In a shock move for employees and listeners alike, shortly after 6.00pm on 19 November 1991, the independent national radio station Century Radio ceased broadcasting, ending two troubled years for the station.
Impresario Oliver Barry headed a well known line-up of Century Radio shareholders including businessman James Stafford, singer Chris de Burgh and broadcaster Terry Wogan, when the station launched in 1989.
Century faced problems from the outset. When Oliver Barry sold his 28% shareholding, leaving London based Capital Radio as the major shareholder, financial investors did not take up the offer to buy more shares in the company. Century Newsreader Dairena Ní Chinnéide had the unenviable job of announcing the station’s closure on the 6.00pm news.
Century Radio has announced in the last few minutes that the station is closing down with immediate effect and the company is being put into liquidation.
Marty Whelan Century Radio’s breakfast show host, who announced the first music track aired on the station, was aware of the difficulties facing the station. However the closure came as
This comes as a complete shock to me and I only heard it on the radio much like everybody else heard it on the radio.
Paddy Clancy editor of news and sport for Century Radio says staff were told
The institutions weren’t prepared to play their part in the refinancing package which had been agreed some weeks back.
He thinks more could have been done to prevent the closure
If certain people had held their nerve we were going to be there and we going to be a very successful station.
Walt Kilroy spokesman for Century journalists understands Century's major investors Capital and James Stafford bought out Oliver Barry’s shareholding, but the Independent Radio and Television Commission (IRTC) did not want Capital Radio holding more shares than 30% of the shares. The company therefore had to dispose of their excess shares and could not find buyers for them.
Chief Executive of the IRTC Michael O’Keefe says Capital Radio had been satisfied with the Commission's stipulation that they should not own more than 30% of the shares in Century Radio.
A ‘Morning Ireland’ report by Seán O’Rourke and Mary Wilson broadcast on 20 November 1991.