UL graduate, Fiona Stack, who has 30 years of radio experience with Radio Kerry and Newstalk, shared her wealth of knowledge about the importance of local radio in the digital age at a recent seminar in UL.
Ms. Stack shared valuable advice to students on why local radio still is as important than ever even in the digital age.
Ms Stack is also on the board of learning waves which is an award-winning training network for those working across the Independent Commercial Radio Sector in Ireland, which also has a Journalism Graduate Programme.
Talking about the programme she said: “I’m on board of learning waves which is a training body, for the independent sector, for all local stations, it’s the Bauer radio group, wireless all the independent stations in Ireland.
“It’s a brilliant idea everyone pools their training budgets and do joint training which provides network opportunities is well.
“Over the last couple of years, they have developed a graduate program, it will give up to ten people a five-month placement in a radio station paid and you will have access to the learning way programs, it is a way to getting your foot in the door.”
Ms. Stack then shared her thoughts on digital journalism and what has changed and what has remained the same.
“The change has been big we started off with reel-to-reel machines, even a simple interview back then took a good while, then we moved to mini discs and now the big difference now it is all computerised stuff is done a lot quicker and I’d wonder how we got it done before.
“Technology has its advantages, its easy to access it, people can work remotely, as it proved with Ian O’Connell who was in an accident and was paralysed and now has a radio show using a mouth stick so without out technology this wouldn’t be possible.”
But Ms. Stack reiterated that the most important thing in local radio stays the same.
“The basics are still very important in radio, sometimes they might not seem glamorous going to courts and stuff like that, but it teaches you accuracy.
“It teaches you to go into a situation and especially for radio when you need to do 40 second reports. They teach you very quickly to filter out what is most important, the way you treat someone is very important and them things haven’t changed in radio.”
Ms. Stack then discussed the importance of local radio for the local people and are there for the long haul and used an example of the Kerry babies story.
“Soon after Radio Kerry was on air a body of a baby in Kerry was found and the national media can descend for a story like that and then they are gone again in a few days whereas the local radio and paper are in it for the long haul, and you need to have a sense for that.
Ms. Stack finished off the discussion by giving students very important advice for students going forward into radio.
“The most important thing if you get experience somewhere, be reliable, if you say your going to be there be there, be reliable. It’s a basic thing but it’s the most important thing.”