming weeks), the work on our OCN in Peer Education is well underway and looking good. As a group we’re all coming into our own elements and working in complete sync.

Now onto CoolFM, this is where everything is getting interesting. We’ve already met with Ryan A. who has given us the lowdown on how to mix songs on the decks as a DJ, but now it’s Paul Kennedy’s (PK) turn to walk us through the inner workings of his show and what his experiences have been as a presenter over the years; along with help from Deputy Programme Controller, David McCammond into how each programme functions. Having thought that there was always a chosen list of songs either from the presenter or from the audience calling in for requests it’s interesting to know that there is a set list of songs that can and cannot be played. The reason for this, we learnt, is because certain songs (let’s say the newest hit from Katy Perry) won’t gather extra listeners compared to one of the previous hit songs.

With PK telling us how he runs his show; editing calls in, arranging the set list for the programme and even interviewing guests to record sound bites, it was a great change up to have David McCammond to show us the figures of the station for each programme, how it changes and how they are gathered. With PK, we got to see what a radio programme is, but with David, we got to see what a radio station is, and how he helps to keep the station on air, and develop new ideas to bring new listeners in.

History of Commercial Radio and Adverts (AKA all of the cool stuff!)

8 October 2014

After Pete we got to meet Downtown Radio’s John Rosborough, Take It Easy, who told us the entire history of commercial radio beginning from the 1920s, the rise of the pirate radio stations up until the creation of Downtown Radio, Northern Ireland’s first licenced radio station in 1976. He continued past Downtown to tell of its record breaking accomplishments, being the first radio station (not only commercial) to report on the resignation of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, a significant story as he and the Labour government were staunchly against commercial radio. John went further into the history of Downtown, telling of how legislation was implemented towards the late 80s that forced all radio stations to use split transmissions. Not sure what the means? Technically, neither do I, but what I do know is that it meant the birth of a whole new station, CoolFM.

Keith Law, a commercial producer, was next to speak to us about advertisements on the radio; how they’re made, the perceptions from clients, what a good advert sounds like and what to steer clear of from bad advertisements. As a comedian and voice actor himself, Keith gave insight into some of his favourite adverts he’s produced as well as some of the more stressful and least favourite. While Keith’s talk is great advice for us, as we’ll have to produce our own adverts, it’s even more fantastic as it shows how we should compose ourselves while on radio. Giving examples of bad adverts, it was pointed out that no information or real communication is given to the listener if they’re bombarded with words. So, when on air, we should slow down and be concise. It’s easily overlooked but that’s some of the best advice given.

Episode VI – Return of Cool

Do you know what today is? Today is the day that the Cool Academy officially starts for the next 5 weeks. So what does this entail, I presumably hear you ask. Well, it kicks off with a quick recap of what we’ll face over the period of the programme, what is expected of us and, most of all, what we all aim to create by the end of it.

Following a quick discussion on what roles are available, what role we want to pursue and what work is involved throughout, we got around to looking exactly at how, individually, we’ll all participate in creating an hour long programme to go alongside Sonya Mac’s Sunday night show, ‘Cool Goes Quiet’. Ranging from advertising, presenting, programming and even editing, there’s a huge ton of roles to choose from. My only hope is that I can get stuck into all of them, you know, because if not for the experience then at least for the fun.

Pete’s Rise to Fame

7 October 2014

Today was another interesting start. We got to meet with Pete Snodden, from the Breakfast Show, and get a first-hand account of his passion for radio, his inspirations into the industry and his first steps within CoolFM itself. It’s refreshing to learn how the big presenters have gotten to where they are now over the years, how things started for them and why they are so passionate about their job.

To see Pete tell how he was once young and looking for a job, like many other young people today, it was both insightful and encouraging to see how he tried to get his foot through the door, and not only that, but how successful his active pursuit of working in CoolFM was. Even after getting into CoolFM Pete told us of his trials and tribulations, the pressures and stress, which is often overlooked. He gave us a real insight into what should be done to get a job, and what to expect afterwards and how to work through everything to come out on top. Here’s hoping I can replicate that drive and success.

Jingle Ball Brainstorm

Update on today, it’s actually been hectic. After our inductions into the health and safety aspects of CoolFM and getting the lay of the land from Safety Officer Florence Ambrios, I didn’t win the quiz, we met up with Sponsorship and Promotions Manager Sarah Owens. This is when things get interesting.

Ever heard of CoolFM’s annual Jingle Ball? Oh, it’s nothing big, only a collection of some of the biggest acts packing out the Odyssey Arena with over 8,000 fans each. Want to hear something more impressive though? As part of the Cool Academy we got the unique opportunity to brainstorm, develop and pitch our own ideas to help promote the event. The best part is that these ideas, which were very well received of course, will be brought to the Head of Sales and, if all goes great, you’ll be seeing some of our ideas put to the test.

There you have it, Cool Academy doesn’t just show you how things work, it puts you in the middle of all the decision making too.

Episode IV – A New Post

2 October 2014

So this is my first entry into the Coolchoices programme and, so far, it’s going great. Remember those first days of school or work and you get thrown into a mix of new and contrasting people? Well the past two weeks has been like that, and it’s amazing how quick and well the group is forming into a working unit (of course it’s fantastic fun also).

We’ve all been quick fired around the place, meeting the different professionals and DJs that’ll be helping us throughout the course of the programme. Having met Rebecca McKinney and Pete Snodden in their breakfast show studio and Steve Turnbull setting himself up, along with a host of others like Sonya Mac, it seems like a great prospect that within a few short weeks that will be us.

An ever better thought of all that’s happened so far is the sheer experiences that we’re all going to gain. I’m hoping that at the end of Coolchoices I’ll have not only learnt a great deal of new skills but also that I can put them all to use for the future.

Check back soon, there’ll be more Cool things to come.