Ireland: Where Online Radio Uses FM To Promote Itself
October 13, 2015
Ireland's a different place to listen to the radio. Depending where you are, you might get a tremendous choice of stations: Dublin, the capital, has many different stations covering all kinds of genres. But many other places in Ireland have rather less choice.
In Ireland, there's a high degree of talk on local radio stations, partly due to regulation. The most popular part of many local radio stations - popular, in terms of audience, at least - are the obituaries, which regularly get massive audiences. Some low-power community stations exist, but mostly there are a handful of commercial broadcasters - or just one - in each main town.
Into this radio environment stepped Simon Maher. Simon was one of the founders of a Dublin station, Phantom FM - which started life as a pirate radio station, gained a license, and was bought by Irish media giant Communicorp. Phantom's now rebranded as TXFM. Simon, however, left Phantom in 2011, and in 2012 launched an online-only radio station, 8Radio.com.
8Radio.com - in the Eclectic and Alternative category of iTunes (which tells you a little about the type of music it plays) - is a different-sounding station. Music-heavy, it now has more than twenty presenters and support staff. It promises that it is "the go-to station to hear brand new Alternative music, seldom heard rare gems and everything in between, for audiences who are so often ignored by traditional radio stations," and carries specialist music programs each weeknight evening and right over the weekend. Daytimes are automated music sweeps (and rather fine to work to, it should be said).
What's the best way of promoting an online radio station? Why... on the radio, of course. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland allows temporary FM radio stations to be applied for; and 8Radio has got transmitters in four Irish cities. They're allowed to broadcast on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from now until mid November, and they'll be in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway.
The temporary FM licenses are there as a method of promoting 8Radio.com, as well as helping to attract more advertisers to the station. The station hopes to gain a permanent FM license one day - though it's rare for an FM license to be available in Ireland - but by running temporary broadcasts, they hope to be able to pull more listeners through to their online output.
Simon said, in a press release: "We realize that radio stations have to change with the times and that's why we have tailored our station to deliver something unique and compelling but also simple. There should be nothing revolutionary about playing The Frank & Walters followed by Jamie XX followed by Kate Bush on a Friday morning Breakfast show presented by two smart female presenters! We play the music we like and it's just the natural thing to do. No auditorium tests, no focus groups, just lovers of music listening to and sharing great music in the company of passionate and knowledgeable presenters."
Using FM to promote your online radio station? Sounds like a plan to me.