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IMRO Presents Special Recognition Awards at Radio Days Ireland Conference

February 17, 2023

Radio Days Ireland is a unique two day conference which takes place this week in the Gibson Hotel, Dublin. The event is a joint initiative by Learning Waves Skillnet, the training body for the Independent Commercial Radio Sector in Ireland and IBI, the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland and is sponsored by IMRO.

On the opening night of the conference IMRO took the opportunity to present Special Recognition Awards to REDfm and radio DJs Ronan Collins, Claire Beck, Ray Colclough and Louise Tighe in recognition of their ongoing support to music creators.

Eleanor McEvoy handing the award to RED FM at the Irish Music Industry Award by IMRO. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.
Ronan Collins and Eleanor McEvoy at the Irish Music Industry Award by IMRO. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.
Claire Beck and Eleanor McEvoy at the Irish Music Industry Award by IMRO. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.
Ray Colclough and Eleanor McEvoy at the Irish Music Industry Award by IMRO. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.
Louise Tighe and Eleanor McEvoy at the Irish Music Industry Award by IMRO. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.
Mairin Sheehy, Niall Stokes and Eleanor McEvoy at the Irish Music Industry Award by IMRO. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.

IMRO also presented an Outstanding Contribution to the Irish Music Industry Award to Niall Stokes and Mairin Sheehy from Hot Press in recognition of their longstanding support for Irish music creators through their various publishing activities, music showcase platforms, lobbying efforts and trailblazing initiatives over many years.

“It is really lovely to have been presented with this Outstanding Contribution to Irish Music Award award at the Radio Days conference, which is run by Learning Waves Skillnet and the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, and supported by IMRO,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes says. “The timing is particularly appropriate. We are on the countdown to the second Irish Music Month, which involves a partnership between 25 radio stations and Hot Press, with the express purpose of supporting Irish artists and Irish music together. 

“With all of that happening, being presented with this Award for supporting Irish music means a huge amount to me, and to Mairin, who founded the magazine with me – along with a bunch of other crazies that we brought together under the Hot Press umbrella back in 1977. We’ve been around the block more than a few times, and through a lot of wild and wonderful adventures since then. But the truth is that we see the establishment of Irish Music Month, in a partnership between the 25 IBI stations, the BAI and Hot Press as one of our greatest achievements”.  

From the very start, at Hot Press, we had all the London offices of the important record labels – including all the majors as well as independents like Island Records, Virgin Records, Stiff Records and newcomers like Rough Trade – on our mailing list,Hot Press co-founder Mairin Sheehy recalls.They loved Hot Press. They started to offer us trips to London and further afield to interview their artists. But they also began to read about the Irish scene, which was really buzzing at the time. Suddenly, they realised that – far from being a poor relation of Nashville – Ireland was a hotbed of great new music.

Added: “Windmill Lane studios opened a year after Hot Press. They too knew that being second best would be no use. A band that had been called The Hype changed their name that same year to U2. They, and their manager Paul McGuinness, took the same view. Their aim was to be as good as, if not better than, any other band on the planet.

Added: “In many ways, that was a watershed moment for music – and for music in Ireland in particular. Nothing, you might say, would ever be the same. A lot of Irish bands were signed by UK labels towards the end of the 1970s. Some of them became very successful.

Added: “Hot Press saw supporting and encouraging Irish singers, songwriters, artists and performers as an essential part of our mission. As a result, we played a vital part in enabling, and in encouraging, the transformation that began then.

Added: “The world was now aware: Ireland is an extraordinary source of music talent. And that has been proven over and over again by Irish artists in the intervening years.

To close out the night, Choice Prize Irish Breakthrough Artist of the Year nominee, Lea Heart took to the stage to perform a number of hits, including the Choice Irish Song of the Year nominated ‘Happier.’

Lea Heart at the Irish Music Industry Award by IMRO. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.

IMRO Special Recognition Award Recipients

Ronan Collins

It was a great honour to receive my award from IMRO last week-it was never an effort for me to support Irish musicians and writers. As an Irish broadcaster, I always felt it was a duty and with the quality of songs and music from our Irish writers and performers, it was a privilege to be able to showcase the best of Irish music talent. Thank you IMRO.

Ronan Collins has spent almost 44 years on daily radio with RTÉ, including 38 years on RTÉ Radio One. Ronan started his working life as a professional musician in 1970.  His beginning in radio came in 1979 at the beginning of Radio 2 (Now 2FM).  Ronan finished his daily show on Radio One just before Christmas 2022 with an emotional farewell. Now appearing on RTÉ Radio One on Bank Holidays and from March 1st, Ronan will be returning to daily radio on RTÉ Gold. Ronan has been married to Woody for almost 45 years and they are the parents of three children and proud grandparents of two boys!

Claire Beck

“Thank you IMRO for this extremely kind acknowledgement. I still can’t believe that my job is to listen to music and then share it with people, it’s such a privilege and I’m grateful every day for it.”

In over 25 years of industry experience, from pirate to legal, presenter to producer, two things have remained constant in Claire Beck’s radio career – an unwavering passion and enthusiasm for the medium itself, and for sharing great music of all genres. Now entertaining a national audience, Claire Beck presents her weekly shows Saturday Soundsystem and All Irish on Today FM, Each week, she uses using her platform to break new sounds and artists, spotlight the best of the current music scene and dig deep into her own record collection.

Ray Colclough

“It really is an honour to be acknowledged by IMRO and the many other people from the industry who push and promote our country’s great Irish music scene. But it’s easy to promote and play it on-air when the quality of songs that I get sent from all genres around the country is top-shelf.”

Ray Colclough is the Head of Music and a radio presenter on WLR. Working In radio since the 1990s in pirate, youth, and now in local radio with WLR, Ray is a real champion of music and in particular Irish Music. Appointed Head of Music at WLR in 2015, Ray has introduced many initiatives and programmes to the WLR offering both on-air and online over the last 8 years. Ray’s passion is music and in addition to his radio work, has worked as a club DJ and event promoter. Ray said “WLR is a full-service station and plays music for an adult contemporary listener.  The Irish music landscape is blessed with major talent at the moment and we are delighted to have so much variety of Irish music on WLR across prime-time radio and specialist Irish music programmes.”

Louise Tighe

“Receiving this award feels very much like a 360 moment for me, thanks to all the musicians and creatives who have shared their talent and time with me over the years.”

Louise has worked in commercial radio for the past ten years, most recently as a presenter and producer in FM104 on weekday interview based show Switched On and the Irish music show Select Irish. Irish music and musicians have been a constant link throughout her years in radio, having worked on many of the Irish music radio shows in Dublin, attending gigs and generally just enjoying all the talented creatives we have here in Ireland.


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