As Dublin City loses an alternative radio station, it might just be the time for a rebirth
Today, Dublin city lost TXFM, the indie rock station closed its faders for the last time at 2000.
It’s not the first time this has happened in Dublin, that a station so well loved, so connected with it’s audience fell silent.
This time for me, it’s different. I haven’t been living in Dublin since Phantom became TXFM, it didn’t have the same draw for me now. But I know what it’s like when a station you love so much closes.
Picture a 16 year old me, sitting at home in my bedroom in Co. Meath. It’s New Years Eve 1988 and I’m devastated as my favourite pirate radio stations have to close to be in with a shot of becoming a legit station a few months later.
I always listened to Q102 but Sunshine had stolen my heart. I sat with an arm full of blank cassettes capturing the music they played in those days, just incase I’d never hear them again.
I think it was Robbie Robertson who said a few words about the previous years’ broadcasts and they finished with Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Music was my life, these presenters knew the music I liked, they gave me the trivia I needed to know (life before the internet eh?). They were my buddies. Afterwards there was just a dark nothingness.
I searched for some sort of radio channel to get my fix. Shortwave, nah. Longwave, nah. FM, there was just the RTE stations now. I had to give Medium wave a try. 909, 5 Live was primarily what you’d listen to MW for. A live match before there was Sky Sports on demand, football games on your phone. We listened in my Dad’s car and if you drove under an electric cable the interference was terrible.
I had a little twin cassette radio player in my bedroom and with, what I called, the death of radio, went searching further a field. Radio Luxembourg, yip, the station my Mam had told me were the first outside Ireland to play Larry Cunningham. She had told of how she knew Larry and how she sat up to hear his song ‘A Ballad of Jim Reeves’on the radio. This crackling gem became my salvation.
Why do I tell you this?
I remember when my cousin Martina, first told me about this pirate radio station she thought that I would be into. I listened, she was right. As Phantom went from a pirate broadcasting over Whelan’s, the hallowed Dublin music venue to a legal, legit station, I went along for the journey, even being a guest on Edel Coffey’s show on what, if I remember correctly was the first or second day of broadcasting. It legitimately became the centre of the Dublin music scene.
Leaving Ireland, I stopped listening to a lot of Irish radio. It made me homesick to be honest. I wanted to go to gigs on a Tuesday night in the Academy 2 (I know – the bloody Academy 2) I’ve been doing a radio show on RTE 2XM for a few years now and dipping my toe into the Dublin scene but listening all the time to Irish radio just hurt.
TXFM closed today because the guys in suits didn’t want it on air. It’s all about money and although it gave its devoted audience what they wanted, it wasn’t enough for the suits.
What it does leave behind though is showing that there is a need for legitimate indie rock radio (if that’s what you want to call it). There’s a need for music that’s not mainstream, that’s left of centre and the reaction online on TXFM’s closing shows that. And while 105.2 is just static tonight in Dublin, there’s still a passion for music, there’s still a passion for radio.
This isn’t an advert for my radio show but look at RTE 2XM, look at 8Radio, playing new Irish and alternative music. Although filled with passionate and knowledgable volunteers, we mightn’t be broadcasting from garden sheds anymore, we mightn’t have to be ready to leg it our of the studio at a moment’s notice but the drive, determination and love of music and wanting to share that still exists. It might have just changed platforms.