Open Mic: Spotlight on 007, The Irish Connection

The 2018 New York Festivals Radio Awards celebrated the World’s Best Radio Programs on June 19th in New York City. Prominent award-winning, producers, directors, presenters and content creators from around the globe took to the stage to accept their trophies and celebrate their success. NYF’s Radio Awards shines the spotlight on exceptional radio content in all lengths and formats and across all platforms from radio stations, networks and independent producers.

Thomas Black, narrator/producer of RTÉ Radio 1’s documentary “007, The Irish Connection”

Thomas Black, narrator/producer of RTÉ Radio 1’s documentary “007, The Irish Connection” earned the Gold Trophy for Biography/Profiles in the 2018 NYF Radio Awards competition. Remarkably, “007, The Irish Connection” is Thomas’ first radio documentary. Bravo!!!

With a 30-year career in the music industry, Thomas has worked as A&R Director at Sony Records where he signed and developed platinum selling Artists The 4 of Us and Cry Before Dawn. He also served as A&R Director at EMI Records where he signed and worked with many Irish Artists including Relish, Aslan, John Spillane, and Cathy Davey.

Thomas compiled the soundtrack to the award-winning Irish movie “Intermission” and also had the pleasure of convincing Colin Farrell to sing a cover version of The Clash classic ‘I Fought the Law’ for the movie credits. As a judge on RTE TV’s ‘You’re a Star,’  he discovered and help develop Kodaline who was then known as 21 Demands. Currently he operates Ireland’s only independent A&R consultancy service for unsigned Artists.

NYF: What sparked the idea for “007, The Irish Connection”?

Thomas Black: I’ve worked all my life in the music industry as an A&R man signing and developing Bands,singers and song-writers. Whilst researching an album project on Eric Clapton I came across some old movie footage of him appearing at a Charity circus event in Straffan House Ireland in the mid 70’s. He was dressed as a clown, as were several other well-known stars of the time including Sean Connery (007), actress Shirley MacLaine, John Huston, and many others. On further investigation I discovered that the event was organized by the owner of the grand estate, Kevin McClory. Kevin was an Irish man who had made his fortune as the producer of the highest grossing Bond movie of all time, ‘THUNDERBALL’  He had won the screen rights to the movie in 1963 in a well documented High court case against Bond Author Ian Fleming. I decided to find out more about Kevin McClory and discovered a fascinating story of double dealing, wasted fortunes and ruined friendships and a man who was both charming and wildly ambitious.

NYF: To what do you attribute the success of this program?

Thomas Black: I have to say I was more than amazed when the radio Documentary was broadcast and that so many people enjoyed it and were as fascinated by the story as I was. The programme success was down to the popularity of James Bond to this incredible story of an ordinary man and his struggle with the world of Hollywood and big movie studios and also to the candid nature of the various people I interviewed and their memories of Kevin McClory.

NYF: What was your ultimate goal for the program?

My ultimate goal was to let others hear the story and to now see if I could get a Film/Doc made of this amazing story and I can tell you that thanks to the win at NYF. I have been approached by several film producers to discuss just that. So fingers crossed that I can make that happen too.

NYF: Do you have any advice for people just starting out in radio? What’s the best advice some shared with you?

Thomas Black: My only advice is to find a subject matter that you are truly passionate about as this will see you through those tough moments when you feel you are getting nowhere and also work with great co-producer.

For more information on New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards, please visit: and to view the 2018 winners visit: HERE.

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