Tough Choice for John Loftus this week – The radio presenter talks about judging the Choice Music Prize and his 500th episode of Sounds From a Green World

John Loftus

WITH the Choice Music Prize for album of the year event happening next Thursday 7, Limerick Post had a chat with Limerick radio presenter John Loftus who is one of 11 judges who will choose 2023’s winner, who will receive a €10,000 prize fund, from a shortlist of ten excellent and diverse albums. 

Limerick’s Rusangano Family and Denise Chiala have won the award in previous years.

The Limerickman has presented the Irish focused radio show on called Sounds From a Green World for the last 10 years, he is in fact presenting his 500th show this Saturday morning.

John was approached last Autumn to be a judge for The Choice Music Prize and submitted his top ten for the year. 

“2023 was a really, really strong year and I would say there could have been probably 40 albums that could be swapped in and out for the finished shortlist.”

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The top tens from the 11 judges are what produce the final shortlist. The judges meet next Thursday to argue why their favourite should be the winner. 

“All of my fellow judges are all well seasoned and in terms of their musical tastes and opinions. So yeah, I’m sure they’ll be arguing the toss. 

“We are going to gather close to Vicar Street. We are going to have to put our pitches forward.  I have heard rumours that certain judges, I won’t name who they were, actually came loaded with a PowerPoint presentation. I don’t think I’ll be doing that.” laughs!

The choosing of album of the year is not defined by how many records sold, how many hits are on it, the cultural impact of the artist or how good a live band they are. There are categories in the Choice Prize event for all that too such as Irish Artist of the Year 2023, Irish Breakthrough Artist 2023 and Irish Song of the Year 2023. 

“The album is the album, as it stands alone in terms of quality, the sound, the lyrics, you know, and the emotions that it engenders.”

This year’s list is Grian Chatten; CMAT; John Francis Flynn; Kojaque; Lankum; Rachael Lavelle; The Murder Capital; The Scratch; Soda Blonde & Ezra Williams.

This list features many acts that were shortlisted for this prize in previous years. 

“If you look at the acts that have been shortlisted before and released albums before, the likes of CMAT, Lankum, Soda Blonde and The Murder Capital, you can see the way their craft has developed, their sound and ambition. Look at Grian Chatten (of Fontaines DC) this is his fourth album in four years.”

For this reporter’s money, I cannot see beyond Lankum winning this year’s prize – ‘False Lankum’ has already been top of many album of the year lists across Ireland and the UK (The Irish Times and The Guardian) – surely that will be the clear winner John and worth a punt?

“Ah shure, what would they know! laughs!

“We’ll always have our own opinion. We won’t be stirred by that.”

“Lankum did win the prize previously (2019) – they were broken down on the side of a highway in the middle of America when they got the call from the stage.”

This year Lankum will be among seven nominees performing live at The Choice Music Prize event at Vicar Street on Thursday March 7 also broadcast on RTE 2fm.

Before all that John Loftus will present the 500th edition of his acclaimed radio show Sounds from a Green World this Saturday on 8Radio

Born in Manchester and raised in Limerick, John and his school friends at St. Nessan’s grew up on a musical diet of Talking Heads, Stone Roses and The Cure and going to gigs in the old Savoy Theatre in the city, seeing Tuesday Blue, The Cranberry Saw Us (the version of The Cranberries before Dolores joined) and heading to The Two Mile Inn to see Something Happens, The Four of Us and Emotional Fish.

An interest and love of homegrown music grew from there to presenting an all Irish show on East Limerick radio which led to John bringing his show to Dublin based

8Radio is managed by Simon Maher who was previously a founder presenter of Phantom 105.2 from its early days. The station is a group of like-minded individuals with a love of music and radio established in 2014 broadcasting online from a studio based in Whelan’s on Wexford Street in Dublin.

8Radio plays a mix of high quality tunes broadly described as indie / alternative. Classics from The Stone Roses, The Cure, Queen and Prince sit beside new music from The Last Dinner Party or boygenius alongside a strong presence of Irish acts like CMAT, Fontaines DC, New Dad and Sprints.

A former work colleague of Simon Maher from the pirate days introduced John to the station manager. 

“I went to meet Simon and Dan McDermott, the operations manager, at the back of Whelan’s in the little old studio. And we had a chat and yeah, we seem to hit it off.”

And ten years later John is about to present his 500th Sounds From A Green World for the station.

In the last ten years presenting this show have you seen changes in the music produced here in Ireland?

“There is more music than ever. I remember, going back to my East Limerick radio days. I said to a few people that I was planning to do a purely dedicated Irish programme, and someone asked-  Would you have enough music to do it? –  I said, I hope so or this is gonna be fairly short lived”

“There are a few of us really big into our Irish music at the station. We keep saying this, “We just can’t keep up with the amount of music this island is producing.”

“Even this early in the year, we have already had debut albums from Sprints, New Dad and Driven Snow .. that’s just a few off the top of my head.”

There seems to be a whole new level in quality product being released these days, from the production, mixing, mastering?

“Absolutely, Music Generation has been a huge thing. And you’ve got the Limerick Learning Hub out there as well. They’ve all been doing great work.

“There are opportunities for people to hone their skills, whether it’s the actual playing of instruments or in the production side.

“And I think bands today are more cognisant of what they want to achieve with their sound.”

After ten years growing the 8Radio station and its brand of “playing the music we like” – what does the next few years hold for the station?

“The broadcasting landscape is changing worldwide. Unfortunately, this country has been lagging behind in terms of digital. And I think that’s where the future is. We definitely would like to be part of that. 

“Would we like to be on FM? Yes, we would. But we’ve been pushing that button for quite a while. There’s a challenge in doing that as well, you know, you have to open the levels of investment into the station.” 

“You’re seeing national broadcasters cutting back on Irish music promotion. Where do these listeners go? to BBC 6 Music? We should have our own station. There should be a scope for niche stations like ourselves that do offer something that’s not available elsewhere.”

This Saturday is the 500th episode of Sounds From a Green World, any plans for the show marking 1000 hours of broadcasting?

“I’m probably going to make it a celebration but trying to boil that down to 20 tracks is going to be a challenge.”

To hear the show, tune in at 8am on Saturday morning or catch the show on the Listen Back service.

Sounds from a Green World with John Loftus is broadcast at 8am on Saturdays and 9pm on Wednesdays

Listen to 8Radio, download the app on your smartphone or on your PC. Go to their On Demand service to listen back to any shows at

The Choice Music Prize event happens on Thursday March 7 (7.30pm).

Playing live will be John Francis Flynn, Kojaque, Lankum, Rachael Lavelle, The Murder Capital, Soda Blonde and Ezra Williams.  The show will be broadcast live on RTÉ 2FM from 7-11pm. A special TV show will be broadcast on Thursday March 14 at 10.30pm on RTÉ2.