5 Minutes with the Media– Fionnuala Corbett, iRadio

Every week here at MediaHQ we chat with a member of the media landscape to get an insight into what’s it’s like to work in the Irish industry. We also get the best pitching tips and tricks for PR Pros.

This week we’re chatting to Fionnuala Corbett, Newsreader/Presenter with iRadio. 

1) What is your current role and what does it involve?

I have a dual role as I’m a co-presenter of iRadio’s afternoon show The Lift and also a newsreader. Both roles involve a lot of research, conducting interviews and crucially, some good time management! One role feeds into the other as I am constantly keeping up to date with breaking news, which means I am also constantly seeing potential content for The Lift.

2) Did you always want to be a radio presenter? What made you want to become one? 

I always enjoyed English in school, I loved and still love reading and writing, so I think I was always geared towards a communications-related job. My parents are also big fans of radio, much more so than television, so I grew up listening to it. I seriously began to consider radio after doing work experience in iRadio in my Leaving Cert. year. I loved seeing all the different aspects to the industry, the amount of work that goes into it behind the scenes and how much everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves! I decided Journalism and New Media at the University of Limerick was a good shout for me, and it turned out to be the perfect choice, as UL students have to complete a sixth month co-op, or work placement, as part of their degree. I asked iRadio to take me on and spent the six-month stint learning what it takes to be a broadcast journalist. I found I really enjoyed it and it’s led me to where I am now.

3) How long have you been working in the media?

It’s been seven years since I started my work placement and just under five years since I started full-time in iRadio. I definitely have not felt those years passing, in fact, it’s quite terrifying that they’ve gone by at lightning speed, but they’ve been a lot of fun and coming into work every day is still enjoyable!

4) How did your time working in ULFM help prepare you for the ‘real’ world?

I had started my placement in iRadio before I took on the position at ULFM so really iRadio has been my training ground, and it’s been a great one. The station invested in me as a 19 year old student who didn’t have much of a clue about the world of radio and now I’m happy to say I can contribute to a significant part of its output every weekday. I also loved being a part of ULFM as there was a great team behind it, with a huge enthusiasm for producing quality radio.

5) What does a typical workday look like for you?

It’s a very busy day – my hours are 11 to 7 and that suits me perfectly, but generally, I try to be in early just to get sorted for the day. At this stage, I’ve a fairly solid structure in place because I have to combine the presenting and news reading roles. I spend my first hour preparing my first bulletin, catching up on emails and general admin tasks, then once my first bulletin is read, I start researching show content. I have a fantastic co-presenter in Garry Curran and we work very well together to come up with ideas that suit our show, which is primarily entertainment-driven and aims to deliver the main news stories in a way that will engage and amuse our listeners. We also have a great producer in Eimear McKeown who keeps us going with ideas for content, organising interviews and covering our online responsibilities. I take the day one hour at a time, dividing that hour into show prep and news prep. Once the show starts at 2.50pm, I have to be more focused on that then on news, but I obviously still have to keep up to date with any developments, whether that be in the main news, or in sport, weather or traffic. As we get a wire service from Newstalk, I am not responsible for sourcing our news content, however, I am responsible for proof-reading, slight rewriting to suit my style of read, updating live sports scores and traffic.

6) What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job? 

My favourite part is the challenge of finding unique and interesting ways of delivering different news stories, whether that be through interviews, a skit or another talking point.  I also love getting to chat with different people every day and sharing their stories on air.  My least favourite part would be the tight deadlines towards which I’m constantly working, but at least it means I’m never bored!

7) What piece of work are you most proud of? 

I feel we’ve consistently produced entertaining and engaging content on The Lift over the past couple of years and I’ve really enjoyed working on different talking points and topics.  One highlight was when our ‘Dose of the Skits’ compilation of sketches was nominated for an IMRO radio award for Entertainment Inserts last year.  (Full credit to Garry for the name of the entry!)  We’ve also had really fun interviews with a number of music acts – Niall Horan, Ed Sheeran and Sean Paul were particularly memorable!

8) Finally, do you have any pitching tips for those looking to share a story?

I would advise making sure that you know the target audience for the story and then pitch it to the proper person who will be able to deliver it to that audience.  Have a clear title/headline (I’m always partial to a good pun), a concise description of your story and make sure your contact details are nice and clear.

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