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Some younger readers won’t know what a cassette/tape is, many won’t be able to believe there was a time before the internet (which only came to Ireland with the first connection in TCD less than 6 years before I started in Freedom and was still VERY much in its infancy here). Not to be melodramatic, but what I found in that shed changed my life and started me down a road I could never have imagined. I was 16 years of age, had longish hair, spots, poor fashion sense (still have). I was a nerd (still am), not particularly popular outside my core group of friends, not very confident, afraid of public speaking and generally not very cool (still am not). I was the last person anyone would expect to be a pirate radio DJ. Also, I didn’t really know what pirate radio was, and that’s why I didn’t realise Freedom FM was a pirate radio station when I applied for work experience there in transition year in school. They had an address in knocklyon that they used for their Thursday night talk show. Could that have been called youthline or something like that?? Someone correct me. Listeners could send letters to that address (which I think was the presenter of the talk show’s address) with their problems and woes, and then they would be dealt with by the presenter on Thursday. Yes, that’s how late night talk shows used to work in Dublin. Not knowing this, I wrote and asked for work experience. They having never received a request for work experience (for obvious reasons) thankfully said yes anyway. How I got interested in radio to start with I’m not 100% sure. There was a time (believe it or not) when 2FM was the only radio station that anybody listened to. I remember listening to Aonghus McAnally at nighttime in bed with I was about 8 or 9, and lived in Galway. Then of course there was Tony Fenton on the Hotline (and later Dusty Rhodes) and I used to love Aidan Leonard with the Cruise to Snooze at night. Electric Eddie at the Beat on the Street, what a time to be alive. Then in 1992-1994 Long Wave Radio Atlantic 252 was about all the anybody listened to. In 1994, Kiss 103.2 was THE biggest station in Dublin (as far as I was concerned, at least) and I used to sit there with my tape recorder recording songs off the radio and often just recording a whole tape full to listen back to on my walkman. I still have the tapes in a box. My dad LOVED the radio, he still does. In our house, there was a radio in every single room, toilets/bathrooms included. Dad listened to the radio more or less from the minute he got up to the minute he went to bed, it was always on in the background. Actually at the time I started in Freedom, I had decided I was going to be a proper DJ and bought myself some KAM decks and a gemini 626 mixer and was going to be the next big club DJ. In fact, I only ever bought about 20 records. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I was too shy/nervous to go into the record shops like Abbey Discs, where everybody seemed very ‘different’ to me. My work experience started at 4pm. Unusual of itself, but most days Freedom only started at 4pm, when people were finished school….if only because most the presenters were still in school or college. Before that it used to carry a cablelink relay of BBC Radio 1 in the UK (I wasn’t unusual to both get complaints from Dublin people when we switched the relay and went live (they wanted to keep listening to BBC Radio 1) nor for BBC Radio 1 to complain about it, nor for Chris Moyles (whose cousin worked on Freedom) to give occasional shoutouts to people listening in Ireland through the Freedom relay. I think that the first day I literally only stayed for 2 hours for Aidan’s show, then went. When I got home, I was buzzing. I went back the next day at the appointed hour (also 4pm). This time, I was met by a big bear of a man, Mark Mayo. This it turned out, was not his real name. His real name was Keith Cunningham. KC to many, formerly of FM104, Red FM, Today FM, Red FM again and now on gardening leave before starting on Cork’s 96fm. Even then, in a shed in Templeogue with 2 CD Players, this guy was slick. I remember before he started he ran into the dining room of the house and loaded a tape into the tape deck to record his show telling me ‘you never know what’s going to happen or when a bit of magic will come’. Sound advice then as now. My whole work experience I did nothing but take requests and watch in awe. Taking requests was a slightly different process than it is now. Now mobile phones meant no text messages. No Internet meant no anything else. If you wanted a song on the radio, you had to make a phone call, land line to land line, your house to theirs. Literally, as it turned out. Most people who ever listened to Freedom, and certainly those who worked there, are unlikely to ever forget the phone number. What most people don’t realise (and please don’t ring it now to check), is that phone number was the home phone number, as well as that of the radio station. That meant that every time the phone rang in the studio, the phone rang in the house. Every. Single. Time. To put this in context, when you took requests in Freedom, you didn’t hang up the phone, you just put your finger on the receiver, and the phone would ring again. It was that popular. The phone rang constantly. CONSTANTLY. And when it did, you picked up, you talked to the person on the other end of the phone, you took their request down on a bit of paper, and you put the finger on the receiver for the phone to ring again. When you didn’t have an over-eager helper like myself to take your requests, you took them yourself. It was so exciting. I miss that about radio now. Sure the texts and whatsapp and twitter and facebook messages are great, and an easy way of generating content, but I’m not sure you can beat talking to listeners in the way we used to back in those days. When it was time to link (that’s what they call ‘talking’ in radio-land) you left the phone off the hook, or told the person on the phone to hang on for a minute, and you did your thing then came back to the phone. I can’t remember too much more about my first week in Freedom to be honest. DJ Power was back on Wednesday from 4-6pm, Andy Walker did a few 6-8pm shows and Simon Davis did another. There was a girl who did 2-4pm on Wednesday afternoon with a soul show. I can’t remember her name (a recent google suggests Adeanna Jones) but I do remember fancying her. On the Wednesday, I said my first ever words on radio when DJ Power let me do a few requests. This was outstanding. At the end of the week I was 100% sure this is what I wanted to do with my life. I had never experienced a buzz like it. As I was going along, I asked various presenters if I could come back the next week and help answer their phones. Everyone said yes, because everyone was dead sound, and so I started hanging around Freedom FM like a bad smell……which, given the hormones and my dislike of changing clothes that often at that time, is probably a pretty accurate description. After just a few months, I got my big break. I was going to be let Spin (somewhat ironic) a show. That meant playing the music and the jingles/imaging, but not talking. I was nervous as f**k, and terrified I would press the wrong button or do the wrong thing. Our jingles were on tape and you had to get the tape close to the start of the bit you wanted to play, then take it out, wind the tape back a notch with your finger or pen and put it back in on pause. That was probably the most nerve wracking thing about the whole affair for me truth be told. I was a nervous kid, probably ill suited to such a public profession in many ways, but therein lies the beauty of radio, more on which anon. Freedom 92FM always rewarded enthusiasm and genuine desire. While I suspect no presenter would admit at the time (and many still not today, i’d wager) you didn’t have to be very good to get a show on there. If you need any evidence of that, have a listen to this. Some of my early work from Freedom. Shocking stuff. The thing about a lot of work (and not just radio) is that everybody is looking for people with experience, but if you can’t get experience somewhere you’re never going to have the experience that many people are looking for. Freedom filled that gap for me, and for an awful lot of people. We were young, passionate and enthusiastic, and they gave us the chance to go on air, learn, get better and start our careers. For reasons I’ll get into later, the loss of Freedom FM, and other stations like it, is a crying shame for the radio industry and left a big gaping hole in the talent pool for a long time. Soon, I started having a regular slot on the station, every Wednesday from 2-4pm on my half day from school. I would finish school at 1pm, cycle up the road from Templeogue College in my uniform, have my lunch beside the super sayer gas fire (the shed could be BALTIC, you could often see your breath during links on a cold day before the heater fully fired up) and go on air for 2 hours. My name was Ryan Phillips. Where that name came from (and the fact it’s not my real name) has been a source of confusion for many down through the years. When I started on Freedom, EVERYBODY used a pseudonym because it was illegal, and it seemed pretty stupid to go on an illegal radio station and use your real name. The name Ryan Phillips was born of my Fake ID (illegal radio and a fake ID, maybe I was more of a badass than I give myself credit for), and it stuck ever since. The next few years are a bit of a blur in terms of radio. I was still busy nerding away in school, but also doing my Wednesday afternoon show, and some weekend shows, and filling in here and there. I still wasn’t very good, and most people seemed to think I was a poor mans version of a poor mans version of a poor mans version of Rick O’Shea, who at that time was one of the hottest hot jocks going and was on FM104 from 7pm, then drivetime (if memory serves). I wanted to be Rick O’Shea. He had been on Atlantic 252. He was a jock’s jock, he seemed really cool and he was what I aimed towards. Not very well as it happens. Every time I would come home from my show my mum would give out to me about the voice I was putting on. It will seem strange listening back to the audio, but I really didn’t think I was putting on a voice, I was just being on the radio, and used to say it’s just like the way you speak differently when you’re making a speech (or doing a reading at mass, seriously). Of course, mum was right, as usual, and I sounded f**king awful. Still, I loved it. What I loved then never changed over the course of the last 20 years. I loved being on the radio. As the tech changed and things became more about ‘social media’ and ‘viral this’ and ‘viral that’ there was more and more things about “radio” that I disliked, but the one thing I always loved, and still do to this day is being on the radio. Loved it 20 years ago on Freedom, loved it 20 weeks ago on Christmas FM. That feeling of connection with people, a shared sense of ‘we’re in this together’ of ‘people like us’  that I was having a conversation with people, inviting them into my world, or me into theirs or some sort of shared understanding of things that were happening in the world. It’s quite hard to put your finger on it, but when it works there’s no better feeling in the world. I have often thought that the gap between radio presenting and observational comedy isn’t all that great, and perhaps that’s why some many comedians end up in radio. As I said, what happened over the next few years is a bit of a blur. In my mind in Dublin at that time, there was two big pirate radio stations, Freedom and Pulse. There was others, for sure but those were the two main ones as far as I was concerned. The others were harder dance stations, generally, and I had no interest really in them, or many of the others except for listening to Rusty Nails (on whatever station was on 106.4 then, Kiss maybe?) on a Friday lunchtime with my earphones through my sleeve in biology class. Pulse was by far the most professional pirate station, and if your goal was to get into legal radio (which was the goal for more or less all of us then) you really needed to get onto Pulse. I didn’t. Boo erns. Soon after I started working on-air, Freedom got a new mic processor, and they were having difficulty setting it up. Sean enlisted the help of another radio head tweak the settings, none other than Mark McCabe. You may have heard of him. Small song called Maniac 2000. At the time he was doing drivetime on Pulse, and was something of a hero of mine (it’s ok, I’ve told him before, usually drunk). In order to try and get the settings right, I had to link after every song while Mark and Sean listened, then came out to tweak some settings, then I would link again. To this day, it’s probably about as nervous as I’ve ever been doing a radio show. I became obsessed by radio. The internet was still rubbish (28.8k dialup anybody) and internet streams were woeful, but I spent hours listening in to radio in the UK, seeing what they were doing. I started listening to a different regional station (like Radio Aire in leeds or whatever) each night to broaden my knowledge and try and learn from them. This was before serious networking really, so every station, even those in the same group had very little crossover in presenters, and there was lots and lots of people in the industry. Every so often an Irish presenter would get a gig or a break in the UK, and it was a big deal. Declan Pierce went to work in Juice in Liverpool. Darren Kelly (Darren Kelly) went to work somewhere (I can’t remember where) as well. It seemed like there was possibilities and options. Don’t forget in Dublin, in 1997 there was only 2fm, 98FM and FM104. None of the other stations existed and Today FM had just launched the month before I started in Freedom. When I eventually took over running Communicorp’s digital station, one of the things that struck me was how many of the presenters didn’t really seem to listen to the radio. Or had very limited exposure to it. People who were really into it tended to listen to the podcasts of the Big Australian Shows only (sorry everyone, they aren’t THAT good) and nothing else. Many, hadn’t ever listened to a radio station outside Ireland, or in many cases Dublin. I’ll come back to this in a future post. Today, there’s a sense that some aspiring presenters want to be famaous, and being on the radio is a first step to achieving that. It’s a gateway into all the other things. It was never like that for me. I chanced my arm at TV a few times over the years, but that wasn’t in my mind at all when I started in radio, nor for probably 10 years after. Radio was all I really wanted to do. Anyway, as I said, that’s another day’s work As luck would have it, law in college involved only 8 hours lectures a week, which left lots of room for radio. By this time, Pulse FM had closed down, but a new station Essential Galaxy FM (a merge of Essential Radio and Galaxy FM, if I’m not mistaken) was on air, which then rebranded to ESG FM, and later Energy 94FM. These stations were sort of the successor to Pulse, which had closed down to apply for the licence that Spin1038 eventually got. I had improved a good bit, and was looking to step things up, so somebody (I think Andrew Walsh) put my in touch with the station manager of Essential Galaxy, James Davids. I sent him in my demo, and I was on the move. That ended my time with Freedom 92Fm after 2 and a bit years. I would be back (most people were) from time to time, doing the chart show at the weekend in or around 2003 and some other bits and pieces between when Energy closed and Spin1038 started and after I was ‘fired’ from spin. To this day, some of my favourite times in front of (or behind, depending on where you’re standing) a microphone. Now you can join me weekdays 8am to 10am for some great laughs and the best memories from the 90s and Noughties!

Paul McCrory

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Soooo...started out about 20 years ago ? after injuring myself playing with Liverpool so took the next logical step...radio (obviously). Worked in East Coast FM and FM104 before I had a life changing event...I got a wife. Then a house. Then kids. Had to get a serious job then with all these responsibilities so somehow ended up at Freedom...? Getting to play the music that you grew up with and songs that take you back to happier times is awesome. Some of the new stuff is ? (Cardi B etc). Give me a bit of old skool any day and I’ll be happy!

Joey Barrett

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I think it was me being an overly confident chatty kid that led me to starting out in community radio in Tallaght (it's in Dublin, Ireland where I am from!) when I was around 12. I worked with them for a few years and I think this is what led drove me to study broadcasting and journalism in college. I have dabbled in radio and commercial voiceover work since then. No 2 days are the same, which I like... it keeps me occupied! As a kid I always listened to Freedom, and here I am on the other side of it, living the dream and on air every Wednesday and Sunday!

Lunchtime Favourites

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My radio journey started when I was around 14.  Like all the local teens, I was an avid listener of Freedom 92fm and a regular attendee of Club Future, the local disco (run by the same fantastic crew). I'd been phoning Freedom so much looking for requests and shout outs; I'd lost all my phone privileges at home.  So, somehow or other I managed to persuade the guys to let me come up and see the actual radio studio.  I mean, in hindsight, I had been a bit of a stalker so fair play to them for being that brave! God only knows what they were expecting. Within a few weeks, I had somehow convinced Simon Davis and Andy Walker to let me answer the phones.  I imagine, to them, it became pretty obvious that I was a new fixture, and not in the ideal way, but they kindly afforded me lots of new opportunities; firstly as a phantom DJ - as in, not allowed to talk.  That was admittedly weird for me, but eventually, I got myself a steady slot of Tuesday 6-8pm.  A year or so later they agreed to let me do Sunday's 1-3pm, I called the show Strictly Funk. I was besotted with everything about radio and went on to study it at third level, all the while doing my two shows a week with Freedom. Once I graduated, I got some gigs answering phones in 98fm, one of the licensed stations in Dublin, around that time, I moved on from Freedom physically, but I was still emotionally connected! My phone answering job eventually led to a news reading gig, which led to some overnight presenting with FM104.  This was followed by an afternoon stint in Waterford on Beat 102-103 which led me back to Dublin where I spent 7 years with FM104 on the weekend and evening schedule before hanging up my headphones to focus on a marketing career. I'm still in love with radio so it's beyond exciting for me to have the opportunity to present lunchtime favourites every weekday on Freedom 92FM.  

Weekday Afternoons

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Hi, my name is Paul Dee. I am 37, 5’7” (if i wear my platforms), I love going on long wal.... What?, it's not THAT kinda website profile. Shame, I've a BIG cd collection. The year 2000. the year when the world was supposed to blow up because of the millennium bug, it didn't. The hot news topic when I started was George Bush getting elected after 12 trillion recounts - I bet ‘murica would take him back with open arms right about now. Being a proud northsider hailing from Donaghmede - beautifully and eloquently nick-named coke n speed, I can tell you this was also the year that the DART got extended to Malahide and Greystones. We didn't know ourselves. The summer,  long gone at this point but the memory of Craig David playing the old Point Depot floats around the brain. Freedom 92 FM just added the second person to LOVE Garage music to their schedule. Pat Gill being the other. I walked up nervously through the side gate on a dull Saturday morning, and was met by Simon Davis where he showed me the studio and introduced me to the Freedom 92 FM house staff. Right buddy, it’s all yours”. Gulp. I pressed play on the top of hour jingle and played Artful Dodger - Rewind. A three year love affair was born. I'm on Monday to Friday from 2pm playing tunes to get you through the afternoon. Gwan, give it a listen. Oh. my best mate is the sexiest DJ in the world… Mike O’Brien!!

Mike O’Brien

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I started off on Freedom FM doing one day week on drivetime in late summer 2001. I worked for another radio station called Radio Caroline at the time and Freedom was the station to be on. I chanced my arm and the station manager Mr Simon Davis gave me a few more shows as I gained in confidence and ability. Freedom for me was and is the soundtrack to my early 20s and I loved every single second of being on air. So much so that I have nearly taped every single show I did on the station!!! I have made lifelong friends from Freedom 92FM and was gutted when it closed. We have all now as a group relived all the memories and there is good craic on the WhatsApp group too. I hope you can join me Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4pm until 6pm Irish time.

Drivetime with Scott Turner

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Hi all, Welcome - Scott Turner here…  25 years on and I’m back with the Freedom 92FM crew.  The difference now is we have all grown up (kind of…) and Freedom 92FM is accessible online and digital all around the world from smart devices.  I first met with Simon Davis and Andy Walker when I got involved with another Radio Station - Dublin’s KISS 103.2 FM.  Ralph McGarry was also a part of the radio station but because of rotas I probably didn’t know him as well as the others. After it closed, I regrouped with Simon Davis, Andy Walker and by association I met DJ Power. I was one of the first DJ’s to join the Freedom 92FM line up and I started out with a weekend chart show running down through the top 40 chart hits every weekend – skipping over the tracks I didn’t have CD’s for ?  At that time, we were operating out of the box bedroom in Mrs. Powers house… soon after, I moved onto to other ventures before the big move occurred to the upgrade into the shed… I then went on to have an extended DJ career working with a popular Dublin based DJ agency and every weekend I was placed doing gigs all around Dublin City night clubs mainly frequenting the Capital Bars chain of venues which included; Break for the Border, O’Dwyers (Howl at the Moon) on Mount Street, Fireworks  the old fire station at Pearse Street, Zanzibar on Ormond Quay, Sinnott’s up at Stephen’s Green shopping centre and Dicey’s at the Russell Court Hotel to mention a few.  Since then I have DJed numerous clubs, bars, weddings and party venues throughout the country of Ireland. #LiveIrishDJ I introduced budding DJ Leigh (Lee) to the Freedom 92FM crew and station and she went on to have a show of her own with some training and mentoring from the more experienced jocks! I knew Gav Kennedy from our school days.  Partially through knowing me Simon Davis got to know his now wife… I am now back on Freedom 92FM online with Drive Time, Tuesdays and Thursdays [GMT] 4-6pm.

Ralph McGarry Show

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Andy and Simon set up the station in March 1995 and brought me on board to help run it along with DJ Power. I presented a Sunday night Ambient and Electronica show called UltraSouth until 1997. I really enjoyed this show and it helped me, and hopefully others, to rewind as the weekend came to a close. I went off to work on securing a licence for a local community station, reluctantly leaving behind the crew in the shed who developed a powerhouse within the youth radio scene in Dublin. I returned to Freedom 92FM in 2001 and presented a Monday evening pop music show - just like now - until we came off FM in 2003. I set up a number of temporary licensed youth based radio stations in west Wicklow, Kildare and south west Dublin during the noughties, consulted on the set up of a temporary arts based station in Cork in 2007, and rounded off the decade with assisting two good Freedom 92FM buddies with establishing The 90s Network, as a temporary licensed station focusing on the music of the 90s. I had the privilege to work as a sound recordist for a radio documentary for Newstalk on the topic of FGM in the Rift Valley in Kenya in 2014 and then set about establishing a Country Music station online. When lockdown came around Andy and Simon came calling again and asked me to get involved with reviving Freedom 92FM online. It was like 1995 all over again. I jumped at the chance! And as they say, the rest is history. I currently present a pop music programme on Monday between 6pm and 8pm UK/IRL time where I play the best in music from the 90s and noughties and include two features: 'This week in the 90s and noughties', revisiting headlines from that period, and 'Birthday Share', highlighting which celebrities and famous people you share your birthday with. I also present the Dance Show on Friday nights between 8pm and 10pm UK/IRL with a particular emphasis on the lesser played dance tunes of the 90s and Noughties.

Weekday Evenings

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This adventure started for me back in 1994. Kiss 103 FM came on air, and from there my radio journey began. This started lifelong friendships with Ralph McGarry and Simon Davis. Ralph McGarry had given me an introduction to Garv Rigby who was the Kiss Fm programme director at the time and now Director and co-founder of Christmas FM. Kiss was hot hits, CHR, it was fresh, it was a different kind of radio from the likes of Sunset 106.8, Club 106.4 and Vibe 107.2. These stations where dance and dance only. Kiss FM was based on the super pirates from the 80’s; the likes of Nova, Q102, Sunshine, Kiss & Energy103. Kiss Fm was all about the hot hits and gained a market share quickly. So quickly that Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation (ODTR) had taken note. No station in the history of pirate radio in Ireland experienced as much Government action as did Kiss 103. The station's mountain transmitter sites were raided four times in eight months. This is where the main transmission equipment was kept. It’s a high site looking out over the city, from the mountain site if you can see it you can get your signal to it, while its studio site was raided on two occasions, resulting in losses of expensive broadcasting equipment. The last raid was the most damaging, they raided the studio site and took everything from the old radio Nova mixing desk to the transmission equipment. That was the final straw and it was decided that Kiss FM would close down on 11th of November 1994. To say I was gutted was an understatement. It was like a death; I’ve cried less at the loss of loved ones. I was truly hooked. This was leaving cert year for me, all I wanted to do was be on the radio. Simon Davis and myself had attended the same school and were working together on the school play looking after the lighting and sound. We spent that time planning some sort of return to the radio; saving money, sourcing equipment and making up a game plan. Simon had headed off to the Canaries for Christmas, and while he was away, I secured our first transmitter from our former boss at Kiss FM, Kevin Brannigan, now the CEO at Radio Nova. Simon had come home from the canaries to find a letter pushed through his letter box telling him “call me I got it.” Things suddenly began to get real. The sourcing and purchase of equipment, construction of a studio, erecting the antenna system all of this while apparently studying for my leaving certificate. We finally successfully launched on the 6th of March 1994 after a few months of testing and frequency hopping. We decided to go the route of hot hits and chart music, CHR because everybody else in Dublin was playing dance music 24/7. Everything went well for us for 8 years, our popularity soared and we became a house hold name on the FM band in Dublin. We helped raise a generation during the nineties and noughties until Tuesday 20th May 2003. Black Tuesday. Black Tuesday was the day the Commission for Communications Regulation (comReg) took control of the air waves in Dublin. Black Tuesday was also the day I had a job interview, see radio was a hobby and past time we still needed income to fund this little hobby and past time. Al Murray had just arrived to start his show, when he had noticed the on-air feed that he listened to go dead. Just as the interview had started my phone started ringing, constantly ringing, thankfully it was on silent but you could still hear the buzzing sound from the Nokia mobile phone. Al was trying to get me frantically along with everyone else in the know. They had started to raid the mountain sites of all the major players in Dublin with the aid of the electricity companies and local law enforcement. Our site was one of the first hit that day. We hadn’t been given a heads up that the site was to be raided. If so, we would have taken measures to avoid any losses. Unfortunately, they sized our CTE 500-Watt transmitter and exciter and they cut the heliax feed line to our 4 bay PLS1 antenna system which beamed approximately 2000 watts of power across the city of Dublin. Al finally got through to me, it was safe to assume I did not get the job. He started to strip the link transmitter and Orban processing equipment from the transmission racks and left as quick as he could in case ComReg raided the studio site. We went out on a high, we went out doing what we loved. It was decided not to return to the air as this would result in further action from the authorities. Freedom has remained in the hearts and minds of all that had worked with us over the 8 years that we were on air. Moving forward to 2020 to be exact, lockdown. In an effort to occupy ourselves it was decided to bring Freedom back to relive the nineties and noughties. As social distancing had to be observed, we decided to become an online station with 25 presenters currently working from home studios and broadcasting to the world on freedom92fm.ie. You can catch me every Tuesday to Friday 6 to 8 reliving those 90s and Noughties! Talk to you then.  

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