Rachael Anderson, presenter on Downtown Radio and Downtown Country Radio from Cloughey in County Down, is living her dream job.
Apart from being a diehard Westlife fan, Rachel is a top award-winning piper who used to play for the Portavogie Pipe Band. And Rachel is also a great fan of the Hucklebuck! But mostly now Rachel since joining the Downtown Radio team in 2015, has become a radio chatterbox loving her job each day. Encouraged by her late grandfather to pursue a career in the media, Rachael is now a familiar voice throughout the day on both Downtown and Downtown Country Radio for many listeners.
Rachael is up with the lark every morning and presents on Downtown Radio breakfast from 6-10am, and on Downtown Country, Monday to Saturday between 1-4pm and Sunday’s 4-7pm.
Q and A.
How did you get involved with the station?
I have always wanted to work in radio, and I can talk…and talk…and talk – so that has helped! I started working at community radio stations when I was just 14 years old, and becoming a presenter was my ultimate goal. In December 2015, I sent in a demo to Downtown Radio and to my surprise I was on-air within a week – and the rest, as they say, is history!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
That is a hard question because I love everything about my job! I always say I can’t call my job ‘work’, as it’s so much fun. I get to meet new people every day, and play awesome music for Northern Ireland’s largest commercial station – what’s not to love?! It’s an amazing feeling to wake up every morning and be excited to go to work. I know I am seriously lucky!
What is your highlight of working at the station so far?
There have been a number of highlights since I joined the team – and every week seems to bring a new one. If I had to pick, the main highlight will always be working alongside the presenters on Cool FM and Downtown that I have looked up to for years. I have the opportunity every day to go to work and gain more experience, and learn broadcasting techniques from the very best in the business.
Outside of radio, what are your hobbies?
I spend my time playing the bagpipes! I have been a piper since I was seven years old, and I’ve travelled all over the world with my hobby… from Switzerland and Russia to Germany, to name a just a few!
Over the years, I have won numerous piping awards, and for the last six years have ranked in the top five in the World Championships. When you are paid to do as much talking as I am, the bagpipes also come in very useful in helping with the lung capacity!
Spending time with family, friends and my ‘better half’ is also really important to me too – and when I can, I try to squeeze in some travel, music festivals and as many local events as possible. My three little dogs and Amazon parrot also keep me on my toes – so as you can see, I love to keep busy!
Where is your favourite place in Northern Ireland?
I have to be biased and say Cloughey. Cloughey is the small village in Co. Down where I grew up and currently still live. If you need a beach, racetrack and a golf course within two minutes of each other, Cloughey is where you need to go. Trust me – it is like a picture on a postcard!
Where is your favourite restaurant in Northern Ireland?
My friends and I love to head to the Saltwater Brig, which is just outside Kircubbin in Co. Down. It’s incredible for food, regardless of what you order! Another favourite of mine is The Quays in Portavogie as I love fresh seafood!
If you weren’t a radio presenter, what would your dream job be?
If I didn’t work in radio, my dream job would be a Speech and Language Therapist. At one point, I had chosen this as my university course… but I changed my mind, and decided to follow my dream of a career in media. However, if things had worked out differently, I still think working in speech and language would have been an amazing career which I would have enjoyed.
Who is your biggest role model?
My biggest role model would have to be my late grandfather. He used to tell me ‘find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life’ – and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to my current presenting role.
My grandfather and grandmother used to sit in their car for hours on end to hear my voluntary shows on a local radio station in Portaferry, as it was only their car radio that could pick up the frequency! Similarly, my parents have had a big influence on me – and I would not be where I am today without their support, and the belief they always had in me. They were my personal taxi to training programmes, voluntary work and eventually my shows. They were – and still are – my number one fans. They tune into my show every day without fail!
Tell us about a great book which you have read recently.
Michael Dunlop’s Road Racer: It’s in My Blood. I love motorbikes, and my uncle was a keen racer for most of my younger years. Also, with living near Kirkistown race track, motorbikes have always been a familiar view (and sound!).
If you could only listen to one artist for the rest of your life, who would it be?
I am the biggest Westlife fan that you could ever meet… so I would be lying if I didn’t mention them! However, in terms of current chart music, I would say Bruno Mars would be my stand-out artist and has been for a few years now. I went to the 3Arena in Dublin to see Bruno’s 24k Magic World Tour this April, and it was insanely brilliant!
What is your advice for someone looking to break into the industry?
Never stop pushing, and believing in yourself… and try to gain as much experience as you can. The industry is all about ‘getting your foot in the door’ and keeping your goals in mind. If this is the career that you really want, and you have the drive, ambition and self-belief, you will get to where you want to be. Trust me, working in this industry is definitely worth the effort!
And finally, what’s your favourite joke?
Ah, it’s an oldie but a goldie: what do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese!