KFM, also known as Galway County Radio, broadcast from 1986 to 1988 from a village west of Galway before moving into the city itself. It was set up by Shane Martin and John Browne in November 1986 and broadcast initially on 99 FM for 12 and a half hours a day, from 7.30am to 8.00pm. The transmitter site was over 130 metres above sea level in Moycullen, a village 12 kilometres west of Galway, and this gave it a large coverage area. An entry from KFM in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report of February the 1st 1987 claimed that the station was covering an 80-kilometre radius and that it would soon be extended to specialist programming and community information. An AM channel was also promised although this never materialised.
By June 1987, KFM was broadcasting 24 hours a day and claiming to cover both Galway City and Co. Galway, including Connemara. The station told Weekly Report that it was aimed at the 20-50 audience and had a minimum of 15 percent programming in Irish and English, reflecting the fact that part of the Connemara is a Gaeltacht area. KFM also produced a bilingual leaflet, in which it announced its intention to seek a licence.
At this stage KFM was on 95, 99 and 99.3 FM and was reported to be listenable as far east as Ballinasloe. There were also reception reports from as far south as Ennis in Co. Clare. In November 1987, KFM moved into Galway City, adding to the competition between the pirates there. Coast 103 were the most successful city station at the time but in early 1988 the Tuam station County Sound would also move into Galway. Like most other stations, KFM closed down on the 31st of December 1988.
This recording of KFM was made from 96 FM on the 24th of September 1988 from 2222-2310 and features Shane Keating on air. There are requests for ‘madly in love’ couples and a mixture of pop music and oldies. Keating was clearly a bit of an anorak: he mentions listening to RTÉ Radio 2 on AM in Birmingham and promises a new programme for DXers, with a special focus on shortwave. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation. This was originally recorded by John Breslin in Co. Clare and being outside the core coverage area, audio quality is fair. Thanks also to Shane Martin for further information.
Zoom 103 was a short-lived station which came on air on 103.1 FM immediately following the final closure of Radio Nova on the 19th of March 1986. After a receiver was appointed to Nova Media Services, Nova’s FM service was replaced by continuous music just after 3pm on that day while continuing on 738 kHz AM until 6pm. Shortly after 10pm, the music service on 103.1 FM began identifying itself as Zoom 103. Programmes continued as normal the following day, with the usual line-up of Nova presenters but without Chris Cary and an AM service. Zoom broadcast from 144 Upper Leeson Street in the city centre but closed suddenly on Monday the 24th of March, after the Nova receiver reportedly seized the transmitter. A new station calling itself Energy 103 emerged from the ashes of Zoom on the 28th of April and continued until the 11th of March 1988, also from Upper Leeson Street.
This recording is from 1405-1450 on the second day of Zoom, the 20th of March 1986, and features Colm Hayes on air, who refers to Gary Hamill (Seán McCarthy) on news. There are no jingles, imaging or ads. It was made from 103.1 FM and despite the tape label, is in mono.
This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.
We have featured the popular Galway station, County Sound (1987-1988) elsewhere in this archive, but Dublin also had a County Sound. This seems to have been a short-lived operation in 1986, broadcasting from the Rathgar/Churchtown areas of south Dublin. The station is first listed on 105.7 FM in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report on the 23rd of February 1986, shortly after this recording was made. An Anoraks Ireland list from April 1986 lists County Sound as a full-time station (0700-0300) and gives an address in Churchtown. The same month, Anoraks UK logged the station on 104.7 and then 104.9 and gave an address in Rathgar. It also published a full daily schedule which included Ray Stephens, Stephen O’Rourke, Paul Smith, Mike Evans, Derek Hennessy and John Taylor. Whether these names were real or assumed, we do not know. County Sound announced 1503 kHz AM also but this was not confirmed. The station moved around the top end of the FM band for a few months from February 1986 but there are no references to it in logs from July onwards. Although full-time for a period and using a professional jingle package, it seems to have been one of the many short-lived hobby stations increasingly common on FM at the time.
This recording is from 106.2 FM on the 21st of February 1986 from 1140-1225 and features Dan Malone (whose voice hadn’t yet broken!) followed by Brendan Dowling (who sounds a bit older). It is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.
This is a recording from the original South Coast Radio (1982-1984), one of the most popular Cork pirates of the early 1980s, broadcasting on 1557 kHz (announced as 194 metres) and 104 FM. It runs from 1450-1600 on the 30th of October 1983, a Sunday, and features an outside broadcast from Dan Lowrey’s pub as part of the Cork Jazz Festival. In studio is former Radio Caroline DJ Johnny Lewis and another offshore veteran Keith York (RIP) is on the link side from the pub along with Peter O’Neill. News is read by Andrew Hewkin but is delayed due to the OB. Audio quality from the pub is poor in places but the fact that it took place at all was evidence of South Coast’s desire to push the boundaries of radio at the time. Lewis and York joke about the pub closing for ‘holy hour’ on Sunday afternoon and chat to the musicians. Barrie and Ruth Johnson of Anoraks UK happen to be visiting the station and get a brief mention on air.
There’s also an announcement advising listeners that any interference to transmission is not South Coast’s fault but due to jamming from the RTÉ transmitter site at Spur Hill. 1983 was a turbulent year for the pirates between raids by the authorities and jamming by RTÉ. South Coast shut down voluntarily following the raids on Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova on the 18th and 19th of May 1983 but returned soon afterwards on the 23rd of May.
This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.
Coast 103 was on air for 18 months in 1987 and 1988 and was the last of the large commercial Galway stations of the era. It emerged from WLS Music Radio and began testing on the 10th of July 1987 as Coast 100. The station was set up by Steve Marshall and Keith York (RIP) who had been involved in both WLS and an earlier station, Atlantic Sound. Coast was located at 24 Prospect Hill, the same address as WLS. It soon moved to 103 FM and added a 1 kW transmitter on 1566 kHz AM. According to the Anoraks UK Weekly Report, the backers were Keith York himself, another pirate station WKLR in Bandon and a number of Galway businessmen.
In April 1988 the Limerick station Hits 954 closed and merged with Coast 103, calling itself Coast Hot Hits and covering Galway, Clare and Limerick. The original Hits 954 AM transmitter was used to relay the Galway signal although there were problems with the antenna and power was never too high. There is poor audio quality on this promo for the new station, voiced by Stuart Clark, recorded from AM in Limerick.
A chain of FM transmitters was installed between Galway and Limerick allowing FM reception to the south almost as far as Cork city and well into counties Kerry, Tipperary. The Galway FM transmitter, with an estimated maximum power of 3 kW ERP was brought to a higher location to allow improved reception to the north into Counties Mayo and Roscommon. The AM signal could be heard in Scotland but FM was the priority in the station’s last year. Coast Hot Hits was one of a number of stations to carry the satellite service Radio Nova International on overnights in 1988. It also made a number of successful outside broadcasts from Limerick and Galway. In the competitive Galway pirate scene of 1988, there was intense rivalry with the other big station County Sound. Coast presenters included Tony Allan, Steve Marshall, Stuart Clark, Brian Walsh, Ger Sweeney and Shane Martin. The station closed at the end of 1988 in line with the new broadcasting legislation. You can listen here to an interview with Ger Sweeney in which he remembers his time at Coast.
This recording, courtesy of Ian Biggar of DX Archive, is from the 1st of November 1988 from 1113-1200 and features Steve Marshall on air with the great Tony Allan’s voice on many ads and promos.