Richer Sounds: The TXFM Years

One dark winter evening in the year 2001 I was locked inside the jail of a telesales office somewhere in Dublin 8, unable to leave until I got one more sale, one more sale that would pay the rent that week. As the last of my spirit-crushed zombie colleagues trudged out, I ran to the radio that had laughed at my poor fortune all day by offering me insipid, uninspiring Muzak presented by insipid uninspiring disc jockeys.

Could have thrown it at the boss. Could have ripped the plug out of the wall. But the eternal optimist inside told me to search for richer sounds. Twisted TXFMthe dial left and right in defiance of the digital age and heard loud guitars and drums. This’ll do. It was a band called Rival Schools with a song called Used For Glue. I knew the song well, I just didn’t expect to hear it on the radio. This was Phantom FM, later to become TXFM, and I was hooked. For 15 years.

Now, as TXFM plays out her last hours, I find myself thinking about that day. I’ve been married, had kids, lost family and friends, been sacked from jobs and gotten new ones, you know, life itself. And the same radio station has been playing in the background throughout all of this. Why? The presenters. From Sinister Pete and Jack Hyland to Pearl and Joe Donnelly, each and every presenter was refreshingly different and better than what the airwaves generally threw up on Irish radio.

Talent, real musical clout, intelligence, humour, warmth, great taste. It’s no surprise that most past presenters continue to enjoy great success elsewhere and similarly it will come as no surprise when the current crop further their careers beyond the walls of TXFM.

Many listeners will mourn the loss, unfortunately the many were not enough to satisfy the suits charged with maximising the advertising revenues. Let someone else talk about the economics, I just wanna talk music. Will we get another station like it again? Can an 24/7 alternative music platform exist? I genuinely thought so in the post – Oasis years when the alternative became mainstream and the country’s live music venues were booming.

Evidently not, as the station was forced to downsize and re-brand in 2014. But regardless of its name, no matter whether it was 92.1, 105.2 or online, the quality of the music and the boundless energy of its fantastic presenters was its heart and soul.

I never needed another radio station once I found it.

Words by Keith McGouran