SYRACUSE — There’s good news for fans of Celtic rock: the producers of The Irish Power Hour say they’ve renewed their contract to keep the Sunday night show running on 105.9 The Big Talker (WXTL) for at least another year. Co-host Cabrina Gilbert tells CNYRadio.com she’s “excited and yet a ‘lil scared” about the renewal.
According to the show’s website, the IPH is Syracuse’s only Celtic rock show. The first show aired March 15, 2009, back when WXTL was known as Lite Rock 105.9 (WLTI). Sean Johnston originally hosted alone, but wondered if anyone was listening. He asked Gilbert — a co-worker from his day job — to sit in for a show, and their on-air chemistry was so well-received, Gilbert stayed on as a co-host ever since.
Gilbert tells CNYRadio.com her favorite part of the show is talking to fans who call in during the show. “We sit in this little box and figure no one is listening. Then we ask for folks to call in to win something. The lights go nuts on the phone.” Gilbert said one of her most-memorable calls came from a man who said, “if he and his wife are out to dinner, he’ll make her pack up her food so they can get home in time to listen to the show.”
Thanks to internet streaming, anyone around the world can listen to the Irish Power Hour on WXTL’s website. Gilbert says the IPH website has tracked hits “from Russia, Canada, France, England, and we even have faithful fans in Dublin that just happened upon our show. They couldn’t believe people in America were even listening to Celtic rock.”
With all those accolades, why would Gilbert say she’s “scared” about renewing the show for another year? Unlike most other local radio personalities, Gilbert and Johnston aren’t employees of the radio station, and as such, they don’t collect a paycheck from Citadel Broadcasting. “We buy the hour slot from Citadel. We try to get sponsors and advertisers to offset the cost,” Gilbert explains. She adds:
We basically got last year paid for with a lot of hard work and hustle. It would be great if we could get one or two large sponsors so we can concentrate on the show and not have to worry about paying for it. But we also learned a ton of stuff over the last contracted year. We are excited to apply that knowledge and try and get the show a wider listener ship this year.
Just like most stations’ in-house sales staffs, the IPH crew also looks to NTR — non-traditional revenue — to help pay the bills. The show organizes live concerts and remote broadcasts, like one held earlier this year. Gilbert also says the IPH Pint Patrol Card has been a success. For $10 ($2 of which goes to St. Baldrick’s), the card entitles listeners to discounts at a number of local pubs and other businesses.
Any big plans for the year ahead? Gilbert says she and Johnston “would like to bring in more bands like the Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly, either would be a huge ‘get’ for us. We did bring in the Glengarry Bhoys last year, which was huge for us. They will be coming back in March so we can kick off the St Patrick’s season here in Syracuse.”
When asked how it feels to run a Celtic rock show on a talk station:
It’s kind of funny because when it was soft rock, our show kind of punched this big hole in the middle of the programing with this kick ass Celtic rock. It was a total case of, “…one of these things is not like the other…”
Now we are the only music show on an all talk radio station. So we still have the benefit of really shaking things up on that channel.