"Are we live?" Fuzzy asked excitedly over "Mama Mia" as the switch was flicked on Radio Castledermot for the first time at 3.07pm on the 22nd March 2020. The answer back from Thomas wasn't as reassuring as any of them would have liked. "I think so" he said as he frantically checked his phone to see if the stream was working on Facebook. "Wayhey, look, Leo, John Look!" came the cries from Thomas as he showed his phone to the lads almost in disbelief. Looking back at Fuzzy and Leo was, thankfully, Fuzzy and Leo!! It had worked and all the nerves soon disappeared as they had made it live to Facebook with all the graphics and frames looking crisp.
Leo laughed "Can they hear us though?" Panic returned with a vengeance as nobody had thought to check the sound on Facebook and they couldn't hear anything over the music booming from the speakers. Sinead jumped off the stool and ran down the back of Doyle's so she could hear the sound. "Sinead, can you hear anything. It says there are fifty people on!" Sinead turned her phone up to the last to drown out the music and the sound of Thomas shouting down the pub to her. Then, like the fog clearing on the green on a summer morning, Sinead heard the first words broadcast from Radio Castledermot "Hello everyone and Happy Mother's Day to you all. We are live in Doyle's for the next few hours so get those requests in".
Radio Castledermot was live.
That was exactly a year ago today and honestly, it feels like much much more. There had only ever been a plan to do one show in Doyle's to mark Mother's Day and to help lift the spirits as lockdown had well and truly begun in Ireland. Fuzzy and Leo recognised straight away that there would be a demand for more shows as the numbers tuning in had been beyond what any of us could have dreamed. Planning started for the next show and three weeks later we broadcast an Easter Sunday special. On the back of that show, we decided that we would do a third show to round off a hat-trick of shows by having one last hurrah on May 3rd just before the country went back to normal again (or so we thought) That show was ironically named "One more time"!
The demand was even higher after this block of shows so we decided that we would commit to doing this every week. We set up all our social media accounts, moved down the back of Doyle's for more room, created our logo, and set ourselves up for the summer! Fuzzy launched his Country and Irish music show to cater to the huge demands for Irish music on our earlier shows. His love for Country and Irish is there for all to see and the show has become a staple in many lives every Friday Night!
Leo is well known around Carlow and Kildare as one of the best DJs around and he decided his audience was for later on Friday nights. Leo's mix of the old and the new has become a regular feature every Friday Night. Leo also decided to fill an afternoon slot when he realised that many people didn't have anywhere to go during the lockdown and would be at home every Sunday afternoon. Also because he is a glutton for punishment. This show was born as "Leo's Sunday Mix" but soon became affectionately known as "The Deering Sunday Mix". This came about as Sinead would be there helping Leo every single Sunday afternoon and when she needed a break, Jackie came in to lend a helping hand! We have Emma on our radar to make the full Deering set!
To round off the list of shows that were created, we had the main show on a Saturday where Leo and Fuzzy would join forces to present a party night for everyone! This show would take many forms over the next year but has been mostly known as "Castledermot's Jukebox". We wanted to create a Saturday Night feel about that show to bring people together as they would when out on a Saturday Night. Our chatbox soon became the social outlet that many people were looking for!
The shows had really begun to take off by the time the summer was in full swing so we decided to start trying a few different things. Everyone involved with the show are all big sports fans so we thought it would be fun to run a quick sports update every Saturday to give people the latest happenings from local clubs. This proved to be very popular so we started to run special hour-long shows to cover all the sports. Fuzzy came up with the idea of reporting live from games and doing interviews with the managers before each game. With the help of Alan Proctor, John Phelan, Paddy Byrne, and Eileen Bergin, we were able to give live updates as they happened from Grange, Castledermot, and Castle Villa games around the county. Thomas did the first live broadcast for the SFL game between Castledermot and Naas around the corner from him in Naas and followed this up with Athy v Castledermot in Newbridge.
"Local sports live" was something that was really starting to take off until lockdown hit once more and that put an end to that. We really hope to revisit this in the future and we have loads of exciting ideas to make it bigger and better!!
Our biggest show to date came on Friday, September 11th when we had a special live performance from Michael English. The build-up around this show was full of excitement and Michael didn't disappoint the thousands that tuned in to hear him. Fuzzy presented that show like the professional he is and Thomas was well supported by Leo, Sinead, and Kayla in the background! You can look back at that show here!
Near the end of the summer, we were having more and more conversations about the possibility of a move to the community center in Castledermot, Teach Diarmada. This was a big move for us so we took our time and ensured it was done right. On the 18th of September, our show went live as usual. This time the audience was met with an empty Doyle's. The camera panned around what was once the Radio Castledermot studio and the words across the screen read "Thank you all for your support over the past six months...." There was a mix of confusion and more confusion from our viewers. Exactly the reaction we wanted!! Suddenly the camera faded out to a new scene and the audience were met Fuzzy and Leo in our new studio in Teach Diarmada. Gotcha!
Our Halloween special was definitely one of the shows that produced the most laughs of the year. A fantastic night where our viewers would send us in their pictures of everyone dressed up and we gave away prizes for best dressed. As you can see, the crew went all out as usual!
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we were in contact with The North Pole on a pretty regular basis. We would take it in turns to call them and chat to the head Elf about the possibility of having Santa Claus stop by the studio for a chat with some lucky kids (Fuzzy and Leo). It was touch and go for a while but once Santa came to visit Castledermot for the spectacular "Drive-Thru Experience" hosted by the wonderful Teach Diarmada committee, he contacted us himself and said he just had to come back! So after making a memorable landing in The Laurels, Santa arrived at Radio Castledermot for one of the best shows w have ever had. Some wonderful children got to speak on the phone to Santa and he spent the evening giving out prizes and even serenading us with some of his favourite Christmas songs. It was nights like these that made it all worth it.
As we made our way into another year of uncertainty, the unfailing commitment to the shows by the DJs and crew ensured that our Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Mother's Day specials were all a huge success.
So on Saturday Night, last we celebrated one year of Radio Castledermot.
Our largest audience for quite some time joined us for a very special and sometimes emotional night of music and memories. There were a few clips of Fuzzy getting caught dancing on camera over the past year that he will never forgive Thomas for showing everybody! We had a flashback to a recording that we found of Leo and Fuzzy chatting just before we went live a year ago that showed the excitement and the nerves! Our fantastic viewers sent us in Happy Birthday videos that we put into on video and played for everyone. As someone commented in the chat "It's so nice to be able to put faces and voices to names!" The videos came from as far away as Newfoundland! You can view this video here. A night that we will remember for a long time topped off by an amazing birthday cake given to us by everyone in Horan's Centra. A lovely touch.
If we began to thank everyone individually for the support over the past year then we would definitely forget someone. Week in and week out some of our followers consistently donate prizes to the show and do this anonymously. Without fail, businesses from the village and beyond have supplied us with prizes for every single one of our shows since the beginning. The committee at Teach Diarmada opened their doors to us at a time when we needed it the most. These gestures and the generosity of all the people and businesses that have supported us throughout the year continue to blow us away and show what a wonderful community spirit there is out there. A community spirit that only a wordsmith like Trish Proctor could put into words!
There are two people that we cannot thank enough for their help and support all year. From the very beginning, we have had unbelievable support from Mick and Orla Brennan from The logo shop. During one of our first-ever shows, Mick dropped down with a surprise for us and our listeners! Mick had made Radio Castledermot T-Shirts for the crew and also had a box of shirts to give out as prizes on our shows! Every week since that day, Mick and Orla have supplied shirts, hats, hoodies, and all different types of branded goodies to give out on the show. Mick and Orla have never looked for anything in return and never letting us down with whatever we needed. When we think of the story of Radio Castledermot, we will forever be thankful to them for helping us make it happen.
So thank you everyone for sticking with us for the past year and we hope you will continue on this journey with us for another year! When the country opens back up and everything gets back to normal we promise we will continue to do what we are doing for as long as possible. One thing we can guarantee we will do is to get these shows on the road. First stop?
Gorey of course!