Twenty years on, CSN is still helping shape the future of Ireland’s airwaves

Twenty years on, CSN is still helping shape the future of Ireland’s airwaves
Peter O'Neill, Radio Broadcasting course director, centre, with students (from left) Dave Sheehan, Johnny O'Connell, Cian McGuane, Emmet Dunlea, Glenn Hennessy and Sean Ryan, at the Juice Cork digital studio at CSN college on Tramore Road, in advance of their 20-year anniversary celebrations due to be held at Soho on April 13th. Picture: David Keane.

Colaiste Stiofain Naofa is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their radio broadcasting course, with plans for a celebration and reunion of past and present students.

Radio broadcasting was added to Coláiste Stiofain Naofa’s curriculum towards the end of 1998, offering students a pathway into the world of media. 

Talking about the early days, course director Peter O’Neill said: “We didn’t have any studios, we had a very basic mixing desk in the back room and we used to have to pre-record our shows to broadcast because the VEC at the time wouldn’t allow us to broadcast any live shows. So we only used to go on for two hours a week. It didn’t hinder the students from branching into radio but obviously, times have changed dramatically over the 20 years.”

The course provides students with lessons in media law, politics, documentary making, show presenting skills and more. Students may not have had a studio to broadcast in during the early years but in recent times Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa’s radio station, Juice Cork , has undergone a huge overhaul including a new studio, top of the range equipment and a new name. 

"We’ve completely rebranded from the old CSN 107.2FM from a tiny little fishbowl, as they used to call it compared to this, which is now a €100,000 investment. The concept was designed by former students.”

Student Sean Ryan, on the turntable at the Juice Cork digital studio at CSN college on Tramore Road, in advance of their 20-year anniversary celebrations due to be held at Soho on April 13. Picture: David Keane.
Student Sean Ryan, on the turntable at the Juice Cork digital studio at CSN college on Tramore Road, in advance of their 20-year anniversary celebrations due to be held at Soho on April 13. Picture: David Keane.

Students are currently taking advantage of the best technology available in the radio industry, “we’ve put this in place and it’s cutting edge, latest technology, there’s nothing better out there globally, which is very cool to be able to say.”

The station is run by students. Radio broadcasting student, Glenn Hennessy explained his role at the station: “As programme controller [at Juice Cork], I’m partially in charge of the station and everyone that works in the station, giving everyone their shows, their time slots and their positions basically.”

While the course helps create a pathway into the media industry for students, one student Johnny O’Connell is already reaping the benefits of his time in CSN, working as a sports journalist for SportsTalk in Dublin. O’Connell’s busy schedule sees him divide his time between studying for his QQI Level 6 qualification and helping create podcasts, writing reports on GAA matches and editing shows so they can be uploaded online.

The course has also helped students discover that there’s more to radio than just presenting shows from behind a desk. Second-year student Sean Ryan, who is in charge of social media at Juice Cork said: “it’s not being just behind the desk, even behind the scenes there’s a lot of work there.

“As you see on social media, there’s a lot on podcasts becoming a big thing. So there’s loads of areas to be getting into, even documentary making and this course really is top of its game, I can’t really praise it enough.”

Emmet Dunlea is the music controller and head of branding for Juice Cork and thinks it’s a no-brainer as to why people should consider the course: “It’s industry standard, definitely one of the most professional training environments in the whole of the country for radio.”

So far, past students have collectively won seven PPI Awards for their achievements in the radio industry. “There’s no other training course in broadcasting in Ireland that have produced that many awards,'' Peter said.

There have been a lot of students that took to the airwaves either under the branding of CSN 107.2FM or Juice Cork. Twenty years on, it felt like the perfect opportunity for Peter to bring past and present students together to celebrate the milestone: “I wasn’t going to do it but so many former students said, “come on, come on, this year!” So I just thought, it’s 20 years, it’s a milestone, let’s go for it.”

Peter is excited at the prospect of meeting his past students in SoHo on Saturday to see how life has turned out for them: “I look back on one person who liked photography and hadn’t seen her in about six or seven years, she’s now married, has two kids and she’s actually an interpreter for the European Parliament."

"It’s really cool to see somebody like that, to just see the portfolio of where somebody has gone. Because how can I know [after they graduate], I don’t know. So this will give me an amazing opportunity to meet everyone.”

On the night there’ll be guest speakers who are past students such as news reader from 96FM Pearse McCarthy, and Robert Walsh, who is a former CEO from Q Radio network in Belfast. The main aim of the night is to not listen to speeches but to give a chance for current students to network with those from the past and share stories of their time at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa.

The CSN Radio Broadcasting 20th Anniversary event at SoHo takes place on Saturday 13 April. Tickets are €10 and on sale now from Eventbrite, you can buy tickets by clicking on the following link: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/csn-radio-broadcasting-20th-anniversary-tickets-56137938084

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