Aircheck: Radio Leinster closedown

Radio Leinster logo courtesy of DX Archive

Radio Leinster closed unexpectedly just after 1pm on the 19th of May 1983, following the raid on Sunshine Radio that morning and on Radio Nova the previous day. Although almost all stations in Dublin switched off their transmitters on the 19th as fears about raids spread, most were back on air within days but Radio Leinster was never to return. Anna Craig (Chisnall) read the lunchtime news at 1pm and said there would be another bulletin at 3pm but within minutes the closure of the station was announced suddenly by managing director Justin James. The station closed with its signature tune, Seán Ó Riada’s ‘Mise Éire’.  

Radio Leinster was an innovative and unique station which aimed at the RTÉ Radio 1 listenership with a mixture of musical styles, talk programmes and specialist shows. It broadcast on 738 kHz am (406 metres) and 93 FM, the signal benefiting considerably from a high site in Sandyford overlooking Dublin. You can hear a recording of Radio Leinster from the morning of the 19th of May here.

This recording is courtesy of one of the Radio Leinster presenters, Al Dunne who was on air for the closedown. A tribute Radio Leinster was set up by another former presenter David Baker in 2020.

Full recording: Radio Nova (Dublin)

L-R: Sybil Fennell, Declan Meehan and Bob Gallico on 19th May 1983,the day of Nova’s official closedown (photo courtesy Joe King).

This is the well-known recording of Radio Nova on the morning of the infamous raid on the 18th of May 1983. Gardaí and officials from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs arrived at about 9.30am and requested that both Nova and KISS FM cease transmission at once. Keys were sought for the transmission site and just over an hour later, the plug was pulled. Nova returned at about 4.15am the following morning but on lower power and at lunchtime the station announced that it would close officially at 6.00pm that evening.

Crowds at Herbert Street in anticipation of the 6pm closedown on May 19th 1983 (photo courtesy Joe King).

This recording from 819 kHz AM begins on May 18th during the 10am news with Bob Gallico. After the news, DJ Declan Meehan asks station owner Chris Cary to come to the studios in Herbert Street immediately. During the following 30 minutes, Declan makes several references to the fact that Nova may go off the air and back to back jingles are played during records. Bob Gallico joins Declan throughout the hour for live versions of their inimitable two-handers, responding to unfolding events. At the same time another DJ Tom Hardy was bringing the P&T officials to the transmitter site in Rathfarnham in order to put Nova off the air. During out interviews with former Nova staff, many recalled their memories of the 1983 raids including Tom Hardy and Dennis Murray. Declan Meehan recalls his Nova days here.

Some of the crowd at Herbert Street for the Nova closedown on 19th May 1983. Photo courtesy of Gary Hogg/Ian Biggar.

This recording is courtesy of DX Archive where more information about and recordings of the 1983 raids can be found.

Full recording: Sunshine Radio (Dublin)

Sunshine boss Robbie Robinson at the Portmarnock studios on the day of the radio, 19th May 1983. Photo courtesy of Gary Hogg and Ian Biggar.

This is a recording of Sunshine Radio from the 18th of May 1983 from 1722-1738 recorded from 531 kHz AM. The presenter is Eugene Higgins. News headlines at 5.30 are read by Emer Dolan (Woodful) and refer to the Radio Nova raid that morning and plans by the opposition Fianna Fáil party to press once again for legislation on local radio. The following morning Sunshine Radio would itself be raided and put off the air.

Sunshine engineer the late Peter Gibney works on a new AM transmitter after the main one is confiscated in the raid. Photo courtesy of Gary Hogg/Ian Biggar.

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: ABC Radio (Dublin)

A photo of the studio courtesy of abcradio-dublin.com – location unknown.

ABC Radio was one of the smaller Dublin stations on air from 1981 to 1984. This recording is from the 18th of May 1983 from 1436-1451 and features Gerry Williams on air, who says that all the pirates could be in jeopardy following the raid on Radio Nova that morning. ABC was in fact one of only two stations in Dublin to remain on air following the 19th of May 1983. ABC was based for a while at the Ivy Rooms Hotel (now the Gate Hotel) on Parnell Street in the north inner-city. In 1984 it merged with another small station Westside Radio to become Radio Annabel, which also broadcast from the Ivy Rooms Hotel.

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: Radio Dublin

Radio Dublin badge courtesy of Brian Greene.

Here’s a short recording of the late Seán Day (Murphy) on Radio Dublin on the 18th of May 1983 from 1639-1651. There are plenty of requests and dedications but no mention of the raid on Radio Nova that morning. Radio Dublin was one of only two Dublin stations to continue broadcasting after most of the pirates left the air voluntarily the following day. Many DJs from those stations flocked to the cramped Radio Dublin studio in Inchicore and the station’s popularity soared as listeners re-tuned their radios. In 1981, Seán Day set up Double R Radio, a small Dublin pirate, from his house also in Inchicore.

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

Full recording: Radio West (Mullingar)

Radio West compliments slip courtesy of DX Archive.

Radio West was a large station broadcasting to the midlands from 1982, first on 1071 kHz and then on 765 kHz as in the compliments slip. Acquiring the old Radio Nova 10kW transmitter, it could be heard far and wide especially when it moved to the clearer channel of 702 kHz. By 1988 Radio West was styling itself as ‘West National Radio 3’ and claiming to be nationwide, based on the 10kW AM rig and a chain of FM transmitters stretching from Dublin to Galway.

This recording is from the 18th of May 1983 from 1908-1925 and features Davina Carr on air with a country programme, a style of music popularised by rural stations such as Radio West. There is no mention of the raid on Radio Nova that morning, although Davina explains that the station had been off the air earlier due to technical issues. Radio West was among those stations to close down temporarily following the other raid on Sunshine Radio on the 19th of May. You can hear airchecks and jingles from Radio West here.

Full recording: Boyneside Radio (Drogheda)

The former Boyneside Radio studios at Mill Lane in Drogheda (pic John Walsh).

This is a snippet from Eddie Caffrey’s ‘Afternoon Delight’ programme on Boyneside Radio from Drogheda on the 18th of May 1983 from 1614-1632, recorded from 1332 kHz/225 metres. There is no mention of the raid on Radio Nova that morning but pirates throughout the country were becoming nervous. Many Dublin stations closed voluntarily the following day following another raid on Sunshine Radio but Boyneside stayed on the air.

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: Nitesky 96 (Dublin)

Nitesky advert in the Sunday World, April 1986 (courtesy Alan MacSimoin collection).

On the 1st of July 1986 Dublin’s Capitol Radio launched a night-time service from 6.00pm called Nitesky 96 which aimed to offer more specialist music shows and talk programmes. For some years previous to this Capitol had specialised in album tracks rather than the latest hits and it moved more and more into the alternative/indie realm with the launch of Nitesky 96. In its later years Capitol/Nitesky ran a popular ‘Alternative Night’ every week at McGonagle’s nightclub in Dublin and it was known for supporting the lively Irish rock and indie scene throughout the 1980s.

This recording from 1755-1840 on the 16th of July 1986 features the switchover from Capitol to Nitesky with Dave Carney (aka Alan Cantwell who would go on to work in licensed local radio and TV3). News at 6.00pm is followed by the evening Magazine Show presented by the station owners Conor Brooks and Stephen Ryan. The music is more MOR rock than indie but Nitesky had plenty of programming showcasing the less mainstream material. The recording was made from 95.8 FM and the audio is distinctive because it lacks processing or compression and gives the full dynamic range of sound including crackle on vinyl records. You can hear Capitol/Nitesky jingles here.

Capitol Radio sticker from when the station was still on AM before 1986. Courtesy Alan MacSimoin collection.

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: KFM (Dublin)

KFM was a part-time hobby station broadcasting from Sandyford in south Dublin in 1986. It was run by well-known anorak Gerard Roe who had previously hosted a popular Free Radio Show on Radio Annabel. This recording is from the 13th of April 1986 from 1420-1505 and features Gerard Roe on air. There is an advert for Anoraks UK and KFM jingles. Frequencies announced are 106 FM and a test transmission on shortwave on 6240 kHz in the 48 metre band.

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: LLCR (Dublin)

LLCR sticker courtesy of DX Archive

Liberties Local Community Radio (LLCR) was launched on the 4th of April 1986 from Weaver’s Square in the heart of the Liberties area of inner-city Dublin. This recording is from 96.7 FM on the 15th of April and is of Des Hogan on the breakfast show from 0852 to 0937. There are jingles and a few commercials including a professionally-made advert for local self-defence and one for Sam’s shop next door to LLCR voiced by the ubiquitous Tony Allan (Sammy Prendergast was the station owner). Des Hogan announces that the next show Workers’ Playtime will be presented by Gerry Ryan (no relation to the RTÉ broadcaster) but slips up and gives his real name, Gerry Marsden, at a later stage. At 0930 there is a half-hour insert of The Fureys and Davie Arthur while ‘technicians work in the studio’.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.  Other LLCR recordings are available here.