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Nessa McGann

Community Radio Station Manager, Wired FM

Degree subject BA, English & Philosophy (1998); MA (part-time while working), Media & Communications Studies (2003)

Job title Community Radio Station Manager
Employer Wired FM

How did you get your job?

I started off broadcasting in college on the campus radio station as a volunteer and learned the ‘production stuff' on the job. After finishing my degree I started work at RTÉ in Cork. A contact gave me the phone number of someone who worked there and I basically just rang them every day for two months. Finally I was passed on to someone else and I was offered a job in the newsroom with Pascal Sheehy and again, I was very much learning on the job. Eventually, I also started doing some work for Lyric FM. When I moved to Limerick for family reasons, I saw an advertisement for my current position in a newspaper and applied for the job.

What does your job involve?

I run a radio station for students. This means that I take care of everything from training students in radio production (I am an Irish Institute for Training & Development trainer), fundraising for the station, making sure there's a good programming schedule, hiring and supervising work placement students, running special projects, events, live gigs and conferences.

How did your degree help prepare you for your work?

My liberal arts degree was a good foundation in that it developed my thinking processes and having studied Philosophy and English means that I can speak convincingly and endlessly on radio! My MA provided me with a theoretical background.

What training have you received?

As far as radio production is concerned, I received no formal training. I learned through my volunteer work and also at RTÉ. Although there was no formal training there, I learned through practice.

Advice for graduates

  • Having a degree is important, but having experience can be more valuable and if you have both, you are in the best position to get a worthwhile job.
  • Those starting out on a career in radio should be aware that in Ireland, there is a culture of not paying young people. If you can accept this, you can get invaluable experience as a volunteer. In community radio everyone is a volunteer and this can be a really great place to learn.
  • Be persistent. If you want a job in radio, you will have to fight for it.
  • Networking is essential.
  • You are only as good as your last job, even if it was unpaid.
  • Radio in Ireland is a very small pond; everyone knows everyone – most people are willing to help. How you treat people is important.
  • If you perform well on one project, you will be recommended for others.