Mars FM, Maynooth University’s first and only radio station was launched successfully this academic year, offering students a brilliant opportunity to sample a taste of broadcasting.
The radio station is run by MU Broadcasting Society and has expanded rapidly in the last year since its launch. The first broadcast was aired in semester one 2013 with just one computer, a screen and a keyboard and mouse. By the time semester two arrived, the team had two people presenting live on air for one to two shows a day.
In May, a committee was elected in order to begin an action plan for 2014/2015. Members today include Padraic O’Donoghue as President and Mark Bellew as Vice President, with both taking over from the founder of Mars FM, Colum Walsh.
The small committee has grown since its EGM in September to include Maynooth Freshers Alice Kiernan as Secretary, and first year representative Paddy Gorry.
With a team formed, Mars FM focused on publicising the radio stations, refurbishing the studio and upgading the software and hardware.
“This is where a lot of our new presenters joined, and they are some of the maddest people I have met to date – the “media buddies”. Possibly the greatest and most friendly and hard working group of people I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with,” enthuses Mark Bellew.
“This pushed our schedule to fill up fast. Meaning Monday – Thursday we have shows from 10am to 11pm. With Friday being a “Best Of” day as many students return home for the weekend,” he adds.
“This helped with the publicity aspect as more shows mean more listeners. This was also helped by the official launch night in Mantra nightclub in November. The new demand also meant we needed to seriously upgrade our studios, which of course meant an IKEA day out.
“With that done, both studios have a fresh, professional new look, with a debating and interviewing room set up in our second studio, which was just used recently to host interviews for all sabbatical candidates running for this years SU elections,” Bellew explains.
Presently, Mars FM have developed their software and hardware so that both studios now have Desktops with duel screens. This means that presenters can have many programs running at once. The set up is also mirrored, so it’s easy to move from one to the other.
When discussing the newfound success of Mars FM, Padraic and Mark particularly mention Colm Walsh who fronted the organisation of Mars FM.
“He saw that there was radio studios wrongly being used as storage rooms in the SU and fought for a year to get them. When they were free, Padraic set to work setting up servers and all the hours of coding to have what we have today,” explains Mark.
“Then joining last year, I helped publicise the station; by being Vice President this year I have been emailing everyone and collaborating on everything to make Mars the best college station out there,” he adds.
It is evident that Mars FM aims to be a competitive radio station among other colleges in the country. A group of presenters and committee members visited NUI Galway’s “Flirt FM” to seek new ideas for the following academic year.
“It must be said that Mars FM has been made by individuals. It wouldn’t be where it was if it wasn’t for our fantastic committee members and our wonderful presenters. Without them, there would be nothing to listen to,” comments Bellew.
“So incase I don’t get to say this later in the year as I graduate, I’d like to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. And whoever takes over from myself, I know that Mars FM is only going to get bigger and better,” he adds.
Any students who are interested in becoming a radio presenter/DJ are urged to sign up at the begininng of semester one in September as places are on a first-come first-served basis.
To listen in to Mars FM, log on to www.marsfm.ie or tweet @MarsFMie.
Photo: Mars FM/ Facebook