A religious ministry and an arts group are to compete for control of the airwaves in Galway city, it emerged tonight.
The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) received two applications for the ‘community of interest’ licence in the city.
The Foundation in Christ Ministries, which works with groups who want to ‘seek an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ’, is planning to set up a faith-based station called Flame FM.
But it faces competition from six Galway arts groups, including Macnas and the Druid Theatre, who are proposing to run an arts station called Culture FM.
Reverend Kelly Curry, the American-born founder of the Foundation in Christ Ministries, said his station would be targeted at young people.
“We’ve been planning this for at least five years and making financial arrangements to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.
The group has raised more than €350,000 to pay for staff salaries and equipment.
Mr Curry said it would not be accurate to compare the station with evangelical radio stations in the USA.
“It is going to be ecumenical. We don’t promote any church over another church.”
He said the 24-hour non-profit station would play all categories of music, as long as it did not promote ‘destructive behaviour’.
The backers of Culture FM intend to broadcast for shorter hours – from 7pm to 10pm – and on a more limited budget of around €30,000 annually.
Co-ordinator Richard Lynch, who is also the editor of the Galway Independent, said there was a strong demand for an arts station in the city.
“Arts and culture often ends up on the lowest rung in terms of municipal funding so this will be gie space to different groups,” he said.
Mr Lynch said the station would broadcast radio dramas, arts shows and programming from different ethnic groups.
There are also plans to give airtime to the Access Music Project, which works with unemployed people in the city.
There are already 17 community of interest stations in the country, including university stations such as Flirt FM in Galway and Wired in Limerick and Radio na Life in Dublin.
The BCI has the option of granting the licence immediately or holding oral hearings.s