Happy Accidents - How Ruth Scott became a radio DJ
02 March 2017
Posted by: Lisa McCarthy
The Early Years
As a kid I loved administration. I have early memories of loving nothing more than getting a stack of pages, pretending I was making important notes on them and signing documents as if the future of capitalism depended on my made-up childish scrawl. The pages were, of course, old electricity bills and other scraps of paper that my long-suffering mother sent my way. Real blank pages were not for young ones who’d spend their time trying to be Gordon Gekko’s PA and it was a long time before the roll of blank Ikea paper was available. On the one occasion that I managed to inveigle a rubber date stamp from my father’s solicitor’s office, I went full-blown “Working Girl” Dolly Parton.
Jump on a few years and I still find myself scribbling notes on the back of envelopes, scraps of paper and in my already stuffed notes section of my phone; more so in an attempt to get my life administration in order than re-living the glories of my youth. I recently found myself daydreaming, wondering if my early love of pencil-pushing had directed me to my choice of career. I’m now in my twentieth year of being a radio presenter and at a stretch; I can link the constant making notes as a child to part of the preparatory process for doing a radio show.
A brief interjection as to how I put together a show. I’m on the train when I overhear two passengers talking about how the oat-based cereal that they would have thought was super healthy, had in fact more sugar and salt than a chocolatey cereal. Certainly a throw-away comment; but something that could be a solid conversation starter on the radio. Out with the phone & make a note.
A Series of Happy Accidents
Ruth with fiancé Rob Morgan
Hold on there! Is this not meant to be an article about a UL graduate? There wasn’t a media studies course in Plassey in the mid 90s so where is the connection? Let’s skip back to 1992 when I had to pretend that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had a vague notion about being a journalist. I suspect it’s because English was probably my best subject in school. (I can tell you that’s really not saying much considering I got a C in LC English.) Anyway, notions flying round in my head, I applied for Communications in DCU. I was so focused, naïve and stupid that I never thought to put a second choice down until my cousin asked me what my second choice was. When I blithely informed her that I didn’t have one, she suggested European Studies in UL as that’s what she was doing and she loved it.
I’m sorry to disappoint anyone who thought that my lifelong ambition was to go to UL. However, it was in fact the happiest of accidents that I made it there. A happy accident in the same way as I met my soon-to-be husband when he rang in and played a competition with me on my radio show 5 years ago.
The Best Four Years
Despite this, in truth my time at UL was probably the best four years of my life. Post-convent education, my tiny mind was blown! My sociology lecturer wore doc martens and had a cool haircut. (*Waves at Eoin Devereux!*) The ease with which friends could be made was unprecedented. I met Ger sitting on the ground outside the Stables; Sinead on day 1 of orientation week; Ronan in a queue for the coats at the end of some night in the Two Mile Inn and Robert while I was waiting to ring home outside the Jonathan Swift Theatre. I joined the drama group. I eventually plucked up the courage to apply for an ENTS Crew job. I probably should mention – in the interest of transparency – that I HATED my course. I struggled with statistics. Understanding law lectures and first year economics was torture. Trying to grasp just enough to pass exams was a massive stretch to me.
My Big Break
Truthfully though, that didn’t matter. I spent four years learning how to be myself a little bit more. When I was in UL I wasn’t the youngest of 8 kids. When I was in UL I wasn’t such & such’s daughter. When I was in UL, I wasn’t the girl who was always average and never got a role in the school musical. When I was in UL, I got to colour outside the lines. Limerick didn’t swallow me up in the way that I think Dublin might have. In my third year as a euro stud, I saw signs floating on the canteen noticeboard looking for presenters for Rag Week radio. I did the breakfast show for a week from a caravan parked just outside The Stables courtyard. (Imagine Graham Norton in the Father Ted caravan and that’s pretty much what it was like.) Oasis’s first album was just released. Music was exciting and CDs were new technology. Wow, way to show your age! A cassette tape was sent to Tony Fenton to enter the 2fm DJ for a Day competition. I followed up on this with a year of hustling, which back in the 90s this meant letter writing. And hey presto, I managed to get myself some gainful employment out of a hobby that I picked up in my four years in UL. I would love to say that I have regularly used the information that I learned in my time in UL. The radio listener figures (JNLRs) come out a few times a year. I use this as my opportunity to mention / brag that I studied statistics in UL. In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!
The fact of the matter is that I didn’t choose UL. I’m not gloating about that. What I might gloat about, if I was pushed, is that it turned out to be a fantastic 4 years. It makes me immensely happy to hear that UL has expanded its campus in the last 20 years. It makes me a tiny bit sad that so many building have gone up on the green spaces where we used to sit, kicking a ball or just chatting to dear friends, who are now friends for life. Even if our green spaces are gone.