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A new voice for Gort

Gort is going global thanks to a new project in the town, which it is hoped, will bring the South Galway town to a new audience.
It is not technically on the airwaves but Gort Local Radio is online. Broadcasting intermittently for the past few weeks, founder and volunteer Donal Hanlon believes South Galway needs its own voice.
“This came about through a radio media production course that the VEC run in Gort. It is led by Sinead Morgan and I was on the course since last November. I approached Sinead and I told her I felt Gort needed a local radio station. There is no radio station between Clare FM and Galway Bay FM. They cover Gort but they are commercial radio stations. This is totally community based,” he explained.
Community Radio Stations are owned and controlled by the communities they serve.
“We like Connemara FM. It is a good community station and that is one of the standards you look at. I visited the studios there. It is a great set up. They have three studios and they are going 25 years. They have won so many awards and what they do is just fantastic,” he said.
So far the feedback has been positive, according to Donal.
“When I approached Sinead with the idea I had to start a community radio station in Gort, she gave it the go ahead to a study about two or three months ago. I took the study on and felt there was a market there and we started broadcasting four weeks ago. We are only online at the moment until we get funding to purchase a mast and a transmitter and only then will we be able to apply for a community FM licence,” he outlined.
“I asked a lot of people if they would be interested in a radio station in Gort. We went around with a microphone and approached people and asked them what they thought about the idea. They said it was badly needed and since then a lot of people have come on board. Fiona O’Driscoll and Brid McCann, Fidelma Larkin and Sinead Morgan in particular have given massive support to the project,” he said.
Gort has an advantage on many other towns with FM aspirations because it already has a studio. That said its online broadcasting has so far been sporadic due to volunteer and studio availability.
“We are still brand new. Some weeks we broadcast for four hours live, others two, but they would be the exception,” Donal stated.
“The kind of programme we are doing at the moment is that we have people in Gort coming in and telling us about local events. One day we had a girl in talking about her new business that she was starting. We also had a lady in from Forgotten Horses, the previous week we had Gort Youth Cafe and the ladies in from the Gort Show. Last week we had people in talking about the Lady Gregory Writers’ event taking place this October. The station is all about the promotion of Gort. We want to get the Brazilian community on board. We are also looking at the various clubs. Soccer, the GAA, the rugby, we want to involve them all and they will all have a part to play down the road,” he added.
For now, the fledgling station needs volunteers.
“We are looking for all types of volunteers: people with some experience in broadcasting and some people who could help out with fundraising and promotion of the station, we are looking for people with on air and technical skills too. But beyond that we are asking anyone who has any ideas on what they want from the station, to get in touch and tell us about it. This is not for me, this is for the people of Gort,” Donal said.
While many companies and organisations are moving online, for Gort local radio the future is in the air.
“Where we are going to go is to look for the FM licence and then we will be able to set up a proper community station. Online is very limited. It is hard to build an audience but if we can get a committee together and get funding and a licence then we can be of more benefit to the people of Gort,” Donal concluded.
To listen to Gort Local Radio log on to http://gortlocalradio.wordpress.com/

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