- 14 Jan 21
In the midst of confusion, fear and isolation this year, people across Ireland tuned into local radio more than ever before. Recognising the power of local radio, and the important work that radio stations have been carrying out over the past year, we spoke to a selection of presenters from across the country – who told us how they rose to the multiple challenges of Covid-19.
Since its launch in 1997, Live 95 has been a crucial force in reflecting the concerns of the people of Limerick City and County. As the presenter of the station’s weekday morning programme, Limerick Today, Joe Nash has witnessed first-hand the impact of the global pandemic in the local area.
“On March 12, we had a guest on, just before midday,” Joe recalls. “I remember saying to him at the end of the interview, ‘I think you’re going to be the last guest in here for a very long time’. That was an hour or so after the Taoiseach had made his speech in Washington, closing down the schools and the creches. And from that day, to today, we have not had a single guest in the studio – which is an extraordinary situation to be in.”
Through his coverage of local issues, particularly during the first lockdown, Joe uncovered amongst his listeners a pervasive sense of "fear, worry and confusion."
“It reminded me a little bit of what happened with 9/11,” he reflects. “In that initial moment, and for a few days afterwards, people didn’t know what was going on. We were genuinely a huge source of company and comfort through that. We were the friendly voice in the room, when people couldn’t have their friends, or even a lot of their family, with them. Radio is always there – and that ability to connect Limerick listeners to each other, through the medium of Live 95, was so important in the crisis. That’s always been the case, but it was particularly acute at that stage – and it has been consistently ever since.”
Joe’s most memorable moments of the pandemic have been his on-air conversations with local people who survived the virus – and wanted to share their experiences with listeners.
“I had a young woman on, Claire McNamara, a camogie player, at inter-county level,” he reflects. “She talked to us a number of months after having had Covid, and it was clear from the way she talked about it, how dramatic an impact it had on her. Even a number of months afterwards, she was still struggling to get back to a normal level of fitness. We also had an older woman on a few times over the last few months, who also had Covid. She survived the initial bout, but it’s clear the lingering effects of Covid-19 can be really traumatic."
As well as helping to spread awareness and information about Covid-19, Limerick Today has also made a very deliberate effort to spread positive stories in the midst of the pandemic. Joe was particularly inspired by the the Community Call initiative.
“Limerick was the first place to really pilot that,” he states. “They were ahead of most of the rest of the country. I was struck by the willingness of people to get out into their communities and help people who are vulnerable – getting food and other supplies to where they were really needed it.
“In those first couple of months of Covid, that was crucial. There was a real sense of solidarity. Limerick City and County is big enough – but it’s still a relatively small place. So you had a lot of that inter-connectedness happening. It was brilliant to be able to reflect that on air.”
• Listen to Limerick Today with Joe Nash, weekdays from 9am on Limerick’s Live 95.
Read our full feature on the power of local radio during the Covid-19 pandemic in the Hot Press Annual, out now: