A Peek Behind the Scenes at Christmas FM

The Christmas FM team are fully in the swing of it since turning on their FM transmitters on Tuesday 28 November. The texts are flying in and the festive vibes are flying out all over the country as the seasonal station aims to raise as much as possible for its charity partners.

It all began sixteen years ago when our four founders dreamed up Christmas FM with all of them still involved today. The station has raised over three million euro to date.

One of the fab founders Garvan Rigby, explains their different jobs. 

“Walter’s (Hegarty) area is technical and facilities, Paul (Shepard)looks after licensing and compliance, Daragh (O’Sullivan) looks after content, imaging, digital and design,” he explained.

“And our station manager Adrian Nolan always has his plate full ironing out the many wrinkles that arise, and I do sponsorship, operations and programming- but we all help out as needed.”

He says that the brilliant sponsors cover all costs of running the station on air. Christmas FM is lucky to have over one hundred amazing volunteers who devote hours of their time on air – they have years of presenting experience but to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet takes lots of prep. 

While the world tidies away Christmas for another year in January this is one of the busiest times for the Station’s management team.

“In January and February we debrief, it’s as busy as December, as we are getting all the sponsor reports out, and we start looking for new sponsors with the commercial planning starting in May or June,” he says.

“Over the years we have gotten so much bigger, we have a management team of eight. It’s a part time all-year round job for all of us, on top of our day jobs,” he says.

Sounds like a LOT of work! Why do they all still do it? It’s simple, says Garv.

“We just love Christmas, that’s all there is to say”

Ann Marie Walsh, who looks after promotion PR and production,  is also a musician who has worked in the radio industry for thirty years and she agrees with Garv that January is hectic, and actually most of the year they are up to high do with all things Christmas.

Emily Brew (left), Daragh O’Sullivan, Ann Marie Walsh centre front), Walter Hegarty, and Garvan Rigby

“Right now we are thinking about Christmas 2024, getting everything on track”, she said. 

“Even though Christmas is only on for a set period of time, the elves are busy all year. Laying out new ideas. Recapping on what worked well and searching for new opportunities, new ways of raising funds for charity,” she says.

“In the summer we are reaching out to our charity partners. Recording content so we can best tell their stories and about all the good they do with the funds raised,” she said.

“Our premier sponsors remain Coca Cola, Cadbury  and An Post and we have a number of other sponsors and a bunch of new ones this year too,” she said.  

Ann Marie, who does PR for international and national artists, also presents a weekend show “The departure lounge” on on Sunday and has been with Christmas FM for eight years.  

“What keeps me coming back? The incredible team, so devoted, I’m inspired every year to return. It’s busy, it’s challenging but I love it and am really proud to take part. To be part of so many people’s lives every year and most of all to know that the funds raised from our listeners helps so many children,” she said.

Emily Brew – Presenter and Head of Social Media for Christmas FM – also works as a presenter with Radio Nova.

“From June we are getting all the content ready – it’s so much fun, but it is not all about the fun. We love making memes and fun videos, but we are also working more on the serious side of things with our charity partners. We need to tell their stories. We work with Barnardos, Barretstown, Make a Wish and the Community Foundation of Ireland so we can explain to our generous listeners where their funds will be going”, she said.

“This year we’ve also brought back our podcast – we have six episodes out there, we have recorded two more, and each week we will be rolling out a new one,” she said.

This year is Emily’s seventh with the station. Does she ever get a little sick of Christmas?

“Never! It is hard to explain the magic and joy it brings me. It is always so much fun, but it’s so meaningful. I remember on Christmas day 2020, I could not see my family that year, and I was presenting from my wardrobe in my little apartment and more than ever that year people were using Christmas FM as a means of communication – sending their messages of love, hope and also sadness, remembering those no longer here and celebrating their love for those who matter to them. There are so many moments like that, and those moments are incredible. Yes, it’s hard work but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Spread the Christmas cheer by sharing this 

More to explore...