Our SHINE Festival in March 2021 was a roaring success, smashing all of our targets with 40,000 girls attending. Over 80 incredible, authentic and badass women joined us to celebrate being a girl for 3 whole days!
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be catching up with some of the speakers and team that made SHINE possible, to share why we love them so much and why you should love them too. These women are joyful, smart, positive and hugely inspiring…
For today’s “Shona Meets”, here’s the incredibly talented Maria Mckenzie, who was a part of our SHINE Dream Team!
Maria, for those who do not know you as well as we do, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, I am 45, a mother of two (one teenage girl and one 9-year-old son) and I’m married to a Scottish man who I met at a funeral (long story!). I have worked in radio for over 25 years (20 of those spent in Today FM & in the latter couple of years, in Newstalk too). I now work in the regional station iRadio and I have a beauty Instagram page called No Spring Chicken!
Although I love radio and it is how I earn my living, throughout my career in radio, I have adored makeup and had a passion for skincare. I would spend my Thursday evenings putting makeup on all the girls before we would go for drinks! In another life, I would have loved to be a makeup artist in Hollywood, but those kinds of roles were not widely available to a kid growing up in the ’70s and ’80s in Ireland. So, when I left Today FM, I took a year off and spent the time building my Instagram page (@_nospringchicken). I saw there were many women like me, in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, not being represented online in the digital world. So, I dived in! Before doing that, I thought about it for a long time, but it was only my own fear keeping me back – through the encouragement of family and friends, I set it up and began talking about products I love. Once I took that plunge, I never looked back…so I am lucky to have the best of both worlds. I get to earn a living from a career I love and get to share my love of makeup with like-minded people. I’ve over 24k people following me now, god help them 😊
What made you choose radio advertising as a career?
When I was 10 years old, I won a t-shirt from the pirate station, Sunshine, which was in the Sands Hotel in Portmarnock where I lived. When I went to pick it up, I thought it looked like the most glamourous job! It was housed in a prefab so not exactly Hollywood, but you have to remember, in the early ’80s, there were no social media, so TV and Radio were celebrity cultures in our young minds! I always loved radio & vowed to work there someday and would spend weekends making radio shows with my cousin Orla, trying to record songs from the radio before the DJ spoke (I am really showing my age!).
After a very brief stint in college, I realised it was not for me, so went travelling to Greece with my friend. When I returned, my mom was so worried about me getting a job, she insisted I enrol in a secretarial course. I did not want to do it, but it meant I learned about computers and can still type 120 words a minute! This led to a job in Aer Lingus as ground staff, until a friend of mine told me about a job in 98FM. I was 19 and I had no clue about the role I was going for. I did not realise all the people who work in the background to make radio happen. I applied for the role and got it and began working on trafficking the ads you hear every day.
After two years, I moved to Today FM (it was called Radio Ireland at the time) and went into a sales role. I began selling promotions and sponsorships and worked my way up over the years until I was Advertising Director for both Today FM and Newstalk. I managed a team of 14 people and a budget of €30m and spent over 20 years there. If you would have told 13-year-old me, that would be the case, I would have laughed….you never know what jobs can lead to something more….
We know that you have worked at multiple radio stations, from your range of experience, what advice would you give somebody who would like to work in media?
Start applying for roles that interest you. If that is in front of the microphone, utilise social media to showcase your talents and be persistent. If it is in the background, there are so many roles many do not know about. You need to be willing to work your way up, get stuck in and be available to work long hours and help with whatever is needed. Look at media courses and PR courses you can do, and you will find your niche.
What has been the highlight of your career?
I am proud of the work I did in Today FM. I worked with an incredible team, made friends for life, and took it from being a new station to the most successful commercial station in the country. When it comes to the beauty page, a couple of highlights include hosting a sold-out event with Arnotts and sold-out masterclasses with both Laura Mercier and Nars.
What is your favourite pump-up song for those days when you need to feel motivated?
Nightcrawlers Push The Feeling on or George Michael’s Freedom
Pineapple on pizza, yes or no?
No, it is an abomination!
My Instagram account, hanging with the kids and my husband and travel (god I miss travel).
Favourite place in Ireland to visit?
Wexford, Cork, Kerry – I love the seaside so anywhere close.
Favourite holiday you have been on?
The kids had a ball at Center Parcs so that was brilliant, then Ibiza or Portugal for a sun holiday and Scotland where my husband is from.
What a woman, right? Well, if you want to keep up with maria on all this makeup and skincare, be sure to give her Instagram a follow!
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We don’t know about you, but we are so glad to have Maria in our SHONA Community! It’s mad to think of how many phenomenal women are on this little Island of ours! Stay tuned to see who else we got chatting to!
P.S. If you have a suggestion of who you would like us to chat to next and have some burning questions, why not let us know on any of our socials ( @shonadotie ) or pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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