Thousands of euro has been raised for the first online community radio station in East Clare.
A group of eight people from Scariff were all on the one wavelength concerning the need for a new radio station broadcasting news and sport online at weekends and the promoters of Scariff Bay Community Radio are planning their debut broadcast later this month.
While a definitive schedule has not yet been decided, it is expected the internet radio station will be live for two hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
After Raidio Corca Baiscinn, which is based in Kilkee, this will become the second community station that is currently operating in the county. Jet FM operated for a seven-year period in Shannon until it ceased in 2011 and this was followed by an offshoot Rinn Fm, which broadcast for about a year.
A fundraising target of €4,000 had been set by the promoters to cover the initial start-up costs and the estimated annual running costs of €2,500 for the not-for-profit station. The group are very close to meeting their target thanks to a great response to a recent drive for donations from sports and community groups throughout the area.
Up to 12 people are committed to working on the station once it is up and running and will cover news, sport, drama, history, Irish traditional music, festivals and other local events in Whitegate, Mountshannon, Ogonnelloe, O’Callaghan’s Mills, Tulla, Bodyke, Scariff, Feakle and Kilkishen.
It is the brainchild of Scariff community activist, Jim Collins, who discussed the idea with Brendan Magill, who is involved in the local golf club, last December. The idea quickly took shape.
As principal of Mountshannon National School, where he has taught for the last 36 years, Mr Collins has been involved in the development of Derg Credit Union, Scariff Community Council and Scariff GAA Club, having played club hurling at underage level.
While the group also includes another two teachers, former Scariff Community College principal, John S Kelly and current principal, Angela McNamara, a strong sense of community spirit and involvement is the thread that unites all of them.
The steering group, which has got great support from other community groups, also consists of Mr Magill, Marie McMahon, Mary Nash, Marie NcNamara and Eileen Crotty.
Scariff GAA Club has been very supportive and has even provided a room in the community centre, which is being equipped and turned into the new radio studio.
While Mr Collins acknowledges they are amateurs in the media business, he hopes they will be able to learn quickly on the job. He also hopes that teenagers attending Scariff Community School, who are interested in a media career, will become involved in the new station.
“We would like to promote local singers and musicians who are trying to make a start in their career. We want to help the development of local talent.
“While it is a not-for-profit station, it will have to pay for itself. There will be some element of local advertising but the main source of income will come from local fundraising subject to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland guidelines,” he added.
“The new station will help foster even more community spirit and give more confidence for people in local communities. It will also help to give local people a greater sense of identity. It will connect communities with each other and highlight what we have to offer in East Clare, such as fishing and recreational water sports on Lough Derg.
“Looking on social media, there is a huge interest from people living abroad to learn about what is happening in North and East Clare. We hope to play a role in the economic development of the area that will provide more job opportunities to encourage emigrants to come home,” he said.
The new service, which will not be a private station, will take a gradual route by building up slowly. New stations have the option to apply to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for a 30-day or 100-day licence, or one for a special event for a further application for a full licence.
The group plans to put some of their main programmes on podcast, so that listeners at home and abroad can listen to them at a later stage if they miss them live.
While the sound online isn’t quite as good as FM, the group are hoping the quality will be good enough to attract plenty of listeners
Mr Collins said he was always interested in radio and remembers listening to an old pye valve pre-transistor radio when he was three or four years of age. When it was turned on, you had to wait for the valves to heat up before it became operational. He also loved using an old CB two-way radio in the late ’70s and ’80s.
He was also keenly interested in satellite television and was involved in the erection of a large dish that helped people in Scariff get up to seven channels during the days of two-channel television (RTÉ One and RTÉ Two).
By Dan Danaher