Press Release via AS Written, May 2022
THE MAGIC OF MAGS COMES TO DOWNDA ROAD RADIO
Based in Manchester, but with strong Irish roots, Mags is no stranger to the country music scene in Ireland having long been a supporter of Irish artists on her Salford City Radio show. Already a presenter on Downda Road with her Country Collection show each Monday and Thursday night (7-9pm), Mags is excited about the opportunity to play an even bigger role in promoting and growing the station’s ethos of focusing on gender-balance, being a platform for new artists and their music, while also being a conduit for a more modern, Nashville influenced and inspired style of country music.
Looking ahead to her new role, Mags explained what it would entail and the areas where her attention would be centred…
“Well I’ve known Mike [Gleeson] and the gang there for quite a while already, so in some ways this move feels like a natural next step and extension of things. In my new role one of the big factors I’ll be concentrating on is gender-balance. One of the things that Downda Road Radio is very proud of is that we try to give everyone a fair crack at things. So, what we’ll be continuing to do going forward is giving young and new artists a platform. I don’t think they always get a fair deal when they’re coming through, and neither does Mike, Downda Road’s CEO. It’s been one of my passions from when I began radio presenting, to give up-and-coming artists airplay, I don’t think they always get that. That makes it very hard for them to get themselves established, because if they’re not getting airplay, then people aren’t going to hear them. So lesser-known artists really need that kind of platform when they’re coming through.”
“Gender balance is a big thing”, affirmed Mags, “giving female artists a voice as well. I don’t think women in country music get a fair crack at things, and that’s something that Mike and the team at Downda Road Radio are very passionate about as well. It always amazes me the talent that’s actually out there. I’ll get stuff sent through to me, and I’ll end up thinking, ‘Oh my days! How have I not heard of this person before?!’ Why aren’t they bigger already? Why aren’t they being recognised in the industry? But if they’re not being heard, if they’re not getting airplay, that’s what happens.”
Having already been involved with the station, what were the factors that led to Mags saying yes to an even more prominent role at Downda Road?
“They’ve got a great vision, that’s first and foremost. And they’re building up a great brand. Mike and the team are very ethical, I like the way they think. They’re very fair in all that they do with artists and in supporting them in any way they can. I think they’ve got a real love of music. It’s country music, but we all know that umbrella is huge, it’s not just Irish country. When people talk about country music, sometimes all they think about is either Big Tom or Garth Brooks, but it covers so much more. And Downda Road knows that. That’s why there’s something within the station’s schedule for everyone really.”
The great thing about country music is that there’s no age-range that defines when an artist’s career can begin or for how long it can continue. So for new artists these days, be they young or emerging at a different stage of their lives, what are some of the most important things Mags thinks they need to remember? As someone who is so well-known within the industry, and who is about to step into an even bigger role than before, what kind of advice would she pass on?
“Well, Norman Borland is a great example of an artist who is relatively new and emerging, but doesn’t fall into the ‘young’ category, isn’t he. And as you say, that’s what’s so great about country music. He had decided to walk away from things, but by chance he and I had a conversation that led to him getting in touch with some people, and look at him now. He’s back, he’s doing it, and what a loss he would have been. That’s the sort of thing that drives me forward, being able to support people like that in whatever way I can. And Mike and the team at Downda Road Radio have that same passion.”
“In terms of advice”, Mags continued, “artists have to have that drive to want to achieve. Everyone knows it takes a long time to become that ‘overnight success’, and it takes a lot of hard work. You need to build up relationships with the fans, and with radio stations as well, with people who can promote them. It’s a two-way street, I feel. It’s always good to get feedback from artists when you’re playing their music. And with fans, you have to be personable when you have a gig. You have to take that time to have a meet-and-greet, to have those interactions. You need to give people your time, you build up your fanbase from that. And I think the most successful artists do that.”
Once upon a time, terrestrial stations were the only outlet for artists of any genre, and apart from actual records themselves or live shows, the only source of music for fans. In recent times, of course, that musical landscape has been entirely transformed by a digital revolution. Already, within just a few years of being operational, Downda Road Radio has evolved from being simply another radio station, to being a highly visible digital brand. The station has a monthly social media reach averaging 300k, with 40% of that being accounted for in Ireland, and the UK not far behind on 35%.
Given all of those factors, how important a role does Mags believe a station like Downda Road will play in country music in the years ahead?
“We have stations that play certain genres that are within country music. But the likes of Downda Road are giving a platform to many, many different, and more modern styles of country music. That’s something that people – fans – haven’t had before. On the social media side of things, the reach we’ve been achieving so far, that’s all been done without an in-house specialist up to now, but we have someone coming in specifically to cover that area soon. That should continue to give that area every chance to grow even more. And it’s a side of things that is so important to artists as well, for how they can reach their fans and make new fans. For the world we’re in now, everything to do with having a digital presence is another vital way for fans to discover new music and new artists, and in parallel, for artists to build their fanbase. On the music side, as I was saying, we’ll be offering a wide variety of country music for our listeners, and that means we’ll be able to introduce people to music and artists that they might not have known about before. When I play stuff on my shows, I tend to like to mix it up a bit. And I’ll often get people coming back to me asking, ‘Wow, who was that?’, or ‘Where are they from?’, and that kind of variety is important.”
And just in case fans are worried that her new role as Operations Manager will result in Mags taking a step back from the mic, well that won’t be happening anytime soon…
“I certainly will be continuing to present my own show! It’s something that I love doing. It’s a passion of mine to be a voice for artists through my show on the station, both newer and more established artists as well. I have a passion for listening to music, so I like to share the music I’m enjoying with my listeners. And I certainly will be carrying on, I won’t be stopping that. Definitely not! I’m the sort of person who’ll have to be carried away from music kicking and screaming.”
~ For more information on Downda Road Radio, check out the station’s official website at www.downdaroadradio.com
You can also follow Downda Road Radio on Facebook and Instagram.