Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)

Q102 rate card from Alan MacSimoin collection.

Q102 shook up the Dublin scene when it came on the air on the 23rd of January 1985. In contrast to Radio Nova which had been plagued by union problems for some time, Q102 marketed itself as ‘Irish owned and operated’ in the early years. The station attracted big names or launched many radio careers and was one of Dublin’s most successful pirates of the 1980s. It broadcast initially on 828 kHz AM and 102 FM, later adding 103.5. In October 1985 it moved to the clearer channel of 819 kHz, causing problems for Cavan Community Radio which was on the same frequency.

Among the successful initiatives was the ‘Eye in the Sky’ traffic news service, broadcast by station manager Mike Hogan from a helicopter circling Dublin. The helicopter was piloted by Ciaran Haughey, son of the Fianna Fáil leader and future Taoiseach Charles Haughey. ‘Eye in the Sky’ was sponsored by Fiat Ireland, and gave commuters an up-to-the-minute morning traffic report four years ahead of a similar service on RTÉ. This recording from 0815-0900 on the 23rd of January 1986 (the station’s first birthday) is of the breakfast programme presented by Greg Gaughran with traffic reports from Mike Hogan and Gary Hamill (Seán McCarthy) on news.

A photo of Mike Hogan from an Irish Times report about the new Eye in the Sky service, January 1986 (Alan MacSimoin collection).

In March 1988, Q102 bought the equipment of its rival Energy 103 after its sudden closure and took over all its frequencies, giving it prominence on the AM and FM bands. In June 1988, the station was relaunched as ‘Super Q’ by the American radio consultant Bill Cunningham who had transformed the sound of Sunshine previously. It broadcast until the 30th of December 1988. You can read more about the history of Q102 and hear further recordings here.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Jingles: Radio Annabel (Dublin)

An advert for Radio Annabel listing its own advertisers, Sunday World, 6th January 1985. Annabel would be gone within two months (Alan MacSimoin collection).

Here are some jingles and idents for Radio Annabel, recorded from a scratchy 1323 kHz AM in 1984. They include a characteristically dramatic advertising promo voiced by the great Tony Allan. Radio Annabel ran into financial problems in early 1985 and was unable to compete in the tighter market brought about by the arrival of another super-pirate Q102. You can hear more from Radio Annabel here.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: World Music Radio via Radio Dublin

World Music Radio started as a land-based pirate in the north of the Netherlands in the mid 1960s. It continued broadcasting most Sundays on shortwave until it was raided in August 1973. Our colleague Ian Biggar of DX Archive remembers listening to the station: ‘I missed the original WMR, but first heard it in 1976 on 6230 kHz legally, via the transmitters of Radio Andorra. It tried to be a commercial station on shortwave, but the sponsors were just not there and programmes became sporadic as funds run out. There were religious programmes on shortwave, but regular advertisers just did not seem interested in a worldwide audience’.

Ian describes how WMR was broadcast on Radio Dublin: ‘Eventually they tried to get stations to pay for their programming, but I doubt if this brought in much cash either. I am not sure what the arrangement was with Radio Dublin, but doubt if Eamon Cooke paid for the programmes. Originally the arrangement was that WMR was aired early Sunday mornings on shortwave, but programmes were slotted in on other occasions’.

As well as Andorra and Ireland, over the years WMR was heard via transmitters in Italy, South Africa and nowadays in Denmark. You can learn more here. Ian heard WMR many times on both shortwave and medium wave via Radio Dublin and as the QSLs show, both before and after the 1988 act. The recording features DJ Lee Alvin. This professional broadcaster was very much an influence for some young would-be broadcasters in the 1970s with his programmes on WMR as well as Radio Kaleidoscope and Radio Jackie in London.  

This recording was made from 1100-1145 on the 7th of February 1984 from Radio Dublin’s Channel 2 on 98.7 FM. It is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: Radio Annabel (Dublin)

Radio Annabel cassette from the Skywaves Collection.

Radio Annabel began testing in September 1983 following a merger of two smaller stations Westside Radio and ABC. They were logged in October by the Anoraks UK Weekly Report on 1035 kHz and then 981 but eventually settled on 1323. Annabel continued to broadcast from the Ivy Rooms Hotel (now the Gate Hotel) on Parnell Street in the north inner-city where ABC had been based. It was popular with anoraks because of the weekly Free Radio Show presented by Gerard Roe.

This image is of part of a letter sent by Gerard Roe in 1985 to Brian and Dónal Greene, after they loaned him a tape to use on the FRC programme.

This is a recording of Radio Annabel testing on 98 FM on the 7th of September 1983. Continuous music is heard, sometimes with the track repeated, and then station jingles are played but there are no links. Annabel closed in March 1985 and in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report of the 31st of March, Gerard Roe is quoted as saying that the station had run into financial problems and had been asked to leave the hotel. Anoraks UK commented: ‘This is very sad, the station was never a super-pirate by any means but was always one of the ones that was always there. The FRCI programme will be sadly missed, but I feel sure that another station will be only too pleased to host such a popular and professionally put together show’. Annabel made some more brief appearances on AM and FM in April 1985 but in June of that year Weekly Report announced that Gerard Roe was still looking for a new home for his programme.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: Energy 103 (Dublin)

Energy 103 logo from Alan MacSimoin collection.

Energy 103 emerged from the ashes of Radio Nova on the 29th of April 1986 and broadcast until the 11th of March 1988, when it closed suddenly. Within hours its frequencies were taken over by Q102. This recording is from 1626-1713 on the 17th of July 1986 and features Gareth O’Callaghan on air. News is read by George Long (Henry O’Donovan) and is followed by the Listeners’ Top 10 at 5. The voice of Sybil Fennell is heard on an advertising promo for Energy. More Energy recordings and images/photos are available on DX Archive.

The Energy 103 offices and studios at 144 Upper Leeson Street are now a hair salon (photo by John Walsh).

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.  

Aircheck: Capitol Radio (Dublin)

Capitol/Niteksy ad in the Sunday World, April 1986 from Alan MacSimoin collection.

Here’s a short aircheck of Capitol Radio from sometime in 1988. Capitol was a strong supporter of the alternative Irish music scene and the bands A-House and Cypress Mine are featured in this recording. The weather sting doesn’t fire at 3pm so the presenter carries on and reads the forecast. The request for ‘Brian and Pat listening in the Centre in Bayside’ is a reference to Centre Radio, the station ran by Brian Greene from Dublin 13 in 1988. Brian and fellow Centre presenter Pat Kenny phoned in the request – one station listening to another!

Interview: Noel Cronin (Community Radio Youghal)

The farmhouse near Youghal where the pirate CRY was based (courtesy Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Community Radio Youghal celebrated the 40th anniversary of its start as a pirate on the 4th of July 2019. The station, one of the pioneers in community radio, began its life in a loft at the farmhouse of Eileen Connolly outside the town, before moving into the centre of Youghal. In this interview one of CRY’s founders, Noel Cronin, tells John Walsh about the station’s origins, its early community programming and outside broadcasts, the transmission set-up on AM and FM and the emotional final broadcast on the 31st of December 1988. Community Radio Youghal returned as a licensed station and continues to broadcast today on 104 FM to Youghal and surrounding areas in east Cork/west Waterford.

CRY’s studio during in the farmhouse loft (courtesy Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

You can listen to a documentary about the history of CRY here. This interview with Noel Cronin was first broadcast on Wireless on Flirt FM. Photos are courtesy of Ian Biggar of DX Archive where more information can be found about CRY.

Full recording: Magic 103 (Dublin)

Magic 103 sticker from Brian Greene’s collection.

This is a recording of a very relaxed Peter Madison (RIP) on Nova’s short-lived sister station Magic 103 from 1315-1402 on the 25th of June 1985. It begins with some pirate nostalgia in the form of ‘Goodbye Caroline’ by the One Shots, a song about the sinking of the Mi Amigo in 1980 and ‘Get Turned on to Big D’ by John Paul, a presenter at the popular Dublin station of the late 1970s where Peter himself had worked. Some of the vinyl is very scratched, more so than would be expected on a station like Magic 103. News at 1400 is read by Mark Weller (Costigan) who takes over for the afternoon shift. Peter Madison, who died in 2018, worked at many pirates during the 1980s. More recordings of Magic 103 are available here.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.  

Full recording: ERI (Cork)

ERI sticker courtesy of DX Archive.

Here’s a recording from one of the main Cork stations ERI from 0905-1035 on the 19th of May 1983, the day of the raid on Sunshine Radio in Dublin. Along with South Coast Radio, ERI was one of many stations across the country to close temporarily later that day as fears spread of a widespread clampdown on the pirates. Station manager Paul Graham begins his show by wondering if he will make it midday and later extends commiserations to ‘friends in Portmarnock’, a reference to the closure of Sunshine. There is no mention of the raid on the 0930 headlines read by Lynsey Shelbourne (Dolan) or the 1000 bulletin read by Don Allen but it wasn’t long before plans were being made to close ERI as a precaution.

The recording was made from 1305 kHz, announced as 225 metres. Many thanks to Ian Biggar of DX Archive for sharing this with us.

Paul Graham remembers 19th May 1983:

‘I arrived at the studios at Whites Cross around 0815 and briefed the news team on any stories that I needed to be updated on. By 0840 I was digging through the oldies library to find a few choice tunes for the show. The current and recent hits were in boxes in the studio on a rotation system, along with the current albums. Then into the studio and a quick chat with Hugh Browne our breakfast DJ while Don Allen read the 0900 news, after which I started my programme.

Around the half way through my shift the raid took place in Dublin and shortly after I got a phone call from South Coast Radio, our rivals across town. I was told that raids on both our stations were imminent! I pondered what to do being the station manager, so after a short while I decided to close the station down temporarily and remove the studio gear. We had  just completed rebuilding studio 1 with some top of the range equipment and I didn’t want the P&T to take this away. As it happened, there was no raids in Cork! CCLR carried on if I remember correctly and possibly Radio Caroline Cork, but ERI and South Coast Radio were temporarily silent.

I have often wondered to this day if that was a genuine call from South Coast, but the outcome was that the owners of ERI were not pleased with my actions and by June 1st I had left the station. I felt uncomfortable staying there with, as I thought, the owners having lost confidence in me. I found out in recent years via Facebook from MD Joe O’ Connor, that it was not the case and had I sat down  with Joe and his mother Kathleen things would have been resolved and more than likely I would have stayed. The studios were hastily re-built by senior engineer Robin Adcroft and we were up and running once more. I carried on with the 0900-1200 show until I left the station a couple of weeks later’.

Full recording: Christian Community Radio (Dublin)

Photo by John Walsh

We have featured Christian Community Radio here before but this is the best quality recording of the station so far. By ‘quality’ we mean the strongest reception of the station, not the standard of audio which was probably among the worst of the pirate stations. Christian Community Radio was run from Merrion Square by Gerry O’Mahony, a Catholic solicitor opposed to the liberalisation of Irish society in the 1980s. The station began in 1985 on AM and FM but was forced off the air in 1987 after causing interference to the FM signal of BBC Radio in Dublin.

This recording from 90.2 FM is from 1755-1830 on the 25th of June 1985 and consists of roughly edited items including religious music, church bells, the Rosary at a local church and ‘joyful singing of our American Christian community’. Production standards are appalling as everything seems to have been recorded on a basic tape recorder with nothing more than a built-in microphone. There is no audio processing so levels are variable and breakthrough from what seems to be RTÉ Radio 2 can also be heard. O’Mahony announces that Christian Community Radio is to go off the air for two weeks in order to make improvements and repairs. However audio standards never got any better throughout the existence of this eccentric station.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.