Abbey Vocational School Retirement Function
Back: Seoirse ODochartaigh, Joe Boyle, Eamon OConnor. Front: Kathleen Morrow, Bridie Carribin, J.J. Harvey, Kathleen ODonnell. Photo: Conor Sinclair
Jerome Hughes to leave NWR
Newscaster to join Highland Radio
After seven years covering the Donegal news-desk of North West Radio, Jerome Hughes is leaving to take up a similar position with Highland Radio. We sent our reporter Margaret Gallagher over to the Mill Court to find out why. Like all good journalists she started off - where else - but at the beginning.
Jerome was born in Birmingham. At the age of four his family decided to move to Laghey where he attended the local national school and later the A.V.S. Donegal Town. Jerome has three sisters and three brothers, all of whom live in the Laghey area, except for one brother still in Birmingham. He admits to always having had an interest in radio broadcasting. The career guidance teacher in the A.V.S. handed out leaflets on a media course in Derry which I found interesting so I took two, gave one to my friend Aidan Haughey, and we both decided to go for it.
Niall Delaney asked him to cover the launch of Erne Enterprise Development Company in Ballyshannon. This was 1994 while I was still at college. It was my first report. Dave Fanning from 2 FM told me one time, the more you do, the more you will be asked to do, which was true, as this led to the Station Manager Tommy Marren asking me to host the programme Voices of Donegal which were five minute interviews with well known local people from around town such as Liam Hyland, Paddy Meehan and many more. I then went on to cover sport and also to report on the Donegal County Council meetings.
After his two year course was finished, he intended to go to Colraine to take his degree in Media but decided against this when N.W.R. offered him a full-time position in their Sligo Studio. I decided to go for it and shortly after this Annette ODonnell went to R.T.E., I took over her slot on the evening news and some of her other programmes. At 18 years of age, with no professional training, it was tough going but after three months of this hectic work load I was given the option of coming back to the Donegal Studio. In 1996 Jerome became full- time and since then he has been second-in-command in the news room to Niall Delaney.
Asked why he was leaving N.W.R., Jerome said he wanted a new challenge and feels Highland Radio will provide him with this. When I was starting out Annette ODonnell told me I would never get bored with this job and that is so true, even when I do the same job over and over. I just need a shake up.
North West Radio management tried hard to retain Jerome. As well as the offer of a substantial pay increase - Another of the incentives offered me when I said I was leaving was that the station is expanding and moving to a new premises, opposite Magees Factory before Christmas and also are employing two journalists, so I would have help, reducing the work load. I still feel its not enough - I need the change. In the journalistic world there is always the danger of burn-out. A priest told me once to put Jerome Hughes first and N.W.R. second. In saying that I gave the radio station 100% commitment, but my health comes first..
Highland Radio was looking for someone with experience to replace Kevin Sharkey. Charlie Collins contacted me to offer me the full-time position, part of a trio in the newsroom. I accepted and look forward to this new challenge. I have visited the station on numerous occasions and they have a good set-up over there.
Asked who was going to replace him, Jerome replied N.W.R. are seeking applications for the vacancy, they are going to recruit two journalists for my job, which will improve the news. It is too much for one person - in saying that I got great help from my colleagues in Sligo. I dont know if Greg will play a role in this as he is busy with sport, his new programme on a Monday night, and as administrator in the Donegal Office under the guidance of Mary Daly. I dont know at this stage who my successor will be. I finish on Friday 30th and commence my new job on Monday 3rd December.
Looking back on his time with North West Radio, Jerome recalled his most exciting radio moment. The election of 1997 at the count in John Bosco Centre - I got a huge reaction from many different people on that one. N.W.R. were covering the count-centre live and I announced on the radio that I had interviewed Independent Clr. Dessie Mulhern from Bundoran and that he had basically laid down a challenge, questioning voting procedures, to Clr. Sean Mc Eniff. I rang McEniff and told him. I have already heard that and I am on my way NOW Mc Eniff replied.
Jerome was animated at the memory. So the stage was set - I was promoting this on radio and some would say I was antagonising the situation, but basically I was signalling the fact that the big show-down was coming - McEniff was on his way and Clr. Mulhern was waiting, all guns blazing. Clr. McEniff arrived and soon things began to get heated and flustered, loud voices and then shouting. They were both beside each other with me close by, when I noticed the pushing and nudging of elbows. All this was happening in a packed count centre. It was building up slowly and then all hell broke loose- so bad that the Gardai had to be called to separate them. Now, it was one oclock in the morning and Greg was in studio at the mixing-desk. He tried to interrupt and I said no way - stay with it even though it was risky as a lot of libellous comments were being thrown about. But it was worth it. The phones didnt stop for two hours, it was the last count centre to come in and all around the county people had tuned in to the coverage, patiently waiting the outcome, but not expecting to hear this.
Jerome went on to say how he would miss his colleagues, especially brother Greg. I will miss working on my own. While it is difficult to work to deadlines, there is the positive side to being your own master and not having to debate with others how the story should be covered. My new position is as part of a team of three and I will be working closely with Sean Doherty on his show.
Jerome had high praise for the station he is leaving, N.W.R. has done a lot for South Donegal in the last seven years. The station has been developed with the latest technical equipment and was the first local station to introduce portable mini-disc at a time when a lot of the other radio stations are still recording on tapes. We are using here a radio-mation computer system, the same as Sky News and CNN, we are taking news on ISDN lines direct from Dail Eireann - I would go as far to say that North West Radio has the most up-to-date equipment available. The station is also bringing new programmes such as Gregs on stream and have already a dedicated sports programme on Sundays. I have become disillusioned with the strength of the signal but geographically Donegal is a difficult area to cover, Highland Radio has tried to improve their signal in this area but with no success because of the mountains. So I just think there is nothing else North-West can do for Donegal, apart from getting the signal right.
Jerome closed by thanking the Donegal Times editor for all the publicity which he felt had presented him positively and said its a great NEWSPAPER.
All here at the Times wish Jerome well in his new post.
The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland
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