Each student produced a radio programme/podcast on a subject of their choice and the standard was incredibly high
When Covid-19 restrictions hit in March 2020 one part-time course that was paused due to the reliance on studio time was the Introduction to Radio Broadcasting and Presenting.
The internationally accredited course for anyone interested in working in radio is run by Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) with sister stations Waterford’s WLRFM and regional radio station Beat 102-103.
The course has been delivered since 2015 by lecturer at WIT and presenter of Irish Beats on Beat 102-103 Rob O’Connor and lecturer and broadcaster Orla Rapple, presenter of The Sunday Grill on Beat 102-103. Teaching involves the facilities at both the purpose-built Broadcast Centre in Ardkeen and the WIT Cork Road campus.
Blend of in-studio and online
Five weeks in to the 12-session course, it was decided not to continue online straight away as so much of the course is based around the studio which can’t be easily replicated at home, says O’Connor.
In May a plan was put together to deliver the remainder of the course in a blended fashion, with some sessions on Zoom and the studio session in the Broadcast Centre being conducted using social distancing, reduced numbers and a rota system.
Zoom classes with top broadcasters
As part of the blended delivery Zoom classes were delivered by some of the South East’s top broadcasters, including WLR’s Damien Tiernan and Beat’s Niall Power.
Says O’Connor: “I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to complete the course and I honestly thought the standard would drop considerably, but I was blown away by the dedication of the students and the high quality of the programmes they produced. I expect many of them will go much further in the world of broadcasting and podcasting.”
Each student produced a radio programme/podcast on a subject of their choice and the standard was incredibly high. A wide range of subjects were covered including a documentary on the life and times of Jack Charlton; a look at AFoLs (Adult Fans of Lego); The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval Dungarvan; Isolation Creations (jewellery making during lockdown) as well as plenty of music shows with everything on the pop, rock and hip-hop spectrum through to the soothing sounds of Balearic beats.
Neil Quinlan, the Head of the Department of Lifelong Learning at WIT says: “Well done to all the 2020 WIT Certificate in Radio Broadcasting who recently completed their course through a combination of online learning and hands-on practical sessions in the WLR/ Beat 102-103 Broadcasting Centre. Despite the difficult circumstances the course was a great success and great credit is due to the main teaching team of Rob O’Connor and Orla Rapple along with all of the staff and management at WLR/ Beat 102-103 who shared their expertise with the students. Applications for the 2021 course will open this November.”
While the next intake isn’t till 2021, there are plenty of other part-time courses for students to participate in this autumn.
WIT has received an additional €207,000 in funding for Springboard places under the Government’s stimulus measures. This brings to over €2.3m the funded WIT places available to employees, jobseekers, previously self-employed people and people returning to the workforce across the region for 2020/21.
WIT is running a virtual open evening focusing on part-time and Springboard+ courses on Wednesday, 9 September 2020 from 6.30pm-7.30pm. The virtual open evening for adult learners will allow people to ask questions they may have about returning to study, fees, and areas they are interested in. Also available is the website upskill.wit.ie is the facility to book a Zoom call with the WIT Springboard & Part-time Virtual Helpdesk.
Blended academic delivery explained
WIT is moving to a blended delivery model for 2020/21 which means that there will be a mix of online and on-campus learning. The mix is dependent on the programme of study but as a guideline activities like labs and studios will be on campus, and lectures and tutorials will be delivered online.