The first nationwide Christian and religious radio licence has been awarded to a not-for-profit company headed by the former chairman of the Dublin Docklands Authority.

The ten-year licence was awarded by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland which received five applications to provide the new service.

Spirit Radio's submission said it would pioneer a new model of funding here, raising 70% of its funding from listeners.

It has already raised €2.5m, half of it in donations, half in long-term interest free loans.

The station is chaired by Peter Coyne who for seven years headed the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.

The station will broadcast on medium wave but will also have FM transmitters in the Republic's five largest cities when it hopes to begin broadcasting in September 2008.

The station will be based in Athlone, and the station will employ 18 full-time staff, with 24 jobs in total.