Revenue Killed the Radio Star

It’s been a long grieving process since learning of TXFM’s imminent demise in March. It’s been a slow wind down since then, with the station recently cutting it’s eclectic range of night time shows and now unfortunately it’s all coming to an end. At 7pm today the station will go off the air and Dublin’s alternative leaning listeners will be left with nowhere on the airwaves to call home.

TXFM is of course a rebranding of it’s previous guise, Phantom FM. I managed to find Phantom in it’s pirate days once or twice, but mainly it was elusive mythical thing. I can still remember how excited I was when it started up legitimately in 2006. I used to have to tape tinfoil to my walls and aerial to get the station in my bedroom on the Meath/Westmeath border!
Phantom introduced me to music from all over the world that I almost certainly wouldn’t have come across on my own. More importantly it connected me to the Irish music industry that I didn’t even know existed. My experience with bands spanned to a few local acts. I assumed that if you wanted a career in music you needed to go to London, LA, New York or one of those cool places. Phantom totally changed this view. I’d tune in to I-CON with Cathal Funge and soak up all the amazing Irish talent like a sponge.

On December 30th 2009 I entered a competition on that very show to win the top 10 Irish albums of the year and won! I was so excited. There were albums from And So I Watch You From Afar, Super Extra Bonus Party, Hunter Gatherer, Jape, Herm and lots more. I poured through the linear notes, researched the indie labels and members other projects and that was it. I fell down the rabbit hole. I was hooked.

That chance competition win revealed to me the industry that I find myself working in today. Right at a time when I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life. I will be forever grateful for that.

In 2014 the upsetting news emerged that Phantom was shutting down. I was gutted. Soon enough though, we all found out that a lot of the crew would be opening a new station, TXFM, following the same ethos. We we’re saved from the abyss! The blow was well and truly softened.

Years of enjoyment followed. I continued listening and learning over the last few years, getting to know the presenters and winning a really ridiculous amount of concert tickets. Cathal, Claire, Joe and Kelly- Anne became an important part of my life. Tuning the dial to 105.2 felt like coming home. It kept me going through secondary school, college, long drives and traffic jams. I can’t count the number of times I arrived home and stayed in the car to hear the end of the song playing.

TXFM was also never afraid to take risks. This was best illustrated recently by the 1991 special the station did on the 25th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind. The station spent the entire day acting like it was 1991. They had old news reports, they ran phone in competitions and read everyones texts and emails as letters. It was easily the most entertaining day of radio I’ve ever listened to. You can listen back to the whole thing on their website here(Thursday September 25th). Hurry though, I’m not sure how long it’ll be live.

Another great example is Cathal Funge’s PPI Award winning documentary Left of the Dial, chronicling alternative radios tumultuous past in Ireland. Grab it here while you still can.
leftofthedialYou have to ask why such quality radio needs to rely on advertising revenue to survive. Surely RTE or the Arts Council should have some responsibility to cater to for listeners that don’t want to listen to the same old mainstream drivel. A man can dream I suppose.

The closure of TXFM is a massive loss to the Irish music fans and an especially large loss for the bands, artists and labels it so consistently supported. Anyone who isn’t feeling a sting today might not realise what we’ve lost until it’s gone. But it’s not all bad. For 10 years the crew of Phantom and TXFM we’re a shining light in the otherwise too often bleak landscape of primetime Irish radio. In the words of Joe Donnelly, don’t be sorry it’s over, be glad that it happened.

To the amazing crew of the station I can only say so long, farewell & thank you so much for everything.

P.S TXFM is archived all the way back to May 6th 2014 on their website. Listen while you can and let’s pray someone will be backing it up somewhere!