Behind the mic - DJ Gareth O'Malley

Alley Cat Gareth finds his voice

A CHANCE work experience opportunity has given a young Castlebar man the chance to explore and develop his skills as a disc jockey.

When Gareth O'Malley was given a work experience opportunity to learn the ropes in the local radio station in Castlebar, he didn't envisage being there six months later.

His music show - The Alley Cat Radio Show, which runs for two hours on a Thursday night from 10 p.m. until midnight - was only supposed to last until last Christmas but six months on he is still on the turntables (vinyl is back, by the way), and he's loving it.

Gareth sees his future involved in music in one form or another and was delighted to get the opportunity to hone his skills and build his confidence behind the mic at CRC.

"Basically, this was never really supposed to happen," he explained. "I went to CRC for a couple of weeks for work experience as I was doing a National Learning course at the time.

"In college I was interested in doing some radio broadcasting and felt any experience would help. Nothing was supposed to come out of it but I got talking to them in CRC about a music focussed show and it just took off from there.

"It was only supposed to last a few months up to last Christmas but here I am still doing a show six months down the road and as long as they are happy, I am happy.

"I will definitely stick with the radio side of things as I would like to take it further, so this is a great platform to build on."

Gareth also likes to write about music and sees that going hand in hand with the job of being a radio DJ. "I have a sideline in music journalism but opportunities in a business that is under pressure are few and far between. I have a wide enough audience and I do have many friends who are regular listeners.

"CRC caters for a wide spectrum of musical tastes and I just thought I would bring maybe something different to the scene as I do appreciate a lot of different musical tastes," he said.

So what is Gareth's genre when it comes to music and do many others share his musical taste? "I really do like a bit of everything but I do have a leaning towards rock music primarily, but I basically have an open mind about all music and nothing is really off limits," he said.

He doesn't have a particularly strong background in music although he does point out that both his parents love their music, so maybe some of the DNA was passed on.

I'm sure his parents will love this gem from him: "I probably inherited the love of music from both my parents but I have to say I didn't inherit their taste in music."

Mind you, I know his parents Dave and Loretta are huge Bruce Springsteen fans, and that is something their son would approve of, but Gareth himself has more of a leaning towards the rock side of things. Everybody has their own particular genre or singers that they have a preference for and it is the job of the DJ to reflect those tastes in the music they play for listeners, and Gareth puts a lot of work into preparing his show.

"It can be challenging enough as I have to do a certain amount of research about the various songs that I play, and, of course, they have to be sourced either in the CRC library or I might bring in some from my own collection," he said.

Gareth, who sat his Leaving Certificate in St. Gerald's College, Castlebar, and also did a stint at third-level in DCU, and enjoyed a short spell with well known Dublin station FM 104, would like to build his future around music.

"The college thing didn't work out as I had a few problems of my own to deal with and after that I began to look more towards music, especially writing critiques, mostly online but also for a few publications.

"As with the newspapers and the media industry in general, a lot of the information is now sourced online and that is the way it has gone and looks set to continue - and that includes the music industry."

For Gareth the future will hopefully be about music, either in the written form or as a DJ. "For the moment I'm delighted to be involved with CRC, which is a great community station with many fine presenters and they are wonderful people to work with.

"CRC provided me with the opportunity to experiment and learn, and that is something I really appreciate," he said.

So for Gareth, it is very much a case of - as Neil Young, one of my own favourites, put it - keep on rockin' in the free world.