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Homophobia at FM104

Chris Barry has revealed that one of the reasons he left FM104 was because the atmosphere at the station was extremely homophobic. In an interview with Hot Press magazine, Chris – born Ciaran Gaffney – admitted publicly for the first time that he is gay and has been living with his partner Kevin for the last eight years. Speaking of the atmosphere at FM104, Chris says, “You’d walk into a room and they’d be talking about the ‘little faggot’ on at night.” There were also disturbing messages left on his answering machine. He left FM104 in a blaze of publicity and a very public falling out with his employers before joining 98FM.

Rob G for the ‘Big Boys’

Rob G, the presenter of Energy 94’s afternoon show, is joining FM104 to present the Eye Opener slot between 5am and 7am daily.
Rob, who has also worked with now-defunct Bray pirate Passion FM, will make his first appearance on FM104 on Tuesday 16th April – his farewell show on Energy will air next Wednesday.
The Eye Opener will feature snippets from the previous day’s Strawberry Alarm Clock – the station’s Breakfast Show which will follow The Eye Opener each morning.
FM104 broadcasts across Dublin City and County on 104.4MHz.

Future 103.7 is past

Future FM have relocated on the Dublin FM band to 93.7MHz. The dance music station have been available on 103.7MHz – a frequency which is too close to soon-to-launch legal station Spin FM’s 103.8MHz.

Freedom to close

Dublin chart music station Freedom 92FM announced today that they were to close. The shock announcement was made on this afternoon’s Mike O’Brien show and the station were flooded with phone-calls, texts and emails from distraught listeners.
“Some of the listeners were in tears,” Mike told Radiowaves News. It was later admitted that it was an April Fool’s Day hoax.

Freedom lose power

Dublin station Freedom FM have been off the air since 8.15 this evening as a result of a power failure after an ESB transformer blew up. They hope to be back on air as soon as possible on 92.0MHz.

Today’s Newspapers: February 14th 2003

Irish Times – It may not be very rock ‘n’ roll but research is the key to radio

It may not be very rock ‘n’ roll but research is the key to radio

Dermot Hanrahan does not match the typical FM104 listener profile but he tells Emmet Oliver that will not stop him from knowing exactly when they get fed up.

Dermot Hanrahan admits he is everything his listeners are not.

Middle-aged, children, comfortable middle-class home, old-style musical tastes, golf, skiing, he even collects antiques and reads the Economist.

Not exactly the typical profile of an FM104 listener. Mr Hanrahan admits as much, at least on the age point. “If you are over 30 in the radio business in certain respects you are too old,” he says.

As managing director of FM104 and a major shareholder in NewsTalk 106, Mr Hanrahan, mixes every day with the suits of corporate Dublin, but he knows his radio persona must be constantly replenished by the energy and iconoclasm of the young.

At FM104 Mr Hanrahan says he has constantly hired the brightest and youngest talents in the radio business. He minds the books and lets them get on with the music and DJ-ing.

Mr Hanrahan says the personalities who shape the station – at least on air – are those who have a deep understanding of youth and popular culture.

The station is clear on its website about who its listeners are. “They are the spenders, trendsetters and influencers of the future and reaching them is essential to the continuous health of any brand”.

FM104, which is owned by Capital Radio Productions, depends for its very existence on being able to tap into the fashions, preoccupations and obsessions of Dublin’s teenagers and 20/30-somethings. So far in terms of market share it has been very successful, even if that gets up the nose of Mr Hanrahan’s more high-minded critics.

Since its re-launch (it was previously known as Rock 104) in the 1990s the station has become one of the most successful commercial radio franchises in the State. It is hard to believe that back in 1992 its books were covered in as much red ink as those of the ill-fated Century. But since rebranding itself as FM104 Mr Hanrahan and his team have managed to turn things around. This week’s JNLR/MRBI figures gave the station 20 per cent of the Dublin radio audience (based on “listened yesterday” figures).

This was down 2 per cent, but it was still a credible performance because a new arrival – Spin FM – was inevitably going to steal at least some of the station’s younger listeners. Incidentally, 98FM, Mr Hanrahan’s deadliest rival, was also at 20 per cent.

Mr Hanrahan says everyone in radio learned the bitter lessons of the Century debacle and radio bosses now exercise greater financial responsibility over stations. The days of chaotic DJs arriving into studios with hangovers and a few CDs under their arm are over.

Play listing is now the name of the game – in other words DJs play specially selected songs, at specially selected times. Mr Hanrahan’s team at FM104 carefully research what they play.

He says pop songs are, not surprisingly, ephemeral and disposable. Most of them are governed by a simple curve pattern.

At the start the curve is essentially flat, nobody knows the song, as it is played the curve rises up and at its peak every person on your road seems to be humming the damn tune. But as it is played and played relentlessly people get fed up and the curve drops down and down. By then you better have dropped that song.

Making that fine judgment is what pop stations are all about. Playing one corny and jaded song can prompt thousands to switch you off, he explains.

“Research is the key to good radio performance nowadays. We are a heavily researched station and we make no apologies about that,” he says. Mr Hanrahan can even trace the reasons for this week’s small dip in FM104’s audience share. “We know exactly the reason behind it, it is to do with female listeners and we are planning to rectify it.”

But Mr Hanrahan’s critics will not leave well enough alone. A letter writer to this paper two years ago summed up the attitude of some official Irelanders to pop driven stations like 104. “What Mr Hanrahan should try to understand is that a never-ending diet of trivial pop music coupled with sometimes vulgar presenters does not provide a credible alternative to RTÉ.”

But Mr Hanrahan would be the first to admit that FM104 is not exactly trying to poach listeners from the likes of Marian Finucane or Pat Kenny. FM104 knows what its audience wants and gives it to them, for good or ill. When Mr Hanrahan decides to mix it with some of the more rarified souls in RTÉ or policymakers in the broadcasting arena, he sometimes surprises his audience with his erudition and mental sharpness. His membership of Mensa would probably also surprise them.

From the giggly Strawberry Alarm Clock to street argot of the Adrian Kennedy show, the station has managed to build up a strong brand presence, but where it goes from here is harder to fathom.

Over the years major radio interests have inquired about buying the station. Some of the shareholders understandably might want to sell, but so far any attempt to buy them out has been resisted. Among the shareholders are the McEvaddy Brothers, accountant Pearse Farrell, concert promoter Jim Aitken and music figure Maurice Cassidy.

The station made an annual pre-tax profit of £202,675 according to the latest set of accounts for Capital Radio Productions (to June 2001). It has also been busy stretching its tentacles into other areas of the radio market, including taking a 39 per cent share in Cork’s Red FM.

However, the company’s 12.5 per cent stake in NewsTalk 106 has catapulted Mr Hanrahan into the news more than anything else in the last six months. His decision a few weeks ago not to stump up fresh funds for NewsTalk surprised many in the radio industry.

Mr Hanrahan said there was no point in putting in fresh funds until the station found a cohesive strategy. He is understood to be highly critical of the station’s output and its performance over the last few months, but he said he did not want to elaborate on his comments. Be that as it may, NewsTalk is experiencing serious turbulence and with an effective market share of below 1 per cent, there are obvious shortcomings.

But Denis O’Brien, another looming figure in Irish radio, also has a substantial share in NewsTalk and he has yet to publicly express his views on its performance. However, one suspects that these two powerful radio figures will ultimately decide the fate of NewsTalk, not to mention much of the commercial radio market in Dublin.

FM104 query JNLR figures

The JNLR committee have advised Dublin’s radio stations to suspend scheduling decisions based on the recently released 2002 listenership figures. This follows a query made by FM104, who claim that some of their night-time figures look “a bit odd”. The MRBI, who conduct the research on behalf of JNLR, have been asked to investigate certain aspects of the figures and this is expected to be complete by Monday week.

Biggest radio game ever

FM104 will be starting what they’re calling the ‘biggest ever radio game’ next Monday at 8am, during the Strawberry Alarm Clock. They are keeping details close to their chest, but they will have to do well to top 98FM’s ‘Fugitive’ promotion, which finished (until later in the year) on St Patrick’s weekend.

Battle of the radio games

More details of FM104’s ‘Biggest Ever Radio Game’ have been revealed. The Dublin station are now running promos saying that €1m will be up for grabs, with cash prizes to be won every day. The game will launch on Monday morning.
Not to be outdone, rival station 98FM – who recently ran the very successful “Find The Fugitive” competition – will also be launching their own “Million Euro game” this coming Monday. The idea is to confuse FM104 listeners, and to hold on to the initiative gained following the ‘Fugitive’ promo. Full details will be revealed on 98FM on Monday.
The battle to attract, and keep, listeners in the Dublin area is a tough one. 98FM were the top station in the last JNLR, and their lead over second-placed FM104 is very likely to have increased into the next six month JNLR period following the hugely successful “Find the Fugitive” promotion, in which listeners (with the help of clues given out on air) searched the streets of Dublin for a ‘runaway’ willing to hand over huge cash bounties to his assailants. Up against the ‘Million Euro game’, along with the ‘Foxy Jock’ competition – which is also presently running on 98FM – FM104 will need instant success with their new promotion.

FM104 Chief to step down

FM104’s Dermot Hanrahan is to step down from his position as CEO when the station’s sale to Scottish Radio Holdings is completed. However he will remain as director of Capital Radio, FM104’s parent company. Hanrahan intends to pursue other business interests.

Today’s Newspapers: February 8th 2007

Irish Independent – Bell tolls for 2FM breakfast show name

RTE has been forced to drop the words ‘Alarm Clock’ from its new 2FM breakfast programme after controversially poaching hit show the ‘Strawberry Alarm Clock’ from FM104. It is understood that FM104 sent legal correspondence to RTE informing the broadcaster that the Strawberry Alarm Clock is trademarked.

FM104 also expressed concern that several elements of the Strawberry Alarm Clock were being used in the new 2FM show and that intellectual property was being copied.

RTE confirmed the new show was no longer being called the ‘2FM Alarm Clock’. It will now be named the Colm and Jim Jim Breakfast Show with 2FM.

FM104 chief executive Tim Fenn said last night: “The Strawberry Alarm Clock continues to broadcast on FM104 and intends to do so in the future. We’ve changed presenters in the past, and it will continue to be exactly the same exciting unpredictable, successful show it has always been.”

Samantha McCaughren

The Sun – Whelan: I was hurt by RTÉ axe

The Irish Times – R na G criticised for ending news show

R na G criticised for ending news show
Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

Fine Gael and Labour TDs in Galway have expressed concern over Raidió na Gaeltachta’s decision to drop a key current affairs programme from its schedule four months before the general election.

Fine Gael TD for Galway West Pádraic McCormack has questioned whether there was a “political” reason for the decision to drop Cúrsaí an Lae, as he was aware that a complaint about the programme had been sent to the radio station last year by Fianna Fáil MEP Seán Ó Neachtain.

The final programme in the series was broadcast last Friday.

Mr Ó Neachtain wrote to Raidió na Gaeltachta’s ceannaire, Edel Ní Chuireáin, on October 31st last on European Parliament notepaper in relation to the programme’s coverage of a controversy over a proposed childcare facility at Coláiste Chonnacht in Spiddal, Co Galway.

Mr Ó Neachtain is a trustee of the campus of Coláiste Chonnacht, which hosts Irish-language summer colleges.

Mr McCormack and fellow Galway West TD Michael D. Higgins (Lab) have criticised Mr Ó Neachtain’s use of headed notepaper for a complaint about a personal matter. Mr Higgins said that Mr Ó Neachtain could have made his complaint through the normal channels via the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

Mr McCormack said it was “very regrettable” that a programme with the second-highest listenership on Raidió na Gaeltachta should be taken off the air in the run-up to the election.

Seán Ó Coistealbha, chairman of Comhairle Pobail an Spidéil (Spiddal Community Council), also criticised the use of official stationery by the MEP.

Mr Ó Neachtain defended the use of European Parliament notepaper. He told The Irish Times that he was referred to as an MEP on the programme in question, and wrote in on this basis to the station.

A spokeswoman for Raidió na Gaeltachta said that there was no connection between the programme change and Mr Ó Neachtain’s complaint. The editorial decision relating to Cúrsaí an Lae and two other Raidió na Gaeltachta programmes dated back to February 2006, following a detailed resource analysis.

A decision on all three programmes was taken in July 2006 and staff had been informed last November. Six new programmes had been announced last month, she said.

The spokeswoman also defended Raidió na Gaeltachta’s decision to inform all staff journalists that they must not contribute to other media and publications before the general election. This was to ensure impartial coverage, she said.

The decision has been criticised by the Irish-language newspaper, Lá, which said it is lodging a complaint with the Competition Authority. The newspaper has questioned why the same directive does not apply to journalists working for RTÉ.

© The Irish Times

Evening Herald – FM104 loses top DJs but wins brand