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Belfast mother and son share their passion for radio and music

By Karen Ireland

Published 21/10/2015

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th Lisa Flavelle pictured with her son Ben.
Photograph:Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th Lisa Flavelle pictured with her son Ben. Photograph:Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Radio DJ Lisa Flavelle is a director at a new community radio station, following in the footsteps of dad, Jackie. Her son, Ben, has inherited this passion and is a music student as well as playing in a Belfast-based band.

Name: Lisa Flavelle

Age: 43

Occupation: Radio presenter and director

Relationship to Ben: Mother

Currently I am a director at 89 FM, a new community radio station, which was set up June. I also present Morning Talk at the station on a Monday from 10am to 1 pm.

My dad, Jackie, was a radio DJ for years, so it is definitely in the blood. It's safe to say that I live and breathe radio - I love it.

Since I was very young, I was always in the studio with my dad when he was presenting on Downtown Radio. I remember running around making cups of tea and filing records in the library. I just loved everything about it and found there was always a real buzz in the studio.

It was during the time when radio legends like Big T, Linda Jayne and Ronan Kelly were presenting.

When I was 14, I began presenting on hospital radio in Belfast City. I did that all through school and when I was doing my A-levels.

When I was at university, I did work experience at Cool FM and after I graduated, went to work at Citybeat.

After this, I worked at Downtown Radio for 15 years before freelancing in various stations, including U105. Radio is my favourite medium - and true social media. It is great craic and I love that it is live and relevant.

Life outside work revolves around my two children, Ben (18) and Rosa (8).

Ben has inherited my passion for music, which he is studying at Belfast Met, and is also in a band called Tree Home.

He's a guitarist and a drummer, with an easygoing approach to life.

A lot of my friends didn't have children until later in life, so he has always been around adults and is comfortable with that.

Ben went into the studio with my dad and I, watching and learning over the years.

We have always been close and it's great that we share the same interests.

Ben and I both love funk music and often go to gigs together, although he is too cool to be seen with his mum now.

One of my most precious memories is taking Ben to New York when he was 13. It was the trip of a lifetime and such a wonderful thing to have shared together.

Sometimes Ben is too laid back for his own good so, like many teenagers, getting him up in the mornings can be a nightmare."

Name: Ben Cobain Flavelle

Age: 18

Occupation: Music student

Relationship to Lisa: Son

I am in my final year as a music student at Belfast Met, and I love it. The course covers a variety of aspects, including performance, business and development.

I live at home with mum and sister Rosa in Belfast and play in a band called Tree Home, which gigs all over Belfast and has just launched an EP. I am always busy with the band, which I have been a member of for the last two years, so it takes up a lot of my time. You could say I am obsessed with music - it's my life. I have been drumming since I was two and used to go to gigs with my grandad, Jackie and play the bongos.

He taught me a lot about music, so I am following in his footsteps - just like my mum did. He took me into the studio with him when I was very young and I watched and listened to everything he did.

I am very close to my mum and we share the same enthusiasm for music. Sometimes I wonder how my mum does everything - she is a wonderful mum and always puts other people first. She has great taste in music and previously we would have gone to gigs together. Now, though, we are both so busy. When mum isn't working, she is cooking and looking after Rosa and I am going out to gigs, studying and playing in the band.

It's amazing the way mum can balance work and running our home - and she's really good at both.

When we do get time together, not surprisingly, we talk about music and have a laugh.

I couldn't say anything bad about my mum. I have a lot of respect for her and she has taught me so much over the years."

Staying in tune

  • Radio presenter Lisa Flavelle has built up a reputation as a purveyor of jazz, soul and funk
  • She went on to join Downtown as the drivetime presenter in 1997, having presented shows on Cool FM and CityBeat. She also worked on U105 before setting up 89 FM
  • As a writer, Lisa has penned columns for the Belfast Telegraph and she is also the voice of major advertising campaigns and is an associate lecturer at Belfast Metropolitan College

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