In the days of large media groups who own multiple stations, South East Radio stands out in Ireland as a local and family-owned station based at Custom House Quay in Wexford. They began broadcasting in October 1989 and currently employ approximately 40 people on a full or part-time basis. In addition to its web stream, South East Radio broadcasts on a main FM frequency of 95.6, and sub-frequencies of 96.2 and 96.4.
South East Radio is all about localism, and the station has a community diary for local announcements and charity events, as well as bereavement notices to ensure that listeners are informed about local activities.
Their ability to serve the community was greatly enhanced when they recently upgraded from a competitor’s system to RCS GSelector, Zetta, Aquira and Burli Newsroom. Programme Director and News Editor Michael Sinnott has high praise for the transition. ”The RCS team of Joe Dyer and James Davids were amazing. They did the transition and training in just two days, and the changeover itself was seamless.”
”The RCS system was like a breath of fresh air,” Synnott continues. ”It’s very user-friendly, and even our veteran broadcasters with 20 years on the old system were able to quickly come up to speed with RCS. In the past four weeks since switchover, we’ve used it for both live assist and total automation, and it’s just a dream to work with.”
South East Radio broadcasts with an adult contemporary format, targeting listeners in a 30 plus demographic. ”Our audience is very loyal, listening an average of 4.5 hours per day,” adds Sinnott. ”We provide music, local news and community events coverage. While other stations rotate from about a thousand songs, our longer time spent listening demands a larger mix, and we draw from a library of 10-20,000 songs.” He adds that, as with the rest of the station, the library made a smooth transition from the old system to GSelector.
In addition to its weekday adult contemporary programming, South East Radio has specialty programs on the weekend, including country, oldies, Christian, business and sports broadcasts.
Broadcasting from a small community such as Wexford demands a total commitment to localism. In addition to extensive news coverage of local events and public service announcements, South East Radio has a mobile truck with a full calendar of remote broadcasts. The flagship morning show with Alan Corcoran keeps listeners informed, stimulated and entertained, as well as posing tough questions on behalf of its listeners.
Some of their localism agenda is unique in the Irish radio market, as Sinnott explains: ”For the past 14 years, we’ve been presenting a monthly outstanding achievement award to citizens who do remarkable volunteer work, or perform acts of heroism. We also give awards to local businesses who exceed at customer service. Both of these awards are completely driven by nominations from our listeners.”
Part of the drive for outstanding community involvement comes from the fact that South East Radio has been a local business run by the Buttle family since it signed on in 1989. Sinnott laments the fact that most stations in Ireland are now part of large media conglomerates, and there are only 4-5 independent radio broadcasters left in the country.