- 17 Feb 23
It was a celebratory occasion last night, at the Radio Days conference in the Gibson Hotel, when the co-founders of Hot Press, Niall Stokes and Mairin Sheehy, were presented with the IMRO Award for their Outstanding Contribution to Irish Music. Other awards were presented on the night to Ronan Collins, Ray Colclough, Claire Beck, Louise Tighe, RED FM and the retired CEO of the BAI, Michael O’Keeffe.
Niall Stokes and Mairin Sheehy, founders of Hot Press magazine, were last night presented with the Outstanding Contribution to the Irish Music Industry Award by IMRO, in recognition of "their longstanding support for Irish music creators through their various publishing activities, music showcase platforms, lobbying efforts and trailblazing initiatives over many years."
The award was presented by the chair of IMRO, Eleanor McEvoy at a special event, held at the end of the first day of the Radio Days Ireland conference in the Gibson Hotel.
On the opening night of the conference IMRO also took the opportunity to present Special Recognition Awards to Red FM, and to radio DJs Claire Beck of Today FM, Ronan Collins of RTÉ, Ray Colclough of WLR and Louise Tighe of FM104, in recognition of the ongoing support they give to Irish music creators.
A great pleasure to present Niall Stokes & Mairin Sheehy with the IMRO Outstanding Contribution to the Irish Music Industry Award at the @thegibsonhotel for #RDIrl23 😜🎙📻📡#Radio @BAItweets @IMROireland @hotpress So well deserved 👏👏👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/fOwx1OKw0v
— Eleanor McEvoy (@eleanormcevoy) February 16, 2023
A special presentation was also made by the IBI to Michael O’Keeffe, the former CEO of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, who retired in 2021 – in recognition of the pivotal role that he played in the development and growth of radio in Ireland, having worked with the IRTC (subsequently the BCI, and then the BAI) since the foundation of independent radio in Ireland, in 1988.
Lea Heart, the fast-rising young star from Kildare, delivered a special performance that was very warmly received by the gathered members of the Irish broadcasting community.
“It is really lovely to have been presented with this Outstanding Contribution to Irish Music Award award at the Radio Days conference, which is run by the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, and supported by the team at IMRO,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes says. "The timing is particularly appropriate. We are on the countdown to the second Irish Music Month, which involves a partnership between 25 radio stations and Hot Press, with the express purpose of supporting Irish artists and Irish music together.
“It is an event which involves a huge commitment, on the part of radio stations that collectively cover every blade of grass in the country, to supporting Irish music in a very real and immediate way – and also on the part of the people that work for those stations. I have always believed that radio has an absolutely essential role to play in nurturing and supporting Irish talent and so it is really fantastic to see that in action in the stations, and on the ground across the country.
“It has been a real pleasure working with the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland on the project, and so I want to say thanks to the IBI chair, John Purcell of KCLR 96FM, as well as Chris Doyle of Bauer Media and Diarmaid O’Leary of Red FM – and all of the other CEOs in the stations – for their really positive support at every stage. It has also been a real pleasure seeing the genuine enthusiasm of individual broadcasters and music programmers for an idea that really has the potential to change the landscape for Irish music completely."
“The commitment to the project that has been made by Celene Craig and everyone at the BAI has been brilliant,” Niall adds. "The BAI provide the essential funding for Irish Music Month and their support for it, from the out-set, has been unstinting and a source of huge encouragement. Without that support, Irish Music Month wouldn’t happen, so everyone involved in Irish music owes the BAI team a big debt of thanks.
“With all of that happening behind the scenes, being presented with this Award for supporting Irish music right now means a huge amount to me, and to Mairin, who founded the magazine with me – along with a bunch of other crazies that we brought together under the Hot Press umbrella back in 1977. We’ve been around the block more than a few times, and through a lot of wild and wonderful adventures since then. But the truth is that we see the establishment of Irish Music Month, in a partnership between the 25 IBI stations, the BAI and Hot Press as one of our greatest achievements.
“It is a powerful summation of a central aspect of the mission we set for ourselves when we launched Hot Press into the world back in 1977. But, even more importantly it is also an expression of the very real support for, and commitment to, Irish music that exists in Irish radio at official level, both in the BAI and across the stations.
“I want also to say a big thanks also to the rights organisations IMRO and RAAP, as well as MCD Productions, who also provide vital financial support for Irish Music Month. And to the Rubyworks label, who will release the single by the winner of our A New Local Hero award, which is a central part of Irish Music Month. The ambition is that, together, we can build further on an initiative that will have profoundly positive, long term benefits for musicians, bands and songwriters in Ireland.
“Irish music really is going through a golden era, in terms of creativity, across all genres. There is a ferment of activity – and a lot of great records being released. So here’s to the idea of turning that fantastic groundswell into an even bigger phenomenon internationally, by supporting music and culture effectively from the grass roots upwards here at home. That’s what Hot Press has always stood for. And that’s what Irish Music Month is all about."
Mairin Sheehy recalls the transformational impact that Hot Press had in the early days.
"From the very start, at Hot Press, we had all the London offices of the important record labels – including all the majors as well as independents like Island Records, Virgin Records, Stiff Records and newcomers like Rough Trade – on our mailing list,” Hot Press co-founder Mairin Sheehy recalls.
"They loved Hot Press. They started to offer us trips to London and further afield to interview their artists. But they also began to read about the Irish scene, which was really buzzing at the time. Suddenly, they realised that – far from being a poor relation of Nashville – Ireland was a hotbed of great new music.
"Windmill Lane studios opened a year after Hot Press. They too knew that being second best would be no use. A band that had been called The Hype changed their name that same year to U2. They, and their manager Paul McGuinness, took the same view. Their aim was to be as good as, if not better than, any other band on the planet.
"In many ways, that was a watershed moment for music – and for music in Ireland in particular. Nothing, you might say, would ever be the same. A lot of Irish bands were signed by UK labels towards the end of the 1970s. Some of them became very successful.
"Hot Press saw supporting and encouraging Irish singers, songwriters, artists and performers as an essential part of our mission. As a result, we played a vital part in enabling, and in encouraging, the transformation that began then.
“The important thing was that we were no longer dismissed as second rate copycats, as we had been during the showband era that preceded Hot Press.
"The world was now aware: Ireland is an extraordinary source of music talent. And that has been proven over and over again by Irish artists in the intervening years.”
Radio Days Ireland is a unique two day conference which takes place this week in the Gibson Hotel, Dublin. The event is a joint initiative by Learning Waves Skillnet, the training body for the Independent Commercial Radio Sector in Ireland and IBI, the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland.
The event is supported by Skillnet Ireland, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and IMRO.
Ronan Collins has spent almost 44 years on daily radio with RTÉ, including 38 years on RTÉ Radio One. Ronan started his working life as a professional musician in 1970. His beginning in radio came in 1979 at the beginning of Radio 2 (Now 2FM). Ronan finished his daily show on Radio One just before Christmas 2022 with an emotional farewell. Now appearing on RTÉ Radio One on Bank Holidays and from March 1st, Ronan will be returning to daily radio on RTÉ Gold. Ronan has been married to Woody for almost 45 years and they are the parents of three children and proud grandparents of two boys!
In over 25 years of industry experience, from pirate to legal, presenter to producer, two things have remained constant in Claire Beck’s radio career - an unwavering passion and enthusiasm for the medium itself, and for sharing great music of all genres. Now entertaining a national audience, Claire Beck presents her weekly shows Saturday Soundsystem and All Irish on Today FM, Each week, she uses using her platform to break new sounds and artists, spotlight the best of the current music scene and dig deep into her own record collection.
Ray Colclough is the Head of Music and a radio presenter on WLR. Working In radio since the 1990s in pirate, youth, and now in local radio with WLR, Ray is a real champion of music and in particular Irish Music. Appointed Head of Music at WLR in 2015, Ray has introduced many initiatives and programmes to the WLR offering both on-air and online over the last 8 years. Ray’s passion is music and in addition to his radio work, has worked as a club DJ and event promoter. Ray said “WLR is a full-service station and plays music for an adult contemporary listener. The Irish music landscape is blessed with major talent at the moment and we are delighted to have so much variety of Irish music on WLR across prime-time radio and specialist Irish music programmes.”
Louise has worked in commercial radio for the past ten years, most recently as a presenter and producer in FM104 on weekday interview based show Switched On and the Irish music show Select Irish. Irish music and musicians have been a constant link throughout her years in radio, having worked on many of the Irish music radio shows in Dublin, attending gigs and generally just enjoying all the talented creatives we have here in Ireland.
- Film & TV
- 06 Jul 23