By Susan Gately - 10 February, 2019
“There are days when we fear that people will get fed up with our pledge drives. But then, answering the phone and talking with listeners, it is clear that our station provides a whole lot of things for people.”
Spirit Radio completed its first fundraising pledge drive for 2019 on Friday night.
The listener-supported radio station, which has over half a million listeners each week, has an annual turnover of €500,000 which comes from the three yearly pledge drives – in February, May and October – and advertising.
Speaking to CatholicIreland.net as February’s drive neared its conclusion, CEO Rob Clarke said the pledge drive week could be a roller coaster.
“There can be hours when no one rings in at all and then you wonder if anyone is listening – that can be stressful because we have very real overheads to meet each month. But then in other hours the phone is buzzing away and the excitement and buzz at the station is up to ninety.”
Spirit Radio broadcasts in all five of the main cities and 12 major towns across Ireland. It also broadcasts across Northern Ireland and the west coast of Scotland, England and Wales on 549MW. It is also accessed on mobile device phone apps (both iPhone and android) and on a desktop app.
Mr Clarke said that since its establishment eight years ago, Spirit Radio’s following has grown steadily. February’s pledge drive aimed to raise €44,000. By 7pm on Friday, when the pledge drive officially ended, a total of €44,370 had been raised.
“There are days when we fear that people will get fed up with our pledge drives,” Mr Clarke said.
“But then, answering the phone and talking with listeners, it is clear that our station provides a whole lot of things for people – great music, edifying chat, a perspective on news and current affairs that is shaped by an understanding of the dignity of man and women as created in the image of God, company for the lonely, encouragement for those facing personal battles, constructive input for family life, inspirational input to help one stay faithful to the Christian calling, news of events that are of special interest to the Christian community.”
Messages to the station are a constant source of encouragement, he said, quoting an example: “It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to find a place on Irish radio that gives a voice to those of us who believe our faith means something and should be held onto at all costs. It’s also inspiring to hear others with the same values (…) Many of us don’t know what’s going on around the country, other than all the negative stuff, and so we can sometimes feel like we are the only ones feeling the pain…. I’m so grateful I found Spirit Radio.”
While the station is clearly Christian in tone and ethos, Mr Clarke said many people who listen in who are not necessarily church-going Christians. They enjoy “the music, the positive banter, the absence of cynicism, the authentic good will of the presenters”.
The station’s mission and vision is to help people begin or renew their relationship with God. Its key objectives are to create life-giving entertainment, be a voice of hope and direction for those searching, produce a first-class independent balanced news service, have Christian voices address the issues of the day, help people discover the Word of God, showcase contemporary Christian music, bring Jesus Christ gently back into the national conversation, support Christian charities and organisations and introduce seekers to the Christian community.