‘Limerick a Radio City’ documents the history and development of radio in limerick city, from the ground-breaking broadcasts of Jim O’Carroll in the 1930s, the pirate heyday of the 70s and 80s, to the current licensed stations that exist there today.
The story is told by the pirates themselves most of whom progressed to legal licensed stations and some who still currently work in the licensed radio industry. Their anecdotal accounts are both factual as well as entertaining, as they describe the characters and incidents, especially throughout the 70s and 80s pirate era. Brushes with the law, the freedom and fun of alternative radio, the flamboyant talent and the positive impact pirate radio had on modern broadcasting, ‘Limerick a Radio City’ has got it all.
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.
ABC Radio broadcast from 1982 to 1988 from Tramore near Waterford and was one of the southeast’s most popular pirates. It began broadcasting on 729 kHz and later moved to 1026 kHz, using a 1 kW transmitter. This recording was made from 5.15 – 5.49pm on 26 March 1986 and recorded from AM. The presenter is Tony Morrell and the segment includes news, ad breaks and weather.
This recording of ERI is from 22 July 1984. The presenter is Brian Biggs. Although recorded from FM audio quality is less than optimal and the receiver drifts off channel in the final 10 minutes. ERI also broadcast on 1305 kHz, announced as 225 m.
This is the first recording from a collection of tapes we were donated by the shortwave operator of Skywave Radio International (Baldoyle, 1980s). The notes here will grow if the wisdom of the crowd can add details on Inner City Radio.
The recording is from 2.20pm on 30 July 1984 and the presenter is Tony Mayo. Frequencies given are 981 kHz AM and 102 MHz FM.
Who owned Inner City Radio? Where was the studio and TX site? Who was Tony Mayo? Did it have prior or future incarnations with a new station name? Any photos or logos? Did you work in Inner City Radio or do an anorak station visit? Please contact us if you have information.
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.