Christmas comes early in RTE songs glitch
'SILENT Night', 'Last Christmas' and 'Jingle Bells' are not songs normally played on the airwaves in June – but they were all blared out on RTE Radio 1 this week after two technical faults.
The songs, played as part of a stand-by music database which was activated following a technical fault, meant a number of early-morning news bulletins could not be broadcast while another show ran nearly half an hour late.
The gaffes, one of which resulted in listeners being wished a "Happy 2013", were addressed by senior radio management yesterday who are trying to discover how the festive tunes were broadcast to stunned early-morning listeners.
An RTE Radio One spokesperson yesterday confirmed two separate "technical faults" occurred in the past week - one on Sunday, and another just three days later.
"A technical fault at 02:00 last Sunday led to play out of our stand-by music database. This database is rarely used for extended periods. Unfortunately in this case the playlist was on air for more than four hours," she said.
"This led to the database playing tracks that were on specific lists, in this case Christmas."
Christmas tunes, understood to include the classic Silent Night and John Lennon's Christmas Time (War is Over), played out for over an hour from 5am until around 6.20am.
A number of news bulletins could not be played out and the Irish Independent understands the gaffe was not picked up on until an RTE presenter heard the Christmas hits as he was driving to work and then rang the station to alert staff there.
The 'Weekend On One' programme did not start until 6.20am at which point the show's presenter apologised for the technical difficulties.
"You're tuned to RTE Radio One, it's coming up to 20 minutes past six o'clock. It's Cathal Murray here. It is the Weekend on One and apologies we were unable to begin the programme at the normal broadcast time - some festive gremlins in the system, shall we say," he joked before going to a news bulletin.
Afterwards he promised listeners there would be no more Christmas music.
However the problem resurfaced.
"On Weds morning, there was a more limited fault but again the playlist kicked in. The effect was not so dramatic. In terms of Christmas music, two tracks were played between 5:05 and 5:11, one instrumental," the RTE spokesperson said before adding the playlist had now been changed.
She added: "We apologise unreservedly to listeners who enjoy our overnight service. While the audience is small at that time, we know they enjoy this service which keeps them company through the wee hours.
The yuletide hits were picked up by a number of listeners to Radio One who took to Twitter to comment on the songs. It seems the problems weren't just limited to Radio One though, with a listener of RTE's digital station also coming across a festive message.
"Program coming to an end but presenter just wished us a "Happy 2013" so I guess it was Christmas 2012 on 2XM today!," a user tweeted. RTE confirmed the issue was addressed at management meetings this week.