I started on radio sometime around 1997 (I think) on a small radio station called Solar FM. The station was a dance music station run by the infamous Tracey Lee in an attic room beside a bunch of shops on St Peters Rd in Walkinstown, Dublin. They ran an ad on the radio that went something along the lines of “if you see yourself broadcasting to hundreds of listeners, then get in touch”, so…. I did.
When I first went on pretty much all of the slots were taken and they gave me what was left which was hardcore dance. Not my bag AT ALL but I was desperate to be on the radio so borrowing tons of CDs from a buddy of mine, I did my weekly show as DJ X (Cringe). The station didn’t last too long but I now had the bug for it.
I went to school with DJ Power and I was constantly bugging him to get me a slot and after about a year, they got sick of me and gave me a slot. At the beginning, it was a standard show playing whatever was out at the time but RnB and Hip Hop was always where my head was at. So much so that I was always playing (according to the station manager) too much “effin” RnB. The conversation usually went “look, we like having you here but you can’t just play the music you like”. So, I agreed and ignored everything that was said to me and played more RnB.
After a while, they got sick of me doing that and agreed to give me an RnB slot and I could feel it in my core that it was the beginning of something, well, kinda big. Before long, the phones were going nuts and the youth of Dublin were really warming to the music that wasn’t really being played anywhere else.
Soon, I was approached by HOT FM and asked would I be interested in doing a few slots there and after discussing it with management, they were happy to let me do both. This is where I really started playing gigs. HOT were geared more towards the clubby end of music so they actively encouraged me to mix the show which is not something we did on Freedom and I was excited!
Sometime around 2000, I was approached by the manager of what was to be Energy 94FM. They had been running a very popular station called ESG (Essential Galaxy) which was a merge of two radio stations which I think were called Essential radio and Galaxy FM. They asked me to work Monday to Friday doing the breakfast slot which had previously been hosted by Tony Dixon (RIP). I asked my job if I could work part time just working afternoons and they agreed so off I went to work for Energy. When I say work, this was completely unpaid but my hope was that if it took off, I could get enough work gigging that it wouldn’t be a problem.
Within 6 months, the show was hugely successful and was getting a very big listenership in Dublin. Also, as I had hoped, the club scene for me was massive.
Energy shut down and I was wondering what I was going to do with my days. I still had plenty of club work and had since given up the day job and I asked Freedom if they fancied doing the same thing on Freedom and again, they agreed!
So full circle and here I was back on the place I started with the listeners coming back when all of a sudden one morning………………………………. There was nothing. No sound in my headphone, no sound from the studio speakers and I thought to myself, what is going on. Then it clicked…….Our mountain site where the broadcast came from was dead. I rang Andy Walker (multiple times) who happened to be in the middle of a job interview and we soon found out we had been raided The cops and Comreg were up at our mountain site and they were pulling all our gear out. We assumed that they would hit the studio soon after so as fast as I could, I gathered up anything of value, threw it in the car and bolted out of there at speed. Luckily it never got that far but Freedoms days (and indeed pirate radio as we knew it) were over.
Over the next decade or so, I was on a few more radio stations but during that period, stations rarely lasted more than 6 months so even if you had a great sound, it wasn’t long enough to build up a good listenership and so it all really faded. I had also fallen out of love with the newer, poppy sounding RnB and Hip Hop was being taken over with mumble rap and I just felt that I didn’t enjoy it anymore so I hung up the headphones.
Since 2005 or so, many people had been pushing for Freedom to make a comeback but the station owners had enough on their plate without undertaking the hassle of running a pirate station. The work that goes on behind the scenes in immense BTW.
In early 2020 (The year of the virus), I got word from one of the original owners that the station was to make a comeback as online only and would I be interested. To say I was excited is a massive understatement. I was on another FM radio station at the time called Pirate FM and they had decided to take a break from broadcasting for a while due to some turmoil in the FM band so it was a great opportunity for me to get involved again.
So here we are! I’m a grown-ass man doing what I loved to do as a kid and every time I put on my headphones, I genuinely feel like I’m 20 again.