It is often said that Central’s reputation is ultimately determined by how industry views our graduates. Judging by the recent employment results for Central’s radio students, the Institute is travelling along quite nicely…
In 2012, Radio lecturer Russell Torrance realised there was a need in the industry for graduates trained in the specific skills unique to commercial radio – and so he designed a new course that would deliver just that.
Central already had two courses that are highly regarded by the radio industry, the Certificate III and IV in Screen and Media (Radio). These courses train students to present radio programs, edit audio and help them develop their journalism and presenting skills. However, Russell realised that radio courses in Perth tended to prepare students almost exclusively for the public broadcasting world – just a small part of the industry.
Russell decided to bring in new lecturer Phil Vinciullo, who has international experience in commercial radio, as well as extensive industry contacts. They designed a new, Diploma-level course that is totally different to any other national training package, with a focus on commercial radio skills.
For example, students are taught to find and manage accounts for commercial partners of Central’s own radio station – Boom Radio. They do cold calls, walk-ins and brief industry members on how they can perhaps assist with the promoting events. The students manage all aspects of the commercial partnership, produce a media kit and station profile, and learn how to do voice overs for advertisements.
As the new course was rolling out, the Radio portfolio moved premises to Central’s Leederville campus. Outgrowing its old location, the team now has new studios and is ideally placed now alongside the Music portfolio. The two course streams blend perfectly, with the radio people getting to interview the bands and solo artists, and the musicians getting a feel for how the media works.
A few months into the new Diploma, Phil arranged for all the students to get work placements across commercial radio stations in WA thanks to Redwave Media which runs three commercial stations – Spirit FM, WA FM and Red FM.
The team at Redwave kindly arranged for the students to join their radio teams at Karratha, Port Hedland, Geraldton and Broome, with two students also working at the Osborne Park HQ.
This was an amazing experience for the students who had the chance to apply their new skills in a real-life setting. They went on the road with the sales teams, met clients, did on air reads, voiced ads and were involved in all aspects of the breakfast and drive time shows.
Student Paul Wojtasiak, who worked at Redwave’s head office, found the week invaluable.
“The experience gave me validation that I am on the right track,” he said.
“I think most of us in the group came back with the confidence to be able to say ‘I can do this’. I think it shows in the voices of the guys now on our Boom Radio station. They are different, and they now have the realisation that their training has given them an ideal platform from which to kick start their careers.”
Paul has recently moved to Port Hedland to be Spirit FM’s drive time presenter.
Another student, Sarah Chapple, says she enjoyed her week’s experience at Redwave in Geraldton.
“I had an open slate to get involved in whatever I wanted and the staff were incredibly friendly and supportive,” she said. “I came back feeling confident I could apply for jobs in the industry.”
Equally impressed with his time in Geraldton, Franco Crisona discovered things about the software used in the radio industry that he didn’t know about, despite using it regularly in his part-time role at 96FM.
Gemma Maddox had similar positive experiences during her stint at Port Hedland, getting involved in writing scripts, talking to local politicians and presenting weather and tide information on air. Before even finishing her Diploma, Gemma was offered a job at Max FM in Taree in NSW.
Students ride the airwaves
The new Diploma of Radio Broadcasting is exceeding even the wildest expectations of the teaching staff. Here is the very latest list of students who have completed their course and already been snapped up by industry:
Gemma Maddox – Drive Time presenter and Musical Director, Max FM, Taree NSW
Sarah Chapple – Account Manager, SCA Radio West, Merredin WA
Paul Wojtasiak – Drive Time presenter, Spirit FM, Port Hedland WA
Laura Desmond – Announcer/Copywriter 104.7, Grafton NSW
Nic Shields – Online Executive 98.7 FM, Singapore
Todd Gray – Weekend afternoon presenter 96 FM, Perth WA
Lauren McWhirter and Jack van Heyden – Breakfast presenters, Zoo FM, Dubbo NSW
Though it’s early days still, the feedback from students and employers indicates that Central’s radio lecturers have spotted a real gap in the market and the subsequent niche training is well placed to deliver professionally skilled graduates, fully equipped to take to the airwaves of Australia.