LGBT+ radio broadcasters are connected to a vital part of Irish life and in honour of World Radio Day, we look back at some of the queer presenters who use this platform to speak about community issues.
On Thursday, February 13, World Radio Day celebrates the medium which continues to educate and inform people across the globe. In 2019, the Joint National Listenership Results (JNLR) survey revealed that 83% of over 15s listen to Irish radio on a daily basis and two million people tune in each week to RTÉ’s radio services.
Due to the substantial role radio plays within Irish society, it is important that the LGBT+ community are represented and visible throughout this medium. This World Radio Day, we look back at some of the leading LGBT+ radio broadcasters in Ireland.
The legendary radio host Dil Wickremasinghe created the groundbreaking weekly show Global Village. Running each Saturday, her weekly slot examined overlooked areas within Irish society to bring about positive change. Sadly, Newstalk cancelled it in 2017.
In a statement following the news of Global Village’s cancellation, Wickremasinghe wrote, “10 years ago, I set out to create a unique radio show which served as a platform to highlight the voices of the most vulnerable in our society and the issues that affect their lives – issues that I personally care passionately about.”
Born in Rome to Sri Lankan parents, Wickremasinghe was left homeless after she told them she was gay. After years of travelling, she moved to Ireland in 2000 and decided to stay after singing It’s Raining Men down O’Connell Street during Dublin Pride. Since then, she has gone on to become one of the leading ‘Social Justice and Mental Health Journalists’ in the country.
The ever-fabulous Conor Behan has presented on Spin 1038, RTÉ Radio, and the hilarious podcast Popsessed, which he co-hosted alongside Holly Shortall. It is always an absolute joy and hoot to see him bring his pop culture geeky side to the fore. Plus his monthly Culture Club in GCN’s magazine is always a fun read.
Bringing together his skills as a DJ, broadcaster, and writer, Behan is iconic among the queer scene in Ireland. Possessed’s takeover of Love Sensation’s Queer Quarters for live podcast sessions was among the many highlights of the weekend.
This stunningly talented radio broadcaster is definitely one to check out for all your pop culture needs on World Radio Day.
Since 2012, Liam Geraghty has travelled across Ireland interviewing a diverse range of people as a reporter for the Business on RTÉ Radio 1. He won Silver for Best Short Feature at the PPI Radio Awards for his work during 2014.
Geraghty is well known for hosting the phenomenal podcast Meet Your Maker and his spooktacular work on Petrified along with Peter Dunne. This roving reporter has demonstrated time and time again that he is immensely talented with numerous exciting projects behind him. If you are looking for a good listen by an LGBT+ radio broadcaster this World Radio Day, his work has something for everyone.
Kate Brennan Harding
Kate Brennan Harding is working her magic as a producer in RTÉ and also presents on PLAY IRISH Radio.
She is a staple on the festival scene with sets at the likes of Longitude, Electric Picnic, and Other Voices.
YouTube sensation Riyadh Khalaf started his road to fame began when he set up a pirate radio station in his bedroom. He has gone on to secure his dream job hosting a show on BBC 1 Radio and published a book titled I’m Gay! Now What?.
The hilarious Khalaf played a crucial part in the Marriage Equality referendum as he loudly and proudly campaigned for the Yes Vote. Speaking to the Irish Times, he said, “London and Dublin are two big cities that have come so far in the last 10, 20 years and it’s great to see that journey is continuing on,” he says. “But the only way it happens is if we actively push it towards that direction. None of this change and progression happens by chance. It’s got to be activists and allies coming together to say, ‘We expect more. We deserve more.’”
In 2006, comedian Des Bishop outed the RTÉ broadcaster, Derek Mooney. Following this, the radio present spoke openly about not feeling the need to come out and feeling comfortable where he was.
Speaking to The Irish Sun, he said: “Out where? I was never in. I just didn’t talk about my sexuality. I’m a guy who presents a radio show and that’s it. I feel I shouldn’t have to talk about my private life. It should be about what I do for a living. I don’t go around waving any flags. I never did. It’s not part of my agenda. I have no agenda. I just get on with my life and do my own thing.” By sharing his own experiences, Mooney revealed a side of coming out that often gets overlooked. It questions the need to come out and who is it for?
During the Marriage Equality campaign, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland ruled that Mooney’s show disobeyed broadcasting regulation by running a programme which supported same-sex marriage. On the show, the presenter told his guests, “I hope you do get gay marriage… I hope it does come in.”
Radio and T.V presenter Stephen Byrne presented the fascinating Reality Bite series Playing Straight, which shined a light on the everyday homophobia within sports. It is a riveting watch that examines an issue which oftentimes does not get addressed. During the opening of the episode, he said, “Growing up football provided a never-ending backdrop of homophobia that just drove me further into the closet. I used to always ask why are there no gay players. But the real question is ‘Why won’t they come out?’”
Drawing from his own experiences, Byrne has depicted some truly engaging and heartwarming stories throughout his time as a presenter. In 2017, he took over from Ruth Scott and started to present the Weekenders on RTÉ 2fm.
In 2019, the exceptionally talented radio host and DJ Jenny Greene made her grand comeback to the airwaves as part of RTÉ 2FM’s revamp. Earlier in the year, she had announced that she would be quitting the station after presenting for five years on The Nicky Byrne Show. However, with a new evening slot offering, she is back.
Greene is an absolute blast to listen to and her return to radio was met with overwhelming joy. She spoke about how her wife, Kelly Keogh, supported her after she initially resigned, “She 100% supported me, said it was the right thing to do, but she had moments going what are we going to do, and I said it will be fine, something will come up.”
Kelly Anne Byrne
Although not LGBT+, we have included Kelly Anne Byrne as an honourary queer for her top notch allyship. The incredible DJ and broadcast Kelly Anne Byrne has been bringing the Mother dancefloor to life for numerous years, serving the queer community great tunes to groove along to. This year news broke that she was leaving her spot on Today FM, however, there is a great library of her playlists over on the site if you are looking for more tasty music for your nerves.
Byrne’s love for disco and other great tunes sings throughout her career. She has an incredible flair for DJing that is just breathtaking to see.
The always amazing DJ Claire Beck can be caught at most of the major music festivals throughout Summer. She is a radio host, writer, and performer from Dublin. Throughout her career, the presenter has appeared on Today FM and works the decks for Mother and Lumo.
Beginning at FM104 as an overnight DJ, Beck has gone on to lead a prolific career on the music scene in Ireland. Through hard work and perseverance, she went on to host her own show on Phantom in the drivetime slot.
Over on Dublin City FM, radio presenter Mick Fitzgerald covers the diverse stories of the queer community in his show LGBTQ Life, which airs every Monday at 1pm. The show provides a wonderful outlet for topics around politics, health, entertainment, heritage and events both in Ireland and internationally.
Anyone looking for information around matters affecting the LGBT+ community, Fitzgerald’s show is a great source.
Along with LGBT+ radio broadcasters, there are numerous radio stations that have promoted the diversity of the queer community. Dublin Digital Radio has featured the superb queer nightlife Strawberries. Though it has been discontinued, RTE Pulse had segments about LGBT+ life. In Northern Ireland, the first queer radio station, Juice 1038, was launched on August 4 2019 to coincide with Belfast Pride.
Radio continues to thrive in Ireland and these are some of the key LGBT+ broadcasters who have helped bring this medium forward.
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