Nova aims Nationwide as Rock Returns

Radio Nova CEO Kevin Branigan is aiming to make the Dublin-based rock station the next national broadcaster in Ireland following the return of his multi-city temporary station “The Rock”.

From the second week in September, the Dublin-based classic rock station will bring back their pilot station – which originally broadcast to Dublin only as “949 The Rock” in 2007 and 2008 in the run-up to the launch of Radio Nova itself.

The Rock’s first pilot run as a multi-city station was over 6 weekends in October and November of 2013 when it went out on FM to Cork, Limerick and Galway and was managed by Dan McDermott – now a presenter with former Phantom FM supremo Simon Maher’s online station 8Radio.

The station was the first FM radio broadcaster with a classic rock format – or indeed any specialist format – to be available in the cities of Cork, Limerick & Galway. Its presenters included Pat James, Gerry Healy and Tony Ainscough – as well as Brendan Flanagan & Niall O’Keeffe who, between them, counted down the station’s listener-generated Top 50 Classic Rock Songs chart.

This year, The Rock is adding Waterford, Kilkenny, Drogheda and Dundalk to its coverage areas, with the aim being quite clear – to gain a full-time broadcasting license for Radio Nova to be heard in all those areas, meaning a transition from the station’s current “Dublin city & commuter belt” license to either a “quasi-national” or a full national one.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Kevin Branigan said: “This is the second [multi city] pilot we have run and the purpose is to assess the level of interest and the market potential for a rock station around the country. This is purely a pilot license so we are not regarding it as a commercial venture and there will be no ads on the station. We got a fantastic response from listeners and the function of this trial is to follow up on the research we did the last time”.

Looking to the future, Branigan said: “Ultimately we plan to go to the BAI and then convince them to allow for it in their licensing plans”. He added that this could create “the only national independent radio station that is not owned by Denis O’Brien”.

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