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Lack of finance impeding Spirit Radio roll out

By Sarah Mac Donald - 22 May, 2014

Rob Clarke Mid ResSpirit Radio could double its listenership if it rolled out transmission across the nation but funds totalling €168,000 are needed to achieve this.

Speaking to CatholicIreland.net, Rob Clarke, CEO of Spirit Radio, explained that according to the most recent Red C poll, the station’s listenership was 206,000 weekly listeners across Ireland.

“We are currently broadcasting in the five main cities and also in Bray, Greystones and Dundalk – and we are looking to roll out to another 14 towns in the next 18 months,” he explained.

“The good news is the listenership is growing. The challenge is we want to roll out and we are licenced to roll out to 14 more towns,” but lack of finance is preventing the station from proceeding with their plan.

“It is at a critical moment and we should seize it – we shouldn’t let it slip,” Rob Clarke stated.

The roll out costs roughly €12,000 per new site in each town and as there are fourteen, the total cost is €168,000 to complete the roll out.

Rob Clarke underlines that this is a one-off spend needed to purchase equipment necessary for transmission.

The radio station is today launching a pledge drive seeking financial support from listeners and supporters for these costs.

“We are in a difficult place financially, that’s for sure but it is not new for us. We’ve been here before. I often have to go to the staff and say ‘look I don’t where the pay is coming from next month – we’re in a very difficult space’. But there is a tremendous commitment among the team to keep the station going.”

The pledge drive also means the team gets to talk to up to 500 listeners and supporters and sound them out on things like programming.

“It is incredibly encouraging. People tell us that they would be lost without us or they say what it has meant to their family or how helped then when they were in a difficult space. All the financial upheavals of recent years, people have been in a really tough place.”

“One of the things about being in a tough place is that you need concrete solutions but you also need encouragement and that is something that the station provides.”

Spirit Radio is the only station in Ireland broadcasting on medium wave and this coverage extends all over NI. They also have many people listening on the internet and their iphones and androids.

“We did some research on how people found out about us and the main way is word of mouth; somebody told them. The second most frequent way is scanning on the radio where they stumble on us. So there is a tremendous amount of scope out there.”

“We don’t, perhaps, fit in with people’s ideas of what religious radio is – they think more in terms of hymns or Gregorian chant.”

“There are a lot of people who listen to us who aren’t church-goers but think something in what we are doing that is genuine, fresh and different and they are drawn to it.”

Listening to Spirit Radio they have their faith affirmed rather than derided as it is in so much of the media.

They also hear about initiatives and people who believe the same things. “It helps them to see that the small contribution that they are making is part of something much bigger,” according to the station’s CEO.

“Most people take radio for granted and presume it is all free or it is paid for by advertising. They also have notions about what people in radio are paid by virtue of what a few RTE stars are paid. But most people in radio are on very ordinary wages,” he explained.

He underlines that the radio station provides “a very concrete service for the churches” through its event guide which run 4-5 times a day advertising things that are happening in the Christian community, as well as outreaches of various sorts, courses, seminars or concerts.

To support Spirit Radio: http://www.spiritradio.ie/support/donate/

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