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.  

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.