Phantom Audience Reach Grows


It’s JNLR (radio audience figures) day here in Ireland, and I’m pleased to see my friends at Phantom 105.2 continuing to do well and grow the station, as per the press release below.

(Note: I stepped down from regular programmes on Phantom earlier in the summer due to other demands on my time, but I remain associated with the station, and fill in on shows from time to time).

Station increases reach by 15% …

20th August 2008 – Phantom 105.2, Dublin’s indie rock
is delighted to announce that the latest listenership figures released this afternoon confirm that year-on-year we have increased our daily and weekly reach by 15%*

“Phantom continues to grow in the increasingly competitive Dublin market” said Ger Roe, Phantom’s CEO, “We’ve increased our average quarter hour listenership for Pure Morning, our breakfast show, and are looking forward to further growth in 2009”

Phantom 105.2 plays the best in indie and modern rock and is available in Dublin on 105.2FM, nationwide on Chorus/NTL Digital channel 935 and online at

* Source: JNLR-July ’07-June ’08 (Published Aug ’08) V JNLR- July ‘08 to June ’09 (Published Aug ’09). All adults weekly reach and listened yesterday (year on year).

Radio Jackie Museum

Here are some pictures that I meant to put online back in April, but with all the stuff going on with the book launches etc, it just slipped my mind.

I’ve posted before about Radio Jackie, and how its modern-day operation still keeps that local flavour and feeling that it had in the pirate days back in the 1980s. Indeed, many of the same people still work for it, including one of my longest-standing friends in the world of broadcasting, Geoff Rogers, who after the closure of Jackie in February 1985 moved to South East Sound, where he helped me prepare and record my first ever programmes.

When I was over in London in early April for the launch of Shiprocked, I made sure to call out to the Jackie studios in Tolworth, where Geoff made me really welcome. And I was amazed to see that even though it has been legal for a number of years now, and is a really successful and thriving commercial business, that they haven’t forgotten where they came from. When you enter Jackie’s studio complex on Tolworth Broadway, the first thing you see is the “Jackie Museum” a little display of press cuttings, photos, and original equipment from the pirate era.  It’s a nice touch, harking back to their roots in the community, and great for the anorak in me too.

Press cuttings from the 1980s

Press cuttings from the 1980s

Old equipment from the days of transmitting from the fields

Old equipment from the days of transmitting from the fields

Jackie broadcast from the late 1960s to the mid 80s as a pirate

Jackie broadcast from the late 1960s to the mid 80s as a pirate

Modern day offices in Tolworth

Modern day offices in Tolworth

Geoff Rogers in the Jackie studio, April 2009

Geoff Rogers in the Jackie studio, April 2009

I came to know a number of the Jackie people over the years after it closed, working with some of them on South East Sound (Geoff) or Radio Caroline (Richard Jackson, Peter Philips) but my only involvement with Jackie was as a listener. When I arrived in South West London as an Irish emigrant in 1984, I quickly found Caroline for music (joined shortly by Laser) and within a week or two had come across Radio Jackie, which told me everything I needed to know about the area I was now living in, and entertained me too.

I did actually have one, tiny and insignificant part, in the Jackie pirate era. Six months or so after the final closure in Feb 85, a group of us from South East Sound came to a house on a suburban road in Cheam one Saturday afternoon, to assist in the lowering and dismantling of Jackie’s mediumwave aerial array, a sad and symbolic task.

I didn’t think Jackie would ever be back after that, but time proved me wrong.

It’s great to see the station remembering its past with the display at the Tolworth studios, though the great and truly local content they are broadcasting is a better monunment still.


Tasty Breakfasts

I’m a hard person to please when it comes to breakfast radio. Most of currently fashionable “zany” style breakfast show leave me cold, and over the years there have been few that I have been really hooked on. Totally straight music doesn’t quite do it for me either, as in the mid 80s, before I got involved in Radio Caroline myself, I always much preferred Caroline‘s breakfast shows (Johnny Lewis, Kevin Turner, Peter Philips) to the Laser 558 ones, even though I would have listened to Laser a lot during the rest of the day. There was more warmth and personality on the Caroline breakfast, plus news too, which is an essential in my world.

I might add here that years later I was to do the breakfast show myself on Caroline, out of necessity when there were few people around. I would never consider my own breakfast shows anything to write home about, and was always glad to relinquish the slot when there was someone more experienced on board. Likewise I did breakfast on Phantom from 2000-2002 when it was a pirate, but wouldn’t have dreamed of seeking the slot in the later, legal phase.

So here is a listing of the very few breakfast shows which have really engaged me as a listener over the years.

(Note: any station that I have worked on is automatically excluded, as I can’t really judge from the listener’s viewpoint).

Kevin & Andrew on Atlantic 252 – mid 1990s

Kevin Palmer and Andrew Turner (news) were the perfect pairing in my opinion, and had exactly the right balance between the music, and a little bit of houmour and chit chat. Breakfast on the station was never the same once Kevin left.

Kara Noble & Lee Simpson – Heart (London)  – mid 1990s.

For an all-too brief few months when Heart first opened in London, there was a perfectly balanced, really enjoyable pairing between Kara (who had formerly been a sidekick to Chris Tarrant on Capital) and Lee (who was a comedian). Lee was gently spoken, the comedy was never too much in your face, and this would go down as the best male/female pairing I have heard. Lee and Kara came across on air as true equals, the show was co-presented rather than being a fight for attention between the two, as so many of these shows tend to be. Kara was treated intelligently, and really came across as an entertaining and thoughtful presenter.

Mark & Lard on Radio 1 – late 1990s

This is a show I shouldn’t have liked, but did. Mark & Lard did a lot of clowning around, but in a wonderfully self-deprecating way, and the music was brilliant. It was too good to last, and Radio 1 were not brave enough to stick with them for long enough to see if it would really work. They moved to the afternoons and did essentially the same show, and I listened when I could.

Gareth O’Callaghan on 4fm (Ireland) – 2009

As I have got older, my tastes have evolved, and I have found myself listening to pure speech much more in the mornings, but Gareth O’Callaghan has lured me back into the music breakfast. 4fm has a very strong playlist for anyone of my generation, delving much more deeply into the back catalogue of 60s, 70s 80s than most stations, and combine this with a fair dose of intelligent speech. The music/interview ratio is just perfect for me, and the interviews are medium to heavyweight issues rather than trivia.

Gareth is a great presenter, warm and natural, friendly without being intrusive. His newsreader, Cathy Creegan is incorporated well into the body of the show, and the interaction between the two is adult and entertaining. They come across as two people who actually like each other, rather than just being forced to work together.

A great show, and long may it continue.