Northeast series: Boyneside Radio

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio
Boyneside Radio flyer from 1981 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Today we bring you two recordings of Boyneside Radio from spring 1981, not long before the station split. The first extract above is an aircheck of Daire Nelson, a well-known presenter on Boyneside and other stations in the northeast, on his overnight programme in May 1981. Although it sounds like a live show, the overnight tapes at Boyneside were pre-recorded. At the end, Daire hands over to Eric Vaughan on the breakfast show. Sound quality is excellent so this is either a studio copy or was recorded from 99.2 FM in the town. Daire cut his radio teeth at Midland Radio in Athlone in 1979 before moving to North East Radio in Dundalk. He also worked in Radio Carousel, East Coast Radio in Ardee, Radio West in Mullingar and was a familiar voice on the northeast’s licensed station LMFM after 1989.

The second recording below is an airchecked version of Eric Vaughan on an overnight show on Boyneside, also from May 1981.

Many thanks to Eddie Caffrey for donating these recordings and to Ian Biggar for additional information.

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio
L-R: Ken Murray, Eric Vaughan, Gavin Duffy & Eddie Caffrey at Boyneside in 1981 (photo courtesy Eddie Caffrey)

Today we bring you three short recordings of Boyneside Radio in 1980 and 1981. The first recording above is a bit of a scoop – an interview by Ken Murray with Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich on 19th March 1980. The Catholic Primate of All Ireland was in Drogheda to accept the award of freeman of the town. Cardinal Ó Fiaich was well aware of the importance of local radio but stopped short of calling for it to be licensed!

The second recording below is an airchecked version of Eddie Caffrey’s afternoon show with Áine Ní Ghuidhir on news on April 14th 1980.

Finally, from sometime in 1981, a recording of Gavin Duffy announcing a meeting in Drogheda to discuss the future of local radio, presumably called after the publication of the Independent Local Radio Authority Bill on 1st May that year.

We thank Eddie Caffrey for donating these recordings.

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio
Boyneside’s FM mast at owner Eobain McDonnell’s home at Tullyesker near Drogheda (photo courtesy Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

The English DJ Peter Madison (RIP) was a familiar voice on the Irish pirates in the 1980s and spent a period at Boyneside Radio in its early days. Here he is on Boyneside on 10th October 1980 from 1200-1230 presenting the John Collins sponsored programme. John Collins’s hardware and general store on Shop Street was an iconic Drogheda institution. Peter invites listeners to spot a mistake in Collins’s window to be in with a chance of winning a £5 voucher! With plenty of interest from listeners, it’s clear this was a popular programme.

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio
Peter Madison at Radio Nova (courtesy DX Archive).

There is some audio leakage on the recording which may be linked to the age of the cassette. Otherwise sound quality is good so this may have been recorded from the local FM transmitter or be a studio copy.

Thanks to Ian Biggar for the donation of this recording.

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio/Local Radio Drogheda

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio/Local Radio Drogheda
Eric Vaughan in Boyneside Radio in 1980 (photo courtesy of Eddie Caffrey).

This is a day-long airchecked recording of Local Radio Drogheda from August 1979 when it was beginning to identify as Boyneside Radio. The programme opens with the end of David Browne’s breakfast show which is followed by David (aka Michael Comyn, now of RTÉ) reading the 10am news which includes the tragedy of the Fastnet yacht race off Co. Cork in which 19 people were killed. Eric Vaughan (aka Griffin) is then heard on the mid-morning show which is followed at 12 noon by a religious reflection (in later years, Boyneside would broadcast the Angelus at 12 and 6pm). Future Irish presidential candidate Gavin Duffy is next, followed by Heady Eddie Caffrey from 2-4pm. Main lunchtime news is read by Áine Ní Ghuidhir who refers to the ‘LRD newsdesk’, and Áine herself is to take over as presenter at 4pm following Eddie.

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio/Local Radio Drogheda
A photograph of the Boyneside transmitter at Donaghy’s Mill from the Swedish magazine DX Gnisten (photo courtesy of Eddie Caffrey).

This is a unique opportunity to experience the early sound of Local Radio Drogheda as it transformed itself into Boyneside Radio. The recording was made from 0942-1600 on 14th August 1979 and is courtesy of Ian Biggar.

Northeast series: Local Radio Drogheda/Boyneside Radio

Northeast series: Local Radio Drogheda/Boyneside Radio
Early Boyneside Radio sticker, courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

Today we resume our series on the pirates of the northeast from the late 1970s to the end of 1988, beginning with a series of recordings of Boyneside Radio from Drogheda. We thank Ian Biggar for writing a history of the station and both Ian and Eddie Caffrey for donating recordings.

After the success of Radio Carousel in Dundalk from 1978 it was no surprise when a radio station started in the busy town of Drogheda in the south of Co. Louth. Local businessman Eobain McDonnell along with other investors like Frank Buckley made plans to start Local Radio Drogheda (LRD) in the town. The location was on top of the imposing Donaghy’s Mill sitting on the banks of the River Boyne. Studios were set up and a low power transmitter of only 9 watts was installed.

The station came on air in late November 1978 and was an immediate success with the local population. Initial transmissions were logged around 1310 kHz, but the station soon settled on its mainstay frequency of 1305 kHz, always announced as 225 metres.

In January 1979, LRD increased power to 50 watts and a couple of weeks later to 160 watts using an ex-IBA 2Kw rig, although it was not properly loaded into the aerial. However, in May the station suffered some technical problems along with an attempted raid. Despite this and the arrival of RTÉ Radio 2, listeners remained loyal to their local station. Another power increase in July 1979 to 400 watts eliminated some of the technical problems and the station was being heard well within a 45-mile radius of Drogheda.

By now LRD was employing 10 full time DJs covering the daily schedule from 0730-2100, along with two newsreaders and an NUJ news editor. Gavin Duffy and ‘Heady’ Eddie Caffrey joined the station from Radio Dundalk, as well as Eric Vaughan from Radio Carousel and Daire Nelson from NER. Later in 1980 Peter Madison, who was working as a chef in the Boyne Valley Hotel joined, initially presenting a weekly oldies show before going full time on breakfast.

Northeast series: Local Radio Drogheda/Boyneside Radio
Compliments slip for Eobain McDonnell who was also a builder and estate agent (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

As the station coverage grew beyond Drogheda, the station began to identify as Boyneside Radio, before dropping the LRD call sign all together by late summer 1979. The station was now well established and seen as one of the pioneers of local radio in Ireland. Despite Radio Carousel moving into the town in early 1980, Boyneside Radio was now established as the local station in Drogheda and was not impacted by the new arrival. It is likely that Carousel was viewed as a Dundalk station and therefore not particularly accepted in Drogheda. 

In the latter half of 1980 listeners were surprised to hear a loop tape on 1071 kHz identifying as Boyneside Radio 2. This was heard far and wide during the night. Eddie Caffrey has said that this was really just to hold the frequency as he had heard that Carousel might be planning to put a transmitter on there. Boyneside entered 1981 broadcasting 24 hours a day on 1305 kHz with around 1.5kW, as well as an FM frequency for the town on 99.2 MHz and another on 98.1 MHz. The latter was located on high ground to the north of Drogheda and gave good reception as far as south Co. Dublin.

In July 1981 Eobain McDonnell made an offer to Gavin Duffy and Eddie Caffrey that they could run the station for a weekly fee and that he would take no part in the operations of Boyneside. This was agreed and implemented, but very shortly Eobain had a change of heart and wanted to withdraw the offer. This was unacceptable for the team and resulted in a split in the station. Gavin, Eddie, Richard Crowley and others broke away with the intention of starting their own station. They took the high power transmitter, leaving Boyneside Radio only on FM. The studio equipment and records remained at Mill Lane, along with staff like Eric Vaughan, Dara Nelson and Áine Ní Ghuidhir (Ní Chairbre). What happened next was an interesting time for radio in Drogheda.

This recording is of Heady Eddie presenting the Top 30 on Boyneside on a Sunday afternoon from 1503-1600 in August 1979. Many thanks to Ian Biggar for the recording.