Spirit Radio is three years old this month, and according to CEO Rob Clarke, the Christian radio station is going from strength to strength, even through challenging times.
The station with ’Passion for Life’ has gained a 5% listenership
across the nation, and 6% in urban areas, according to a recent Red C
That would represent 200,000 listeners, but Rob believes a more
accurate figure is around 165,000 listeners.
The station is not included
in the list of radio stations surveyed by the JNLR (Joint National
Listenership Research) which gathers listenership figures for the
When the station opened in January 2011 an estimated 50,000 people were tuning in.
Spirit began life in Ballsbridge, but a year ago moved to its current
offices in Bray where they share premises with East Coast Radio.
station has a staff of forty, most of whom are part time, and twenty
volunteers. It costs around €500,000 a year to keep Spirit on the air,
with 80% of its income coming from three pledge drives it runs each
year. The balance of 20% comes from advertising.
“Our advertising is growing slowly,” says Rob Clarke. “We offer
advertisers great rates, and I think they recognise that our
listenership is ‘intentional’, and they [the listeners] will support
people who advertise with us,” he told CatholicIreland.
He says the pledge drives are highlights of Spirit’s year. “It is
the time when we really hear from listeners. Over the five days of the
drive, we could be talking to 200 people.”
Spirit manages to appeal to a broad spectrum of the Christian
community. “I don’t know if it is happening anywhere else in the
world. You have Catholic Stations, you have Evangelical stations. What
we’re doing crossing the Catholic – Evangelical divide is very
They purposely try to “keep programming on common ground in a space
where everybody is comfortable,” says Rob Clarke. “Discovering that
Christians from a wide range of backgrounds can work together is a great
The mix of Gospel rock, news, interview, chat shows, and
‘Thoughts for the day’ appears to be working. Mary and Paul recently
wrote from Wexford: “Brilliant station ; most professional; and each
one of ye are truly needed and thank God for ye. We are not the greatest
at contacting the station unless there is a slim chance of winning a
prize! But your station is the only one that’s being aired in our house
since you launched !!! Should someone change the station…. well there
is blue murder…..I know were not very christian, but we are working on
James in Belturbet recently wrote “Hello Spirit Radio. Only
discovered your fantastic station last week, and it’s just what I need
in my life right now. I’m going through a difficult time at the moment
and praying to Jesus for the strength and grace to get through it. I
love the song with the line ‘And Everybody Said Amen’, could u play it
for me please?”
Niall discovered Spirit driving to work. “Some might say by
accident; I don’t agree, the Lord makes no mistakes.” His father was
diagnosed with cancer. “It was Gods provision through the radio station
that helped me continue in my work and at home with my family when
circumstances were often fairly painful. Days passed and Dad went home
and I found a new member of my family sounds strange but true..Spirit
International boxer Katie Taylor was the face of Spirit when it
launched, and has agreed to lead a new campaign in the coming months.
Meanwhile Rob Clarke is happy with how the station is progressing.
“I’m enjoying it. It is a thrill to feel ourselves in a position where
you can touch the life of so many people.”