There may be questions raised over the growing media ownership of Denis O’Brien, but the SOS Kilkenny radio to which he donated funds in 2009 is showing no signs of stopping.
The organisation’s new on-site radio station was officially launched last week, and its three days of broadcasting are soon due to be expanded to five days a week.
On hand to perform the ribbon-cutting on Wednesday afternoon was journalist and one-time pirate radio manager John Waters, who declared with a laugh: “I am now making you legal. So if the guards come, you can say I said it’s okay.”
The idea for Dreamtime Radio came about because two of the SOS service users, Derek Watson and Anthony Tyrell, have a great interest in music and were serving as amateur DJs in their local villages, explained day services manager Liam Quinn.
After doing some research on how to start a radio station, they managed to secure funding from Denis O’Brien and Philip Lynch.
First set up with a 30-day licence in 2009, the station now has a five-year institutional licence from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and has been back on air for about a month.
Currently on air from 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Friday, they are planning to expand to five days a week. Their broadcasts, on 90.9FM, can be heard within a radius of a couple of miles from their centre at Seville Lodge, off the Callan Road just outside the city’s ring road.
At the moment the shows are mostly music-driven, but their aim is to produce radio plays and special-interest programmes.
They are also honing their interview skills, which Derek Watson put to good use by chatting to John Waters on air before the ribbon-cutting.
Derek asked him about his childhood, his best and worst jobs, and his best and worst financial decisions – to which the journalist replied, “Virtually every financial decision I make is a disaster.”
As the interview took place in the studio decorated with posters of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and U2, Mr Waters related how it was his love of music that led him into journalism.
Asked whether he had any advice for the SOS service users in their radio endeavours, he said: “The important thing is to enjoy what you are doing. This is a great time to be alive and to be doing this kind of work. You have the passion for this, and you will look back on this time and think, ‘God, hadn’t we a ball’.”