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Radio is as essential as ever - Irish Coffee show hosts Brendan Mallon and Mike Palardy

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Patrick Clifford

The most pleasant surprise awaited me as I was rambling through town and running my Saturday errands not long ago.  When I clicked on the ignition Irish music filled the car.

This is not surprising for an Irish rock reviewer, but the delight came from knowing that it was being played on the college radio station where I met my wife and got my start in this sordid music business!

WMCX, Monmouth University’s radio station, is now known as X889 (www.wmcx.com if you’re streaming live). The Irish Coffee show is on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon and is hosted by Brendan Mallon and Mike Palardy, two lads who were able to do what I could not when I was music director there in the late 1980s -- stage an Irish radio program on my college campus.

After spending a few minutes with the young Mallon, a burgeoning trad fiddle player hell bent on following the family tradition of law enforcement when he graduates, you can see the steely determination that made it possible.

“My family has been listening to Ceol na nGael on WFUV every Sunday without fail for years,” Mallon explains. “I was looking for an Irish scene down here once I transferred to Monmouth and there wasn’t one, so I thought I would start my own. The reaction to the show has been great!”

Indeed, WFUV’s Ceol na nGael, Fordham University’s Irish radio program, has been an institution in New York ever since its inception in 1974. The current hosts, Tara Cuzzi and Megan Scully, exude enthusiasm about continuing the show's tradition of celebrating Irish music and culture.

I visited them during my press tour for my new book, 50 Shades o’ Green, and their passion for Irish music is on full display. Like Mallon, these lasses were born and raised on Ceol na nGael and consider hosting the show to be the true honor that it is.

You can tune in while in New York to 90.7 FM every Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. to hear all kinds of Irish music, often accompanied by dedications, and to stay connected through the community bulletin boards. Two of the program's highlights are the weekly news from Ireland, reported by Declan O'Byrne in Dublin at 2 p.m., and the sports from Ireland, with Brendan Tier, immediately following. Like most of the shows mentioned in this piece, you can listen online as well by logging onto www.wfuv.org.

As my book publicity tour kicks into high gear, I am encountering the most diverse and interesting personalities behind the microphone, including Louise Dunphy, host of Celtic Crossings on WMUA, the station within University of Massachusetts.

Louise Dunphy’s Celtic Crossings.

“Hosting Celtic Crossings is certainly an extension of me and who I am fundamentally,” reasons Dunphy. “I was asked to do it for just three months. I fell in love with it and still doing it almost eight years later. It just made sense that an Irish Catholic girl from Boston raised on the blarney would feel such a natural fit!”

Celtic Crossings connects Dunphy to the bustling Celtic community in the Berkshire Mountains. 

“Live music is now central to my life and has really added a dimension of culture and beauty that has raised up my life spiritually and emotionally,” Dunphy enthuses.

“And I get that back tenfold. A week does not pass that someone does not mention to me that my community needs Celtic Crossings. I am always thanked deeply by people who I meet when I am out in the community.”

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