independent

Thursday 2 October 2014

Let me entertain you

Having won a People's Choice Award at the 2011 Eircom Spiders, Carlow-man Dave Alsybury tells Padraig Byrne about his big plans for rukkle.com

Published 27/03/2012 | 09:09

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IT'S BEEN A busy few months for Carlow native, Dave Alsybury. Following the official launch of his website rukkle.com, a site devoted to everything showbiz, in June 2011, he has gone on to win the People's Choice Award at the 2011 Eircom Spiders - or as Dave calls them ' the Oscars for us web nerds' in the 'Big Mouth' category.

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His website has also been nominated for the 'Online Entertainment and Music Award' at the prestigious Nokia Digital Media Awards 2012. For a website that has only been in existence for such a short period of time, this is a massive achievement.

Born and raised in Carlow, Dave attended the Presentation College in Askea before going to Dublin to study media and communications.

He then furthered his studies by moving to Manchester and commuting to the world renowned John Moores University where he studied to become a programme director for radio.

After working at iradio 102-104fm in Galway for a few years, Dave went to Australia, and it was there the idea came to him to start Rukkle.

'I've always had a huge passion for TV and radio,' Dave says. 'I suppose I noticed that there was a huge shift from these more traditional mediums towards the internet in a really short period of time. For example it's hard to think that six or seven years ago there was no such thing as You Tube. Then I decided that I wanted to take radio and TV and fuse them together into the one package available online.'

The product of Dave's thinking was rukkle.com, a website dedicated to bringing you all the latest celebrity gossip, viral videos and Twitter mishaps as well as news from the worlds of film and music.

All the news and gossip is presented to you in three forms, through daily articles posted on the website, Rukkle.fm - an online radio station which provides the listener with a collection of hits from the charts worldwide and Rukkle TV, a weekly video posted on You Tube which takes a look at the big celeb stories of the week.

The weekly You Tube videos show Dave's often comical view of celebrity gossip, entitled '5 things you didn't need to know this week'. 'I think it's important not to take it too seriously,' Dave said. 'At the end of the day the stories I'm covering aren't exactly life changing stuff. It's just light news. Even if we think we don't, we all like to know what's going on with celebrities. When you take a look at what's trending on Twitter etc, it gives you an idea what people are talking about this week and what should be covered. Again the site is only new, but I think the videos etc. are improving every week. It's a learning curve, but a fun one.'

All this work, amazingly, is done by Dave alone. 'At the moment I'm working on it mainly by myself. A couple of friends contribute articles every now and again but for the moment it's mainly just me. Obviously I'd hope as the company grows we can expand and take on more staff.'

He's definitely not short of ambition for his project and believes it is important to look at things on a global scale rather than restricting himself to a local one. 'It was important from the very beginning for me to cover stories that are of global interest rather than just local. The likes of ' The Journal' are very successful when it comes to reporting on local stories from Ireland, but that's kind of limiting yourself too. I wanted the website to be just as relevant in Australia and the U.S. for example as it is in Ireland, and basically if someone from the U.S. logs on and the first piece is about an Irish person they've never heard of, you've lost them for good and they won't log on again because they'll just write it off as being irrelevant.'

Dave definitely has big plans for Rukkle, and when talking to him it is evident that he has the enthusiasm and the drive to take it to the global level.

'I think it has a lot of potential. It provides a lot of entertainment through traditional mediums. For example with the radio station, what I do is look at the top 30 hits in the charts of all the major English-speaking countries and they'll all have common content. Then I just compile these and that's what you'll hear on Rukkle.fm, as well as little celeb snippets. What I'd love to be able to do in the future is grow to the level where we'd be able to have a live 24/7 radio station with different presenters from each country playing and discussing what's popular in their individual country.

'Similarly I'd love to be able to structure the website in a way that if you log on in Ireland it will bring up some celeb stories that will only be relevant to Ireland, and if you log in in the U.S. you'll get American stories and so on.

'I'd also love to have different presenter's worldwide uploading things to Rukkle TV and maybe a nice slick app for smart phones so people can access it on the go. For the moment I'm only getting started, but it's exciting.'

A big part of reporting on celebrities these days is Twitter and Facebook, but it is also a very important marketing tool for companies such as Dave's. People seem to access social networking sites to an unhealthy degree these days and often it can lead to people becoming obsessed with accessing the private lives of celebs.

' Twitter and Facebook have become really addictive for people,' Dave said, ' There have been studies done which say that, for a massive percentage of people, and it's the first thing people check in the morning. At the moment we're trying to get as many people as possible to ' like' us on facebook and follow us on Twitter. It's very hard to get people to ' like' your facebook page because they know that once they do, they'll be seeing everything you post in their news feed every day.

'In relation to how Twitter is used, I suppose there are different ways of looking at it. I think it's great. It gives people a voice and gives you instant reaction to events that are happening around the world. In relation to celebs, I think if they want to use Twitter and post certain things up there, then that's their choice.'

The flip side of the Twitter coin can be the likes of Charlie Sheen, somebody who was quite clearly going through a very public breakdown. The question then has to be asked where is the line between taking an interest in celebs and turning them into an international 'freak show'?

'Yeah well the whole Charlie Sheen thing was crazy. At the time he started his Twitter account he was getting something like 100,000 followers every hour! With certain celebs such as him and Chris Brown, who is another one who is always landing himself in trouble on Twitter, you really have to question the people around them. Somebody should just grab them and say ' Put down the phone!' or ' Get away from the laptop!' I suppose the other side of it though is that they are getting great promotion out of it. Everybody gets talking about them and as the saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity.'

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