Full recording: Radio Sligo

Full recording: Radio Sligo
A Radio Sligo t-shirt courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

This is a rare recording of Radio Sligo from 1981, made during one of DX Archive’s tours of Ireland. It is partially airchecked, but gives a great sense of the variety of Sunday programming spanning country, traditional Irish and heavy metal. Audio levels are up and down and there are plenty of technical glitches including a break in transmission after which the presenter says that the problem was fixed with a screwdriver! The recording was made from 1260 kHz (237 metres) on the 16th of August 1981 and is courtesy of Ian Biggar. A station ident refers to 250 metres (1197 kHz) so Radio Sligo must have been on that frequency previously.

The line-up on this recording is Mervyn Hamiton from 1120-1130, Céilí House from 1130-1200, a comedy show called Crazy Corner presented by Mike Marchini from 1200-1230 and a mixed show including heavy metal, country and pop with David Hamilton from 1230-1308. There’s also a message from Paul Martell about the station’s forthcoming marathon in aid of the Irish Wheelchair Association, an early example of the pirates supporting charitable causes. It’s not clear how long Radio Sligo lasted but in 1984 the Sligo Champion reported on a court case which heard that a former DJ had allegedly wrecked the station, causing £1,500 worth of damage. Another station, Radio Northwest called itself Radio Sligo on occasion in late 1984 and 1985 but was a separate outfit. In 1987 and 1988 Anoraks Ireland lists a Sligo Radio and a Westside Radio on FM only in Sligo but these are not thought to be connected to the original Radio Sligo either.

This is a unique recording of a little-known rural station showing how much variety there could be on Irish pirate radio. You can read more on DX Archive.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (Dublin)

Full recording: Capitol Radio (Dublin)
Advert for Capitol Radio, Hot Press, Christmas 1984 (Alan MacSimoin collection).

As discussed here before Dublin had many pirates calling themselves Capital or Capitol Radio. This recording from 1983 is from the early days of the final incarnation, the Capitol Radio which started the evening service Nitesky 96 in 1986 and ended up specialising in indie and alternative music.

In July 1983, the Anoraks UK Weekly Report announced that ABC Radio had left 1017 kHz, paving the way for Capitol to take over that frequency. DJ Martin Cullinane (aka Bob Conway) announces 1017 kHz (297 metres) and 96.1 FM and makes several references to Capitol being a new station. Capitol didn’t specialise in the hits, experimenting with ‘album music’ before moving into the indie realm, but the choice here is a little confused with three in a row from Wham mixed in with early U2 and other more alternative sounds. The recording was made from 1855-1940 on the 27th of August 1983 and although taken from FM, sound quality is poor in places. You can hear other recordings of Capitol 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: ICBS (Dublin)

Full recording: ICBS (Dublin)
The ICBS cassette in the Skywaves Collection.

The Irish Christian Broadcasting Service (ICBS) was one of a number of Christian/Catholic pirate stations operating in the 1980s. We’ve featured Christian Community Radio here before but ICBS operated for a longer period and continued until 1988. This recording is historically interesting because it was made four days before the 1983 referendum known as the ‘8th amendment’ to the Irish Constitution. The referendum, held on the 7th of September, proposed to recognise the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and the unborn, prohibiting abortion in almost all cases. It was passed by a large majority and led to decades of bitter campaigning by pro-choice and pro-life advocates. It was repealed, also by a large majority, on the 25th of May 2018 in a referendum on the 36th amendment to the Constitution. ICBS covered the 1983 referendum extensively and this recording refers to interviews to be broadcast on the eve of the poll.

Full recording: ICBS (Dublin)
ICBS flyer courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive. This is from the later years of the station when it broadcast on 981 kHz.

The recording was made from 1020-1105 on the 3rd of September 1983 from 1070 kHz/280 metres. By 1985 ICBS had moved to 981 kHz/306 metres as in the flyer. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. The second short recording below from 1985 seeks listeners’ financial support for the station in order to get a licence.

Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)

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.

Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)
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)

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.