Radiowaves News – July 12th 2010
New Zealand native Pat Courtenay is making a return to Dublin radio with the new rock music station Radio Nova. The former 98FM presenter will be Nova’s breakfast show presenter when the station launches shortly.
Other names have yet to be announced but Nova are in the advanced stages of their studio development which is based in Castleforbes Street close to The Point/O2.
Radio Nova will provide a classic rock service for Dublin city, county and the commuter belt region and will be aimed at the over 25s. The station previously operated under two temporary licences prior to receiving a full licence. They will broadcast on 100.3MHz FM
Pat Courtenay left Dublin’s 98FM, and Irish radio, in controversial circumstances in 1997. Before joining 98 Pat had already proved popular with listeners to Sunshine Radio, Energy 103 and the former Radio Nova ran by Chris Cary. Signing Pat for breakfast will be seen as a signal from the new station that they intend to make a huge impression on the Dublin radio landscape.
Pat took time out this weekend to speak to Radiowaves News’ John Fleming about his return to these shores.
John Fleming: How does it feel to be returning to radio in Dublin?
Pat Courtenay: I think a lot of your questions are going to form the answer to that but one word would be “nervous”, for sure. When I got there in the ‘80s I got the interview with Robbie at Sunshine because my Uncle Pat lived across the road from one of the owners! Now there’s that thing, a “reputation” (some good, some not) and there are expectations as well, so yeah, “nervous” is a good word.
John Fleming: Will it be hard leaving New Zealand?
Pat Courtenay: Mum and Dad are out here and I’d just about nominate them for either National Heritage status or the knacker’s yard at this stage, so that’s a concern even though they’re totally enthusiastic about all this.
Dad said when I told them: “You’ve to face up to it now and hit it hard! Get back up to even higher than you were before!”
Apart from that, we’re actually living in the beach suburb where I grew up. Here I learnt to sail, fish, almost swim, and people from all over the planet are breaking their bollix to get here. The back garden’s all fruit trees and palms and ferns and sunlight and the landlord’s a mate, so yeah, there’s a lot to leave.
On the other hand this is a hugely exciting project. I mean, how many guys get this chance? I’ve had four start-up opportunities now – Satellite Nova was kind of a start-up, Classic Hits was, there was one here in New Zealand and now this!
John Fleming: What have you been doing since you left us?
Pat Courtenay: Oh God. [Pauses] OK – lived around Australia for a year in a station-wagon; did Drive on Classic Hits network out of Auckland for two years; Breakfast on a start-up newstalk attempt in Christchurch – a disaster that went broke after a year; working holiday in the tropics (Darwin) for a year; Breakfast in Hamilton, New Zealand for three and a half years; left radio and worked as Head Waiter on a friend’s riverboat restaurant for a while; and for the last three years or so I’ve been doing the odd commercial, recording books for the blind, going to the beach, growing stuff, cooking, drinking vino, going broke – that sorta thing.
John Fleming: Sounds like fun! How’d you get the gig with Nova?
Pat Courtenay: Well they were obviously desperate so the consultant, the famous Jeff O’Brien, phoned me and invited me. Actually, at first the idea was that I’d do Drive and I was like: “Woohooooo! YES!”.
But then they changed their mind and burst my bubble, went back to the whole Breakfast thing.
Why me, John? Why won’t anyone let me do Drive and live a normal life?!
John Fleming: I’d hate to think what a normal life would be for you! Next question: how will it feel working under the Nova moniker again?
Pat Courtenay: Oh, man. For me it’s my second chance to speak that hallowed name. You know, I expected more negative reaction to this in Dublin and I am totally stoked to see the support for the resurrection of the Nova name.
I would say (and there WILL be arguments about this) but I would say that there is not any other radio station name in Dublin that carries the same power and prestige. None. There will be a few who’ll view it as “sacred” and feel that it should remain mummified in the museum but I tell you what, I bet Chris Cary wouldn’t agree.
Certainly, people fondly remember a certain era of Nova (although the alzheimers could be starting to kick in!), an era when this powerhouse just blew everything else off the dial; but Chris himself kept developing it and updating it, and if he were running it now do we really think it’d bear any resemblance to its ’80s style?
I mean, Energy was kind of just Nova in disguise, then a bunch of us got to work with Chris and Sybil on Satellite Nova on the cusp of the ’90s with an updated culture to match.
Also, now, there’s a whole new group of people who never knew Nova at all and we’re gonna be there for them as well so, mate, I am fizzing with pride that the name’s back!
They couldn’t kill it then and they can’t kill it now. And there will not be one single person in, on, and around this station that won’t feel that power!
Remember Colm Meaney’s eloquent line in The Commitments? “On a f@#in’ Suzuki???” Well, to me this is the f@#in’ Harley!
John Fleming: Will it be Pat plus 1 or Pat solo?
Pat Courtenay: [Laughs] Hey, even if I’m the only one in the studio, when am I ever ‘solo’? You’ll have to wait and see. And yous are all invited to come out and play!
John Fleming: How much of a need for a specialist rock station is there in Dublin do you think?
Pat Courtenay: Is there one there now?
John Fleming: Good point. Have you been keeping up with radio here? What’s your opinion about how it’s developed?
Pat Courtenay: Obviously, lately I’ve been taking a bit more interest. I can’t hear everything all the time and not actually being there might not give me the clearest view but, I do wonder if it hasn’t become a bit (how do I put this?) “comfortable with itself?” I reckon a good dollop of reNOVAtion won’t do any harm!
John Fleming: Will you be setting yourself goals and aims?
Pat Courtenay: If you’re asking me to predict ratings all I’ll say is that “The Management’s” gonna have enough goals and aims for me!
John Fleming: Dublin has changed dramatically in both landscape and population demo since you were last here. Will you be taking a different presentation approach?
Pat Courtenay: Well now you mention it, I might brush up on my Romanian. And my girlfriend’s a latte addict so she’ll be happy.
John Fleming: Those dark, damp, cold, icy, early Dublin mornings. Have you missed them that much?
Pat Courtenay: Heeell no. I remember one winter morning sitting on the edge of the bed literally in tears. Actually, Sunday evenings in winter are the worst because your weekend ends so early – the dark sets in and it seems like half an hour since Friday and about fifteen minutes ’til Monday. No, 4am is no human being’s natural habitat. Summer’s nice though ‘cos you can be on the golf course by 3pm and get in a full 18… pints!!!
John Fleming: You’re probably most fondly remembered here for your time on Energy Breakfast. What is your fondest memory of working on Irish radio?
Pat Courtenay: Wow. Big question. I really enjoyed the people at Sunshine, and doing Breakfast on Energy with Bob Gallico and Fionnuala Sweeney was rare times indeed. In fact totally unique. Italia 90 with Classic Hits was a once-in-a-lifetime freak show as well. And I think there may be some more fond memories just around the corner.
John Fleming: Are you looking forward to being on air for the next election?
Pat Courtenay: [Laughs] That’d take too much explaining to people who don’t know why I ‘left’ Classic Hits and, in any case, explaining it in full could still see me getting sued. Let’s just say that that whole thing was settled ‘out of court’… which I always think tells you which of the parties has something to keep quiet.
John Fleming: When do you start?
Pat Courtenay: And that’s something I have to keep quiet!
John Fleming: Thanks for your time and good luck on Radio Nova from Radiowaves.FM.
Pat Courtenay: Thanks!
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