AN East Clare community radio station’s immediate future on the air has been secured after it was approved for a broadcasting licence, writes Dan Danaher.
Scariff Bay Communty Radio is literally back on the wireless after securing another 100-day licence from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
This will ensure the station will continue to broadcast every weekend for the next 12 months.
This latest licence, which came into force on Saturday is another boost to the station’s recent application for a 10-year licence, which is expected to be decided upon within the next six months.
While no final decision has been made on the 10-year licence, early indications are positive, according to station public relations officer, Eoin O’Hagan. He said the BAI is very happy with the station’s governance, studio set-up and financial foundation.
“We have built up a huge cohort of hard working and willing volunteers who give up their time and energy free to allow people to tell their stories,” said Mr O’Hagan.
“We are telling stories that sometimes don’t make it to commercial radio because there is no money in some of the stories that we tell.”
“We specifically target the East Clare diaspora by covering local Gaelic games and camogie matches. People are tuning in from all over the world to listen to match commentaries from Leo Doyle and Pat McNamara,” he said.
“The radio plays we broadcast proved to be very popular as there was nothing happening in theatre during lockdown when all theatrical venues were closed,” Mr O’Hagan noted.
“People tuned in on their droves to listen to these plays online and on FM. We are going from strength to strength. More people are coming on board. We want to support anyone interested in making a radio programme,” he added.
Recently, the station broadcast a new sports programme “Hopping the Ball”, with presenter, Ger Hoey from Killanena, a well-known GAA referee, who is keen on providing a new angle.
Mr O’Hagan also pointed out that broadcasting 11am Sunday Mass from the Sacred Heart Church, Scariff, gave people, particularly the elderly, an opportunity to tune in and get Mass in the past year.
Led by board chairman, Jim Collins, the station has up to 40 volunteers including board members, local correspondents, presenters and researchers, who are keen to learn the best way to tell interesting stories.
A group of presenters recently completed a Level Four QQI course on radio research and production delivered by Wired FM station master, Ray Burke.
Scariff Bay Community Radio, which first took to the airwaves in 2016, is getting very good feedback from listeners.
“You could be standing in the supermarket or having a drink in a local bar and someone will come up to you and say ‘I really enjoyed that show or GAA match, drama or requests show. This type of feedback from the local community is what we thrive on,” said Mr O’Hagan.
Funding was received from councillors in the Killaloe Municipal District and Clare LEADER for a new studio, which is situated in Scariff GAA/ Derg Action Alliance, and was fitted out with equipment last year.
Having a purpose-built wheelchair-accessible studio with sound insulation and modern equipment is one of the requirements for any station applying for a 10-year licence.
The station will conduct a live broadcast of the official launch of ‘The Scariff Martyrs, War, Murder and Memory in East Clare’, by historian, Tomás MacConmara at Scariff GAA clubhouse next Saturday.
The station is live at weekends on a 100-day licence, 9am-9pm on 88.3FM in Scariff, Mountshannon, Feakle and 92.7FM in Tulla and Broadford.