Scariff Bay Community Radio are in the process of applying for a ten year broadcasting licence that would staple their future on the airwaves.
An expression of interest for a ten year licence from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has been submitted by Scariff Bay Community Radio who are keen to maintain their strong presence in East Clare for years to come.
Launched in July 2015, Scariff Bay operated as an online only service for a year and a half before obtaining their first temporary (thirty day) licence which allowed them to broadcast every Saturday on FM from March to September 2017, they did the same for 2018 and “took a step up” for 2019 and 2020 by successfully applying for a pilot licence which requires more professional studio facilities and disability access.
All community radio stations in the country are companies limited by guarantee, Jim Collins is Chairperson but is also one of Scariff Bay’s co-founders, having drank plenty of coffee “and our fair share of biscuits” with Brendan Magill to help get it off the ground. He is confident they will be victorious in their quest to secure the ten year licence. “We would have upwards of 50 volunteers in the radio station overall. People are very dedicated and anxious that the radio will succeed, I’ve no doubt there will be a few hiccups but that we will be awarded a licence to broadcast on a ten year licence”.
When their current licence expires in May, Scariff Bay will operate online only for a period as they wait for a decision from the BAI, Jim outlined. “We want to be on FM and we want our listeners to be able to receive us comfortably on their radio but the reality is we could be online only for a number of months before we go on FM again but we’re quite happy with that because we’re looking at the long-term and we want to be on FM long-term and provide a radio service to our local community, if that is the price that’s fine”.
If the bid is successful, the former Inis Cealtra NS principal admitted that it was unlikely to result in a major expansion of their offering but hinted that a Friday evening service could be introduced depending on available resources
Although presenters may compare their initial broadcasting set-up to a confession box and broom cupboard, the station has gone from strength to strength. The sporting combination of Leo Doyle and Pat McNamara has been lauded with other contributors including Jim, Geraldine Colleran, John S Kelly, Marie McNamara, Trish Nugent and Pat O’Brien also popular.
There has been an increase in listenership for the East Clare community station during the pandemic. Online listenership is measured and peaked at 10,000 individual ears last April. Covering the rival clash of Scariff and Tulla in the intermediate hurling championship also saw more than 1,000 listeners tune in online at the one time. Broadcasting Sunday mass every weekend from Scariff has proven to be a success with weekly listeners as far away as Florida and Cape Town coupled with their regulars in Flagmount and Caher.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, the Mountshannon man expressed his delight with the success of Scariff Bay Radio to date. “We are very happy with it but we’re not complacent either. We’re not trying to compete with RTÉ, Spin South West or Clare FM, we provide a different service, we look at our community in North-East Clare and we try to provide information, sports coverage, traditional music and what people in East Clare are interested in because they are our only constituency”.
The station manager added, “It is a community radio station, it is a service for the people of East Clare and to use as they want particularly organisations be they sporting or community to spread their message of what they are doing and tell people what they are doing. We will try and continue to provide coverage of all that is going in East Clare, any kind of support we can be to groups, organisations or businesses that is what we want to do. All of us involved have great fun, sometimes we forget that, we enjoy doing it, anybody who would like to join and get involved, we would be absolutely thrilled and delighted to welcome people in, it is not a closed shop and is open to the entire community particularly young people who want to break into the media, we might learn something from them because we’re not professionals but we learn everyday”.