Feature: Radio Carousel history

Feature: Radio Carousel history
Radio Carousel staff in 1981. Information below (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

This is a feature programme about the first five-and-a-half years of the Radio Carousel network, broadcast in December 1983. It was compiled by Kieran Murray who was the first voice to be heard on the station on 20th May 1978. There are also interviews with station founder and owner Hugh Hardy, information about listenership surveys and extracts from shows featuring presenters such as Dave Scott (Joe Reilly), Mike Ahern (Richard McCullen) and Tina Anderson. Kieran describes the satellite stations in Navan, Drogheda and on the border and there are also extracts from news programmes and outside broadcasts. Hugh Hardy’s interview with BBC Radio Ulster following the 1983 raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio is included. The programme also includes a flavour of Radio Carousel Dundalk’s 5th birthday on 20th May 1983 and of Radio Carousel Navan’s 2nd birthday on 22nd October 1983.

Feature: Radio Carousel history
Kieran Murray in the original Radio Carousel studio in 1978 (photo courtesy of Eddie Caffrey).

Kieran Murray announces the programme as a two-hour special but this recording contains only one hour so is presumably an edited version. A full version of the station’s theme tune ‘Don’t stop the carousel’ by Roy Taylor and the Nevada is heard at the end. We thank Eddie Caffrey for donating the recording.

Full photo information

Back row: Richard Crowley, Kieran Murray, Shay Breslin, Ray Stone, Hugh Hardy, Dave Scott, Mike Ahern, Frank Mitchell.

Front row: Shane Mullen, Hugh Sands, Penny Palmer, Tony Farrelly.

Full recording: Radio Carousel (Dundalk)

Full recording: Radio Carousel (Dundalk)
Radio Carousel staff from 1981, including Frank Mitchell and Shane Mullen (photo courtesy of Eddie Caffrey)

This recording of Radio Carousel features Frank Mitchell on air from 1645-1728 on 20th May 1983, the station’s 5th birthday. The date is significant because it was the time of the raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio, which caused many other pirates to close temporarily as a precaution. The recording was made from FM and there is interference at times. The channel is also re-tuned on a few occasions during the recording.

A noticeable aspect is the large number of requests from listeners throughout Louth and beyond. There are also competitions to win tickets for nights out in local hotels as well as adverts and notices. Shane Mullen reads sports news at 5.30 and the evening news programme at 6pm is mentioned. It all sounds like a respectable local station offering a mixture of music and information and with no shortage of listeners and advertisers. Frank Mitchell currently works as a weather presenter on UTV and presents on radio station U105. This recording was made by Gary Camblin and given to us by Ian Biggar.

Full recording: South Coast Radio (Cork)

Full recording: South Coast Radio (Cork)
South Coast Radio sticker, courtesy of DX Archive

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.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)
Crowds at Herbert Street on the day of Radio Nova’s official closedown, 19 May 1983 (photo by Joe King).

In the final instalment of Part 3 of ‘The Irish Pirates’, Leon Tipler returns to Dublin. Volume 8 covers his visits to Sunshine and Radio Nova in September 1983 to get the views of the staff about the raids of the previous May which put both stations off the air temporarily. Tipler interviews Sybil Fennell, Chris Cary and Robbie Robinson and also features the iconic Nova closedown with Tony Allan at 6pm on the 19th of May 1983. He also recounts the horrified political reaction to Cary’s plans for Nova Television. This final episode ends with Tipler’s analysis of the political implications of the raids and changed attitudes to the pirates in their aftermath.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)
Equipment removed from Sunshine Radio, 19 May 1983, with RTÉ television crew filming (photo by Joe King).

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England. We will bring you more from this valuable collection over the coming weeks and months.

Index to Volume 8

00:00 Visit to Galway – no pirates on air
00:30 Visit to Sunshine Radio offices
01:15 Visit to Radio Nova
02:00 Interview with Sybil Fennell
04:30 Nova TV
08:10 Chris Cary on Nova in May 1983
09:40 RTÉ coverage of 1983 raid on Nova
10:40 Interview with Chris Cary about raids
15:50 Interview with Robbie Robinson about raids
17:55 Interview with Sybil Fennell about raids
18:20 Continuation of interview with Cary
20:20 Continuation of interview with Robinson
25:00 Sunshine closedown in 1983
27:40 Radio Nova closedown on 19.05.83
33:05 Interview with Sybil Fennell about closedown
33:50 Tony Allen closing Nova
42:00 Continuation of interview with Cary about closedown
46:00 Continuation of interview with Robinson about closedown
51:45 Return of Sunshine
55:00 Changed political response
55:45 Conclusion

Full recording: ERI (Cork)

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’.