Anyone who listens to daytime radio in Ireland will be familiar with the iridescent, bubbly and most charming voice and personality of Tracy Clifford. Over the past decade, Tracy has had a successful and varied career: from radio presenting, broadcasting live at festivals and events to working in news and devising social media strategies.
Having worked in all areas of radio since she was a teenager, Tracy trained as a news journalist in college before taking up a job at East Coast FM as a news broadcaster. From there she went on to produce and co-present The Morning Show with Declan Meehan where she interviewed everyone from politicians to pop stars. Honing in her panache and unique style of one-to-one with the stars and special guests.
Tracy then became Head of News at Spin 1038 where she trained in many of the station’s news journalists. Eventually, getting a taste for breakfast radio and in 2008 Fully Charged with Ryan and Tracy was launched. The show was the number two breakfast show in Dublin, with thousands of Dubliners tuning in daily.
It wasn’t too long before she was headhunted by The National Broadcaster RTE 2FM, where she now is in her fourth year presenting her own solo show ‘The Tracy Clifford Show’ on RTE 2fm, weekdays from 1-4pm.
I sat with Tracy and asked her some questions on her career to date, her views on women in broadcasting and what advice she’d give anyone looking to fulfil a career in music broadcasting.
How did you get your start in the media industry?
My start in the media industry was straight out of college- I worked in East Coast Fm in the newsroom and learned absolutely everything there. Producing, presenting, news-reading and editing. I learned a lot there over the years then I went to SPIN 1038 to become the News Editor for 2 years before I presented the breakfast show Fully Charged with my co- presenter Ryan Phillips.
Is being on camera, behind the mic and in the public eye something you always saw yourself doing?
I was one of those people that always wanted to be on the radio!
No joke out of my communion money I bought a little tape recorder with a mic and I actually think it started from there.
I would record myself and make little shows. Then, when I was about 18, I got a show on a Dublin Pirate radio station and studied Journalism with radio in college.
I am a music junkie, so I was always listening to the radio too. It was just something that interested me from an early age and it kind of stuck.
As a female member of one of the most male driven industries, what challenges did you face getting your career off the ground? And what challenges do you still face?
To be honest, my young naivety about inequality in this world served me well. I came into this business not knowing about sexism or inequality and to be honest I didn’t personally come up against sexism that deeply affected me.
I do have experiences with blatant ignorant uneducated chauvinism- but I remember just calling it out without fear.
Looking back I can honestly say it was my brashness about things that people just had to listen! I have never been afraid to voice my opinion.
I do recall people –(men) – telling me; ‘That women don’t like listening to other women on the radio’ and I remember my response- it was ‘how do you know that if there are no women actually presenting prime time shows?’
I have been asked by many people ‘Whats it like being a woman on the radio’ too many times. It’s the same as being a bloke I’d imagine.
2FM has women on the majority of its daytime schedule. Other national stations need to up the representation.
Of all the radio shows, events and concerts you’ve worked at, which has been the most memorable experience and why?
Radio has brought me to the Arabian Desert, to America, to the best festivals and countless gigs interviewing the biggest stars – There have been so many amazing times, I’m not sure If I could choose just one.
Just being at all the best festivals in Ireland is still a thrill for me.
What advice would you offer young women aspiring to fulfil a career in broadcasting and presenting?
For anyone interested in broadcasting I would tell people to be themselves on-air, learn the ropes from every aspect of radio production. Radio is a multi platform medium.
Don’t expect to be paid great at the start and get experience wherever you can. Make yourself visible by being obliging. If you want a career in anything, self belief is 80 percent so never doubt what you want.
If you hadn’t pursued music broadcasting as a career what do you think you would have done?
I always think I would have liked to been a teacher. I still might!
What women in Ireland, as well as Irish women abroad, do you most admire whom you feel inspire you today?
Samantha Barry who is the Editor In Chief At Glamour in the U.S is changing what women consume and read in online mags.
Sinead Burke is shining a light on equality in the fashion industry
In entertainment I have great admiration of Sharon Horgan and Aisling Bea – I love how their personalities come out through their work .
I am a big fan of Roisin Ingle and how through her social media she has pushed conversations about women’s issues. Katherine Zappone is also someone in government who I admire – and Lynn Ruane.
You went through a break-up last year and there were days you said when “you just wanted to play Adele songs and cry”. But you didn’t as “working on radio you have to perk yourself up no matter what is going on” in your personal life. Many people within the entertainment world say similar. What mantras/mindfulness do you use to cleanse the mind and focus on the job at hand?
Being on the radio everyday is an absolute privilege. But sometimes, life can get in the way of your job. When I was going through a hard time a while back, I had to get in the zone and smile while presenting. With focus, a smile and great music, I felt better after 3 hours on-air.
Presenting is strangely my mindfulness.
Outside of radio I am a great believer in meditation, setting intentions and being your own best friend before anything.
Speaking of mindfulness, how do you split your time between working with one of the biggest National radio stations and your downtime?
Like everyone else my job is sort of a 9-5- with three hours of that on air. Monday to Thursady I rarely drink (December is a different matter) I like to chill with my partner and friends and family at weekends. But I’m always doing something or other.
My job doesn’t really feel like a job. It’s more of a way of life and always music related.
I’m very good at being kind to myself!
What has been your proudest career moment to date? And what are your goals for 2019?
Being a part of a great Breakfast show that the youth of Dublin loved for nearly eight years is still up there and going solo on 2FM 3 years ago is still a thrill.
I hope 2019 brings more great laughs with more listeners!
What is your morning routine to get you through the working day?
Up, shower, social media, radio for news and stories and breakfast of either two boiled eggs and fruit or porridge
Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Dublin?
What are your favourite ways to keep fit?
I love swimming for body and mind and I love yoga. Weekends are the good aul walk days up the mountains
What are your top three beauty essentials?
I love the range from Image for cleansing my skin.
I adore Sexy Mother Plucker Lip gloss In coy toy – it’s the best gloss out there
And I think Yves Saint Laurent foundation is the business for glowy dewy skin
Favourite gadget and why?
What else is there other than a phone? It has my life my photos my music my social media. I am kind of addicted.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Since I have given up breakfast radio I am no longer an early bird! I need my eight hours – but I sometimes find there aren’t enough hours in the day to fit in sleep and everything else.
Your greatest food pleasure?
My Fellas prawn linguine with rocket and a heap of garlic. Its like a hug in a bowl
If you could tell your 16 year-old self anything, what would it be?
Stop dying your hair! The skin will improve and that there are so many ways to carve out your career.
The leaving cert isn’t the be all and end all and what’s for you doesn’t pass you by.
Can you share any exciting plans you have in the pipeline?
There are a few new projects under way in that are unrelated to radio so all will be revealed in the next while!
The Tracy Clifford Show is on weekdays at 1-4 pm on RTE2FM.