first_imgA FORMER DJ on Highland Radio has denied claims he quit the station because he was involved in a rival bid for the license for north Donegal.Carndonagh man Stephen Lynch is taking a constructive dismissal case against the radio station over the circumstances of losing his job in May 2013.Mr Lynch was giving evidence yesterday at the hearing at the Silver Tassie Hotel in Letterkenny at an Employment Appeals Tribunal. He told how he was left devastated when his role as an advertising sales rep – which was used to supplement his income – was put under pressure in the weeks before his father died in October 2012.The father of three told the tribunal panel that he had been involved in radio since the age of 12, working on pirate stations before landing a role on Highland in 2004.He had reached an agreement with then manager Charlie Collins to sell advertising in Inishowen in the mornings, for which he was paid commission, before taking up his afternoon show.However he said the atmosphere at Highland changed significantly when it was bought by the Galway-based Rabbitte family in 2008. A 10 per cent pay cut followed as the recession kicked in.Pressure grew on sales staff to deliver more revenue, but in the middle of 2012 his father had a relapse in his battle with cancer.Mr Lynch said Mr Collins was very understanding of the situation. The Carndonagh man said that as his father got worse, he would spend the mornings helping his mother and his father before driving to the station in Letterkenny to do his show.He would return to Carn to help them in the afternoons.He accepted his advertising sales in 2012 – at €70,000 – was down from €79,000 the previous year. However he said ad sales manager John Clancy – son-in-law of owner Gerry Rabbitte – didn’t understand the market.He said Inishowen was being hit hard by the downturn with the building trade gone and this was having a serious affect on the rest of the economy.At one meeting he was asked to chase advertisers from 2009 but Mr Lynch said at least eight of them had closed.“He (Mr Clancy) was chipping and chipping away at me and I finally broke,” said Mr Lynch. When his father died on October 11, 2012, he alleged one of the station production staff Linda McGroarty had asked him to drive his pool car to Buncrana so it could be used by Oisin Kelly. Mr Lynch’s wife Helena had been delivered the car instead.He said he was given a week’s annual leave but a week after returning Mr Collins had met him to tell him the station was planning to take his pool car off him – which he used Monday to Friday for sales work and travelling to the station. This was implemented in January 2015 when Mr Clancy reduced his advertising client list from 60 to 70 to just 15.This, he claimed, severely curtailed his ability to earn commission to supplement his €390 DJ wages.He quit the station in April, formally resigning on May 3.He said he had asked for a pay rise for his DJ work but was offered just €50 extra which wasn’t enough.“The wages they left me with wasn’t enough after they stripped away my sales,” said Mr Lynch.“I could not make ends meet. I was driving a 1997 car; the amount of money on fuel was high. I couldn’t make ends meet. I loved the show – it was going well and was successful but I had no choice but to go and they knew it.“John Clancy had an issue with me and I knew that,” he alleged in his evidence.“It was a choice between Highland and a roof over my head and I chose the roof over my head for my family. There was no way I could pay all my bills and drive 85 miles a day on that wage.“I had many sleepless nights over Highland and worring about what was going to happen. My wife Helena is very supportive and a great listener which was just as well as I did a lot of complaining at the time.“I would never had taken on a mortgage if I had known this was going to happen. I felt I was well liked at Highland. I got on with them all – they are a good bunch. I neer thought I would be sitting here today chatting about Highland Radio in a negative light.”He said he spent the next months applying for jobs but with no success. He had considered moving to England and applied – but was rejected – for positions with British Airways and Virgin Media.He did eventually get part-time work at the surgery in Carndonagh – where he had left a full time job to join Highland.Solicitor for Highland Radio Alistair Purdy put it to Mr Lynch that the timing of his resignation was no coincidence.Mr Lynch, he said, had left formally on May 3 and Mr Collins left a month later and both men had appeared in a radio licence application at the end of September.But Mr Lynch’s solicitor Ciaran Mac Lochlainn interjected: “This serves a purpose to label this as a conspiracy theory. It’s not.”For his part Mr Lynch said: “I was out of work and if there was a chance of work I would have been there (at the proposed new station).”He said he was unaware of Mr Collins’ role in the license bid application until June.Earlier Mr Collins said Mr Lynch was the second most popular presenter on Highland, filling all his advertising slots.“And there was never any bother getting sponsorship for it,” said Mr Collins.He said the loss of advertising revenue left Mr Lynch on just €390 a week. The station had offered an extra €50 – some way short of Mr Lynch’s average earnings, including ad commission, of €611 per week.EX-HIGHLAND DJ DENIES CONSPIRACY THEORY OVER QUITTING STATION was last modified: July 7th, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Employment Appeals TribunalHighland RadioSteven Lynchlast_img

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