In the second part of our extended interview, long-time broadcaster Declan Meehan discusses his move from Sunshine to Radio Nova in 1982 which was by then the biggest station in Dublin. He tells us how Chris Cary copied the sound of KIIS FM in Los Angeles to bring a new broadcasting style to Ireland. Despite his love for Radio Nova, Declan left the station because of the bitter NUJ strike in 1984. Although he moved into licensed radio in the UK and Ireland after that, Declan’s involvement with the pirates didn’t quite end there. The interview concludes with Declan’s thoughts on the pirate legacy and his views on the state of radio today.
You can hear the first part of this interview here.
We met one of Ireland’s most experienced broadcasters Declan Meehan recently to discuss his significant contribution to Irish pirate radio history and Irish radio in general over the past 50 years.
In the first part of a long interview, Declan discusses the early years of his involvement in the Dublin pirate scene spanning small stations such as Radio Vanessa and Radio Milinda and larger, more professional operations like ARD. He describes his unhappy move to the new RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979 and how he went on to work for the first of the superpirates, Sunshine Radio, where he met Chris Cary.
The interview includes references to many of the best-known names in Irish radio over the past half-century.
We interview journalist Gareth O’Connor about his memories of KITS (837 AM and 101 FM) in Monaghan Town in 1987 and 1988. KITS came on the air towards the end of the pirate era and, like other border stations, gained listeners and advertisers both north and south. Gareth tells us about how he became interested in radio and how a decisive Christmas Day phone call launched his broadcasting career. He also pays tribute to station owner the late Frank McCarthy and discusses the impact of the pirates on Monaghan and further afield.
Gareth went on to work as a journalist with many broadcasters including Northern Sound, Century Radio, RTÉ, 98FM, Today FM, East Coast FM, LMFM and Radio Nova. He has also contributed to temporary station Walk in My Shoes Radio and is a regular on Christmas FM. Gareth currently works as an Executive Producer at Virgin Media Ireland.
In 1986, three large pirate stations – Sunshine Radio in Dublin, ERI in Cork and ABC in Waterford – co-operated to jointly organise a 250-mile maxi-marathon between the three cities.
Here are two promos – the first from ERI and the second from ABC – voiced by Mark Byrne of Sunshine Radio. They are fascinating on so many levels: co-operation between pirate stations, a campaign backed by big commercial sponsors and funds raised going to a major charity, the Central Remedial Clinic.
This is a good example of how the archive can give us a more global view of what was happening in the 1980s. Listeners to each station did not know that all three stations were involved but the archive can tell us that. The level of co-operation surpasses what exists today between stations in the same large radio groups.
It also reminds us that despite often fierce local competition, stations from different parts of the country were willing to co-operate for charitable causes. No doubt they also had an eye to the impeding legalisation and wanted to position themselves as socially responsible.
Magic 103 (103.5 FM and initially also 1521 kHz AM) was set up by Radio Nova in 1985 and was one of many examples of Chris Cary’s innovation in splitting AM/FM services to expand programming. Magic, which began broadcasting on April 29th, was a mostly easy-listening and talk service in contrast to the chart music format of Nova.
‘ABC Network News’ was broadcast on both Nova and Magic, and the journalists also presented programmes on Magic. This airchecked recording is from the early days of the service – we estimate it to be May 1st 1985. Dave Johnson (aka Andrew Hanlon) is both presenter and newscaster. He reads out a request from a listener in Co. Down, evidence of how far the FM signal travelled on a relatively uncrowded band. Sound quality is variable on this recording and some of it may have been recorded from AM.
Magic 103 was short-lived and closed in September 1985.
Here is the second part of our interview with one-time broadcaster and long-time Irish pirate radio enthusiast Ian Biggar, recorded at his home in Harrogate in England.
In this part, Ian remembers his involvement with ERI in Cork and Zee 103 in Omeath, Co. Louth in the 1980s. He also tells us how he recorded thousands of hours of Irish pirates over the past 40 years and gives his views on the radio scene today.
We met one time broadcaster and long time enthusiast of Irish pirate radio Ian Biggar in Harrogate recently to discuss his love of the medium and his involvement in Irish stations.
In the first part of a long interview, Ian talks about how he first got into pirate radio while still a child in Scotland. He then describes how he discovered the Irish scene and went on to work in the Co. Louth stations Boyneside Radio and Radio Carousel.
Ian recorded thousands of hours of valuable Irish pirate radio and has contributed significantly to the DX Archive site. We’re very grateful to Ian for his time and hospitality during our visit to Harrogate and for his life-long dedication to preserving Irish pirate radio memories.
The Dublin pirates were not all about pop and some stations served niche audiences or specific demographics. One station playing easy listening and classical music was KLAS which broadcast on 98.5 FM from November 1986 until the end of 1988. The station was established by Radio Carousel boss Hugh Hardy from his home in the suburb of Sutton but after a change in management it changed its name slightly to Class Radio and moved to the city centre.
This recording is from early 1987 (we don’t have an exact date) and features David Baker on air. There are also agency ads and jingles. Thanks to David for the recording.
You can hear an interview with David Baker about his involvement in KLAS here. Co-founder of this site John Walsh was also involved in KLAS and has recorded his memories here.
Centre Radio began as a hobby station on December 19th 1986 from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin and came on air during school holidays. Brian Greene of pirate.ie was one of the original founders and John Walsh was also involved. By 1987 the station had developed into a youth project and was training up to 80 young people in radio. From February 1988 Centre was on air every evening and weekend from Bayside. It was one of the last stations in Dublin to closedown at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1988.
This recording is of an oldies show presented by Bobby Gibbson (aka Brian Greene) on 25.09.88. It includes community news and stations idents by Richard Taylor (aka John Walsh). Despite the claims in the idents, Centre broadcast in mono only, with the exception of its overnight stereo relay of the Radio Nova satellite service via the former Southside Radio FM TX in Dublin. You can read more about the history of Centre here.