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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10 Comments
  1. Liam Byrne on Facebook says

    What is it with Dublin stations wanting to go nationwide ? I’d love to see one of those pilot licences coming from somewhere outside the pale, for example a national version of Munster’s legendary ERI.

    It’d be great for people to get a proper career on national radio without having to move to Dublin; look at KC on Red who moved home, and was lost to the national airwaves as a result.

  2. Andy Linton on Facebook says

    Like and agree with Kevin’s final comment there!

  3. Ray Cabs on Facebook says

    I’m not licking up to anyone but I’d rather see a certain radio station from the south east being able to broadcast and be heard in Kilkenny. Up to 2 years ago they were on and were able to play music that I enjoyed all day. They always put their music first. The presenters were informative when they were talking as it was always about the music. They had no fear of playing 2, 3, 6, 10 or 20 minute tracks if they were good. All I’ll say the 1st letter was Z but it was no Z list station.

  4. Éamonn Bolger on Facebook says

    All academic at this point. Anyone with an unlimited data an and Bluetooth can now listen to any channel in the world – not just Ireland.

    I regularly listen to q102 in Waterford.

  5. eoinindahouze says

    Exciting times for my favourite station!

  6. Andrew Riordan says

    I personally consider Nova to be a weak operator as they are so musically dilluted and don’t fufill their Classic-Rock remit under the BAI guidlines. How often do you hear Megadeath, ACDC, Metallica, Black Sabath, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, and Pearl Jam? Dad Rock which is Radio Nova’s Friday night offering of hard rock music. Nova consider themselves a Classic Rock station, they should be playing hard Rock more frequently such as on their daytime schedules and not sanitising it down with Phil collins, Beatles, Billy Joel 10CC and Dire straits all the time. What I hear when I occasionally tune in is Dire Straits, Phil Collins, Talking heads, to name but a few. Not good enough radio Nova. Classic Hits 4fm are playing this soft classic pop, so let them do that

  7. Andy Linton on Facebook says

    Nova actually don’t promote themselves as a classic rock station. The licence was advertised as such, but Nova have never on air said that’s what they are. Unfortunately the business model forced upon the FM stations here by the BAI means that niche music isn’t viable, so stations like Nova have to dilute their output so that it just leans a little on one side of mainstream, just to make it pay.
    If DAB were to be licensed by the BAI, at a low cost model, there’d be an outlet for true niche music stations. Try Zenith on DAB right now – a mix of classic rock and album tracks. Zenith, or a solely Country, or Nostalgia, or Beautiful Music, or Oldies, would be viable on that platform.
    But BAI policy is effectively driven by the existing FM stations, as they find the BAI. And they don’t want any more competition, which is why the BAI are dragging their heels over DAB.

  8. Liam Byrne on Facebook says

    Andy’s spot-on; Dublin’s County became “Country Mix” and finally “Sunshine”, dropping any reference to their original remit of country music, while “Lite FM” became Q102; you could nearly hear the same middle-of-the-road soft country rock on all stations at the same time these days

  9. Andrew Riordan says

    Thanks Andy for that very informative reply. You know your stuff.

  10. Tommy Quille says

    When is The Rock returning to Limerick city on 105.5 fm

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