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.
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.
Royal County Radio was set up in Navan, Co. Meath on the 8th of October 1982 and was a rival station to the popular Radio Carousel which broadcast from the town’s shopping centre. RCR was set up by ex-Carousel staff including the legendary Don Allen (RIP) who had worked on Radio Caroline North and Radio North Sea International. The station used the old Southside Radio transmitter from Dublin and moved around the medium wave band, starting on 254 metres (announcing 244 metres as in the flyer) then moving to 301 metres (999 kHz although they were slightly off-channel on 1000 kHz), before settling on 355 metres (846 kHz). An FM transmitter on 96.8 was added later. A report on an Irish tour by Anoraks UK in May 1984 describes RCR as going downhill as many presenters had left to join the new Cavan Community Radio, and the Navan station seems to have closed that summer.
This short recording is from 846 kHz and starts just before the midday news with Lynsey Shelbourne (Dolan). Don Allen’s voice can be heard on promos and presenting. We estimate the date as sometime in the spring of 1983, as Don left RCR to go to ERI in Cork in April. One of the best known voices on rural Irish pirate radio in the 1980s where he presented many country music shows, Don died in 1995. Thanks to Ian Biggar for his detective work which allowed us to piece together this information. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.
On October 20th 2018 over 100 radio anoraks gathered in the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin. The purpose was to meet and record oral history of the pirate radio era.
In this interview, Walter Hegarty talks to Gerry O’Reilly, a transmitter man from the border regions. Gerry worked on transmitters for almost 50 stations including the following: Kandy Radio, Galway District Radio (GDR), Hometown Radio, Big M, Erneside, NWCR, CCR, Breffni Radio, Midwest Radio. East Coast Radio (Louth), Melvin Radio, Radio North, Riverside Radio, Boyneside Radio, DCR Letterkenny, Radio West, Rainbow Radio, Star Radio, North Star, KISS FM, KITS, North Atlantic Radio and many more.