Retired RTÉ employees oppose Longwave 252 closure plans

Veteran staff join people in NI, Catholic bishops and Irish in UK opposing decision

A mast at RTÉ’s Donnybrook facilities in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

A mast at RTÉ’s Donnybrook facilities in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Retired RTÉ employees are the latest to oppose plans by the broadcaster to close down its Longwave 252 service from January 19th.

The veteran staff join people in Northern Ireland, the Catholic bishops and Irish people and others based in the UK who oppose the decision.

Enda O’Kane, who said he was “an emigrant before I joined RTÉ”, where he worked in the technical area, felt the longwave service was so important to the Irish abroad he has launched a petition opposing closure plans.

Titled ‘Help us protect the Irish overseas radio service”, it points out that closure would affect “Irish listeners in N Ireland/Britain/Europe, passengers in transit and fishermen, as well as offshore emergency services.”

It asks people to sign the petition, email sosrte@gmail.com or text 00353 86 1020999.Alternatively people can post the message “RTÉ must continue to broadcast on longwave” with their name and location, to Longwave Petition, PO Box 12250, Dublin 16, Ireland.

‘Important channel’

Mr O’Kane’s retired RTÉ colleague Tony O’Connor has pointed out that “RTÉ Radio One is the single most important channel of news, current affairs, sports, documentary, drama and arts information in this country.

“For 89 years it has been listened to by people in all parts of this island and on our neighbouring islands. For those of us who come from Northern Ireland [it]....was part of our lives,” he said.

“It must be emphasised that long wave transmitters have the overwhelming benefit of long reach. FM and DAB, are higher quality but very short range.

“Consequently, RTÉ Radio One on longwave has a listenership far outside the local coverage of FM. Let us not confuse quality with quantity.

“The listener in West Belfast or Cumberland or Glasgow or Birmingham cares not for high fidelity when listening to Morning Ireland or listening to Kilkenny beating Clare,” he said.

‘Untrue’ claim

He also noted that “the claim by RTÉ that Northern Ireland is well covered by FM is simply untrue. In the words of a friend who travels across Northern Ireland extensively in the course of his work, RTÉ is at best ‘extremely patchy’.”

It was the case that “RTÉ FM is fine in those parts of Northern Ireland adjacent to Donegal, Monaghan and Louth” but, he continued, “try the densely populated eastern counties of Antrim and Down. Recent personal experience in an hotel in Omagh was unrewarding in this regard.”