The thing which really puts me in the Christmas spirit is Christmas FM, Ireland's all Christmas music and holiday radio station. Forget The Late Late Toy Show and John Lewis Adverts, this is when Christmas starts for me. This year it goes live on the 28th of November at 12pm and when that date comes I will know that Christmas is right around the corner.
The idea for this radio station came about when a group of radio guys wanted to set up a new temporary radio station. They could have picked any genre but the idea of an all Christmas radio station was put forward. It was thought of as a crazy idea at first and many didn't think it would catch on but they decided to go with it.
This is something I'm very happy about as a genre such as rock music would not have appealed to me at all! They then said “why not do it for charity”? That’s when the plan for an all Christmas radio station that works with a charity partner was made, Christmas FM.
I spoke with Garvan Rigby, one of the co-founders of Christmas FM. His background in radio began when he was 9 years old. Through his teenage years he did some pirate radio stations in his garden shed, many teenagers nowadays with a love for radio would be using the internet to create their own broadcasts. His success has grown over the years and has worked with many different radio stations including 98FM and Spirit Radio. He now runs Star DJs, Ireland’s largest DJ company as Managing Director and Co-Founder.
Nervously waiting for the clock to change from 14:59 to 15:00, I waited in the "Harry Potter Room" under the stairs. I was to call the man responsible for setting up one of the things I look forward to most at Christmas. When he answered I knew it was going to be a very enjoyable conversation and began the Q&A session. I asked him if he ever thought Christmas FM would become as successful as it has. He said that no he didn’t and it has grown much bigger than he ever thought it would. He knew from the first week that the audience were enjoying it but in year 2 & 3 it grew very rapidly. He described their audience as more fans than listeners, and are very loyal to the station.
“Once Christmas FM begins, Christmas has begun”
He likes to think of families in their car, singing along to Christmas FM, enjoying the holiday season. They get listeners from all over the world from Chile to China and he also said there are a lot of Irish people living away that listen in. He believes this is because especially at Christmas people want to feel the Irish connection as Christmas is a family time and if they are listening to an Irish Christmas radio station, it makes them feel more at home.
Charities are always delighted with how much money is raised every Christmas as it is mostly in the region of (€90,000-€110,000) but it is not all about the fundraising and he stressed that they really appreciate the awareness that is raised about the charity which gets more people talking about them.
In the first year they chose the ISPCC as their chosen charity. Christmas is very centered around children so they thought it would be a very suitable one. Every year they give to a great new cause. He outlined however that they need a growing listenership and people to donate every year. They would love to expand nationally some time but it is very hard. More listeners equals more sponsorship which means more money to expand.
Garvan’s highlight for the radio throughout the years they have been live is when he walks into shops and he can hear the station playing, this lets him know that people are actually listening and enjoying what he’s doing. Better than that, another highlight is when they raise the funds for the charity to make a difference to someone that wouldn’t have gotten help without them. They know that they have made a big difference to someone's life.
This radio station is quite remarkable as all the people who work on the station are volunteers and then everything that costs money is covered by sponsorship. They all dedicate their own time in support of the chosen charity. Christmas FM run courses to train volunteers in the use of the radio equipment and also in broadcasting techniques. For any of you budding radio presenters out there maybe think about applying for next year? There is no experience necessary but you must have a love for radio and of course for CHRISTMAS!
Each year Christmas FM choose a charity partner to support by running a ‘Text to Donate’ service for Ireland sponsored by us at LIKECHARITY. Listeners from across the world can also donate on christmasfm.com where any amount of money is appreciated. All proceeds of the donations go to the charity and there is no cost to the charity to be involved. They have raised over €600,000 for charities including ISPCC, Barnardos, Simon, Focus Ireland and Aware. Last year alone they raised over €100,000 for Age Action Ireland.
This year the chosen charity is Make-A-Wish Ireland.
Make-A-Wish Ireland was established in 1992 and since then has granted over 1700 wishes in Ireland. It grants wishes to children between 13 and 17 years old with life threatening medical conditions. For many of these children, this is their only respite from doctors, hospitals and medical procedures. These wishes create moments of joy at a challenging time for them. There are usually four categories of wishes: “I wish to go to…..”, “I wish to be…..”, “I wish to have…..” or “I wish to meet…..”
One of the first things the volunteer assigned to a child asks them is “If you had one wish, what would it be?” The team then sets out to create a magical experience for the child.
Wish experience is made possible through the support of generous donors and volunteers across the country. Christmas FM hope to raise as much money as they can for Make A Wish Ireland to ensure as many children as possible can have their wishes granted and enjoy their day where it is all about them.
I urge you to tune into Christmas FM this holiday season and give as much as you can to this amazing charity.
Every donation, big or small could make a huge difference for these children in granting their wishes and providing them with a great day of memories to last a lifetime. Your support means Christmas FM can help Make A Wish Ireland in this meaningful work.
Let’s get into the Christmas spirit by listening to the songs and carols we all love, and most importantly giving to a charity that makes a difference to so many children. After all, that is what Christmas is all about, isn’t it?
- Dublin - 94.3
- Cork City - 106.7
- Limerick - 105.5
- Galway City - 89.5
- South East - 103.8
- Kildare - 88.1
- North Midlands - 101.6
- North East - 99.4
- North Wicklow - 99.5
- Christmas FM is available on air, online and via mobile apps.
- You can donate by logging onto Christmas FM’s website www.christmasfm.com and click the donate button.
- You can also request a song and donate €2 by texting XMAS to 50300.
- They are live online and through their app right now.
- The radio broadcast runs from the 28th November.
- Christmas FM Facebook
- Christmas FM Twitter