Joe Finnegan and Patrick Halpenny inducted to IMRO Radio Hall of Fame.
The IMRO Radio Awards Committee inducted four new members into its Hall of Fame 2023. Joe Finnegan, Shannonside Northern Sound, Paddy Halpenny, former CEO of Communicorp, John Bennett MBE, BBC Radio Ulster, and Mary Wilson, RTÉ Radio 1, have been inducted to the IMRO Radio Hall of Fame. Selected by a panel of esteemed peers within the Irish radio industry, they have been recognised for their contributions to the radio sector. They were officially inducted today at an event in the IMRO offices in Dublin.
Chris Doyle, IMRO Radio Awards Chairperson, hosted the event. He welcomed attendees to the event by saying, "Welcome to the IMRO Radio Awards Hall of Fame 2023. The Hall of Fame is a really important annual event in the radio calendar. It's great to be able to gather here at the IMRO offices in Dublin today, with the inductees, their friends, families and colleagues to recognise their contributions to the Irish radio industry."
Eleaner McEvoy, IMRO Chairperson, also welcomed attendees to the event. She spoke about the resilience of radio, "The word 'radio' is constantly evolving, The broadcasting landscape has been shaped, in recent years, by advancements in technology and changes in the way we interact with our respective audiences. Many of those changes we can embrace wholeheartedly, but some of those changes present more significant challenges. We exist at a time when 'deep fake' and artificial intelligence companies are creating content. Broadcasting, interms of trust and integrity, is nebulous."
Joe Finnegan has worked for over 34 years as a current affairs presenter, journalist, director, and station manager at Shannonside Northern Sound. Highly regarded for his expertise and profound dedication to radio, this induction serves as a testemant to Joe's enduring impact and influence within the realm of radio broadcasting. Joe started his career in radio in the mid-1980s, and in 1989, he was instrumental in the setup of the station that was Shannonside and was one of its shareholders. Joe was the first voice heard on Shannonside Radio, covering counties Longford, Roscommon, and South Leitrim. In 1995, Shannonside and Northern Sound's licences were combined to create the first regional station in Ireland, which broadcasts to five counties in three provinces.
His show debuted in 1989 and quickly gained a reputation for its insightful and engaging coverage of local, national, and international news and current affairs. The show features a mix of interviews, debates, and analysis and has become a must-listen for anyone interested in politics, business, or social issues in the region. Joe has won numerous awards for his broadcasting, including several PPI/IMRO National Radio Awards.
Following the announcement, General Manager Joao Soares said that "Joe's achievements in broadcasting are a testamant to his talent and dedication. He has played a pivotal role in the development of Shannonside Northern Sound and has helped to make it one of the most successful radio stations in the country."
Accepting his award, Joe thanked IMRO and said "This one is extra special because it's your peers. This is a very competitive business. For your peers to say you're worthy of something like this, that in itself is very special." Joe gave recognition to the rising success of the Independent Radio Sector, "I come from the Independent sector, a sector that is on a daily basis, with meager resources producing outstanding programmes with outstanding personnel working on them." Speaking about careers in radio, Joe spoke on the issue of recruitment and retention in the radio industry, "If we could put in place some sort of a policy to try and hold on to talent at a local level and independent level to convince people that there is a career in Cavan, Roscommon. There is a career in radio and broadcasting. I think it would be a very positive thing."
Patrick (Paddy) Halpenny was Chief Executive if Communicorp from 1997 to 2013. When he joined Communicorp, it consisted of 98FM in Dublin and Kiss in Prague. During the next fifteen years, Communicorp grew to a portforlio of 42 stations in 9 countries. Communicorp owned and operated to Irish national stations, two local stations in Dublin and one regional youth station. It became an international radio operator with stations from Dublin to Tallinn, Budapest, Helsinki and Sofia to Kyiv.
Paddy Halpenny was passionate about the Irish Radio Market and how it should develop a strong and independent sector that could withstand any number of unforeseen challenges. As important as the regulator, the shareholders, and the on-air talent are, Paddy believed most in the professional development of the executives who ultimately operate the radio stations on a day-to-day basis. He poured a huge amount of his time into mentoring people.
Paddy steered Newstalk from a Dublin station to a successful National station. He valued creativity and risk, which resulted in the hiring of new talent who were to become our brightest and best. Paddy is a major contributor to the success of the Irish Radio Sector, and much of what he achieved went unnoticed by those outside the industry.
Paddy thanked IMRO for his award, "It's very humbling to be considered for this award. Congratulations to you all. It all seems a tad unreal. Every day is a gift to get an award from your peers, friends and colleagues in the industry." He highlighted the importance of radio by saying "Radio is so important, the companionship, the connectivity, the content. When you switch it on, you join a conversation that can be trusted with music and artists that entertain and lift the mood."
Celene Craig from the Coimisiún na Meán spoke at the event. "I'm really delighted to say the Coimisiún na Meán is continuing their involvement of the IMRO Radio Hall of Fame. Coimisiún na Meán has a much extended brief as a regulator. There is a concern over misinformation, the kinds of information in news and current affairs. Radio has never been more meaningful and vital in providing that balance, being the voice, and really being there for listeners, answering those vital questions that are really key to media in a functioning democracy. Coimisiún na Meán is looking to create a sustainable and thriving media landscape. Radio is a wonderful medium. Being able to celebrate the on-going success of radio really speaks to what an eduring medium it is. The Hall of Fame has always been a celebration amongst the peers in radio which makes it very special. It balances, not just those who are behind the microphone, but those who have been a driving factor in ensuring the ongoing success of radio as a medium."
John Bennett MBE, BBC Radio Ulster, whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the broadcasting landscape, was also welcomed to the Hall of Fame 2023. John is one of Northern Ireland's best-loved and most versatile personalities. Since joining the BBC in 1965, he has presented music, entertainment, sports, and current affairs programmes with equal prowess. His distinctive voice, warmth and breadth of knowledge have forged special bonds with listeners worldwide for close to 7 decades, sharing in their highs and lows and always giving them a voice.
Joining Joe, Paddy and John in the Hall of Fame 2023, is Mary Wilson, RTÉ Radio 1, renowned for her incisive journalsim and unwavering dedication to truth in broadcasting. Mary joined RTÉ's local radio service in Cork in 1989 after a career in provincial journalism and PR. Mary moved to the RTÉ Dublin Newsroom in 1990 to work as a reporter on Morning Ireland and later worked in all areas of radio and TV news as a correspondent, editor and presenter.
Learning Waves would like to congratulate Joe Finnegan, Paddy Halpenny, John Bennett and Mary Wilson on this outstanding achievement.
For more information on the IMRO Radio Awards Hall of Fame 2023, click here.