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Mother of son with additional needs to make formal complaint to BAI over radio station segment

FM104 has said it is reviewing its internal processes in the wake of the incident.

Image: Shutterstock/Andrei_Diachenko

Updated Jun 16th 2021, 6:37 PM

THE MOTHER OF a child with additional needs said she is making a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) over a radio segment featuring an audio clip of her son. 

Kellie Sweeney described how she burst into tears moments after the presenters of FM104′s Strawberry Alarm Clock commented on the recording. 

Speaking to TheJournal, Kellie described how her son, Liam (4), wanted to send in a clip of himself praising his dad to the show for the programme’s Kids in the Car segment. The long-running segment sees the presenters either chatting to children during the school run or else playing a voice recording of them. 

Liam, who has dyspraxia – a condition which affects motor skills, balance, and coordination – wanted to tell the listeners how clever his dad was and how good he was at Super Mario, according to Kellie. 

However, when the clip was played on Monday, Kellie said one of the presenters commented that it sounded like the child had been out all night.

She explained: “I have been asking them to give me the podcast of the programme but what they said was something like ‘it sounds like someone has been up all night or out all night’, something along those lines. 

“At that stage, I’m feeling sick in my stomach. Is this really happening – is this being said? It takes kids confidence to do something like that. I’m conscious of him – that his self-esteem can take a knocking.”

File (2) Kellie Sweeney

After dropping Liam off for school, Kellie said she began talking to one of the other mothers and then burst into tears. 

One of the presenters rang Kellie after she contacted the station. 

“They rang me and said they didn’t mean anything by it and that he sounded tired was all.  I don’t think it came from a place of malice but they unconsciously mocked my child and humiliated me.

“As a parent of a child with dyspraxia, I just want people to know a bit more about it and not make comments without knowing. We’re not listening to them again. We put on Spin this morning.”

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FM104 released a statement about the issue earlier this week. A spokesperson said:

“FM104 would like to apologise for making light of a voice message from a young caller this morning.

“During The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s Kids in the Car feature, one of our presenters made a joke about not being able to hear a voice message we received from a young boy, who we later learned has additional needs.

“We have been in touch with the family to make a personal apology.

“As listeners will know, Kids in the Car is a well-loved feature, which has been enjoyed for over ten years, and features light-hearted fun between the presenters and the young callers.

“There was no intention to cause deliberate upset or harm, but today we made a mistake and have begun a robust review of our internal processes.”

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