By Anastasia Burton
In this issue of ‘Campus Cairde’ SIN has interviewed our favourite station manager Paula Healy at Flirt FM. Paula looks after the radio station and trains new volunteers each year. Paula is also responsible for social media and communication with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, “I make sure that everybody keeps doing shows”, as she simply puts it.
It’s almost Flirt FM’s 24th birthday, on the 20th of September! The station was established in 1995. Flirt FM was moved to its current location in 2009, which was also opened by Michael D. Higgins. The station is now on air 24 hours a day, which is a big development from what it used to be.
Every year, for Fáilte Fest and Freshers Fair, Paula and other Flirt FM employees play music and encourage people to join Flirt FM as volunteers. “This year we noticed that a lot of people, as soon as they found out they’re coming to NUI Galway, already applied online”, which is great news for the station. “Last year we had a record number of 170 (volunteers), and we were pushed to our very limit with that number of people. So, I think that we are better off with 150 so we can give everybody one on one time.” Of course, one must keep in mind that Flirt FM has two amazing studios, however, with 170 people volunteering to do shows, it is difficult to try and squeeze everybody in.
“A lot of first years come in… But then you find a lot of people who had always wanted to volunteer, but have realized in final year that “Oh no, if not now, then I’ll never do it”. We also get some masters and PHD students in, and occasionally a staff member or two, as well as TY students”. This makes the Flirt FM volunteers more diverse and unique, Paula explains. Once the shows begin airing and people are paired with other co-hosts, you might find that you are paired with a PHD student and a final year student. At first it might seem daunting, like it was for me when I first started working at Flirt FM. But trust me, it is an ocean of fun when people, who usually wouldn’t find themselves together, work together and have a great harmony. Diverse shows keep the listeners and presenters entertained for the duration of the day!
“I feel like first years and masters approach the radio station in very different ways. A lot of the first years can come in very excited, which is great. Then they do very straight forward chat shows. While masters have very specific ideas for what their shows will be about, usually about their area of study. So, they’re two different types. I wouldn’t want someone talking about their thesis for 2 hours on a breakfast show, but I’d also like some specialist shows that really drill about what’s going on in education in third level”.
Many people are afraid to volunteer on the radio due to not knowing how to speak on air or what to say. This is completely normal! Therefore, Paula (and I) would strongly encourage you to sign up to do a show like the Happy Hour or the Breakfast shows, where you will be paired up with people who might be similar to you. Or, they could be completely opposite, which would mean you don’t have to do a full 2 hours talking to yourself. Instead, you will be a team. One of you could talk about sports, while the other talks about art and current affairs.
So, Paula’s message is don’t be afraid to volunteer just because none of your friends are volunteering. You will make friends in no time and Paula and her staff are always there to help and answer any of your questions and concerns! Also, if you are not interested in doing shows, but want to use the station to record your own stuff for personal use, you can book the studio on the Flirt FM website or through Socs Box.