25 years ago on 24 July 1989 Dublin’s FM104 became the first independent radio station to go live on air. Today more than 1500 people are employed in 34 independent radio stations and the sector is a vital economic and social contributor to the fabric of Ireland. The broadcasting landscape has been transformed and enriched with the licensing of independent radio stations across Ireland and over 2.5 million people, tune into independent radio on a daily basis.
Marking 25 years of independent radio, a reception for IBI members was hosted by John O’Mahony, TD, Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications in Leinster House. During the reception Mr O’Mahony launched a new website www.independentradio25years.ie which charts the history and achievements of independent radio stations across Ireland over the past 25 years. It contains archive materials including photographs and broadcasts which show the changing face of radio in Ireland.
Mr O’Mahony was joined by John Purcell, Chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland and Scott Williams, CEO, Dublin’s Q102 who was the first independent radio presenter to broadcast on the airwaves when FM104 launched in 1989.
Mr O’Mahony said: “Ireland has the highest radio listenership in the EU with Irish people listening to radio for an average of 4 hours every day. This is due in no small part to the strength of independent broadcasters. They make a real difference to communities throughout Ireland covering local issues and telling stories that would not otherwise be heard. From local sporting events that could never be aired on national broadcasters to running campaigns to promote social issues of concern to their local area , independent broadcasters play a very important role in modern Irish life. I congratulate the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland and its 34 member stations as they celebrate 25 years on air this year”.
John Purcell said: “Radio holds a unique place in Irish life and independent radio is at the heart of local communities throughout Ireland. The programmes we broadcast are developed and produced locally reflecting the interests of those we serve.
The diversity and plurality of voices on Ireland’s airwaves has been greatly enhanced and choice provided to Ireland’s radio listeners who, in many parts of the country were limited to the state broadcaster. The value of independent radio has been demonstrated in abundance in the intervening years. We are providing a voice for the people of Ireland, we are providing valuable employment and we are providing economic support to the communities in which we are based ”.
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) represents the 2 national, 4 regional, 1 multi-city and 27 local commercial radio stations throughout Ireland. 1,483 people are employed in the sector. Many of these jobs are in rural communities and are of huge importance to local economies. The average annual turnover for an independent radio station ranges from €1.5m – €1.8m, of which wages represent over 50%. Virtually all the turnover of local radio stations is spent in the local economy. Listenership to independent broadcasting in Ireland has never been stronger. In excess of 70% of the Irish population, 2.5 million people, tune into independent radio on a daily basis.
The mission of the IBI is to promote a strong and vibrant radio sector which reflects the preferences and needs of the listening public. Within our membership there exists a broad collection of radio stations – significant diversity in ownership, target audience, location and franchise area. Independent broadcasters make a significant contribution to the Irish economy and to the social and cultural life of the country.