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Celtic voice given global audience; Jenny O'Brien's radio station is international and in pretty good company.

Byline: JAMES PRITCHARD

SUGGEST to Jenny O'Brien that her radio station is even the slightest bit eccentric and you get a frosty response. ``It is a serious venture and is providing a voice for Wales that is truly global,'' she tells me about Wales Radio International, the station she runs from her home in Crymych in Pembrokeshire.

``The technology we use to broadcast is becoming accessible to more and more people and opening up a bigger audience all the time.

``There is every chance that in the future radio will look much more like this than the current model.

``Don't go doing what one journalist did and make it sound like a joke,'' she said.

``It is anything but, it is a serious attempt to use a new medium to raise the profile of Wales around the world.''

The medium Ms O'Brien, a woman with a life spent in journalism and the media, is such a forceful advocate of the re-broadcasting network, which has been set up by the World Radio Network.

The network gets to listeners through a number of different routes by piggy-backing on satellite and cable networks, through the internet and in some parts of the world by short-wave radio transmission.

It means that as more of us are reached by one element or another of the communications revolution, there is an ever-expanding audience for a service that could, if it cap-tures the public's imagination, completely change the way we listen to radio.

Its ethos may be more akin to the public access broadcasting seen in the United States, where all and sundry can have a crack at running their own television station but increasingly national players are looking at the concept and for Ms O'Brien, it is one they will be impressed by.

``It really could open up broadcasting in a way that would scarcely have been thought possible 10 years ago,'' she said.

``The idea with Wales Radio International is to be in at the start and hopefully to make sure Wales is making the most of the opportunity.''

So every week now on Sunday the programme produced by Ms O'Brien, Celtic Notes, goes out to most of the world.

It is recorded onto a computer mini-disk during the week and then sent to the World Radio Network, which arranges for its transmission.

``The programme has a very wide remit.

I include anything Welsh, which I think people will be interested in. The music is a wide spread of things with a Welsh flavour and the feedback I have received, from all over the world, is more often than not positive.'' Ms O'Brien concedes that necessity means the programme is produced on a tight budget but says she hopes it will be the start of bigger things to come.

``I have worked with people like the National Assembly and the Wales Tourist Board and carried some appropriate advertising but a sponsor would make things so much easier,'' she told me.

``So if there is a company out there who would like to get in touch and feels they can help then I would be happy to talk to them. ``This is all about making radio more dynamic and accessible, expanding the choice that is available and expanding the potential audience as well.

``As I understand it the only other people in the UK doing anything like what I am doing are the World Service and the London Radio Service. It is pretty good company to be in.''

Increased coverage

WORLD Radio Network was formed in 1992 to provide communications, technical and production services to broadcasters worldwide.

It operates distribution services on the Astra and Eutelsat satellites for Vatican Radio, Radio Telefis Eireann and Radio Canada International.

WRN also runs a 24-hour news and in-formation operation containing segments of programming from a wide spread of the world's public and private broadcasters.

Listeners can hear the news live, in English and direct from its source. WRN operates a near-global satellite network, broadcasting to Europe, North America, Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific and now the internet.

In Europe the service is called Network One and it first went on air on the Astra satellite on October 1, 1993.

Since then, coverage has increased with relays on cable in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Belgium. Local AM and FM stations re-broadcast selected programmes in many countries.

CAPTION(S):

OUT IN THE FIELD: Jennie O'Brien interviews Alison Clark about her buffalo at her farm near Llanboidy
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 26, 2002
Words:751
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