Dublin alternative music station XFM celebrates its 12th birthday today. The station first appeared back in 1991 at a time when there was a dearth of their unique style of music radio broadcasting in the city. It started out as Alice’s Restaurant on 106.4MHz.
The station proudly boasts of being the first Irish radio station to have a web presence – their first website appeared in 1992. They also lay claim to being the first Irish station to have a live stream webcasting to the world. This appeared in 1996, but prior to that, they changed their name to XFM in 1994, prompted when the closure of another extreme station – RadioActive – led to some of that station’s staff to join up with Alice’s Restaurant.
XFM’s station manager David, speaking to Radiowaves News today, says that the station’s aims today are pretty similar to when they first started out all those years ago: “Our aim is to keep the format alt. The current interpretation of alt on the radio scene is very tired and dated. Alt radio shouldn’t be just about jangly guitars, rehashed white stripes wannabees and Nuevo Irish Indie groups looking for a space with the hacks. Everybody now seems to be playing the same stuff and the fear of experimentation with music format is rendering the whole scene drab. That’s where – as in the past – we come in, trying to do something different! Xfm’s format, much like Alice’s before it, is to introduce new alternative music types and styles from the mundane to the brilliant to the obscure. Groups like Orbital, The Breeders and Stereolab fitted that bill perfectly back in 1991. Just like 12 years ago the audience is small but seriously dedicated and support is 100%.”
David says that the station are happy as they exist at present. “Its just a big hobby,” he insists. Despite the flippancy, he has serious views on the issue of applying for a licence. “Under the current system, where a pre-determined group are almost sure of the outcome [of the licencing process] it is a waste of time. If a fairer system like, perhaps, the Specialist Radio Association proposals were envisaged, then not just XFM but a whole host of independent groups and media interests could apply in the knowledge that at least they would get a fair hearing and that their applications would be judged not only on a business platform merit, but on their ability to deliver a service to niche audiences successfully.”
David is optimistic about the future though, not just for XFM but for radio in general. He says: “Webcasting developments now and future versions of WiFi will render the FM band and the elusive DAB to where LW and MW is now…in another 12 years that’s where it’ll be at!”
XFM presently broadcasts at weekends only on 107.9MHz.