COMMUNITY radio station West Limerick 102FM is already looking ahead to a bright, progressive future after it signed a new ten-year licence with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
The signing of the new licence, which had informally been approved last August, finally puts to an end any concerns about the future of the community broadcaster, which is the largest of its kind in the country.
Last Wednesday’s contract signing at the BAI head office in Dublin was attended by West Limerick 102 chairperson Mary Lee Geary, board member Willie O’Regan and Shay Riordan, manager of community development body West Limerick Resources.
Mr O’Regan said that while the signing of the new contract had to be delayed a little longer than expected, it was still a major milestone for the station.
“The problem that was holding it up was, we were doing work on the studio in Abbeyfeale. We thought we had it all right, but they came down and inspected it and said a few things had to change. We’d planned to sign the contract just after Christmas, but these things happen.
“We’re delighted to have it all done and signed off on now”.
West Limerick 102, which has its main studio in Newcastle West but has satellite studios in Rathkeale and Abbeyfeale, has been on the air since 2005.
It was opened with an initial five-year broadcasting licence, but when this was brought up for renewal in 2010 the then-Broadcasting Commission of Ireland raised concerns about its financial position.
Following a year of cost-cutting and rationalisation, the station found itself back on a square financial footing and was awarded an interim one-year licence while the new BAI was set up.
Last August, the station’s board was given informal approval for a new ten-year licence, provided it upgrade its satellite studios and de-centralise more of its broadcasting outside of Newcastle West.
Mr O’Regan said that now that the new licence is in place, “the next step” is to appoint a full-time station manager who can oversee the day-to-day operation.
The position, which has been vacant for a number of months, is to be raised at a station board meeting next Monday night.
Mr O’Regan added that the station’s bread-and-butter is, and will remain, the efforts of local volunteers.
“We have so many volunteers coming in to us. We’re a community station at the end of the day. The people who come into us get great hands-on experience. That’s vital. They’re the future”.