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Timeline: Traffic news radio station could become permanent

Traffic news radio station could become permanent was a headline from The Irish Times dated May 5th 1999.

Irish Times – May 5th 1999

Traffic news radio station could become permanent

Travel FM, Dublin’s newest radio station providing 24-hour traffic information, could become a permanent service if it proves successful, according to the station’s organisers.

Mr Owen Keegan, director of traffic for Dublin Corporation, which is running the temporary station along with the Garda, said that “having put so much effort into developing this, obviously we hope it will have some sort of future”. They would first have to prove there was a demand from motorists for the service.

The station, which has cost £125,000 to develop, will begin broadcasting next Monday. It will operate on a pilot basis for eight weeks on 106.8 FM.

Using Corporation CCTV cameras and the Garda helicopter, the station will provide information on traffic congestion and accidents, delays caused by special events such as football matches or concerts and parking availability in multi-storey car parks.

It will also broadcast reports from Aer Rianta on traffic conditions and parking availability at Dublin Airport, and details of Dublin Bus, Iarnrod Eireann suburban rail and DART services, as well as information on ferry sailings into Dublin Port and Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Announcing the station yesterday, Mr Keegan said it might, in the future, provide other public service information from warnings on water shortages to details on the playability of corporation football pitches.

He stressed it was “not an entertainment channel” but it would broadcast music during off-peak hours, between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Rather than providing the information through live presenters, the station will use pre-recorded voices. Thousands of traffic-related words and phrases have already been saved on computer and will be pieced together to provide continuous reports.

While the corporation paid tribute to AA Roadwatch for making “a major contribution” to improving access to traffic information, it said the motoring body was able to provide only limited reports because of restricted broadcasting times. In addition, there could be significant delays in broadcasting relevant information. Mr Keegan encouraged other radio stations to use the information from Travel FM if they wished.

The Garda Commissioner, Mr Pat Byrne, said the initiative would not put any extra strain on the Garda helicopter or on gardai who will be asked to provide traffic information to a central unit. “If there was some urgent operation the helicopter would be immediately deployed to deal with it,” he stressed.

Bust-up on the air

Two Breakfast Show co-hosts on a local station in England fell out live on air on Thursday, prompting one of them to storm out of the studio. The row started during a discussion on their programme on Plymouth Sound about customer service. Martin Mills claimed that there was an obligation on shops to give refunds for undamaged goods. However, Vicky Compton was certain that there was none.

Two Breakfast Show co-hosts on a local station in England fell out live on air on Thursday, prompting one of them to storm out of the studio. The row started during a discussion on their programme on Plymouth Sound about customer service. Martin Mills claimed that there was an obligation on shops to give refunds for undamaged goods. However, Vicky Compton was certain that there was none.

A caller rang in to support the female presenter, prompting Mills to ask her if she was “another whinging woman” and then accused her of “spouting emotional crap”. Although a trading standards officer had already confirmed that Mills was right, Compton was enraged at his treatment of both her and the caller. She accused her co-host of being opinionated and “always having to be right”. She slammed down her headphones in disgust and left the studio, with Mills advising her to “put the kettle on while you’re out there.”

He carried on, continually making comments and refusing to apologise. At this point Gavin Marshall, the programme controller, took over, sending Mills home.
Although the pair haven’t been suspended, they refuse to make up and have been ordered to stay off the air until they cool down. Both have confirmed, however, that they will be back on air on Monday. She has admitted to being nervous about her return, but Mills continues to be outspoken.
He said: “I’m sorry I upset Vicky, but at the end of the day I was actually right. Someone accused me of not liking women — that’s rubbish, I love women. I’ve got five of them: one to do the cooking, one to do the cleaning, one to sleep with . . .”

A ‘Grey Wednesday’ for Dublin’s Pirates

Dublin’s FM band was totally clear of unlicensed activity today for the first time since last year’s May ‘Black Tuesday’ raids. Every Dublin-based pirate station was off the air, the vast majority for precautionary reasons.

The unlicensed community have been fearing the worst for the past couple of weeks, and most stations decided not to take the chance of having their equipment confiscated.

ComReg visited some mountain sites today, but it is thought that this was simply to warn landowners of the possible threat of court action for allowing unlicensed broadcasts to originate from their property. However, they have been seen taking photographs of station’s sites in the recent past – usually a precursor to obtaining court warrants in order to enter the property – and this has sent panic through the radio community.

Dance music station Club FM were the last pirate broadcaster on air today. They stopped transmissions at just after 1pm this afternoon. At this stage, every other station had already turned off.

Rhythm FM, who broadcast on 105.7MHz FM, switched off their transmitter last night, as did those behind the carrier on 88.1MHz FM. Other stations had already switched off in the past few days, and those that were left turned off their equipment this morning.

Amongst the stations off the air are: UCB relay on 87.6MHz FM; Jazz FM (90.3MHz); Sugar FM (91.0MHz); the unidentified station on 91.6MHz FM; Ministry FM (93.2MHz); Hot FM (94.1MHz); Nova 947; Gem Radio (97.8MHz); The Vibe (99.4MHz); & Sun FM (101.3MHz).

Today, the only pirate station audible around Dublin city was Passion FM, beaming in on 91.6MHz FM from Kildare. However, by this evening, the usual batch of low-powered stations were back on the air from various locations around the city. Included were: Galaxy 105.3, who have been running live programming tonight; Energy, running automated dance music on 107.6MHz FM; and XFM, the long-term alternative music station who were broadcasting on their usual 107.9MHz.

ComReg have been very active in other parts of the country recently. However, Dublin’s pirates have been relatively free from Comreg interference since the massive attacks of May 20th last year – commonly referred to as ‘Black Tuesday’. Many feel that ComReg are preparing to strike again whilst the memory of last year’s actions are still fresh in the minds.

News Special: Pat Courtenay is back on Dublin radio

Pat Courtenay is back on Dublin radio.

It’s a line that I personally have dreamed of typing in my capacity as a writer for Radiowaves News and now I can do it for real. It may be for just a few minutes a week but it means I can put the old recordings to rest for a while and anticipate being entertained afresh by his unique talent, a talent which has been sorely missed since he departed our shores a decade ago after a fallout with 98FM.

For each of their ten weekends on air, Dublin temporary station 949 The Rock will broadcast a piece by Pat which will premier on Kevin Branigan’s Breakfast Show on Friday mornings. The first piece, which aired last Friday at 8.15am, was vintage Courtenay: guaranteed to send Dublin commuters off to work with a smile on their faces.

The word legend is used far too easily in today’s society, which seems eager to bestow fifteen minutes of fame on anybody who can part their lips (Paris Hilton anyone?), but in Courtenay’s case the word can be applied liberally and freely.

Earlier this week he was kind enough to lend me his ears and his ever-active tongue for a few minutes to answer some questions. I began by asking him how it felt to be back on the radio in Dublin?

Pat: It’s a helluva lot easier when i don’t have to get up at quarter to four in the morning. Here it’s Springtime – seventeen degrees – I can sit in my back garden and record things to go on the radio in Dublin.
To be honest I can’t really remember NOT being on the radio in Dublin; it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was but it was TEN YEARS!
However I’m amazed, and “delirra and excirra” to be perfectly ‘Francis’ with you, that somebody actually asks me to go on the radio in Dublin after all this time. Imagine how you’d feel if, after ten years, somebody gets in touch and says we’ve got a radio station starting up for a couple of months, would you do something for us? It’s very flattering, very very pleasing and I wish I could do a bit more but I don’t have the facilities.

Radiowaves: Has this been your only offer in the last ten years?

Pat: Well there has recently been discussion of a new venture that will probably start there soon, so yeah, there’s a couple of fellows who wouldn’t mind me back on the radio there.

Radiowaves: This could obviously lead to something more permanent – I’m sure it would be possible for you to throw a show together?

Pat: Yeah, and it’s funny but you don’t really think about it until you start doing it. I have actually, in the last week since I did that first piece on The Rock, had a couple of really good ideas which I’d like to try out but, once again, I’m having difficulty with facilities. My recording facilities, at this point, consist of the headset that I’m talking to you on, and the laptop that I’m watching internet porn on while I’m talking to you…oops, actually I’m looking at an aerial picture of O’Connell Bridge.

Radiowaves: Well it’s 12.30 in the early hours of a Monday morning and considering Dublin has changed so much since you were last here, you were probably right the first time.

Pat: Ah, in that case, at 12.30 in the early hours of Monday morning, if Dublin has changed then there WON’T be a naked woman on O’Connell Bridge.

Radiowaves: On the contrary, there’ll probably be a few. You don’t know what you’re missing, in fact I think Dublin started to change the day you left!

Pat: EXCUSE ME! I’ll tell you what it was, I left a few of them for you all…enough to go around at last.

Radiowaves: Ah, so at last we’ve found a reason to be grateful for you leaving! Are you doing any radio for anybody else at the moment?

Pat: No, I’m not doing any radio for anybody else at the moment. Nobody wants me, it’s too hard for them. I was much too hard for them (laughs). It was also bloody hard for me! What I hated was doing Breakfast all the time because all I ever wanted to do was Drive and everybody kept getting me to do Breakfast. I’ve only ever, in my whole time which is a quarter of a century, only done about two and a half years on Drive, the rest was all Breakfast.

Radiowaves: Here’s an idea, how about doing a Breakfast Show for Dublin, or Ireland, from New Zealand on one of the new radio stations that are starting up?

Pat: Oh My God, we could be onto something! You could do it though, couldn’t you. Where the studio facilities do exist it would be possible. After all, we did the 98 Breakfast Show live from Second Avenue during USA 94 and the lads who heard us on the way to the airport dropped in for a pint while we were doing the following morning’s one. It was live, and that was back then, so if you could do something good then you can do something brilliant now. Food for thought!

Radiowaves: Is it true that you recently won an award for a commercial that you did in New Zealand?

Pat: Yeah, it was for one of those companies that makes phonecards that you use when you’re overseas to make cheap calls home and I did a series of commercials, one was in Indian, one was in Cantonese, another one was in Afikaans, but it was the one in German that won an award. It wasn’t me, as such, more the writer, but she wrote them specifically for me to do.
When it comes to awards and me, what I’ve always said about awards is: “Awards, yeah, whatever, show me the money; awards, what a waste, the ceremony’s crap, the food’s lousy,” and you have to clap the people you hate.
But when you win one it’s wicked, it’s brilliant and you get to think of smartarse things to say on the microphone. The very first time I got an award, the very first time ever remember, it was ‘Broadcaster of the Year’ or something, I got up on the microphone and said: “Thanks very much, I’ll put it with the others!” My table of mates cringed and everybody else in the room hates you at that moment but it’s fun, it’s a wind-up.
There weren’t any awards when I was on in Ireland; first, the pirates didn’t have them because we weren’t supposed to be there, we were invisible people; and then they didn’t have awards when the legitimate stations were there because everybody hated each other and no-one could get together. I would’ve liked a few because I reckon Elaine and I would’ve got a few awards…I like to think.

Radiowaves: And definitely yourself and Bob and Fionnuala…

Pat: Bob Gallico, and Fionnuala, and all the people at Energy – we didn’t need awards because we used to have a ball every day…

Radiowaves: Which was your reward…

Pat: It was. It was great fun. Plus the fact that, we’re talking 1987 and in 1987 Chris Cary was giving me £400 cash in my back pocket, every week.

Radiowaves: Even today that’s a lot of money.

Pat: You’re telling me, and as far as we were concerned he might as well’ve walked across to the Leeson Lounge and given it to the barman!

Radiowaves: Was Chris around much in those days?

Pat: No, Sybil really ran the show. When Chris would arrive things would go chaotic and then he’d leave and everything would go right again. He has wonderful ideas but he likes to change things every 5 seconds so, the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, is so true. He fixes things that are not gonna break over the next twenty years, and if it’s been going really well – just leave it. If it is going badly, Chris is a great man to fix it, but sometimes he thinks it’s going badly when it’s not, and he fixes it and it goes badly and then you needed people like Sybil to fix it again.

Radiowaves: So how did you end up on satellite Nova?

Pat: Chris asked me. He invited me over…

Radiowaves: Energy was gone at that point…

Pat: Yeah, I was working as a consultant on a tiny little pirate station up beside the Garda HQ when Chris asked me over. Jim O’Neill was over there at the time, so I thought: “Well, if Jim’s there it’ll be alright.” And it was…for a bit. It was weird, I was in Production as well and I was making promos in other languages, only one of which I could speak!
It was good for a while but Jim and I just got to the end of the year and we couldn’t take any more of the binge-fuelled outbursts, and I won’t say any more about what the binges involved, so we decided that we couldn’t put up with it any longer and we went home for Christmas and that was it.

Radiowaves: A shame, really but I think the whole Nova set-up was on its way out at that point anyway.

Pat: Yeah, for Chris it was a hobby he could afford…

Radiowaves: And, let’s face it, he brought a lot of great radio to this country.

Pat: Didn’t he though. What a lot he gave to an awful lot of us.

Radiowaves: So, from the past right up to the present, what was the last station you worked on?

Pat: It was a very boringly structured network station run out of Auckland to a station about two hours drive outside of Auckland and it was called More FM. They have standalone stations in most of the cities but run controlled programming by a network.

Radiowaves: And you were obviously doing Breakfast there.

Pat: Yeah, I was doing Breakfast there.

Radiowaves: And did you leave there of your own accord or was it mutual agreement?

Pat: I dug my own grave really. I don’t know if I like radio in this country anymore, it’s not so much radio anymore as an office.

Radiowaves: The same can possibly be said about Irish radio…do you listen much?

Pat: Not really. It hasn’t quite got that bad and I’m not sure the country’s mentality will ever allow it to.

There will be more from Pat next week. In the meantime tune into The Rock on 94.9MHz FM in Dublin and 1278kHz AM across Leinster to hear the man in action.

Interview by John Fleming

Dublin Prepares for a Decade in Rewind

A brand new station launches in Dublin this evening. The 90s Network will appear for the first time ever on 99.5MHz FM at midnight. The station is operating under a temporary licence from the BCI and will be on air on weekends through to January 2009.

The 90s Network embraces “a decade in rewind” with news, features and music totally focusing on the 90s.

Some of the presenters on air over the coming weekends are Enda Caldwell, Brian Butterly, Ralph McGarry, Robbie Dunbar, Mike O’Brien, Louise Phelan, Jason Dee and Wayne Scales.

New station for Tallaght launches this weekend

A new temporary licensed station Radio Tallaght, which is a project by Tallaght Community Arts and Tallaght Radio Forum, will broadcast on 99.1MHz FM from this weekend. The new station will be on air between 11am and 6pm from Rua Red, the new South Dublin County Arts Centre, over six weekends in 2009 and will feature programmes created and presented by people from the many diverse communities of Tallaght, many sitting behind a microphone for the first time.

A new temporary licensed station Radio Tallaght, which is a project by Tallaght Community Arts and Tallaght Radio Forum, will broadcast on 99.1MHz FM from this weekend. The new station will be on air between 11am and 6pm from Rua Red, the new South Dublin County Arts Centre, over six weekends in 2009 and will feature programmes created and presented by people from the many diverse communities of Tallaght, many sitting behind a microphone for the first time.
The launch poster

The wide variety of programming and the perspectives covered over the six weekends of broadcasting include ‘My Story’, personal stories narrated by Tallaght people from various cultures, race and age; ‘DJ Challenge’, where a senior citizen and a young person play their individual music choices and exchange musical stories; ‘Sounds of Tallaght’, an audio tour of Tallaght with local historian Tomás Maher, and much much more.

The station is currently being programmed by Artist and Creative Producer, Patricia Baker, who has previously set up and operated Radio On, a temporary arts-focused radio station in Cork City in 2007, and Ralph McGarry. This project is the seventh temporary station he has set up/programmed.

Patricia Baker noted: “Radio Tallaght’s aim is to be a voice for the many diverse communities of Tallaght, to celebrate, explore and connect Tallaght’s rich diversity of environment, culture and people, through the medium of community radio. Tallaght Community Arts is delighted to partner with Tallaght Radio Forum on this exciting project and we look forward to all six broadcasts this year.”

Radio Tallaght will work within a critically-engaged community arts practice context and provide a facility for cultural democracy. It will make a significant contribution to reviving the democratic imagination by identifying work that supports citizens as engaged and collectively organised producers rather than passive, individualised consumers.

Tallaght Radio Forum is a group of community enthusiasts who have an interest in radio as a means of community development. It was set up in 2008, initially to bring together interested individuals and groups to explore the concept of community radio.

Radio Tallaght will broadcast on 99.1MHz FM, from 11am to 6pm, on the following dates: January 17th and 18th, March 21st and 22nd, June 20th and 21st, September 19th and 20th, October 17th and 18th, and December 19th and 20th.