Ferries In The Mist

I was down at my favorite location in Dublin docklands, the Great South Wall, walking my friends Oran and Sarah and their three dogs on Friday evening.

It had been an exceptionally sunny day, and within seconds of our arrival a wall of sea mist came rolling in towards us, blanketing the bottom of the Pigeon House towers, blotting our view of the bay, and muffling and distorting the sounds of nearby shipping.

The Pigeon House surrounded by sea mist

The almost invisible Ulysses creeps through the fog, outbound from Dublin Port.

We watched the Irish Ferries Ulysses creep out of the port at quarter speed, a grey mass almost impossible to perceive against a swirling grey background, sounding its foghorn every minute as it shared the narrow channel with a cargo ferry creeping in the other direction.

A new twist on one of my most loved places.


Phantom audience grows in latest JNLR figures

Great to see Phantom 105.2 doing well in the latest JNLR Listening figures for Irish Radio, managing to increase market share in a very crowded market.


JNLR details below supplied by Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI)


Results from the JNLR/Ipsos MRBI survey for the period April 2009 – March 2010 were released today (Thursday 13th May).  The survey results indicate that 86% (-1) of the adult population was listening daily to a mix of national, regional multi-city and local radio throughout the country.

For the purposes of comparison, figures for this survey period are compared with the January – December 2009 figures.  The main changes and highlights are as follows:

National Reach and Market Share

Listenership to any multi-city/regional/local radio service remained the same at 58%.

Weekday reach figures for RTÉ 2FM and RTÉ Lyric FM are unchanged at 15% and 3% respectively. Slight reductions were recorded for RTÉ Radio 1 at 25% (-1), Today FM at 14% (-1) and Newstalk at 7% (-1).

With regard to market share, an increased figure of 51.9% (+1.3) was recorded for any multi-city/regional/local station in the 7a.m.-7p.m. period.

RTÉ Lyric FM retained its market share of 1.6%. Small decreases in market share were recorded for the remaining national stations: RTÉ Radio 1 at 22.9% (-0.5), RTÉ 2FM at 9.7% (-0.4), Today FM at 9.6% (-0.3) and Newstalk at 3.9% (-0.1).

National (excluding Dublin and Cork)-local stations

Changes in both reach and market share were recorded for almost all local stations in the current survey period.

The top five local radio stations for the survey period were as follows:

Local Station Listenership (Reach) Local Station Market Share

1. Highland Radio     69% (+1) 1. Highland Radio  64.1% (-1.4)
2 Limerick’s Live 95FM      53% (same) 2. Tipp FM 55.3% (+1.8)
3. Mid West Radio 52%(+2) 3. Radio Kerry   53.6% (-1.1)
4. Tipp FM 50%  (same)

WLR FM 50% (-1)

4. Mid West Radio 51.5% (+0.6)
4. 5. Shannonside/Northern Sound 46.2% (-0.7)
5. Radio Kerry 47% (same)
Shannonside Northern Sound 47% (-3)

Multi-City and Regional stations

Beat 102-103FM, serving the south-east, achieved a weekday reach figure of 19%   (-1.0) and recorded a market share figure of 12.1% (-0.1).

In the north-west region, i102-104 increased both reach and share figures to 19% (+2.0) and 11.9% (+0.9) respectively.

Spin South West maintained its 18% reach figure, and obtained a market share figure of 9.8% (same).

Figures for the north-east/midlands regional service i105-107FM demonstrated an increase in daily listenership to 6% (+3) and market share of 3.6% (+1.6).

4FM, the multi-city service, achieved a weekday reach of 2% (same) and achieved a market share of 1.5% (+0.1).

Dublin-local stations

FM104 continues to have the highest weekday reach of local Dublin stations at 19% (-1) Weekday reach figures for the majority of remaining local Dublin stations remained the same when compared to the previous survey period:  Dublin’s 98FM at 15%; Spin 1038FM at 13%; Country Mix 106.8 at 4%; and Phantom 105.2 at 3%. Q102 recorded a reach figure of 12% (-1.0) for the current survey period.

98FM recorded the highest market share figure of the local Dublin stations in the April 09-March 10 survey period at 11.6%(+1.2).  Other increases in market share were recorded for Dublin’s Q102 at 9.4% (+0.8); Spin 1038 at 6% (+0.2) and Phantom 105.2 at 1.5% (+0.1). County Mix 106.8 retained its market share of 3% while FM104 achieved a market share of 10.5% (-0.2).

Cork-local stations

The combined figures for Cork’s 96FM/C103 showed reductions in both reach and share, at 48% (-2.0) and 43.6% (-1.4) respectively. Separate figures for both services are detailed in the tables provided.

Cork’s Red FM recorded increases in their reach and market share, achieving figures of 21% (+1.0) and 10.3% (+0.5) respectively.

Full details of the reach and market share figures together with the weekly reach figures for all stations are available at the BAI website.

Seagull Offshore – The Pictures

Hi all,

Now I’m back in Ireland I have, as promised, put together a good selection of photos from my week aboard the floating rock station off the Dutch coast, Radio Seagull, and its ship, the Jenni Baynton.

There are a lot of pictures, so there are divided into three sections, as below:

View pictures of:

The Jenni Baynton at sea

Inside the Jenni Baynton

The Jenni Baynton crew

Enjoy – I did!


A Ferry Large Tender

The tender that took me back to land at the end of my stint aboard the radioship Jenni Baynton was somewhat larger than the run of the mill supply vessel.

Thanks to the enthusiasm and helpfull stance of a local ferry captain, Radio Seagull / Waddenzee is able to make use of regular ferry runs when no dedicated suply boat is scheduled.

The skill with which Captain Freddie brings his car ferry alongside the radioship is matched by his warm welcome for members of the radioship’s crew using his service.

Below are some shots taken as I was leaving the Jenni Baynton on Friday afternoon.

Don’t forget I will have a full photo update on Sunday night.


Homeward Bound

The week has flown past. One last show on Radio Waddenzee (the Dutch daytime service) and I’m off to land on the tender shortly afterwards.

Has been an amazing week. Will do a big picture update when I’m back in Ireland on Sunday (volcanic ash permitting).


The Watchman

My fourth night on board the Jenni Baynton and I am standing anchor watch for the first time.

Basically this involves being awake and alert through the night, being aware of the ship’s position and anything going on in the vacinity, as well as doing a walk around each hour to check all is well, paying particular attention to the anchor cable.

It’s my first time having any kind of marine responsibility since the last days of Caroline at sea, and I take it seriously. Sure, I’ll joke that I crashed the last ship I looked after into a sandbank, but in truth I can’t forget how our arrival on the Goodwin Sands in the early hours of the morning came as a complete shock to us, when really we should have noticed earlier that we were out of position. After more than 1500 days anchored at the Falls Head, complacency had crept in, with me as guilty as anyone. Not that the outcome would have been changed in any way by our awareness, but in different circumstances the delay in gaining situational awareness could have been critical.

So now I’m acutely aware of how easy it is for things to change on even the most innocent looking of nights, and I acting accordingly.

The studio is the highest and warmest room inside the ship and with the best view, but lots of distractions too. So my back is to the music, my gaze is outwards, and my walkabouts are regular and thorough.

Mother Nature won’t catch Conway napping a second time 🙂

As I write this it is 0449 nearly time for my next round, and the horizon to the east is already glowing a predawn blue.

Another couple of hours and it will be time for bed.


Clear White Light

My 4th day on board the former lightship turned offshore radioship Jenni Baynton off the coast of Holland.

I’m having great fun presenting programmes on both Radios Waddenzee and Seagull, and will be on Seagull again tonight from 2100-000 UK time (2200-0100 en Nederlands).

Today I got to do something really exciting – climb up the ladders to the top of the on board lighthouse tower, and stand in the glass room at the very top, with 360 degree view from a 50 foot elevation above deck.

The light room has an amazing atmosphere and is full of strange distorted images in the giant mirrors. An interesting place to sit and think, and possibly a very inspiring writing place.

I’ll write in more detail and share lots of views when I’m back on land and don’t have to do this through a mobile phone, which is a pain!

But for now here are a couple of shots to be getting on with, of the view out high over the back deck, and the front of the ship, curved and upside down in the lightmirror.


More Seagull pictures

Days 2 & 3 on board the ship passing far too quickly in a flurry of white horses and great music.

In addition to Radio Seagull at night, I’ve been doing some daytime shows on Radio Waddenzee in the daytime, which is lovely as it adds a real variety to my stay here.

Later I will be getting to explore the light tower.

Next shows:

Seagull tonight (Tue) 2000-2200 BST (2100-2300 en Nederland)

Radio Waddenzee tomorrow (Wed) 1000-1300 (Nederland) (0900-1200 BST).

Both on 1602khz or online:



Seagull – Day 1

My first day back at sea after 19 years, and we have a North Easterly blowing. It’s like I’ve never been away!

Leaving Harlingen harbour on the tender started bringing the memories back, pushing out to sea towards a radioship that we could hear but not see.

90 minutes or so later we were coming alongside the Jenni Baynton, the former lightship which transmits the Dutch station Radio Waddenzee by day and the English language rock of Radio Seagull in the evenings and overnights.

Coming on board brought fresh memories, the melée of tendering, the babble of dozens of simultanous conversations in different languages, that “ship” smell of metal, grease and diesel.

Then the tender departed, and we were alone under grey skies on an increasingly lumpy sea. It is only when the tender is sailing away, leaving you behind that you feel the connection to land finally sever. This is no longer a day trip.

“Once you’re out there, you’re out there” as someone advised me many years ago, on the eve of my first ever stint with Radio Caroline.

Old memories there may be, but I’m making loads of new ones too. Radio Seagull, anchored well out from the Dutch coast and transmitting on AM with a nice big ship-based tower does feel familiar in many ways, but is fresh and exciting in others.

I’ve never been on a ship which manages to use space in such a strange TARDIS-like fashion as the Jenni Baynton. From the outside it looks modest, but inside wide sweeping corridors and broad staircases give a much more open feel than on either the Ross Revenge or the Communicator. The ship boasts two messrooms, generously sized studios, and, much to my surprise a large dancefloor with tables, lighting equipment, DJ booth, and fully equipped bar!

My first show on Seagull was a pleasure, playing my choice of classic and modern rock, album tracks more than singles. The audience are musically curious, so straying far off the beaten track is encouraged.

And as I was on air and darkness fell, the wind got up to a 7 and beyond from the north east, the rain and spray was battering on the portholes, and the ship was moving in the seas, though not uncomfortably so.

I know I’m going to like this.

Radio Seagull can be heard online at http://www.radioseagull.com

Come and join us!


Offshore Again

Arrived on board Seagull. More later!