THE BIGGEST QUESTION A TEENAGER will ask themselves when leaving school is ‘what do I want to study?’ One in six students do not get beyond their first year of college, the Irish Times reported this year. This is usually down to the fact they have picked the wrong course.
Ballyfermot College of Further Education is home to many students who have decided to take their wishes of obtaining their ‘dream job’ in to their own hands. They have began studying in fields that they truly love. A second chance saloon some might say. The passion is evident in the work the students of BCFE do.
BCFE has been the starting point for many Irish household names who once took their own leap of faith. Lucky for us, Radio and Television broadcaster, Mairead Ronan, took her leap and began studying Radio here, in BCFE in 2001. Mairead tells her story on how changing from HR Management to Radio changed her life and put her on the path to success. Her passion for radio began at a young age, with her earliest memory being her mum not allowing her to watch television before 6pm. She turned to radio to get her fill of music and news. "I was the kid that had to have the radio on in the background while doing my homework. It always helped me to concentrate’ Mairead recalls. ‘I used to listen to 2FM and Ian Dempsey in the mornings." "I’ve always loved radio, I just never thought it was something I could have a career in." When Mairead left school she began to study HR Management. She completed one year and knew that it wasn’t for her. She made the brave decision to leave her course and began working in Arnotts full time. She knew this isn’t what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, so she thought long and hard about what was next for her. She had a huge support from her family, especially her mum who told her to do what made her happy. Mairead then began studying Radio in BCFE.
Mairead recalls that BCFE was ‘the’ college to attend if you wanted to study media. It was a practical course with so much studio time. "Even the odd morning when I was hungover, I still wanted to come in to college. I knew I had to, but the big part was that I wanted to" Mairead laughs.
When asked why she thinks radio is still so popular today, Mairead expressed how small Ireland is and that Irish people love to hear local, relatable stories. It’s the little personal touches that come along with Irish radio that she loves.
Mairead is the poster girl for people looking to join the radio industry. She had some perfect advice for people starting out. "Be a yes person, in the most professional way possible." She giggles.
It always helps when you’re new in a job to be readily available to work on short notice, come to work early or stay late. Basically be available to do small jobs that might not necessarily be in your job description. They’re all valuable to you as you’re gaining experience. But also be realistic.
“There were days when I might have been asked to fill in for someone early in the morning and then asked to do something late at night. There comes a time when you won’t be able to say yes to everything, so be realistic.” Being a ‘yes person’ can pay off down the line as you will be remembered as the person who was always ready to help out.
Mairead stresses that you must always remember that you are never above certain jobs. From start to finish in Today FM, Mairead explains everyone involved in a show plays a part in organising prizes, giving them out, etc. These are the behind the scenes jobs that people don’t know about.
A large part of a radio and TV is behind the scenes preparation. During her time on the Ian Dempsey breakfast show, the show went on air at 7am but Mairead and the team had to begin work at 6am. They stayed long after the show was finished to prepare for the show the following day. People have misconceptions that it is a glamorous job with easy hours. There is a lot of hard work involved. Although doing something you love makes this easier.
In April 2017, Mairead announced she was leaving Today FM after 15 years of service. “I had been in Today FM since 2002, I had worked on the best show in Ireland with Ray D’Arcy, and I wanted to try something else. I took another leap to focus on my television career and to expand my hairbrush line, FARO." When posed with the question of whether or not she could see herself returning to radio down the line, Mairead seemed optimistic. "I suppose I could! What category? I don’t know."
What’s next for Mairead? Her ever growing hair styling range, FARO, her three children and her personal project of attempting to move house are keeping her busy at the moment. No doubt, Mairead will flourish at whatever she puts her hand to. Mairead is the ultimate success story to have left BCFE who has proven that hard work pays off.