8Radio.com On Air [30Mar2013]

Tonight sees my first show with 8Radio.com, and my return to the Irish airwaves

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Simon Maher’s new Irish station 8Radio.com launched at midnight Friday, and is live online, as well as on FM in three cities – Dublin (94.3), Cork (106.7) and Limerick (105.5).

It’s been great today to hear it blasting out as I’ve driven around the capital, listening to voices old and new go through the excitement of first shows.

It’s just over an hour to 11pm when I myself will take the helm for the 11pm-2am slot, my first time on FM in Ireland since I left Phantom 105.2 two years ago.

During the intervening time I’ve been a regular presenter on Radio Caroline (and still am) but nothing quite beats the thrill of being live in your own market.

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Some Pics from the 8Radio.com Launch Party [27Mar2013]

A great crowd turned out for the 8Radio.com launch party at Whelans of Wexford Street last night.

8Radio.com goes live on FM in Dublin (94.3fm) Cork (106.7fm) and Limerick (105.5fm) from midnight on Friday night 22nd march 2013, broadcasting every weekend for 15 weeks, and ful-ltime online.

All pictures taken by Claude Lamothe.

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Who “eight” all the cake?  8Radio.com founder Simon Maher, that’s who!

Pearl and Steve enjoying the evening.

Presenters Pearl and Steve enjoying the evening.

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Presenters Amber & Steve meet Aisling Maher

Musician turned broadcaster Neil singing for his supper.

Musician turned broadcaster Neil Murray singing for his supper.

A wide range of ages and background on the station, old hands and fresh faces. Steve with Emer.

A wide range of ages and background on the station, old hands and fresh faces. Steve with Emer.

Of those pictured above:

Steve will be on air every Saturday night 11pm to 2am.

Pearl can be heard Sunday mornings 9am-midday.

Neil is Sunday 3-6pm.

Amber is on late Friday night/Saturday morning midnight to 2am.

For details on this new station including full schedule, webstreams, apps, visit 8Radio.com


Steve Conway Joins 8Radio.com As It Launches On FM In Dublin, Cork, Limerick

Delighted to return to the Irish Airwaves – Steve Conway “thrilled” to be joining “interesting and passionate team at 8Radio.com

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Steve Conway is to join the team at 8Radio.com, Ireland’s brand new online radio station, which will also operate on FM in Dublin, Cork and Limerick for 15 weekends starting this Saturday.

8Radio.com is the brainchild of Simon Maher who was previously a founder presenter and General Manager of Phantom 105.2 from its early days as a pirate station through to its days as a fully licenced operation.

Following his departure from Phantom in early 2011, Simon has been working on putting together a group of like-minded individuals with a love of music and radio. “I’ve been asking people what they listen to for a year now and so many people have deserted traditional radio altogether which is a great shame” Simon comments.

“People still love music though so they have replaced their terrestrial radio listening with online radio/spotify/deezer and their own playlists which are by their nature a bit less structured than traditional radio. So, when we started putting the music for 8Radio together, we have gone for a much more random selection. Think Tom Waits followed by Dutch Uncles followed by The Blades at lunchtime!”

From studios in Dublin, 8Radio.com will broadcast live online through its website http://8radio.com, as well as stylish apps for Android and iPhone.

From March 30th though to July 7th 2013 8Radio.com can also be heard on FM every weekend in Dublin (94.3), Cork (106.7) and Limerick (105.5).

Steve, who will be be heard every Saturday night / Sunday morning from 11pm to 2am says:

“I am really thrilled to be joining this exciting project, and to be working with such a passionate and dedicated team to bring this new station to life. In particular it is great to be working with Simon Maher again, a man for whom I have huge respect. I worked for him at Phantom for 11 years, and his drive and enthusiasm never failed to inspire me

Simon Maher (left) 8Radio.com founder, with Steve Conway (file photo)

Simon Maher (left) 8Radio.com founder, with Steve Conway (file photo)

Steve continues “Over the years I have worked for some wonderful radio stations, including Caroline and Phantom, and not forgetting South East Sound the rock pirate in South London where I started my career 28 years ago. I’ve always been very picky about the places I choose to broadcast, as I feel that I do my best work in environments where I feel really enthused and inspired by the team around me. So I’ve leapt at the the chance to work for 8Radio.com, because here is a station that is born out of genuine enthusiasm for music and radio, with a brilliant team made up of a mixture of all ages and backgrounds, but all believers in how great radio can be if it is made with passion

For more information on the station visit 8Radio.com.

Steve will be on air every Saturday from 11pm through to 2am Sunday morning.


Not Pregnant, Just Expecting

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It’s funny the little ( or not so little ) things that crop up from time to time and suddenly remind you of differences you rarely notice.

I know lots of people who share my passion for radio and who either work in the industry, or used to, or want to.

Some of them are women and some of them are men and I generally tend to be pretty blind as to which is which. My awkward early adult years, when I was fresh from an all- boys school and woefully unprepared for the real world which had two genders rather than one are thankfully far, far behind me now.

I’d like to think that the people I work with in all my different fields of endeavor would say that I treat everyone just the same regardless of gender, race, orientation, or any other divider you care to dream up.

Actually, the above is not strictly true – in roles where I manage people I tend to treat everyone equally, but with slightly different styles of approach for each person, the difference in treatment being based on their needs as an individual, rather than their “group” identity.

So: radio. My radio friends tend to post on Facebook just like everyone else, and the sort of stuff they post is similar in tone to my own online doodlings;  They talk about their passion for what they are doing, their excitement at new bands or brands encountered, and there are exhortations to listen/attend/spread the word, and of course veiled hints at new projects or opportunities soon to be launched or grasped.

Oh, we all love the thinly veiled “somethings going on but I can’t tell you yet” messages, both as poster and reader.

FBS

Indeed I posted something in that vein myself only a week or two ago “things are happening . . . developments in the future” that sort of stuff. The responses ranged from the “please tell me” and the “that sounds exciting” through the oft-asked “is it to do with offshore radio?” (the answer to which, I can reveal is No. or . . well, not quite. I was actually hinting at three different things coming to the boil, and one of them is not offshore radio, but does involve it in a twisted kind of way.

Anyway, I was perusing the Facebook page of a fellow broadcaster last night, and was amused to notice that the responses to her “don’t you hate it when you have good news but can’t share it till a certain date” update were much the same as the responses to mine.

Except . . she had included the extra information that no, she was not pregnant. And despite this, people in the replies were still speculating that she might be. And they way she included it in her status update told me that this kind of misinterpretation was something that she was used to dealing with.

Given that I have spent a goodly portion of the non-radio related half of my working life involved in services management for large multinationals, I had almost, and don’t laugh here, forgotten that women get pregnant.

What I mean is that, in modern, enlightened working environments (and they are the only kind I will deign to make my management expertise available to) women’s reproductive choices should never be factored into the kind of hiring/promoting/career streaming decisions that I get called upon to advise on. It is so much the norm just to evaluate people as people that gender becomes almost invisible. Of course, not all employers are ethical, which is why legislation protects, or, should I say, protected people, until recently, making it clear that hiring decisions could not be based on questions about personal issues which should stay personal..

But Facebook, and other online services, threaten to be a game-changer here.

It used to be the case that your life could be compartmentalized pretty effectively, and that the only things that your employer, or your work colleagues found out about you, were those things that you were willing to share with them, but that is changing rapidly.

I’ve seen this myself: I used to keep the creative/media  half of my life very isolated from the IT management side, and few people from either world crossed over with friends in the other. But Facebook has made all of the various parts of my existence, and the people I know in them, increasingly entwined.

It’s common to read now of employers pre-screening potential hires by searching social media, though it is not a practice I use myself, nor much approve of.  Call me old fashioned, but I believe that, criminal convictions aside, people’s private lives are no legitimate interest of the corporations that employ them.

When it comes to the age old question of female job applicants facing discrimination based on fertility status or assumed family plans, legislation had worked to curb this, and a “don’t ask, don’t speculate” culture has been successfully inculcated into management in most good employers. (there are still some bad ones out there of course, but I don’t work for  them on principal).

But now, even if a woman is not asked directly about her plans or potential pregnancies, all that has to happen is for her to have a few friends in the office who are also friends on Facebook, and gradually it gets to the point where nothing is private any more. Which can be OK, with an ethical employer. But it leaves doors open for others.

People tend to forget that the sole purpose of social media sites is really to data-mine, and that apart from being mined by the service provider, the info is also there for others to see. And even your sister and cousin speculating on your timeline about your possible baby plans is data, of a sort, and capable of use, for good or ill.

So happening to read through this woman’s post and seeing how easily people could make assumptions, and how she had to be  proactive in avoiding them, even if an offhand and humorous way, was a bit of an eye-opener for me. Equally, sexual orientation can not be questioned in a job interview, but could be very easily mined from social media, by those who don’t embrace diversity.

We may be all the same in capabilities, in passion for the job, and in skill, but still there are differences and different challenges to be faced by some, and it is so easy sometimes to simply fail to see them.

We can’t undo social media, but we can redouble our efforts to spread empathy and openness in corporate culture, and to speak out when we see wrong treatment. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance etc.

Food for thought for me, as a manager, as a communicator, and as a human being.

Steve


Me And My Tranny

Tranny memories . . and a new toy to play with.

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I remember when I got my first radio. It was a little thing, not unlike the one pictured above, but with a big speaker grille occupying most of the front space (unlike the one pictured, which is designed to be used with headphones, but which is the nearest distant relative I still possess).

It was cheap, plastic, and could be held easily in one hand. The sound from it was a little tinny, but it was mine – finally I could choose my own listening, my own place, time, and station. The controls were simple – one wheel for volume (which also controlled on/off) and another for tuning. The radio being small, and the wheel sticky, tuning in stations, especially on FM, was almost an art form. And with cheap components it whistled and whined on AM, and would frequently de-tune from whatever station you were listening to.

Back in those days, you still referred to these things as a “transistor radio” – hence the nickname “tranny“, which at that time either had not acquired any more adult meanings, or perhaps such things were beyond my innocent world. The “transistor” radio was one of those phases we go through linguistically, where we specifically incorporate the name of some new component into the name of a thing, even though most of the users would have little knowledge of what a transistor actually is, or how it differed from a non transistor radio. These technical names attach themselves to things for a period, and then eventually fade away, the transistor radio just becoming the plain old radio again.

Another good example of that is the “Microcomputer“, which, if you took it’s name as a literal meaning, would have been a computer so tiny that you would need a magnifying glass to find it on your desk. In fact, “Micro” computers were great big hulking beasts, taking up most of your desktop, and took their name from the then relatively new to mass market micro-processor at their heart. For a while in the early 80s, computer stores were always “Bill’s Micros” or “Sutton Micros” or “First Micro” etc, until the name gradually faded away to be replaced by the more prosaic “computer” of the desktop or laptop variety. Though of course, the biggest tech giant, which was born in those early PC days, does still carry the name – Microsoft.

Another example of such nomaculture, which has now almost faded away is the cellphone, which is what most mobile phones were initially called by users in the 80s and early 90s (and still are, to an extent, in the USA). This was again a case where the technical aspect of a product’s operation was included in the name – possibly by the designing engineers – and eventually being lost as generations of users, to whom the product is no longer a novelty, use them without any knowledge of the “transmission cell” technology which enables them to function.

Cellphones became mobiles, and just phones in many cases, and have now gained the title “smartphone” as they have started adding functionality not traditionally found on phones, such as mail, web-browsing, application support, and radio. How long will it be, I wonder, before the “smarts” of the smartphone are so taken for granted by users that they cease to have to be defined as smart, and become again, simply “the phone” ?

The arrival of radio onto mobile phones predated the smartphone era, and saved my bacon on one memorable occasion in 2009 when I was doing an outside broadcast for Phantom, and we suddenly lost the off-air monitor function on the desk. As I was not playing the music locally, but remote-controlling the playout system back at base through a laptop hookup, it was vital that I could hear what was going out on air, and i suddenly found myself adrift. Cue a few moments of panic before I realised that my trusty Nokia mobile could be pressed into service as an off-air monitor, though I’m sure it did our image no good at a very public location for me to be seen wearing, not the usual “big DJ headphones” but a tiny mobile with Walkman type personal earphones.

Fstream

That was an FM radio facility, but mobile phones have moved on smartly since then, to the point where a variety of apps allow you to listen to online stations, or online feeds of terrestrial stations, from pretty much anywhere in the world, restricted only by occasional copyright issues. Most radio stations have their own app for ease of listening, and those that don’t are usually possible to get via specialised apps such as Tunein or Fstream (pictured above).

So a couple of days ago, I was lying in bed, enjoying what was, for me, a very rare lie-in. And I was listening to an online station through my smartphone.  Nothing unusual in that . I use the phone for a lot of online listening: to get Radio 4 in good quality for example, or to listen to stations not available locally. But usually when listening, I am using headphones. In fact, I would virtually never listen to radio, podcast, or music on the phone any other way.

But lying in bed earphones are a drag, and I was feeling too lazy to get out of bed and go fire up the laptop to listen through the speakers. So I did something i rarely do, which was listen to the phone without headphones, through it’s own little speaker. And that’s when it hit me.

There I was, holding in my hand a device that was roughly the same size and shape as my first ever radio, though possibly a bit lighter. And I was listening to the radio on it, with that same slightly tinny sound that you get from small speakers, except that this was probably slightly better in that there was no whistles and de-tuning.

What I held in my hand at that moment was, to all intents and purposes, a “tranny”.

I know many radio purists of the old school who will disagree, and talk about receiving terrestrial signals. But to me that is not the point.

When I was a kid, I had a little box, and I could use it to listen to RTE, or BBC, or some other station I wanted to hear. Now, today, I can hold in my hand a box that allows me to do exactly the same. And more – If I want to, I can just as easily listen to Caroline or Radio Jackie or a station in Australia, all in the same quality, and without having to be in their specific area.

Just like the tranny of old, the battery will run down after a number of hours of listening. But instead of having to buy new ones, I simply plug in and recharge. And the phone allows me to do lots of other stuff too (though that is not the point of this piece).

The problem with internet radio always used to be it’s lack of mobility, as well as the fact that in pre-broadband days it could be clunky and intermittent to listen to. Better connection speeds solved the reliability issue, while the smartphone has essentially liberated online radio from the home, and allowed it to go with you. Wifi is nice, but not essential – as long as there is 3G coverage, most radio station apps will work just fine.

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I remember doing online broadcasts 10 years ago, and at times it could be a pretty lonely show. The emails came in, but they could not be described as thick and fast. These days, working with Caroline, my response from online listeners vastly outnumbers satellite ones, and it seems to be almost as easy for people to tune in as it used to be.

It’s funny that I never made the connection between the smartphone and those old, little portable radios before. It took the removal of my headphones, and a sudden reversion to that lower sound quality of yesteryear, for me to make the emotional connection.

Broadcasting is not necessarily about aerials and signals, any more than good radio is about vinyl rather than CD.

Radio is about the content, the connection, the passion.

The old transistor radio was just a tool to deliver that content to me, just as the new age tranny in my shirt pocket does in 2013.

Steve


LW 252 Tower (Ireland) – Pics

Some shots of the 252Khz Longwave transmission tower in Co. Meath, Republic of Ireland, currently broadcasting RTE but originally erected for Atlantic 252.  Pictures taken Sunday 17th March 2013.

You can click on any picture for the high-res version. This is the tower as seen in the landscape of Co. Meath. It is actually a better shot than the close-up ones, as there are so many obstructions of the view from the roadway closest to the site.

You can click on any picture for the high-res version. This is the tower as seen in the landscape of Co. Meath. It is actually a better shot than the close-up ones, as there are so many obstructions of the view from the roadway closest to the site.

I don’t normally go out of my way to photograph broadcast sites – I usually prefer to think and talk about the content rather than the technology – but a friend in the UK asked me for some pictures, and as I was walking in a forest only about 20km away today I thought “why not?”.

The base of the tower. Thiswas taken through a wire mesh fence, and a small gap in the trees, so only possible to get one part of the tower at a time in shot.

The base of the tower. This was taken through a wire mesh fence, and a small gap in the trees, so only possible to get one part of the tower at a time in shot.

The upper sections vanishing into the mist. It is planned to paint the top 84m of this tower red and white, and to replace the current warning lights with ones of lower intensity.

The upper sections vanishing into the mist. It is planned to paint the top 84m of this tower red and white, and to replace the current warning lights with ones of lower intensity.

Planning application notice on site for retention of modifications, also revised colour scheme and lighting.

Planning application notice on site for retention of modifications, also revised colour scheme and lighting.

If you are a motorist . . or a terrorist . . be warned!

If you are a motorist . . or a terrorist . . be warned!

When I last passed here about 15 years ago, it was very easy to see into the site, but the boundary trees planted around the tower have all grown up now.

When I last passed here about 15 years ago, it was very easy to see into the site, but the boundary trees planted around the tower have all grown up now.

So there you have it, 252 site on a typically misty St. Patricks Day.

Steve

 

 


Live Reading, Dublin, Thursday 14th March 2013 – “Television”

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After a short break from the live scene due to a hectic schedule last year, I am delighted to be returning to public readings as part of a special themed event at The Workmans Club, Wellington Quay, in Dublin City Centre.

Hosted by Seven Towers, this is a short evening event kicking off at 6.30pm, with writers and poets including Orla Martin, Phil Lynch, Eamonn Lynsky and myself exploring the theme of “Television“.

Full details at www.seventowers.ie

Steve