A new station, Serenity Radio, will be broadcasting in the Limerick area within ten days. That is the confident prediction made by Gerry Hannon, the former Radio Limerick One (RLO) presenter and owner, when speaking to Radiowaves News this morning.
RLO was raided by Comeg just before Christmas, a blow that has put the final nail in the coffin of the infamous pirate station which was renowned for its very public stance against radio regulation.
Gerry insists that RLO should have been allowed to continue. “It was not competing with the county’s only commercial station, in fact RLO’s average listener would be everything that Live 95’s wasn’t,” he says defiantly.
According to Hannon, Serenity Radio will effectively operate on a five year community licence, likely to broadcast in the lower end of the FM band.
He says: “We will be using a series of the new low-power ‘church licences’ to cover the Limerick area, with the construction and erection of transmitters and aerials in six different locations. Although these licences were not intended for the FM band, there is a clause that allows the Minister of Communications to change the details ‘at his discretion’. These are the details we are presently ironing out but I am confident we will be on air very shortly.”
None of the transmitters will be allowed to operate at higher than 4 watts but their planned locations should allow for full coverage of the Limerick area.
Meanwhile Gerry confirmed that he will be running in the upcoming election with the primary objective of “opening up Limerick’s airwaves & advocating greater freedom of expression”.
Gerry contends that: “…for far too long the people of Ireland have been deceived by the lies, misinformation, dishonesty and lack of information from our so-called leading politicians.”
He doesn’t mince his words and his distaste for the controlling excesses of authority continues unabated: “The purpose of my candidacy is to highlight the frightening new trend of reallocation of decision-making power to independent authorities such as the BCI and ComReg. Elected representatives have run for cover from issues such as this and protected themselves by blaming the unpopular decisions on these quasi non-governmental organizations; such organizations are financed by the government yet act independently of the government. Meanwhile, the politicians pay themselves exaggerated salaries for merely reassigning their power over to non-elected bureaucrats. The time has come for a change in Irish politics and for the reintroduction of truth, decency and justice. The only way to really achieve this is by permanently replacing the corruption and arrogance, which seems to have become the norm of Irish political life, with new, younger and less traditional politicians with new fresh approaches and attitudes toward contemporary issues.”
Strong words, and anybody who would treat his election campaign lightly should be warned that in his last Euro election campaign he gained enough votes to represent Limerick if the numbers were transferred across.
With just one commercially-licensed station available in the Limerick area, one of the largest population centres in the country, Hannan’s anger at the way the radio industry has been subjected to government interference and control shows no signs of dying down, despite the fact that he has now spent 25 years broadcasting to his listenership.
He says: “The existence of the BCI has stunted the growth of the national airwaves by not only restricting the amount of licences issued, but also the manner in which they are issued.”
There is a sense that his election promises are not empty ones, unlike the ones that voters the world over have become all too familiar with.
Gerry says: “It is time to convince the electorate, with actions rather than words, that there is still truth and honesty in Irish politics. I will demonstrate this, if elected, by showing other politicians, by clear example, how to restore faith. I have pledged to donate my salary to pay for the upkeep of Serenity Radio as a free and legal service to the thousands of people who support me. I have no interest in the ‘gravy train’ and by donating my salary I will continue to live my life like the people who have elected me.”
Even if elected, Gerry’s trademark and outspoken late-night show will continue. He plans to use it to educate his constituents on the workings of the Dail, and to communicate directly with them on the issues that matter to them.
He says: “I will consult with them on all matters put before me and will further allow them to have their say on the open airwaves with regard to every single solitary decision I have to make. The entire purpose of my tenure in Dail Éireann will be to act exclusively on behalf of my constituents and the power they bestow on me will be to do their bidding and not my own.”
Love or loathe his show, and anybody who’s heard it certainly has a strong opinion of it, there is no doubt that it has a huge audience of listeners who are not catered for by any other station. Gerry told me a story of a funeral of a listener he attended recently, a woman he had never met, and on the coffin was placed a picture of him and a radio. You sense that it’s moments like those that convince him that his fight is one that is worthy.