Producer Pat Hannon and I have been making radio programmes in various ways together for over thirty years. Pat has always been an producer and has made it his life’s work to share his passion and knowledge of radio with thousands of students over the years as a lecturer at DIT. I, on the other hand, have been principally involved with the technical operations and engineering side of radio and so Pat has been very patient with me as I’ve moved to the presenter side of the desk for the very first time with Sea Stories. I suppose it’s helped that I’ve been a sailor for more than 40 years and have crossed oceans on small boats but this series would never have been made if it hadn’t been for Pat’s vast experience, skill and encouragement. Did I mention his patience too?
Since the pioneering days of independent local radio in Ireland we have both shared a belief that radio can be so much more than just a source of background music, it can make a very personal connection between people to share ideas and even inspire.
Nearly all the interviews were conducted at sea, sailing on Dublin Bay or out past Dalkey Island, across Killiney Bay and south to Bray Head. Others were conducted on boats in harbour or where boats were being crafted (Bray Drollens) or where histories are stored (Arklow Maritime Museum). My guests and I sailed the boat, chatted and admired the scenery and Pat balanced on the edge of the cockpit wearing headphones and juggling a digital recorder and microphone. All the sound effects are real and the sloshing of the sea you hear is the water rushing past the hull as we sailed along. Many times we’d have to stop talking to turn the boat, adjust the sails and one time even carry out a man overboard practice!
The programme 1 of ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) took us way further than Dublin Bay! It was recorded over a period of three weeks while we sailed across the Atlantic for St Lucia in the Caribbean. Making radio involves recording hours of ‘tape’ and the finished programmes are then distilled and mixed-down to suit the listener’s available time. Ironically, the ARC reunion was recorded on land on an unbelievably stormy day in Dun Laoghaire one year on from our return home (it sounds like we’re rounding Cape Horn!).
Our subjects, our guests on air, were all unbelievable good humoured and helpful. There is something very calm and generous about those who have sailed oceans; who have had time to think on what’s important in life and have in one way or other completed many adventures just beyond normal comfort zones. We are extremely grateful to everyone who put themselves through the ordeal of being interviewed by a novice presenter!
Our series was made with support from our national Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The BAI’s Sound & Vision scheme was set up to encourage programmes like this and many other diverse formats; without their support our series would not have been possible. It is a programming support scheme which is operated by the BAI which is funded through the television licence fee. Their help and support has been invaluable and each year enables new programme from stations and independent producers to reach the airwaves.
It’s been great fun, a real learning experience and I’ve had the chance to meet, talk with and even sail with many very interesting and generous people. I’m fortunate too that my family are sailors and understand the subject so well. My wife Aine grew up in a sailing family so she knows boats and all that’s involved in making this series. She has been a great source of encouragement, she has been particularly supportive in doing the transatlantic programme, sailing the ARC and all the work that went into that. I am especially grateful to her for her enthusiasm and support. I want to also mention my son Eoin who is our web specialist and designer and his friend Ruth who wrote our music (see their profiles elsewhere on this web site).
My final word must go to Pat Hannon, our esteemed producer, who’s the real skill behind this series and the inspiration for developing SeaStories.ie beyond today.
Thank you to all involved.