Grassroots Documentary To Be Broadcast 1st January On Newstalk

Sing out with strings

Newstalk will air the hour long documentary Grassroots at 8 a.m on New Years Day. Over eight weeks radio producers Lisa Essuman and Robert Hope looked at community action projects where people are making a positive difference to society. Diverse initiatives included a drum circle in Killarney county Kerry, a community circus in Galway and the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s efforts to teach the joys of music to children across Limerick City.

The Series has been running in short form every Saturday on Shenanigans with Sile on Newstalk and the final 2 episodes will be aired on 22nd & 29th of December. For previous episodes and promos go here

Grassroots is an Athena Media Production for Newstalk 106-108fm funded through the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Sound and Vision Scheme.

Listen to Wide Open Opera – Athena Media’s radio series and documentary for RTÉ Lyric fm

Re-Imagining Opera is a five part series for RTÉ lyric fm from Nov 19-23rd on the future of opera in Ireland. Do people think it’s an art for the rich or is it an art form being starved of resources and forcing performers abroad? What do we feel and think about opera?

The production team is being led by award winning producer Helen Shaw and the recordist is Michael Gallen, himself a talented new composer. The radio production is being supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the documentary will chart the story behind Wide Open Opera and its mission to radically change the status of opera as an art form in Ireland. The new opera company is led by conductor Fergus Sheil. Athena Media previously worked with Fergus on the Opera for Carlow radio project which was shortlisted for a PPI Award in 2011.


Episode 1: When things fall apart 19/11/2012

Last year the newly formed Irish National Opera Company closed just two years after its birth was announced. Opera Ireland had been wound down to form it and by June 2011 Irish opera seemed to be in crisis. Twelve months on new roots emerged including a new opera company launched by conductor Fergus Sheil called Wide Open Opera. An Arts Council award of €600,000 supporting its first production Wagner’s Tristan & Isolde provoked debate. Should Ireland still yearn for a national company? What are the elements which will grow a unique Irish opera voice?

Episode 2: New Roots 20/11/2012

Funding opera is a challenge particularly in a deepening recession. Yet those at the heart of new opera productions are embracing the opportunities.

Episode 3: Wide Open Opera 21/11/2012
Fergus Sheil says the name of his new opera company is designed to make everyone feel opera is for them. ‘We don’t want to think outside the box – we want to break the box’ he says and charts his personal journey across opera to that decision. Does Ireland need a new company?

Episode 4: Taking on Tristan 22/11/2012

For its first production Wide Open Opera takes on Wagner’s epic classic Tristan & Isolde. It’s a life ambition for conductor Fergus Sheil but why is this opera so important? The tragic tale of the beautiful Irish princess and the Cornish war hero inspires some of the most beautiful music in Wagnerian opera but we talk to performers and musicians about why this is such a special opera and hear from someone who attended the last performance of Tristan & Isolde in Dublin some 50 years ago.

Episode 5: What next? 23/11/2012

With several major opera highlights this year including Lyric Opera’s Aida production in November following Wexford Opera Festival we explore the future of opera in Ireland. With Wide Open Opera planning new Irish opera productions and exploring how to get opera into non-traditional venues.

Wide Open Opera: Taking On Tristan is an hour long behind the scenes feature on the story of Wide Open Opera, a new opera company launched by conductor Fergus Sheil, who staged Wagners Tristan and Isolde as its first production starring the Irish soprano Miriam Murphy Isolde. The opera was performed in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin last month and a recording of the opening night was broadcast on RTE lyric fm on November 24th at 7pm. Michael Gallen, a young composer himself, shadowed the new opera company from its first rehearsals to its final curtain call. The documentary is an Athena media production for RTE lyric fm and is made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The producer is Helen Shaw and sound editing by Brendan Rehill. To listen to the full podcast of this documentary go here

Grassroots – Episode 6 aired December 15th – Galway Community Circus

In a rapidly changing society facing the pressures of recession, unemployment and hard times it’s important to celebrate the positive actions by people behind empowering projects, initiatives and ideas which inspire and lead.

Over eight weeks radio producers Lisa Essuman and Robert Hope are going out and about looking at community action projects where people are making a positive difference to society. With diverse initiatives ranging from a youth circus in Galway, to an organic community farm in Wicklow, to a community creative writers circle in Kildare, the series promises to focus on the positive actions taking place in our communities rather than the negative.


Episode 1 – 03/11/12 – Drum Dance Ireland – In Killarney, Co. Kerry we saw how rhythm and dance brings fun, joy, laughter and smiles to people with special needs. Episode podcast here

Episode 2 – 10/11/12 – Home Farm – Next Saturday we are in Co. Wicklow and we find a place where people come to learn and share home farm skills, and we meet people taking part in community gardens across the county. Episode podcast here

Episode 3 – 17/11/12 – Fáilte Isteach – In Co Meath, local woman Mary Nally is behind a new movement aimed at helping new comers to Ireland learn English and make friends. Episode Podcast here

Episode 4 – 24/11/12 – Sing Out With Strings – In Limerick City the Irish Chamber Orchestra brings the joy of music, performing and singing to school children in the cities regenerating areas. Episode podcast here

Episode 5 – 08/12/12 – Cill Dara Writers Circle – In Co. Kildare, cancer survivor Brenda Drumm has created a place where adults and young people can share story-telling and express their world in words. Episode podcast here

Episode 6 – 15/12/12 – Galway Community Circus – In Galway City for the past decade a community initiative has been using the art of the circus to bring joy and fun to young people’s lives. Episode podcast here

Episode 7 – 22/12/12 – Travellers Men’s Shed – In Dublin an initiative by Clondalkin Travellers Development Group see’s young Traveller men come together to work on bicycle mechanics. Episode promo here

Episode 8 – 29/12/12 – Jigsaw and the Galway City Youth Cafe – In Galway, a community action project see’s ‘Headstrong’ and ‘Foroige’ work side by side to support better mental health and well-being in young people. Episode promo here

Subscribe to our RSS Feed and you can hear the series via podcasts here

The series airs every Saturday on Shenanigans with Sile from November 3rd for eight weeks on Newstalk 106-108fm between 12pm – 2pm.

An Athena Media production for Newstalk supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

For more information go here

London 2012: Winning Women after the Games – Athena Media radio documentary for Newstalk

Irish women athletes made history at these Olympic Games. Not only did Katie Taylor win Gold but more women qualified and competed than ever before, and for the first time about half of the Irish team were women. Team Ireland made it the best Olympic Games since Melbourne in 1956 and many in the team credit Chef de Mission Sonia O’Sullivan, Olympic medal-winner, as the reason for the unique spirit of the group.

In the weeks running up to the Games Athena Media produced a series profiling some of the women athletes and their stories for Newstalk Breakfast, and in this one hour documentary producers Helen Shaw and Lisa Essuman talk to athletes including Annalise Murphy, Olive Loughnane, Natalya Coyle, Chloe Magee, Lisa Kearney, Aileen Morrison and Sycerika McMahon as well as team leader Sonia O’Sullivan about the behind the scenes stories of the Olympic Games, the highs and the lows, winners and losers, and the lessons from London 2012 for the future of sport in Ireland. The documentary was broadcast on Bank Holiday Monday, 29th October 2012 at 12pm on Newstalk 106-108fm.

An Athena Media production for Newstalk supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Listen to London 2012: Winning Women after the Games, Part 1 and Part 2.

Listen to a promo for London 2012: Winning Women after the Games here.

Listen to a second promo here.

Subscribe to our Podcasts on the Athena Media RSS Feed here.

For More information go here.