don't want McDonalds - I'll have
is Irelands National Youth Broadcaster. Having said
that, perhaps I am over-specifying its purpose. It's not really
like Britain's apparant equivalent Radio
the sense that it has a wider demographic musically, and seems
to serve more as a community service than Radio One ever did.
I guess its not fair to compare them, but people seem to do
that because they are both national popular music services.
When I were a lad, it was called Radio
Two. Run by RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann, Irelands National Broadcaster)
Radio Two was created to combat the pirate radio stations, of
which there were literally hundreds scattered throughout Ireland
from the early seventies to the late eighties.
I remember when Radio Two first hit the airwaves in
April 1979. It was a friday and I was at art class in the school
where I lived, in Limerick, on the west coast. I was regularly
sneaking out the dorm window at night to secretly spin 45's
on a local pirate station called LBC (Limerick Broadcasting
Company), so I was pretty tired that friday, following a Thursday
night of illegal broadcasting activity! Gee, the things we got
away with in that boarding school!
Gogan did the first show of the opening of Radio Two (that
is, after all the boring politicians drivelled on about stuff
no 15 year old would understand or care about). So there was
Larry, spinning his first tune on a station clearly set up to
offset the robbed ratings from all those pirate stations operating
from people's sheds, attics, and whereever else. If I recall
correctly it was The Boomtown Rats, but I can't be sure. Larry
Gogan still holds that afternoon slot on 2FM today, but boy,
how that station has grown around him over the quarter of a
century that has since passed.
"Comin' at ya" was the call sign from RTE's new "pop"
radio service back in '79. And come at us they did. With records
that could not be played in full because RTE were not prepared
to pay the full royalties. Come at us they did, with "stunted"
DJ's whose lyrical nature was controlled and muffled by a stoic
old-school team of autocrats who were still reeling from the
shock that someone decided to actually go ahead with this "pop"
station. RTE started this new station in an effort to stave
off the hunger for pirate radio, and later found themselves
up against the ultimate weapon, the ultra-polished "Super"
pirate station Radio Nova, who swept the whole country with
a slick American style radio no one in the whole of Europe had
heard before, never mind Ireland! But RTE were bad. Real bad.
And now they were in trouble. They had just spent all that public
money, and a pirate station (Nova) was cleaning up. No abate.
The whole situation got so bad, RTE started illegally jamming
Nova's signal, but hey, that's another story!
So needless to say, as a young chap doing news on Nova, I absolutely
hated Radio Two. Then a couple of years later, to my utter horror,
they stole Nova's top presenter John
Clarke! I soon realised that RTE's way of beating Nova was
to take their presenters. And over the following years, they
took a hell of a lot of them!
The years passed, and I left Ireland to live in the UK, Israel
and France, eventually ending up in Australia. That period of
time was mostly pre-internet, so I had no idea what was going
on radio-wise in Ireland. After all I could not hear radio there.
In the late 90's I was suddenly able to hear Irish radio again
through the net. Well now, that was an eye-opener. Living in
Sydney, I am well used to "formatted" radio, and how
atrocious it can (and usually) is. Local radio in Dublin can
be quite atrocious too.
Okay. okay, I can hear you screaming "RADIO NOVA
WAS A FORMATTED STATION". Okay! You're right!
It was! But it's selection of music was carefully planned (mostly
by John Clarke), and the DJ's WERE allowed to have personalities!
John Clarke - what a personality! - Gareth
Quigley, and the list goes on. I've known these people,
and I can still hear them today - not on local radio stations
in Dublin, but on that old rusty "Radio Two" that
was upgraded to 2FM somewhere between when I left Ireland and
the new millennium. 2FM is clearly "personality driven".
The two biggest commercial stations in Dublin are clearly format-driven
and it drives me nuts. No offence to my mates who work on those
stations, but these stations are sooooooo boring!
there are exceptions, Phantom FM being one of them. Newstalk
106 being another. Even Dublin's Country. Look the point I'm
making here is not to trash the commercial stations in Dublin.
That has been done enough already. I'm just very impressed with
2FM, and I find two great ironies here. The first one is that
the national pop station ends up being the one that I admire,
and the second is that the commercial stations were partly
created because the national pop station didn't have it's shit
together, and now it is kicking their asses because they have
fallen into the broadcasting abyss I call "globally organised
diahorrea". It's like fast food. It tastes the same all
over the world. Problem is, I don't eat fast food.
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