Falling into things isn’t always a pleasant experience. One might fall into an abyss and never be heard of again. One could fall into a vat of jam and be sticky and attract bees. Yet, the day I fell into radio was one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me. I was never a keen radio listener. Occasionally, yes. Often, no. For the most part I thought radio was the home of DJs playing music bookended with wacky stings, late night phone-in shows and newsreaders.
I hadn’t realised the potential of radio in a capacity to tell a story, to rivet and to move. Radio, to me, was largely mute. That is until a few years ago, my sister suggested I try out as a newsreader on 103.2 Dublin City fm. They were in the process of introducing news reports to their station. Up until this point I had spent most of my time in print journalism, writing features and columns for the local newspaper in Kildare. Still, with the recession providing me with more free time than I’d like I thought I’d give it a go.
It was around this time I began listening to This American Life – a weekly hour long programme that told stories. I’d never heard anything like it. The notion that I, as a listener, could be so invested in hearing a radio programme was alien to me. I was hooked. The show told stories in ways I hadn’t imagined possible on radio. People from every possible walk of life spoke as the shows host Ira Glass threaded everything together. Recordings of ambience, perfectly chosen music and deft editing combined to craft a show that I wouldn’t miss for the world.
So for the past few years I read the news (and still do) on Dublin City fm. I began producing and hosting a music programme on the station – The Musical Hour. If I was nervous going live with a 2 minute news bulletin you can imagine the feeling when I began a one hour live show. That said, there is simply no better buzz than doing a show live. There’s a certain danger about that I enjoy. Also during this time I was, and still am, producing and co-hosting (with Craig O’Connor) a podcast about comic books – The Comic Cast, which won Best Independent Podcaster at the 2011 Irish Web Awards. It was like someone turning up the volume in my life.
Over this time I became obssessed with radio. There was so much to catch up on, so much to listen to. Shows and podcasts like This American Life, RadioLab, 99% Invisible, RTÉ’s Documentary on One, the list goes on. Eventually I decided I wanted to have a go at making this kind of radio. Telling stories. Like a child intent on getting that shiny new BMX, I saved and saved bought a digital recorder and a shotgun microphone. I watched every YouTube video of Ira Glass giving advice, I read articles and essays on resource sites but most of all I listened. I’d remembered hearing a writer once say that the best way to become a writer was to read and this, I took to heart.
So this brings us to now. The present. I’ve begun this blog to record what happens from now. I’ll be posting audio pieces and news of what I’m getting up to in radioland from here on in. I’m falling and it’s wonderful.