Melissa Riddell is the newest face to join the Cool FM presenting team. But as the biggest success story to-date of the Cool Academy, Melissa is not new to the station, starting her time at Cool FM through the ‘Cool Choices’ programme – a scheme designed to offer work experience in the media industry to young people aged 16 to 24. After completing a five week placement, Melissa sent in a demo and the rest is history…
Can you tell us more about the Cool Academy and how you got involved?
After graduating from Liverpool University with a degree in Drama, I moved home and was on the lookout for a placement. I stumbled across the ‘Cool Choices’ programme online and it seemed perfect for me! I applied and that’s how it all began. The Bauer programme included a 5 week placement at Cool FM which was a dream, and at the end I put a demo into Cool FM and I haven’t looked back.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love EVERYTHING about my job. I grew up listening to and loving my show – it’s an absolute pleasure to now say I’m the host! Cool Goes Quiet is iconic, and always will be. I have a lovely relationship with the listeners, with a lot of them switching on specifically for that hour. It’s pretty special – and a real privilege to be a part of.
What is your highlight of working at Cool FM so far?
There have already been so many highlights in such a short time. I have particularly enjoyed being involved with the Cool Academy. It’s where everything began for me so it’s rewarding to be in a position to give back and inspire other young people on their journeys.
Outside of radio, what are your hobbies?
When I’m not on-air, I’m usually working on content for my YouTube channel. I love fashion and beauty so from styling a new outfit to testing products and creating new makeup looks, I’m always busy.
Where is your favourite place in Northern Ireland?
The North Coast – especially in the summer. It’s so beautiful and there is always something to do – from beaches and restaurants to the infamous Barry’s Amusements. I love the buzz I get when I visit!
Where is your favourite restaurant in Northern Ireland?
There are so many amazing restaurants in NI – especially in Belfast – that it’s almost too difficult to pick one. So I’ve chosen Gilles Bar & Grill at the Galgorm Resort and Spa, which is a little closer to my home. Whether you’re grabbing lunch or heading out for dinner in the evening, the atmosphere is chilled and the food is always incredible. The best part is the experience doesn’t end with the food as you have a view of the Resort’s stables, and you’re also free to take a walk around the grounds. It is the whole package!
If you weren’t a radio presenter, what would your dream job be?
Presenting is the absolute dream, but I imagine I would be on the stage. My degree is in Drama and I have always loved theatre and performance. When I was younger, my dream role was to play Elphaba in my favourite musical, Wicked. Unfortunately I don’t quite have the lungs to pull off those high notes, so I would probably have cleared out the theatre!
Who is your biggest role model?
My parents. They are the two hardest working people, I know. I always strive to make them proud.
Tell us about a great book which you have read recently.
I don’t read as often as I would like, however recently my sister bought me Estée Lalonde’s, ‘Bloom’. It’s light-hearted and full of tips and tricks to ‘navigate life’. It’s a very feel-good read, and a book which leaves you feeling like you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
If you could only listen to one artist for the rest of your life, who would it be?
This is so difficult. If I could only listen to one artist for the rest of my life, I would need someone who can do it all – the happy, the sad, and everything in-between. With this in mind, I’m going to choose Ed Sheeran as he is absolutely nailing it at the moment with his music
What is your advice for someone looking to break into the industry?
Work hard and be willing to make sacrifices. Also, don’t expect everything to happen overnight. Trust the process and enjoy the journey!
Let Melissa keep you company Sunday through to Thursday on Cool FM for ‘Cool Nights’ from 10pm to 1am.