Irish Music Month: Radio presenters tell us what to expect in October

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Across the country, 25 independent radio stations are springing into action for Irish Music Month – as they prepare to celebrate the brilliant talent and dazzling diversity of local music throughout 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 prides itself on its support of local and Irish artists. It’s no surprise, then, that Ray Colclough, head of music at the Waterford station, is eager to get involved in Irish Music Month.

“I think it’s a fantastic initiative, especially with all the radio stations involved,” he enthuses. “I organized something similar in March called Waterford Music Week – which was a week where we played and promoted local artists. So when I heard we were doing this nationally, I thought, “That’s awesome.”

One of the many highlights of Irish Music Month is a big national competition, with each station finding its own contestant for the A New Local Hero strand.

“For the A New Local Hero talent search, which culminates in a scholarship for an artist or group, the money made available to musicians who play on each local station is tremendous – and then the overall prize of 5,000 €, and the record to be recorded, is simply amazing.

“It’s something that should be done all the time,” he laughs.

Ray’s passion for Irish music is palpable – and as he points out, the most crucial strength in the scene right now is its diversity of styles. For proof, look no further than the artists in WLR’s current rotation, with many names recently appearing on hotpress.com…

“We play stuff like ANIM, Marty Guilfoyle, Welshy and Shane Codd – as well as Gavin James, Hozier, Kodaline and Niall Horan,” says Ray. “But 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, Tolü Makay, Elaine Mai and Moxie.

Colclough goes on to highlight one of the central aims of Irish Music Month: it can create a virtuous circle.

“If all the radio stations start playing more local acts, they will get more recognition,” he explains. “They might not be signed – but they might get more plays from other radio stations. For Irish Music Month, our in-car show, The rotating house with Ollie Carroll (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.), is the spearhead of the October campaign. On his show, we will try to push as many independent artists as possible.

Ray Colclough

Louise Tighe, presenter on FM104:

Supporting the music industry from the ground up has always been the goal of Louise Tighe, presenter of Sunday night live (from 10 p.m.) on FM104. For her, Irish Music Month is a fantastic way to say thank you to the amazing artists who composed the soundtrack to our lockdown.

“During the whole pandemic, I was able to carry on the show as normal, which was great,” she recalled. “But it’s been made even better by artists releasing new music. Now that things are picking up, it’s time to give back to these artists.

As Louise notes, the initiative taps into a passion that already exists – and is growing.

“Radio presenters love Irish music – and they like the chance to talk about it as much as possible,” she says. “Irish Music Month has encouraged this and given us the opportunity to give extra support to all Irish artists. I haven’t come across a single presenter who doesn’t speak for hours, once you started a conversation about Irish music!

“The whole Irish music scene is amazing. There is a lot of friendship and camaraderie in the industry. You’ll always see other artists at the Irish Musicians concerts – cheer them on, come sing a chorus or sing a song. It’s always been there, and it’s only going to get better.

And some of his current favorites on the Irish scene?

“There are so many artists that fascinate me,” 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 parts of finding A New Local Hero talent is discovering a plethora of new artists.

“I hear about artists I’ve never heard of before,” she smiles. “It definitely encourages artists to reach out. Many of them would not have done 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.

“Once you’re on the radio, you reach a wider audience,” she points out. “There are other options, okay, but radio certainly has a big role to play – and artists feel that too.”

Louise Tigue

Elaine Kinsella, Head of Music and Broadcasting at Radio Kerry:

With 30% of their overall playlist already dedicated to music from Irish artists, the Radio Kerry team are going even further in their support of local music over the coming month. Elaine Kinsella, who has been music manager at the station for 12 years, believes the initiative couldn’t have come at a better time, after the chaos of the pandemic.

“We are very aware of what a difficult 18 months it has been for everyone in the entertainment industry,” she says. “We are therefore delighted to be involved in an initiative which supports Irish artists in a very important way.”

The Kingdom has no shortage of spectacular musicians either… “We’ve already generated some interest in Irish Music Month from artists in Kerry – some who are well established and some who we didn’t know not even that they were out there,” Elaine tells us. “It’s a great way for new artists to get in touch with us.

“We’ve had some fantastic numbers from Kerry that have emerged over the last 12 months or so. Including the likes of Lorraine Nash, who is doing brilliantly at the moment, as well as Pa Sheehy doing her solo stuff, Emma Edel from Cahersiveen and Conor Byrne.

As Elaine points out, the growing interest in local artists isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

“There’s been quite a movement in Ireland over the last couple of years, to ‘support the local’,” she notes. “It started with supporting local stores, but it has now expanded 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 enthuse about emerging local artists – as Radio Kerry listeners The afternoon show with Brendan Fuller will know.

“Over the summer, Brendan had this brilliant idea, for a feature film called ‘Wishful Gigging’,” Elaine explains. “He would step up and ask them, ‘When the live music is back up and running, who would you like to see live?’ He did it with people like Róisín O, Wallis Bird and Picture This – and they were championing other Irish artists.

While Radio Kerry is already supporting Irish artists across a variety of genres, Elaine points out that “Irish Music Month is a great excuse to ramp this up – and make sure we play more Irish music than ever before.”

Elaine Kinsella

Michaela Hayes, Music Director and Presenter on iRadio:

Irish music is also regularly championed on iRadio – the home of iLoveIrish, a feature that helps local artists get the vital on-air exposure they deserve.

“We pick four Irish artists and play them in main rotation every four hours for the whole month,” iRadio’s Michaela Hayes said of iLoveIrish. “It’s a great way to introduce a new artist. So when I heard about Irish Music Month I thought, ‘It’s going to be fun’ – because it gives each station a lot more visibility for new artists, and more options for things to do with them. The excitement here is amazing!

As Michaela notes, the relationship between emerging artists and local radio should not be underestimated.

“A lot of artists make their debut on local and regional radio,” she explains. “And then they start making waves from there and getting other people’s attention. Radio is so important.

The A New Local Hero element of Irish Music Month tapped into this phenomenon – exposing presenters to the hugely impressive talent on offer across the country.

“I do the general music for iRadio, so I always have Irish artists contacting me about having their tracks played,” 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 hear these artists.

“Irish music has come a long way in recent years,” adds Michaela. “It’s always been strong, but now it’s amazing. The quality is the same as the artists who record with big production teams in Los Angeles. The talent here is phenomenal – and it’s so untapped. There are so many people who deserve to be absolutely massive!

Michaela Hayes

For more information on Irish Music Month, listen to your favorite independent radio station, read heat press and stay tuned to hotpress.com

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