The BAI has received three applications for the niche music independent radio licence for Dublin City and County, currently broadcasting as Sunshine 106.8.
Current contract holders STAR Broadcasting Limited, which runs Sunshine, is being challenged in the licence process by Easy FM Ltd (with a proposed station name of Country FM) and URadio.
Easy FM currently runs an online station and is led by Mike McClure aka Mike Ryan, a former presenter on stations including Dublin’s Country 106.8fm, Midland’s 103 and Ocean fm. He’s joined on the board of the company by radio industry stalwarts including Keith Shanley (formerly Programme Director & presenter at Country Mix, presenter on KFM Kildare, Midlands in Tullamore, KCLR and South East Radio); Brendan Magee (country presenter on Midwest and Northwest Radio 1993-2005 and breakfast on Ocean FM Sligo); and Martin Block (co-founder of FM104, Q102 and 4FM).
In its application, the group says: “Country FM has been created first and foremost as a pure Country Music Station. It will be clearly and immediately different from all the stations that exist in the Dublin marketplace. Its aim is to be a small-scale station of distinction-easily identified for its quality and credibility with a country audience. Put simply, the philosophy behind Country FM will be an uncompromising approach to satisfy its listeners with great country music.”
Keith Shanley told RadioToday: “Acting on behalf of Easy Fm, using the name Country Fm for our license application, we have spent the last two and a half years putting a format and a very experienced and knowledgeable Management team together to take on the Niche Radio License for Dublin City and County. Our extensive research has shown that there is a Market for a 100% Country Music Radio Station. Our Research has also shown that a Niche Country Music Radio Station will only be successful if there is Real Passion and most important Knowledge for the Country Music played. We will not be hiring Household Names that do not have a Passion or Interest in Country Music, as I believe this is where mistakes have been made in the past. Our aim is to provide a unique sounding and easily identifiable 100% Country Music Radio Station, to our listeners, which will promote Irish New Country Talent and all Country Music in General which is not served by Radio in Dublin City and County.”
URadio says 100 percent of its music output will be by Irish bands or singers. The proposed station would be aimed at the 25-44 age group, with the aim of promoting Irish music, increasing the visibility of Irish artists and introducing original ‘new blood’ to the Irish radio landscape. In its application, the station writes: “As there is no Irish music quota for Irish radio stations at this point, URadio will stand alone in providing a totally unique alternative to current radio station offerings. A substantial part of URadio’s broadcasting will be devoted to live music and acoustic sessions.” URadio says 30 percent of its surplus funds will be used to finance and promote new Irish artists and acts.
URadio founder and sole shareholder Olivier Mauxion is French and has worked for radio stations across Europe and beyond – including in Turkey, Russia, Czech Republic and France. Programme Controller for URadio will be Rachael Kilgallon, who currently runs a careers business.
Olivier told RadioToday: “URadio is already online at uradio.ie and after two months we have more than 4500 fans on Facebook and 2600 twitter followers without any advertising or PR. We are delighted with listener interest to date and hope to continue giving them more of what they want to hear on a larger scale.”
He added: “Uradio is the story of passionate professionals who have been developing radio stations worldwide for many years (production, music scheduling, sales, promotion etc.). We’ve met some incredibly talented and enthusiastic people in Ireland and as a result, URadio’s desire is to develop an exciting and engaging station that will truly help to promote contemporary Irish artists.”
Sunshine 106.8 says it has delivered on its promise to deliver a niche service over the last 12 years and to date more than €4m has been invested in setting up the station and funding its operations. Star Broadcasting Limited says, in its experience and from market research, “any music-led radio service focusing exclusively on the ‘pure country’ format will not only struggle to survive in today’s market but will also be unviable if it is to provide any meaningful employment and garner a reasonable audience share in the medium to long term.” Instead, it’s proposing a niche music-led specialist service which will include country music as a key element on the playlist as it “evolves into a service that can be sufficiently popular to survive and grow.”
Read the Sunshine re-application.
Sean Ashmore from Sunshine told us: “We’re delighted to be submitting our proposals for the next 10 years and are excited with our plans for developing the station and to maximise its potential for the next contract.”
Sunshine’s current contract is due to run out on 30th September 2014.