Dublin radio is a shambles

21st July 2000

THE death notices provide the metropolitan ego with something to sneer about when visiting the country. This is the practice on local stations of reading out the details of recent deaths and their funeral arrangements.

Instead of laughing, Dubliners should be crying bitter tears at the failure of radio in Dublin to provide anything as useful on our stations.

The best they can do are the traffic reports – which are invariably useless. Breathless reporters tell us its hell on Pearse Street, as if everyone didn’t know it already. I don’t believe that I have ever avoided a traffic jam because of a traffic report.

Radio in Dublin falls between all sorts of stools. The national stations cover Dublin superficially, never getting into the local issues or news here. In the process they fail the local listener while giving everyone else the impression that they are obsessed with Dublin issues.

It’s no wonder that in places like Donegal local radio is notching up 85% of the audience.

The independent radio franchise in Dublin has been handed to two identical stations whose sole remit is to get as much money out of the Dublin market for the least investment.

Their contribution to current affairs coverage comes from their late night talk shows where ill-educated drunks slobber on about teenage pregnancies, dole spongers and immigrants, while Gerry Springer wannabes egg them on to greater feats of personal degradation.

God help us.

We do have Anna Livia FM but because it is not set up on a commercial basis it hasn’t the funds to market itself and so it hasn’t been able to build up market share.

The other community stations around the city are in a similar situation and effectively cannot carry out their remit to provide a service to local communities. I worked on one, West Dublin Community Radio, and while the commitment of the staff there is fantastic the audience figures are negligible. These places are really training stations but have the potential to become much more if they were allowed to do so.

If people think that radio in Dublin is good they should consider the issue of sport. Listening to local radio down the country you can hear local sport getting constant coverage. Fixture previews, interviews, nightly reports and on weekends, live coverage of everything from GAA to golf, soccer to snooker. It may only be someone on the end of a mobile phone but the effort is there.

Now consider Dublin.

None of the stations here carry local fixtures. National League matches involving, say, St Pat’s and Bohs, are not broadcast (I know that NEAR FM have made the effort).

The county finals of the GAA are not on the air, a situation unthinkable in any other county in the South.

The latest addition is Lite Fm whose remit is apparently to schmaltz us into unconsciousness. At least that way we won’t have to worry about what’s happening in Dublin.

A news station, Newstalk 106, is promised but as the launch date postponements mount up it’s looking an increasingly forlorn prospect.

A couple of things are obvious. To me, at least.

The powers that be don’t want a strong Dublin station because it would be a threat to RTE Radio 1.

Secondly, the issuing of licenses to every interest group and their dog will defer the emergence of a strong Dublin station indefinitely.

What can be done?

Firstly on a citywide basis, Anna Livia is our best bet. It should be allowed to operate on a commercial basis and should also have access to municipal funding on the basis of a public service remit.

As well as that, far more local stations should be set up to broadcast for an hour a day, with the hour repeated around the clock so that people can tune in when the time suits. These stations would typically broadcast over a two mile radius and cover the local issues that are completely ignored at the moment.

Radio is probably the greatest of all the media. We in Dublin have been denied it.


As well as that…

Let’s have a look at it

I’vE decided to come out.

I like the Spire. There, I said it.

But it’s a lonely road because there can’t be many projects around as hated as this one.

So I have a solution – do a mock-up. It shouldn’t be hard to get together a relatively cheap structure that would demonstrate how the Spire will look. I think when people see it they’ll like it.

Nothing too expensive, just something that will stay up in the calm days of summer. After all, the real Spire will cost £3 million. Should we not take it for a test run before parting with the cash?

Maynooth’s stationary line

A new train station is planned for Porterstown on the Maynooth line. It’s part of a gradual expansion.

A couple of years back CIE rebuilt Drumcondra staion at a cost of £1.5 million. And there’s talk of new stations at Lucan North and Intel.

Not to mention the stop at the fabulous Stadium Ireland.

And they’re spending millions doubling the track between Clonsilla and Maynooth.

Next thing, they’ll be putting trains on it.