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Interview with alumna Isabel Bartak Healy: “Working in radio is full on but I love the challenge.”

5 min

A 2013 graduate of Griffith College Cork’s BA in Journalism, Isabel Bartak Healy has forged a successful career as a radio presenter, producer and entertainment correspondent at Cork’s number one radio station, Red FM. Better known as ‘Izzy Showbizzy’, she has a packed weekly schedule keeping listeners up-to-date with the latest entertainment news, hosting her own evening show four nights a week and presenting Live from the Pod, a Saturday afternoon gig with over 64,000 listeners. Below Izzy talks about her radio career experiences to date and her hopes for the future.

Why radio?

Izzy always had an inkling that she wanted to work in radio and presenting and she recognized that talking to people and entertaining them were her main strengths. Izzy followed the careers of presenters like Davina McCall, finding inspiration in her wacky off-the-wall personality and her down-to-earth presentation style, which she always aspires to herself. She also sees Holly Willoughby and Griffith graduate Laura Whitmore, who have established sustainable media careers, as fantastic role models for women who wish to embark on presentation careers in radio and television.

Establishing a career in radio

Favouring practical learning over studying from a book, Izzy was not a big fan of school and so going to college and pursuing a subject that she truly enjoyed – media - was a game changer. Izzy enthusiastically threw herself into all aspects of her degree course and the hands-on practical experience she gained at Griffith confirmed to her that a radio career was her ultimate dream. She was determined to realize her ambition and find work with a radio station before she graduated.

In 2011 Izzy entered a Red FM competition to be a radio presenter for a day. She recalls that at the time she was completely focused on winning and determined to make sure it happened, and it did! After successfully co-presenting the breakfast show Izzy told the presenters that she was happy to pitch in and help with any future work that might be going at the station, even if it just meant making the tea!

Izzy’s persistence paid off. She was offered work experience assisting the breakfast crew whilst they were on tour by helping them set-up equipment in various locations and ensuring the bands were ready for the live broadcasts. From there it progressed to a paid job as a patroller undertaking promotional events for the station. At the time the station manager knew Izzy was ultra keen to learn and had the drive and determination to work her way up the radio career ladder, so he allowed her to learn how to run the radio desk and produce a show. Once Izzy felt confident running the desk it led to opportunities to cover whilst regular presenters were on holidays. So it was a momentous occasion, six years ago, when Izzy finally did her first on-air show on New Year’s Day and she’s never looked back! Her next big achievement was landing a permanent Saturday morning show, which then led to presenting two weekend shows, and finally increasing to her current five shows a week.

A day in Izzy’s life

Izzy’s first task when she arrives in the office is to check online for music and entertainment news for the all the showbiz bulletins she produces for Red FM. She puts together scripts for entertainment bulletins, pre-records them and packages them ready for broadcast. She then has a few hours to prepare content for her own show before she produces the drive-time show for Dave Mac. Izzy’s own evening show is very music-driven – focused on playing the biggest hits and the newest tunes - but also reporting on music and show biz news, and running competitions or giveaways.

There is always something coming up for Izzy workwise. It might be MC gigs or radio events, or interviews with celebrities or musicians. So there’s rarely a dull moment in Izzy’s working week!

Highlights of Izzy’s time at Red FM

Winning Hi Magazine’s Entertainer of the Year 2017 in acknowledgement of Izzy’s significant contribution to radio over the past six years came as a complete surprise to her but Izzy admits it was amazing to receive the recognition.

Having the opportunity to ask Ed Sheeran a question at a press conference at his Croke Park concert a couple of years ago was a memorable experience. Izzy asked him if he would ever play Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork once it reopened after redevelopment. He replied that it was a great question and certainly something he would consider. So it was a real scoop for Izzy when he DID announce that he’d be playing there this year!

Challenges of working in radio

Izzy thinks radio can be stressful as it is full on and she’s always on the go. She enjoys those challenges though and there’s no aspect of her work that she truly dislikes. Some of the main challenges are going on air and talking for three hours, producing and maintaining good content, and making sure what she says is accurate.

Advice for graduates wanting to get into radio

Izzy believes it’s crucial to get hands-on work experience under your belt if you want to work in radio or television. As a student Izzy was very involved in the Griffith College’s campus radio station and because it was a training ground and not commercial radio it wasn’t the end of the world if mistakes were made. It was a brilliant place to ‘cut her teeth’ and find her radio voice. Izzy remarks that it’s essential to be prepared to work your way up and take every opportunity to learn the ropes.

Asked what challenges new media graduates face, Izzy replied that social media is even bigger now than when she was first out of college. She thinks it is vital to keep on top of social media activity, its various platforms, and how to actively use it to your advantage in the workplace.

Hopes for the future

Izzy’s next goal is to make the move into daytime radio and ultimately pursue a career in television. So watch this space to see what happens next in Izzy’s media career!

 

You can follow Izzy on Instagram and Twitter or connect on the Griffith Alumni Network or LinkedIn.

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