Radio in the Republic of Ireland
Licensed radio broadcasting in Ireland is one element of the wider Media of Ireland, with 85% of the population listening to a licenced service on any given day. This article deals with the legal radio stations of Ireland. For a discussion of the extensive illegal broadcasting scene in Ireland, see Irish pirate radio.
A morse code transmission on April 24, 1916 from the General Post Office in Dublin by the rebels during the Easter Rising is considered the first broadcast in Ireland. Regular radio broadcasting in Ireland began with 2RN's test transmissions in 1925. 2RN has since become RTÉ Radio 1, which celebrated 80 years of uninterrupted broadcasting in January 2006, making it amongst the oldest (if not the oldest) continuously operating, continuously public service radio station in Europe. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta joined in 1972, and RTÉ Radio 2, now 2FM, launched in 1979.
Commercial radio was outlawed in Ireland until 1989, leading to the development of Irish pirate radio. Upon legalisation, licences were advertised and awarded on a franchise system explained in the article for a national service and a network of regional services covering the country, These all took to the air during 1989 and 1990, and although the national service (Century) eventually failed, all the local services lasted until their licence was revoked, or still exist. Additional licences have been added on an erratic basis since the late 1990s.
An "international" service, Atlantic 252, also operated on long wave between 1989 and 2002, although it was aimed solely at the UK and Ireland. It was never subject to the authority of the BCI (nor, much to its annoyance at the time, the UK's Radio Authority), and was operated under RTÉ's remit as a joint venture between RTÉ and CLT-UFA. After a short period as a sports station (TeamTalk), the frequencies reverted to sole RTÉ control and are now used as an additional frequency for RTÉ Radio 1.
In Ireland, Community Radio has been active since the late 1970s however it took until 1994 before the Independent Radio and Television Commission established an 18-month community radio pilot project to explore and evaluate the potential offered by community broadcasting in an Irish context. This project went operational in 1995 when licenses were issued to eleven community and community of interest groups across the country. 2004 saw the establishment of CRAOL the Community Radio Forum of Ireland.
Aside from the stations operated by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), radio stations in Ireland operate under sound broadcasting contracts issued by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). This body supervises and regulates the commercial Independent National, Regional, and Local Radio stations, as well as the non-profit Community Radio stations, Institutional Services and Temporary Services. After the Broadcasting Act 2009, the BAI now is responsible for RTÉ also.
All stations broadcast on FM barring those on the DAB Ireland multiplexes, which broadcast on VHF Band III; and the longwave version of RTÉ Radio 1 mainly intended for reception outside of Ireland. RTÉ radio services are also available free-to-air on digital satellite, as is Newstalk, and a number of recently licenced services or applicants have used satellite transmission to homes as part of the licence applications.
Mediumwave (AM) licences were issued for new commercial stations for Limerick and Galway in 2002, although these services never reached the air (with the licences being withdrawn); and a mediumwave licence has been awarded for a quasi-national religious service.
During 2006, a group, Choice FM, applied for and received permission to broadcasting on MW in the Dublin area over a period of thirty days. The 'easy listening' radio station relayed its FM programming on 1278 kHz MW, and operated opt-out programming at various times. The group is said to be interested in obtaining one of the four MW channels that are allocated to the Dublin area, however the BCI's future schedule for licencing does not indicate that any MW licences will be offered on a permanent basis.
During 2007, a radio station called 'The Rock' obtained a temporary 'classic rock' music service. The station broadcast on 94.9 FM and also on 1278 kHz MW. The Rock was operated by the same group that operated Choice FM during 2005 and 2006, although different MW facilities were used by the group during 2007.
Raidió Teilifís Éireann and Communicorp dominate the national radio broadcasting sector. RTÉ own the more popular Radio 1 and 2FM stations, the Irish Language station RnaG and classical station Lyric FM. The 2 national commercial stations are both owned by Communicorp - Today FM and Newstalk.
Ownership rules were relaxed in the mid-2000s which saw several companies buying up local and national commercial stations including Scottish Radio Holding who sold their stations to Emap, who eventually sold on those stations to Denis O'Brien's Communicorp. The ownership of commercial radio in Ireland is largely by two companies, Communicorp with 5 and UTV Radio with 5.
The rest of the stations, mostly small services, are generally owned by local businesses, with notable proprietors of stakes including Thomas Crosbie Holdings, the Roman Catholic Church and the Mid Western Area Health Board.
RTÉ also broadcast 6 DAB stations, however DAB is not widespread.
National stations 
RTÉ (national state broadcaster) 
- RTÉ Radio 1 (formerly Radio Éireann) - mainly news and current affairs.
- RTÉ 2fm (formerly Radio 2) - mainly pop and rock music.
- RTÉ lyric fm - classical music and arts programming.
- RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta - Irish-language programmes.
- The RTÉ DAB Multiplex and the additional stations it carries:
Independent National Radio 
- Today FM (formerly Radio Ireland) - popular music with some speech programming.
- Newstalk - news and talk radio.
- DAB-specific services which are theoretically national services:
Multi-City and county Radio 
Broadcasting to Greater Dublin (Dublin city and county; limited parts of County Kildare, County Meath and County Wicklow), Cork city and county, Limerick city and county, Galway city and county and County Clare.
- 4fm - Music service for over-45s.
- Spirit Radio - Christian and religious service aimed at over-15s. Launched on 27 January 2011 with FM frequencies in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. In July 2012 the station as required by its licence introduced its planned AM transmission on 549 kHz medium wave to increase coverage to nationwide.
Independent Regional Radio 
Independent Regional Radio 
- Beat 102-103 - Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford and South Tipperary.
- Spin South West - Counties Kerry, Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary, and south west Laois.
- iRadio (NW) - Counties Galway, Mayo, Longford, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.
- iRadio (NE and Midlands) - Counties Kildare, Meath, North Laois, Carlow, Louth, Westmeath, Offaly, Cavan and Monaghan.
All services are licensed for "youth" content, no franchises area geographically overlap, and the entire country is served apart from County Wicklow and the cities and counties of Cork and Dublin, both of which have "youth" licensed services (Red FM and Spin 1038 respectively). Beat 102-103 was the first to air and was a pilot for the rest of the system.
In 2011, i102-104 and i105-107 merged to become one iRadio entity. Both stations now carry identical content apart from the 9:50 to 14:50 weekday slot, which is presented by Simon Murdoch on iRadio NE and Mark Cunning on iRadio NW. Though both stations carry identical content during most of the day, they still remain separate stations and have independent RDS transmissions.
Independent local radio 
There are 25 commercial stations (Independent Local Radio - ILR) licensed on a regional franchise basis. Often several counties of Ireland are covered by one station only, but Dublin and Cork have several. The majority of the ILR stations collectively own the sales house, Independent Radio Sales.
Dublin ILRs 
Except for the two original ILR licenses - 98FM and FM104 - each additional ILR license in Dublin was awarded for a specific format, intending on meeting demands which it was felt that 98FM and FM104 were not catering to. The majority of stations heard in Dublin can also be heard in North East Kildare, South Meath and North Wicklow.
- 98FM - General service.
- Radio Nova 100FM (Ireland) - Classic rock music service. A pirate station by the same name previously broadcast in Dublin from 1980 - 1986.
- Dublin's Q102 - Service aimed at older listeners (35+). Renamed in 2004 - formerly "Lite FM". A pirate station by the same name previously broadcast in Dublin from 1985 - 1988.
- Spin 1038 - Service aimed at youth (initially licenced for dance music[dubious ]).
- FM104 - General service. Formerly "Rock 104" and "Capital Radio".
- Phantom 105.2 - Alternative rock music service. Was formed from a pirate station.
- Sunshine 106.8 - Country and Crossover music service, Renamed in 2010 - formerly "Dublin's Country"/"Country Mix". A pirate station by the same name previously broadcast in Dublin from 1980 - 1988.
Cork ILRs 
- 96FM and C103 (dual franchise) - C103 is aimed at older listeners, also sports and rural interest programmes.
- Red FM - Youth-driven service.
Leinster (excluding Dublin) ILRs 
- East Coast FM - County Wicklow
- KCLR 96FM - Counties Carlow and Kilkenny
- Kfm - County Kildare
- South East Radio - County Wexford
- Midlands 103 and Midlands Gold - Counties Laois, Offaly, and Westmeath (split service)
- LMFM - Counties Meath and Louth
Munster (excluding Cork) ILRs 
- Clare FM - County Clare
- Spin South West - County Limerick, County Clare, North County Kerry, County Tipperary and South West County Laois.
- Live 95FM - Limerick City and County
- Tipp FM - County Tipperary
- Radio Kerry - County Kerry
- WLR FM - Waterford City and County
Connacht/Ulster ILRs 
- Galway Bay FM - Galway City and County
- Ocean FM - County Sligo, North Leitrim, and South Donegal.
- Mid-West Radio - County Mayo
- Shannonside FM - Counties Longford, Roscommon, East Galway and South Leitrim. Dual franchise with Northern Sound Radio, covering Counties Cavan and Monaghan.
- Highland Radio - County Donegal.
Community radio 
Community Radio covers specific local communities or communities of interest. These operate on a non-commercial basis. In Ireland the BCI requires that community radio stations subscribe to the AMARC Community Radio Charter for Europe. Community radio in Ireland is represented by CRAOL. Currently there are 20 fully licenced community radio stations on air in Ireland, with offers of contracts from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland while there are 42 stations in the process of obtaining a licence.
- Belfield FM - University College Dublin
- Cavan Community Radio - Cavan, County Cavan
- City FM - Waterford.
- Claremorris Community Radio - Claremorris, County Mayo.
- Connemara Community Radio - Letterfrack, County Galway.
- Cork Campus Radio 98.3 - studio located at University College Cork but is licenced for the general student population of Cork City.
- CRC FM (Community Radio Castlebar) - Castlebar, County Mayo.
- CRY 104.0FM (Community Radio Youghal) - Youghal, East Cork.
- Dublin South FM - South Dublin.
- Dundalk FM 100 - Dundalk, County Louth.
- Flirt FM - Galway.
- ICR FM (Inishowen Community Radio) - Carndonagh, County Donegal.
- Liffey Sound FM - Lucan, County Dublin.
- Raidió na Life - Dublin (in the Irish language).
- Life FM - County Cork.
- NEAR FM 101.6FM (North East Access Radio) - North Dublin.
- Phoenix FM - Blanchardstown, County Dublin.
- Radio Corca Baiscinn - Kilkee, County Clare.
- RosFm - County Roscommon.
- Tipperary Mid-West Community Radio - County Tipperary.
- ULFM - University of Limerick.
- West Dublin Access Radio - West Dublin.
- West Limerick 102 - County Limerick.
- Wired FM - Limerick, County Limerick.
- WRFM - Westport, County Mayo
Special interest services 
Special interest services resemble ILRs in most ways, but must be of specialist interest—e.g. heavier local interest content, or specialist music. Only one such station is licenced, Dublin City FM, which brand themselves as 103.2 Dublin City FM on-air, and DUB CITY on RDS. Dublin City FM are essentially a community station with specialist traffic reports around rush-hour periods.
Institutional services 
The BCI may also issue licenses to institutions, such as hospitals and colleges, for the provision of low-powered FM services.
At present, there are five such stations in operation; all of them are hospital radio stations with the existing student radio stations operating under community radio or temporary licenses.
- CUH FM Hospital Radio - Cork University Hospital, Cork, County Cork.
- Mater Hospital Radio - Mater Hospital, Dublin, County Dublin.
- Regional Hospital Radio - Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, County Limerick.
- South Tipperary General Hospital Radio - South Tipperary General and Maternity Hospital, Tipperary, County Tipperary.
- St. Ita's Hospital Radio - St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane, County Dublin.
Temporary services 
Stations may also be licensed to operate for shorter periods, with temporary licenses allowing stations to operate for up to thirty days in a given twelve-month period.
These licenses may be used by stations providing a service to coincide with local, cultural and sporting events or festivals.
Another group of stations to avail of this type of license are those that are being run as pilot projects; successful stations may later be established as Community Radio stations, or run for a permanent license.
Defunct stations 
RTÉ radio 
- Atlantic 252 - a joint venture with RTL, eventually failed financially.
- RTÉ FM3 Classical music/arts service, had existed prior to the launch of Lyric FM. FM3 time-shared the same national FM network as RnaG, resulting in limited broadcasting hours.
- Radio Oglaigh na h-Éireann 1960s-era shortwave service offering Radio Éireann programming to Irish UN Forces serving in Congo, ended when no longer needed.
- RTÉ Radio Cork, (was originally 'RTÉ Cork Local Radio', changed name in 1989 to 'Cork 89FM', and relaunched again in 1994 as 'RTÉ Radio Cork') - an opt-out of Radio 1 for the Cork area on mediumwave and secondary FM transmitters, closed in 1999 due to declining interest.
- RTÉ mobile Community Radio station, existed during the late 1970s and 1980s, this mobile station provided temporary community radio services to towns and cities around the country.
- Millennium 88FM temporary local radio service for Dublin during 1988 and part of 1989 to mark 1988 at the year of the Dublin Millennium.
- RTÉ Digital Radio Sport, a rolling service in the early days of DAB.
Independent National Radio 
- Century Radio - failed financially, closed in 1991.
Independent Local Radio 
- Limerick 95 FM (Radio Limerick One) (95 MHz FM). Lost franchise mid-term for stated misbehaviour - subsequently operated on a pirate basis.
- CKR FM and Radio Kilkenny - franchises redrawn at end of contract, Kildare area awarded to KFM, Carlow and Kilkenny to KCLR. Gentrification of Kildare by Dublin commuters led Carlow to be closer aligned with Kilkenny in the eyes of the BCI, hence the changig of the franchise areas
- Tipperary Mid-West Radio - held a very small franchise for South West Tipperary. Its franchise was merged with the rest of Tipperary franchise (held by Tipp FM). The station continues, being re-licenced as a Community Radio station.
- North West Radio - subsidiary of Mid West Radio. Replaced by Ocean FM at end of contract.
- Easy 103 - held a licence for part of Wicklow and Horizon Radio held a licence for north Wicklow. These two stations merged to become East Coast FM.
- Fresh 95.5 - short lived North Dublin-targeted station from LMFM. Was licenced to Meath only, relying on signal overspill.
Community Radio 
- Cashel Community Radio - Cashel, County Tipperary was a splinter group from Tipperary Mid-West Radio.
- Tallaght FM - Tallaght, Dublin closed 2008.
- 9-7-11 FM - Dublin North West's community radio, (named after the area's postal districts) existed in the mid-1990s.
- Dublin Weekend Radio - station that broadcast from Dublin City University in the 1990s, it time-shared transmission with Raidio na Life. Facilities are now used by DCU.
Institutional services 
- Beaumont Hospital Radio - Beaumont Hospital, Beamount, Dublin. Closed in 2007.
- Vibe 107.4FM - was a student service in Waterford I.T.
Future stations 
The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland has either awarded, advertised, or announced its intent to advertise a large number of new services to launch within the next 24 months. These include a licence for an AM station, something which has never lasted commercially in Ireland, and the first attempt to licence such since 2002; as well as what will amount to four stations easily receivable in most of Dublin city and county.
It is expected these may be the last commercial analogue services to be licenced, as the FM band will be highly saturated in Dublin and the midlands of Ireland. DRM on Ireland's many unused ITU-allocated mediumwave frequencies is expected to be the next round of licensing, particularly as some of these allocations are 15 to 20 kHz wide, which is enough for FM-alike quality with the latest DRM+ coding methods. DRM has already been used by RTÉ to broadcast some content on shortwave and longwave. Eureka 147 Digital Audio Broadcasting is in the process of being rolled out, having begun in 2006. The suspension of analogue licensing prior to the completion of this plan would further suggestion a termination of analogue licensing entirely.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland received 3 expressions of interest for radio services on Saorview. Easy FM, a country music service, an 80s mixed genre music service from Digital Radio Ltd., and Raidió Rí-Rá, an Irish Language pop music service.
Country & Irish licences 
It was planned for two regional country and Irish licences to be advertised with the first (North East) region covering North Kildare, Meath, Louth and parts of Cavan and Monaghan; and the second (Mid West) region covering Limerick, Galway, Clare and parts of Tipperary and Kerry. These services were meant to be advertised by November 2007 but the suspension of the radio licensing programme by the BCI has deferred this. No mention of these licences has surfaced since.
See also 
- List of Irish-Gaelic radio stations
- List of Irish newspapers
- Television in Ireland
- Craol The Community Radio Forum of Ireland
- "RTÉ Radio Sales". RTÉ. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
- http://www.rte.ie/radio1/bowmansundaymorning/ Bowman Show, RTE Radio 1, 20th May 2012
- "RTÉ Libraries and Archives". RTÉ. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
- Day, Rosemary. (2007). (Ed) Bicycle Highway: Celebrating 10 Years of Licensed Community Radio in Ireland., Liffey Press, Dublin. ISBN 978-1-905785-37-7
- The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) The Commission licenses independent broadcasting services in Ireland
- Radiowaves.FM A site detailing both licensed and pirate radio stations in Ireland
- LiveRadio.ie An up-to-date list of Irish radio stations also broadcasting on the internet
- Craol - Community Radio Forum of Ireland Research, Downloads, Resources and station profiles for community radio in Ireland
-  The History of Irish Broadcasting