Moving music to the edge of town

DJ Ciaran Cannon is on duty.

DJ Ciaran Cannon is on duty.

Slowly but surely, it became part of my childhood ritual of going to sleep and to this day, it still is. I have a need for music under my pillow. It’s that simple.

It started with a small transistor radio tuned to Radio Luxembourg. A patient turning of the tuning wheel, while being careful not to wake my parents, would eventually connect me to a whole new world of music played by DJs with accents I didn’t quite recognise. But there it was, the beginning of a lifelong love affair with radio and with music that moved me to my core.

These days I have a Spotify playlist called 'Sleep' that I’m always adding to. It sends me off into the reverie of the night, while somehow transporting me back to the days of my childhood. So, it made absolute sense for me to accept an invitation earlier this year from my good friend Richard Moore to be a guest on his show on Loughrea Community Radio to talk about our mutual love of music.

Our conversation was supposed to last an hour and it did, but it could have gone on for several more hours. I enjoyed it immensely and that night as I drove home, I wondered if I could perhaps present my own show on Loughrea Community Radio. The station is transforming community life in Loughrea and the necklace of villages that surround it, and I wanted to be part of that endeavour.

I sent a WhatsApp message the next morning to Dave Gardiner, our immensely talented and supportive station manager and a couple of weeks later, I was on air for the first time. Tonight at 10pm I will present my tenth episode of 'The Grey Lake Café', a late-night show with a very straightforward objective. I get to play the music that I love for an hour and intersperse it with a little background story to each song, hoping that out there somewhere are people who derive some joy, or solace, or peace from my choices.

My experience of working with Dave and a remarkable team of volunteer broadcasters has been genuinely life enhancing. Ten weeks in, and I’m now very comfortable with the technology in the studio. The weekly ritual of curating the playlist takes me back to my teenage years, or to more recent memories of sharing musical choices with my son who listens in from Philadelphia. Around 9pm every Thursday night I make my way into the studio, cue up the playlist, and make sure all is good to go for the 10pm broadcast. Then it’s time to make a cup of tea.

Just before I go on air, I turn off all the lights in the studio until I’m left with only the soft glow of the computer screens in front of me. Then it’s on with the headphones, up with the fader on my microphone, and I’m talking to fellow music lovers in Loughrea, Leitrim or maybe even Los Angeles, who knows? That’s the wonder of the internet.

Loughrea Community Radio will shortly celebrate its third year in existence. It’s been a resounding success for the wonderful people who dreamed it up and I feel privileged to be accepted as part of their team. I have recently introduced a new element to my show called the “Music That Moves” where I interview people in public life about three pieces of music that they return to again and again. Two weeks ago, I had a fascinating conversation with Minister Paschal Donohoe. Next Thursday I speak to Oscar winning movie producer David Puttnam. It would be great to have your company.

Loughrea Community Radio broadcasts on FM 102.9 to a small radius around the town. You can also listen in from anywhere in the world on, on your smart speaker, or on the superb station phone app. All of our shows have a listen back option, so you can take us with you anywhere, perhaps on a walk or drive. You can even drift off to sleep with us under your pillow.


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