Francie planning a big radio return

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POPULAR radio presenter Francie Quinn is planning a huge radio comeback in Cookstown after his departure from Q106 last year, the MAIL can reveal.

The 51 year-old. who reared a generation through his nine year breakfast slot at the Burn Road based station, has already approached Ofcom about obtaining a community radio licence for the area.

Speaking to the MAIL, Francie, who was one of the Northern Media Group casualties after the company scaled back local radio services across the province, said he is currently in talks with an ex-broadcast colleague about the plans.

He said: “Ofcom are doing a new batch of community licences and Northern Ireland will be included.”

“So we are looking into the possibility of getting a community licence for this area. How feasible it is I don’t know but I am going to look into organising something and try to get the council involved.

“The Burnavon would be a great place to have a radio station. All you need is a room, a couple of computers.

“The council could promote their events, the station would have instant access to all the artists coming in for interview. It would be perfect.”

You wouldn’t need to hire reception staff because they would all be there already and the council would get to promote all the things happening here without having to pay for them. But so far I haven’t run it past anyone,” he said.

The devout DJ was made redundant late last year from the Mid-Ulster music station after a network wide shake-up of local stations within the group. He helped launch the breakfast show in 2003 when the station first came to Cookstown and became a hit with local listeners across the area.

Speaking about his time on the air waves, the breakfast DJ told the MAIL: “Apart from interviewing some of the great singers and songwriters, I just enjoyed the craic,” says the DJ.

“I remember one year April Fool’s day was on a Sunday, so we tricked Malachi Cush who did the Sunday morning show.

“We left him a note to announce that there was a pro-celebrity Sheep Shearing Competition taking place in Tesco carpark, featuring Jason Donovan, May McFetridge and Tim Wheeler from Ash.

“Malachi not only fell for it but continued to insist it was genuine even after listeners phoned to ask if it was an April Fools joke.

“Apparently other listeners had been texting in to say they had seen Jason Donovan at the 24 hour filling station, or that there were traffic delays on the Orritor Road because of a flock of sheep which convinced him it was real.

“He wasn’t best pleased when he found out the truth!” Laughed Francie.

“Some of my best interviews were with Beth Nielsen Chapman, Kimmy Rose, Horslips which is one of my all time favourite bands.”

The 51 year-old hopes that if plans for a community station in the Cookstown area get the go ahead, its success will mirror that of the original Mid 106 station when it was in its prime.

“There’s a lot of stations out there and you need to offer something different and I think that local bit is that something different.

“I think the music mix we used to play was different. People around here have quite a wide musical taste.

“I am not a huge country music fan but there is a lot of people around here that like their country music and even young people, who are out at discos, people who like rave and RnB, they’ll ask you to stick on a Gareth Brooks song they still go mad for it and I think that that’s not being catered to.

“I think that original music mix and the local contact was lost, so that’s why I think a local radio station would do well.”

He added: “Ofcom said the timing was good because the community licences will be issued within the next six months and Northern Ireland will be included.

“But also the actual commercial licence for this area comes up next year. But I would need to fond someone with a lot of money to lend me before I go for that one!”