Newspaper: Radio boss still upbeat about launch of 4FM

Irish Independent
Radio boss still upbeat about launch of 4FM

Irish Independent – February 5th 2009

Radio boss still upbeat about launch of 4FM

The deepest recession in living memory mightn’t seem like the best time to launch a new radio station, but 4FM boss Martin Block insists the woeful state of the economy hasn’t taken the sheen off his over-45’s radio station.

Originally due to launch in October, 4FM’s start date was then pushed out to January and has now been revised yet again, prompting speculation that 4FM’s investors had gone luke-warm on the station’s prospects.

“We’ve been delayed and delayed by transmission issues,” says Block. “We’re as committed as ever, and unless the awful weather messes up the transmission again we’ll definitely be on air by February 27.

Asked about the advertising prospects for the newcomer station, Block stresses that 4FM’s figures had always predicted an “incredibly low” income of €2.5m in the first year.

“That’s even lower than what we got with the first year of Lite FM, so we’d still be confident of hitting that,” he adds.

He admits, however, that some of 4FM’s longer-term projections may fall by the wayside since the market is a “completely different place” to the radio landscape contemplated by his consortium when they drew up plans for their station back in 2007.

“We’ll have to wait and see how long and deep this recession is,” he says. “We’ve said breakeven will be in year four, that might get pushed out another six months or a year.

“Being a new station we’re somewhat insulated from it for a while, but we’re not going to sit here smugly and say it’s not going to affect us at all.”

Despite the deteriorating financial climate, Block insists the €9.1m investment earmarked for the station is still on the table, adding that there are no cold feet amongst the station’s many backers, which include Block’s Fox Radio (22.25pc); Thomas Crosbie Holdings (22.25pc); Bay Broadcasting (22.25pc); Dermot Hanrahan’s Vienna Investments (22.25pc) and the Irish Times (10pc).

There have also been no changes to 4FM’s staffing plans, and a full contingent is already in place, gearing up for the latest launch date. Now all they need is a working transmitter . . .