Across the country, 25 independent radio stations are getting into the action for Irish Music Month – as they prepare to celebrate the brilliant talent and dazzling diversity of local music throughout the month of October. Some of the presenters involved tell us what to expect in the coming weeks …
Ray Colclough, Head of Music and Presenter on WLR FM:
Crowned Local Radio Station of the Year by IMRO in 2019 and 2020, WLR is proud of its support for local and Irish artists. So it’s no surprise that Ray Colclough, Head of Music at Waterford Station, is eager to get involved in Irish Music Month.
âI think this is a fantastic initiative, especially with all the radio stations that participate in it,â he enthuses. âI organized something similar in March called Waterford Music Week – a week where we played and promoted local artists. So when I heard that we were doing this nationally, I was like, “this is great”.
One of the many highlights of Irish Music Month is a major national competition, with each station finding its own candidate for the A New Local Hero component.
âFor the A New Local Hero talent search, which ends in a scholarship for an artist or band, the money that is made available to the musicians who play on each local station is tremendous – then the overall reward of 5 000 â¬, and the recorded record, is simply incredible.
âIt’s something that should be done all the time,â he laughs.
Ray’s passion for Irish music is palpable – and as he points out, the most crucial strength on the scene right now is its diversity of styles. For proof, look no further than the artists of WLR’s current rotation, with many names recently appearing on hotpress.com …
âWe play stuff like ANIM, Marty Guilfoyle, Welshy and Shane Codd – as well as Gavin James, Hozier, Kodaline and Niall Horan,â says Ray. âBut we also regularly play independent artists, which we think would suit our listeners – like Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill, Stephanie Rainey, Carrie Baxter, TOUCAN, Moncrieff and Reuben Hester. On my own show, I play a wide variety of stuff – including 1000 Beasts, Fish Go Deep, Sara Ryan, TolÃ¼ Makay, Elaine Mai, and Moxie.
Colclough goes on to focus on one of the central goals of Irish Music Month: it can create a virtuous circle.
âIf all the radio stations start broadcasting more local news, they will get more recognition,â he explains. âThey might not be signed – but they might get more tunes from other radio stations. For Irish Music Month, our driving show, The rotating house with Ollie Carroll (3 pm-6pm), spearheads the October campaign. In her show, we’re going to try to push as many independent artists as possible. “
Louise Tighe, presenter on FM104:
Supporting the music industry from the ground up has always been the goal of Louise Tighe, host of Sunday evening live (from 10 p.m.) on FM104. For her, Irish Music Month is a fantastic way to thank the incredible artists who made the soundtrack of our lockdown.
âThroughout the pandemic, I was able to continue the show as usual, which was great,â she recalls. âBut it’s been made even better by the artists coming out with new music. Now that things are starting again, it’s time to give back to these artists. “
As Louise notes, the initiative draws on a passion that already exists – and that is growing.
âRadio presenters love Irish music – and they like the opportunity to talk about it as much as possible,â she says. âIrish Music Month encouraged this and gave us the opportunity to give extra support to all Irish artists. I haven’t met a single presenter who doesn’t speak for hours, once you strike up a conversation about Irish music!
âThe whole Irish music scene is amazing. There is a lot of friendship and camaraderie in the industry. You will always see other artists at Irish music concerts – cheer them on around the area, or come and sing a chorus, or sing a song. It has always been there, and it will only get better.
What about some of his current favorites on the Irish scene?
âThere are so many artists that fascinate me,â she smiles. “Fya Fox, Pastiche, Reuben Hester, Fia Moon, St Bishop, Emma Edel, Don’t Tell Mum, JC Stewart, Lucy Blue, JyellowL, Jessica Hammond … I could go on!”
One of Louise’s favorite aspects of finding A New Local Hero talent is discovering a plethora of new artists.
âI hear about artists that even I had never heard of before,â she smiles. âIt definitely encourages artists to reach out. Many of them would not do so if this initiative had not been undertaken.
During Irish Music Month, Louise hopes to see more listeners engage with their local station – and tell them which Irish artists they want to hear.
âOnce you get on the radio, you reach a larger audience,â she says. “There are other options, okay, but radio definitely has an important role to play – and artists are feeling it too.”
Elaine Kinsella, Head of Music and Broadcasting on Radio Kerry:
With 30% of their general playlist already dedicated to music by Irish artists, the team at Radio Kerry are pushing their support for local music even further in the coming month. Elaine Kinsella, who has been in charge of music at the station for 12 years, believes the initiative could not have come at a better time, following the chaos of the pandemic.
âWe are very aware of the difficult 18 months it has been for everyone in the entertainment industry,â she said. âSo we are delighted to be involved in an initiative that supports Irish artists in a very important way. “
The Kingdom has no shortage of spectacular musicians either … “We have already had quite a bit of interest in Irish Music Month from artists around Kerry – some who are well established and others including we didn’t even know they were out there, “Elaine tells us.” It’s a great way for new artists to get in touch with us.
âWe’ve had some fantastic Kerry bands that have emerged over the last 12 months or so. Including Lorraine Nash, who is doing brilliantly at the moment, as well as Pa Sheehy who does her solo stuff, Emma Edel of Cahersiveen and Conor Byrne.
As Elaine points out, the growing interest in local artists won’t slow down anytime soon.
âThere has been quite a movement in Ireland in recent years to ‘support the local’,â she remarks. âIt started with supporting local stores, but it has now spread to supporting the music industry. We are finding that we are getting a lot more requests from our listeners for music from local artists.
Irish musicians are just as quick to get excited about emerging local artists – as listeners to Radio Kerry’s The afternoon show with Brendan Fuller will find out.
âOver the summer, Brendan came up with this great idea, for a feature film called ‘Wishful Gigging’,â says Elaine. âHe would do concerts and ask them, ‘When the live music starts again, who would you like to see live? He did it with people like RÃ³isÃn O, Wallis Bird and Picture This – and they were defending other Irish artists.
While Radio Kerry is already supporting Irish artists in various genres, Elaine stresses that “Irish Music Month is a good excuse to increase that – and make sure we are playing more Irish music than ever before.”
Michaela Hayes, Music Director and Presenter on iRadio:
Irish music is also regularly championed on iRadio – the home of iLoveIrish, a feature that allows local artists to get the vital on-air exposure they deserve.
“We pick four Irish numbers and play them in the main rotation every four hours for the entire month,” iRadio’s Michaela Hayes says of iLoveIrish. âIt’s a great way to introduce a new artist. So when I heard about Irish Music Month I was like, ‘This is going to match up really well’ – because it gives each station a lot more exposure to new artists and more options. things to do with them. The excitement here is incredible!
As Michaela notes, the relationship between emerging artists and local radio should not be underestimated.
âA lot of artists are making their debuts on local and regional radio,â she explains. âAnd then they start to make waves from there and grab other people’s attention. Radio is so important.
The Irish Music Month New Local Hero element has harnessed this phenomenon – exposing the hugely impressive talented presenters on offer from across the country.
âI do general music for iRadio, so I always had Irish artists contacting me to play their tracks,â says Hayes. “But there are so many people now looking for A New Local Hero, who are amazing – who have never sent us anything before.” It’s amazing, because other people are now going to be able to hear these artists.
âIrish music has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years,â adds Michaela. âIt was always strong, but now it’s amazing. The quality is the same as that of artists who record with large production teams in LA. The talent here is phenomenal – and it’s so untapped. There are so many people who deserve to be absolutely massive!
For more information on Irish Music Month, tune in to your favorite independent radio station, read Hot press and stay tuned on hotpress.com