It’s Not Going To Be Easy
There can be nothing easy about setting up a commercial radio station. The challenge taken on by Red FM is certainly not an easy one. How do they stand out from 96FM but capture their audience and at the same time take on the national stations as well? What type of music do you play and what kind of DJs do you use? These are the many questions whose answers are currently being tried out on Cork airwaves as the station finally goes live. It would be easy to be cynical but after a few weeks on air there's certainly a few talking points....
Red FM are going for the 18-35 year old audience which is one up on 96FM straight away who tend to go for the (well) over 35's. It may have been unavoidable but they took on some 96FM veterans, which does make you wonder if there's any difference between the two when you're listening to similar voices. They have decided to use INN an independent news company for their news slots and play hyper speed dance music at a low volume underneath. At first I thought this was a ludicrous idea but now they've turned down the volume of the music a little and it does seem a little less in your face.
A major coup for the station was in wooing DJ Colm O'Sullivan away from Broadcasting House (probably not that difficult a task). The advocate of Irish music has moved to Red FM and has had his show trebled in length. The DJ received a "Fair Play" award from Jackie Hayden of Dublin based magazine "Hotpress" recently for his dedication to playing Irish music on his "Green Room" show on 96FM. Red FM would have got ten out of ten if they had put him on Saturday night but they are playing safe for the moment and shoving him in the more off-peak Sunday night scene (7-10pm). To be continued we hope....
Evening time hasn't been disappointing with what seems like a firm commitment to playing "what you want" by young DJs who do seem to be steering well away from the obvious chart floggings. Pink on Red is Red FM's regular spotlight on Cork's, mainly City based, gay community a boldly positive and encouraging move by Red FM who are certainly alone in their attempt to shed some light on gay issues and the wider attempt to make Cork a more open minded place.
Understandably they have chosen to do nothing different during the day except talk a little less (which is always welcome and they don't have a tiresome "cash call" competition). We'll have to accept playing safe at the start until they get their feet.
It's good to see another hardworking Corkman on the station: Stevie G's "Black on Red" (why did everything have to be named as a colour on red ?!) is a black music showcase on Saturday night. It's hip-hop/r'n'b flavour is a welcome laid back sound if you compare it with any of the other commercial stations around that time, who all seem to revel in the same aggressive and repetitive trance music.
Obviously not too tuned into local pirate stations those responsible for the style of dance music on the station have overlooked the infamous Cork style of playing house music slower than it's supposed to be. The unofficial speed limit of about 125 bpms is certainly being breached and may be seen by the more dedicated house fans as musical invasion! For example on Friday nights, they buy in a DJ Roger Sanchez Show for "pumping" hard/progressive house. A nice idea and at least it's not chart music but a lot of you reading this will already know that Cork people don't want to be told what they should like by outsiders. As DJ Greg Dowling (a native of Dublin) said in an interview on this site "Cork you know, is kind of an odd place, the people here are'
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This time last year Cork were Munster champions going into the All-Ireland semi-final on a high. It didn't end well. The Rebels have added some steel that should help avoid another semi drubbing but is it enough to beat a tough Limerick outfit?