Dreamtime radio – a jewel in the crown at SOSkilkenny

Gemma Haire on Air

Ireland of 1968 was a much different place than the Ireland of today. It was a year when Taoiseach Jack Lynch and Terence O’Neill met for talks in Dublin: When Minister for Education Donogh O’Malley died while campaigning in County Clare and when a seat to commemorate the poet Patrick Kavanagh was unveiled beside the Grand Canal in Dublin.
On the Arts scene we saw the first English-language production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Come and Go’, while Tom Murphy’s plays Famine and The Orphans were first produced in Dublin.
Wexford beat Tipperary in the All-Ireland hurling final; George Best and Tony Dunne became the first Irish footballers to collect European Cup winner’s medals, and Down beat Kerry in the Football final.
In Kilkenny, one news story that made news was that SOS was launched.
Leading the project was Bishop Peter Birch. He called a meeting in Sion House with a few interested people who formed a committee with the vision of providing care, employment, and accommodation for people with a learning disability. That vision has taken root and SOS has more than fulfilled its dream.
The Kilkenny Observer spoke to three of the original committee members -Michael Hogan, Vivian Good and Paddy McAlinney.
All three agree that it was the forward thinking of Peter Birch that kick started the idea.
Paddy McAlinney spoke of the former Bishops drive in every project that he undertook.

Fast forward fifty years, and today, SOS has grown beyond peoples wildest dreams.
SOS Kilkenny CLG has been operating in Kilkenny City and County for over fifty years. They support adults with intellectual disabilities and autism to develop their talents and interests.
They help to build and maintain meaningful relationships, to enjoy opportunities for further education and employment and to feel a valuable part of their local community.
SOS Kilkenny strives to tailor their supports to meet each person’s needs. Based on the Cllan road, SOS now boasts over twenty community houses in various neighbourhoods around Kilkenny and a variety of locations where people spend their days in Kilkenny City and its environs, in addition to autism specific services in Cahir.

One section of SOS, which, for many is the jewel in the crown, is Dreamtime Radio.
The radio started in 2009 when a few people attending SOS Kilkenny services said they want to do radio, and when funding became available, SOS approached the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland about a license to broadcast.
It all went well and Dreamtime Radio was born.
The Kilkenny Observer met up with Pat Ryan who heads up the team. We asked Pat how it all began
“We began with 6 or 7 presenters and over the years it became more and more popular. It now has 30 presenters who have developed many skills and experiences in radio broadcasting and are very proud of the radio”.
Dreamtime Radio is a licensed campus based radio station that reflects the lives and interests of its listeners; the people it supports at the campus, family and the community. The station aims to develop the skills of the people involved, offering experience of running a radio station while also providing a local news and entertainment service to people on campus.
Pat explained that programming comprises a mix of music request shows, chat shows, news and event guides that inspires people to tell their story, changes peoples beliefs and  understanding, communicates life experiences that everyone can connect  with and offers an opportunity for people to feel listened to, giving a voice, on  a larger scale, to people.
This, according to Pat allows for self-empowerment, independence  and a means for self-advocacy.
When asked about the various off shoots at the centre, Pat pointed out that, “We develop podcasting, live radio, community vox-pop, photography, film making and social media content as a means to make stronger community connections. Guided by the belief that empowerment of the people who attend is the most effective means of ensuring a person cantered service, it also challenges preconceived ideas that ordinary citizens may have about people with disabilities.”
Some of the supports that Dreamtime provide are playlist development, ensuring a fresh  developing show, understanding genre and song mixing and show structure,  research for speech content, IT skills, linking and speech development,  presentation skills, fun and authenticity, understanding and education in  relation to using technology.
For example mixer desk/audio recorders,  planning and preparation, recording and editing, working to deadlines,  interviewing and other community based content and skills development,  current affairs, news and sport and promoting local and national artists.
Mr Ryan was particularly pleased to tell the Observer that currently they have a presenter who has stepped up to Community Radio Kilkenny City.
“He plays a fantastic dance show on Friday evenings at 8.30pm, which is a great achievement for him and rewards the hard work and  determination he has demonstrated”, boasted Pat.
Another broadcaster is Kilkenny man Brian Manning.
When asked by The Obsever what his work at Dream time meant to him, Brian replied: “It gives me experience of being a Radio Presenter and it lets me do what I love, it’s my dream job. There is a great buzz in the radio and I learn a lot from being there and involved in everything it offers.
I’ve done many interviews and have met lots of interesting people.” Brian went on to explain that they have also created a few films which have won national awards and that he is also involved in  producing the SOS magazine called Rewind. “I feel important in the radio and I look forward to coming in here every morning”, Brian said.

Giving us a guided tour of the premises , with Covid rules adhered to, Pat Ryan pointed out that the team also aim to stimulate creativity with their photography programme called  Focus, Dreamtime Studios film making, in which they have won the ‘National  Able Vision Ireland Festival’ on two occasions. The bi-yearly magazine  called Rewind is a means for people to express creativity  and ability while also enabling the SOS a means to communicate across the  service and to family and friends all the great stories and achievements over  the previous 6 months.
Dreamtime Radio broadcasts on 92.6fm on a limited range and also internet radio.
if you would like to experience Dreamtime Radio for yourself just go to  www.soskilkenny.com scroll down and hit that play button, weekdays 10am to  4pm or drop a line to dreamtime@soskilkenny.com, also check out their  youtube channel at www.youtube.com/dreamtimestudio.

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