Back in the 80s there was only three legal National Stations and a plethora of mainly commercial pirate radio stations. It was difficult to hear black music but when you did it was all the more savoured. Rare appearances by Eamonn Carr on the Dave Fanning slot, even an obscure Saturday evening slot on Radio na Gaeltachta provided opportunities to hear music from outside the loop. Meanwhile early mix tapes from early Westwood or 279 in London or New York Funkmaster Flex did the rounds until they were truly threadbare.
Today with two extra nationals and I suppose close on 50 local and community licences it should be all so different. But instead it feels worse. With some very rare exceptions, Gerry Godleys excellent reels to ragas show and a few others like John Spillane and maybe John Kelly worthy of mention here, choice seems to have narrowed. While in the pirate days DJs pursued a commercial agenda, at least the lack of computerised playlists left some room for personal choice. Today local stations slot into one of a few narrow categories, musically, with little or no diversification. The community licenses while a little better haven't exactly blazed a noticeable trail for new music or challenging art programming. A few exceptions that I have come across would include Near FM, Radio na Life and Inishowen Community Radio.
With all this in mind I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the arrival of West Limerick 102. Here was a station with the biggest community remit in the country covering all of West Limerick and a little beyond. The signal on 102.2 is quite audible in most parts of the city. It also naturally would cover parts of North Kerry as well, it being a natural hinterland.
Early impressions music wise is unfortunately pretty dire. If it wasn’t a community station you might think that Van Morrison had shares in the station. There is some decent chat shows but it is on Friday night at 7pm that we have discovered the real gem.
Eagsuil is an arts and whats on show and early impressions are that it might be a very useful addition to Limerick radiowaves. In its first four weeks the show has already covered Daghdha new church space, EV+A, White House poetry sessions and an interview with Booker Prize winner, DBC Pierre along with all the local arts stuff from county Limerick. Upcoming features include a piece on Home Recording with DeLorean Suite keyboard player Graham Conway, interview with Rathkeales finest The Driven, and a fascinating piece on Paul McCarthys new photographic project on outdoor handball alleys in Ireland. Worth checking out.
The Bottom Dog