This week In Radio 8/4/2023 (we spoke to the campaigners fighting to save Long Wave 252)

Lots happens in the radio industry each week so here’s a summary of the week we just enjoyed.

Here’s what happened

RTEs long wave transmitter

Last week we spoke about RTE’s plans to shut down their Radio 1 service on 252 Long Wave. After we published, we were contacted by the campaign group Save RTE LW 252, who’s aim as the name suggests is to, well, Save RTE LW 252.

We asked the group to answer some questions explaining how they respond to some of the justifications used by RTÉ. They provided some interesting responses, which you can read below.

1. RTE have estimated that continuing to support LW would cost approximately €400,000 a year. Why should this go into supporting LW instead of more modern digital platforms and content?

We are only seeking to extend the longwave until there is a better alternative for the audience. The Consultative Group of key stakeholders on this issue recommended in 2017 that RTE establish a replacement service on DAB+ digital radio in Britain. The shutdown is premature, because this has not happened – but it could be on its way: The Media Bill 2023, published on 29 March and currently working its way through the UK Parliament, would specifically allow for Irish broadcasters like RTE and others to apply for broadcast licenses in Britain.

Until then, the €250,000 RTE has said it will cost this year should be set against the value it provides. The people who are most reliant on the longwave service are the emigrants of the 1950s and 1960s who left Ireland to work in England and send money back to feed and house their families – it’s estimated these emigrants sent back the equivalent of 5.7 billion euro in today’s money between 1940 and 1970. That is money that these people didn’t put away for themselves, and many of them are isolated and vulnerable now. A tenth of one-percent of RTE’s budget is a small price to pay to keep our citizens in touch with their home.

Shutting this down prematurely, before appropriate alternatives are in place, will likely have significant mental health impacts on the population that relies on it – for some, increasing their isolation and loneliness as it severs their link with Ireland forever. It would be impossible to come up with a budget for other supports that could make up for the impact it will have on this community. And what a message for Ireland to send to the global Irish diaspora: we’ll take what you can give, but we’ll forget your sacrifice when it might cost us a fraction of your generosity to return the favor.

2. LW is using 2.5% of RTE’s electricity. Outside of the financial cost of this, RTÉ also mention the impact of this on their climate targets. How would you respond to this?

We understand the environmental concerns, and we certainly support long-term solutions that will address them. In the short term, however, we still need to make difficult choices between environmental and social concerns; this is one time where the social concerns need to take precedence until there are environmentally-friendly alternatives in place.

3. Radio 1 is widely available in the UK on both digital platforms and television services. Why isn’t this enough?

It’s important to consider the needs of older people with few resources, who are likely to be in most need of this service. People really value the accessibility of ordinary radios. We need to take into account the digital divide, and how it affects this population – Age UK estimated in 2022 that 40% of people over 75 in Britain have no access to the internet. The television services are useful but they are not practical for the same kind of listening as people of all ages and tech capabilities do with a portable radio – moving from room to room, having it available in the car.

The Department of Foreign Affairs funded a study into the listenership in 2016. The researchers were overwhelmed by the number of responses they got, with over 3,000 listeners phoning in to report how valuable the service is – most of them saw it as a lifeline, with 92% listening every day. Over half of them reported they weren’t confident they could access the radio on a digital device – 61% said they would need help, and 68% of them said they had no one to help them. Only about 40% of them were in touch with Irish organizations in Britain, so it will be very difficult to reach these listeners.

4. do you see a time when it will be acceptable for RTÉ to end the service, or should it be maintained indefinitely?

We are seeking a postponement – we believe a better solution is imminent. This is the reasonable solution – to hold off until the British legislation is passed, and RTE is broadcasting through DAB+. The Irish government commited in 2017 to an awareness campaign for the transition, so that will be an essential stage in the process – once everything is in place, scheduling the shutdown would be appropriate

5. Finally, this campaign was successful back in 2014. Do you think you will have the same success this time? And are you preparing for the possibility of the campaign not being successful?

We are extremely concerned about being given only two weeks’ notice of the shutdown. This simply isn’t enough time to get the word out about the shutdown and to help this audience – and it’s nowhere near enough time for RTE to fulfill its promise of working with the Department of Foreign Affairs to help transition this audience. We would really encourage everyone who cares about ths community to sign and share our petition, contact their politicians, and also to reach out to any listeners they may know to spread the word.

Do you agree?

There are really strong points on both sides of the debate, so thankyou to the Save RTE LW 252 group for reaching out.

The group was successful back in 2014, but can they do it again nearly 10 years on? We’ll need to wait and see.

The campaign group are asking people to sign a petition if they support their aim. that petition is linked below.

Sign the petition or get more info here

⁨Coimisiún na Meán⁩ logo

In other news this week, ⁨Coimisiún na Meán⁩ have announced the final Sound And Vision funding decisions made by the BAI before they got replaced.

It’s always good to see quality broadcasting getting funded, so let’s take a look at what got money.

There were two rounds of Sound and vision, rounds 47 and 48. Round 47 was the normal sound and vision style format, where production companies applied to make shows for broadcasters. Round 48 however was a dedicated round for community broadcasters.

In round 47, 96 projects got funding, with a total value of approximately €7.29m. Here are some of the projects that got funded.

  • The fantastic kids audio drama Nero’s Class is getting a second series. The project has been awarded €13,444 for 10 episodes.
  • To Heaven or Gubacreeny is a drama for Newstalk. It’s receiving €10,320 from the scheme.
  • A Rare Kingdom is a science and nature documentary for Radio Kerry. €11,354 has been allocated by the scheme for the project.

As for round 48, 16 community broadcasters got support. They were.

  • Athlone Community Radio – €40,000.00
  • Community Radio Castlebar – €21,000.00
  • Connemara Community Radio – €39,473.00
  • DCTV – €74,856.00
  • Dublin South 93.9FM – €36,000.00
  • Flirt FM – €29,842.00
  • Liffey Sound FM – €16,991.00
  • Phoenix FM – €35,968.00
  • Raidió na Life – €30,000.00
  • Community Radio Kilkenny City – €37,367.00
  • Cork Community Television – €75,000.00
  • Dublin City FM – €40,000.00
  • Dundalk FM – €36,000.00
  • Life FM – €30,000.00
  • NEAR 90fm/Near TV – €40,000.00
  • Raidió Corca Baiscinn – €35,765.00
  • Ros FM – €36,000.00

It really is great to see media being supported in this way, but we’ll need to wait and see how ⁨Coimisiún na Meán⁩ evolve the Sound and Vision scheme going forward.

Read the story here

WLR logo

Waterford station WLR have decided they are changing up their breakfast show.

The show has been hosted by Vinny and Aoibhin ever since Vinny made the move from Beat 102 103, but now WLR are changing things up.

All the details of the move are a bit unclear at this stage, but it looks like Ollie Carroll is returning to host the show alongside contributions from the WLR News team.

We don’t know where Vinny and Aoibhin are off to, but it is clear that their time hosting WLR breakfast has come to an end. We wish them, and the new WLR breakfast team the very best of luck from us at Radio Land.

See the Facebook post from the last show here

Quick Bits

Here is an interview with a community Radio volunteer

RTE aren’t yet making plans for what will happen if Claire Byrne leaves Radio 1

The Ireland for Ukraine campaign has come to an end with €7.5 million raised

QRadio has a new partnership with Ulster GAA

Stephen Byrne has said he has no plans to return to 2FM

And that’s the summary for this week. Come back to radio land next week for more radio news📻 and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for extra stories.


This post was updated to replace an old petition link with the correct link for the current campaign.