JV: What are some of the complaints that these commissions might get on the advertising side?
Brendan: I supposed some people might find some spots somewhat untruthful. I suppose clients are constantly making claims, but unless they can back them up, then they don’t make them. Some people can find some ads maybe slightly offensive in certain ways. I suppose it just purely depends on your persuasion, but a lot of the time, it’s down to a personal preference really with some stuff. And then I suppose if you have opposing clients, you know, if one person’s making a claim and you know the other client believes they can’t substantiate it, then you’re open to that side of it as well. It’s a tightly run operation to be honest. The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland is an independent, self-regulatory body set up and financed by the advertising industry and committed in the public interest to promoting the highest standards of advertising and sales promotion. That’s basically what they do. They’re a watchdog.

JV: Do you feel like it’s working well?
Brendan: Absolutely. And up to now, they’re quite fair. I think everyone who advertises here is quite willing to have them regulate in the way that they do. And as I said, with the broadcasting bill currently in discussion, who knows what’s going to come out of that on the other side. We may have even more stringent guidelines to operate under. We’ll just have to wait and see.

JV: So if someone opens a restaurant in Ireland, can they say “we’ve got the best seafood in town”?
Brendan: Well, they would need to be able to substantiate it and sort of quantify it in order to have a message like that. I know that there’s so much you can do when you play with words, but if you’re going to come out and say that you’re the best, or you’ve got the best, then you need to have the paperwork and the accreditation to be able to back it up… in as much as you can. As I say, words are very clever things and you can use them in lots of different ways, but we certainly encourage people and clients to try to be as truthful as possible and to try and make claims that they can substantiate.

JV: Do these rules and guidelines restrict your ability to be creative in any way?
Brendan: I don’t think so, and you know, there’s a good amount of creative advertising out there. People are very good and very talented when it comes to writing and getting around stuff. I think at the end of the day, you can be as creative as you want to be. I think your imagination is the only thing that’s going to limit you.

JV: Tell us about your studios.
Brendan: We’re using Soundscape, and we’ve just recently upgraded to Soundscape 32, which is the main editor that we’re using here. And we’re kind of a little old school, as in we like our outboard stuff. We’re a big fan of TC Electronics, so we’re using Finalizers, we’ve got a FireworX in there, and we’ve got a Gold Channel for our mic processing. We have an old DDA desk which is a big cumbersome thing, but the sound of it is really nice. We’re quite happy with it. That’s about it really. We use a certain amount of plug-ins, some verbs and choruses and stuff, but I tend to like the outboard gear. For the playout gear, we use RCS Master Control, which is integrated into the whole thing here. It’s quite cool.

JV: Sounds like the best of both worlds there, all the outboard gear and Soundscape with some plugs.
Brendan: Yeah, I suppose being in the game as long as I have been, and having used equipment over the years, I just think that you get better quality in the long run from the outboard stuff, provided that you have a nice outboard setup with good quality gear. And then you add plug-ins to Soundscape and it’s definitely the way to go — Soundscape is well able to facilitate them. So, yeah, it’s true, you do have the best of both worlds. I think what you maybe can’t find in the plug-in, you will find in the outboard and vice versa. It’s a good combination.

JV: You must have two or three production rooms there.
Brendan: We’ve got two studios here in 96 FM, and then we’ve got one in each of the county facilities also. So we’ve actually got four studios total.

JV: Do you import any voices for the station?
Brendan: Yes, Sandy Thomas has been our image voice for probably about five or six years now, and he’s based in New York. He does the job very well for us, and we’ve built up quite a relationship with him. He’s a good guy. We’ve got an Irish girl that we use, and we tend to sort of mix them together. Her name is Flo McSweeney.

JV: What’s a typical day like for you?
Brendan: Well at the moment, it’s quite busy because we’ve got “The Fugitive” promotion running on the station. So, as well as the normal commercial load and promo load that we’d have, there’s all the material this big promotion requires. We’re recording stuff on a daily basis with hooks from winners and callers on the air. We’ve got “The Fugitive” leaving random phone calls that we’re putting out. And we’re constantly trying to update elements, refreshing stuff every couple of hours when we announce new clues and when we announce new cash amounts and such. So, it’s very busy at the moment. But still, we try to put one day aside per week where we only do radio imaging. That works a certain amount of the time, not always.

JV: Where do you feel your greatest talents lie?
Brendan: I think possibly I have a fairly good understanding of the different aspects of radio, from having spent as long as I have here, and having been lucky enough to work from an “on air” point of view, plus being involved from a programming point of view as well. A lot of the time, I hope that I can hear what I want to do, and hear how it will integrate on the air when it’s done. I think that sometimes you can hear production that can sound very good, but then the question is, does it integrate with the “on air” and does it work with the rest of the radio station? So, I think possibly because I’ve worked in the different aspects of the station, maybe I’ve got a slightly better ear for that.

JV: Your sources for creativity, where do you go, what do you do to try and get the creative juices flowing?
Brendan: Well, we have quite a good team here. Our copywriter is based in the building, as well. So, I have a lot of times when we need to knock heads together. Also, I listen to quite a bit of U.S. radio and UK radio as well. There’s a lot of great radio out there, and a lot of great production as well. People like Jeff Thomas, Dave Foxx at Z100, the Kiss stuff, it’s all very good stuff. And you’ve got some big networks in the UK as well that are worth keeping an ear on, like the Capital group. You’ve got Heart, you’ve got stations like Juice and Virgin and XFM in London. So I think there’s a lot of good radio out there to inspire you definitely.

JV: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Brendan: Hopefully alive! Well, so far I’ve worked in radio, and I really can’t imagine doing anything else, and that’s being honest about it. So I think that I’ll probably still be involved in radio in some shape or form. I’d like to go a little bit more into music production sort of as a sideline, and I do an amount of DJ-ing as well. It’s something I’ve gotten into more and more. But music production is something that I’d definitely like to get my teeth into a little bit more. I’m not very musical when it comes to playing instruments, but I think with software nowadays, it’s amazing what you can do.

JV: We chat with a lot of folks outside the U.S. who talk about wanting to work in U.S. radio. What are some reasons why someone might want to come to Ireland to work in Irish radio?
Brendan: Well, I think that it’s still a very young business here right now, and it’s growing all the time. The BCI is rolling out more and more licenses, and there’s regional stations coming onboard. So there’s a lot of growth still to happen. I think that when you’re involved in radio at this time, in this country, you get to shape what it’s going to be like in maybe 10, 15 or 20 years time. So it’s quite an exciting time and there’s a lot of opportunity here. And it’s a nice place to live. We have lots of rain, in the winter and summer, and of course, there’s always the pint of Guinness, which is also a tasty option.


June 30, 2013 14036
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