Full recording: ICBS (Dublin)

The ICBS cassette in the Skywaves Collection.

The Irish Christian Broadcasting Service (ICBS) was one of a number of Christian/Catholic pirate stations operating in the 1980s. We’ve featured Christian Community Radio here before but ICBS operated for a longer period and continued until 1988. This recording is historically interesting because it was made four days before the 1983 referendum known as the ‘8th amendment’ to the Irish Constitution. The referendum, held on the 7th of September, proposed to recognise the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and the unborn, prohibiting abortion in almost all cases. It was passed by a large majority and led to decades of bitter campaigning by pro-choice and pro-life advocates. It was repealed, also by a large majority, on the 25th of May 2018 in a referendum on the 36th amendment to the Constitution. ICBS covered the 1983 referendum extensively and this recording refers to interviews to be broadcast on the eve of the poll.

ICBS flyer courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive. This is from the later years of the station when it broadcast on 981 kHz.

The recording was made from 1020-1105 on the 3rd of September 1983 from 1070 kHz/280 metres. By 1985 ICBS had moved to 981 kHz/306 metres as in the flyer. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. The second short recording below from 1985 seeks listeners’ financial support for the station in order to get a licence.

Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)

Q102 rate card from Alan MacSimoin collection.

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.

A photo of Mike Hogan from an Irish Times report about the new Eye in the Sky service, January 1986 (Alan MacSimoin collection).

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.

Jingles: Radio Annabel (Dublin)

An advert for Radio Annabel listing its own advertisers, Sunday World, 6th January 1985. Annabel would be gone within two months (Alan MacSimoin collection).

Here are some jingles and idents for Radio Annabel, recorded from a scratchy 1323 kHz AM in 1984. They include a characteristically dramatic advertising promo voiced by the great Tony Allan. Radio Annabel ran into financial problems in early 1985 and was unable to compete in the tighter market brought about by the arrival of another super-pirate Q102. You can hear more from Radio Annabel 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: World Music Radio via Radio Dublin

World Music Radio started as a land-based pirate in the north of the Netherlands in the mid 1960s. It continued broadcasting most Sundays on shortwave until it was raided in August 1973. Our colleague Ian Biggar of DX Archive remembers listening to the station: ‘I missed the original WMR, but first heard it in 1976 on 6230 kHz legally, via the transmitters of Radio Andorra. It tried to be a commercial station on shortwave, but the sponsors were just not there and programmes became sporadic as funds run out. There were religious programmes on shortwave, but regular advertisers just did not seem interested in a worldwide audience’.

Ian describes how WMR was broadcast on Radio Dublin: ‘Eventually they tried to get stations to pay for their programming, but I doubt if this brought in much cash either. I am not sure what the arrangement was with Radio Dublin, but doubt if Eamon Cooke paid for the programmes. Originally the arrangement was that WMR was aired early Sunday mornings on shortwave, but programmes were slotted in on other occasions’.

As well as Andorra and Ireland, over the years WMR was heard via transmitters in Italy, South Africa and nowadays in Denmark. You can learn more here. Ian heard WMR many times on both shortwave and medium wave via Radio Dublin and as the QSLs show, both before and after the 1988 act. The recording features DJ Lee Alvin. This professional broadcaster was very much an influence for some young would-be broadcasters in the 1970s with his programmes on WMR as well as Radio Kaleidoscope and Radio Jackie in London.  

This recording was made from 1100-1145 on the 7th of February 1984 from Radio Dublin’s Channel 2 on 98.7 FM. It is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: Radio Annabel (Dublin)

Radio Annabel cassette from the Skywaves Collection.

Radio Annabel began testing in September 1983 following a merger of two smaller stations Westside Radio and ABC. They were logged in October by the Anoraks UK Weekly Report on 1035 kHz and then 981 but eventually settled on 1323. Annabel continued to broadcast from the Ivy Rooms Hotel (now the Gate Hotel) on Parnell Street in the north inner-city where ABC had been based. It was popular with anoraks because of the weekly Free Radio Show presented by Gerard Roe.

This image is of part of a letter sent by Gerard Roe in 1985 to Brian and Dónal Greene, after they loaned him a tape to use on the FRC programme.

This is a recording of Radio Annabel testing on 98 FM on the 7th of September 1983. Continuous music is heard, sometimes with the track repeated, and then station jingles are played but there are no links. Annabel closed in March 1985 and in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report of the 31st of March, Gerard Roe is quoted as saying that the station had run into financial problems and had been asked to leave the hotel. Anoraks UK commented: ‘This is very sad, the station was never a super-pirate by any means but was always one of the ones that was always there. The FRCI programme will be sadly missed, but I feel sure that another station will be only too pleased to host such a popular and professionally put together show’. Annabel made some more brief appearances on AM and FM in April 1985 but in June of that year Weekly Report announced that Gerard Roe was still looking for a new home for his programme.

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: Energy 103 (Dublin)

Energy 103 logo from Alan MacSimoin collection.

Energy 103 emerged from the ashes of Radio Nova on the 29th of April 1986 and broadcast until the 11th of March 1988, when it closed suddenly. Within hours its frequencies were taken over by Q102. This recording is from 1626-1713 on the 17th of July 1986 and features Gareth O’Callaghan on air. News is read by George Long (Henry O’Donovan) and is followed by the Listeners’ Top 10 at 5. The voice of Sybil Fennell is heard on an advertising promo for Energy. More Energy recordings and images/photos are available on DX Archive.

The Energy 103 offices and studios at 144 Upper Leeson Street are now a hair salon (photo by John Walsh).

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: 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: 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.