Full recording: Zoom 103 (Dublin)

Full recording: Zoom 103 (Dublin)
Cassette label from the Skywave Collection (photo by Brian Greene).

Zoom 103 was a short-lived station which came on air on 103.1 FM immediately following the final closure of Radio Nova on the 19th of March 1986. After a receiver was appointed to Nova Media Services, Nova’s FM service was replaced by continuous music just after 3pm on that day while continuing on 738 kHz AM until 6pm. Shortly after 10pm, the music service on 103.1 FM began identifying itself as Zoom 103. Programmes continued as normal the following day, with the usual line-up of Nova presenters but without Chris Cary and an AM service. Zoom broadcast from 144 Upper Leeson Street in the city centre but closed suddenly on Monday the 24th of March, after the Nova receiver reportedly seized the transmitter. A new station calling itself Energy 103 emerged from the ashes of Zoom on the 28th of April and continued until the 11th of March 1988, also from Upper Leeson Street.

Full recording: Zoom 103 (Dublin)
144 Upper Leeson Street, former home of Zoom and Energy 103, is now a hair salon (photo by John Walsh).

This recording is from 1405-1450 on the second day of Zoom, the 20th of March 1986, and features Colm Hayes on air, who refers to Gary Hamill (Seán McCarthy) on news. There are no jingles, imaging or ads. It was made from 103.1 FM and despite the tape label, is in mono.

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: Q102 (Dublin)

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.

Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)
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.

Full recording: Energy 103 (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.

Full recording: Energy 103 (Dublin)
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: Capitol Radio (Dublin)

Full recording: Capitol Radio (Dublin)
Flyer for Capitol from c. 1985. Pic courtesy of Alan MacSimoin (RIP).

There were several stations calling themselves Capital or Capitol Radio in the pirate era, the best-known being the station that was on air from 1983 until the end of 1988. This Capitol became more specialist as time went on, playing first album tracks and then indie and alternative music. On the 1st of July 1986 Nitesky 96 was launched as a sister station from 6pm each evening with its own niche shows. The station was a strong supporter of the lively Dublin band scene of the 1980s, broadcast a weekly listeners’ Alternative Top 10 and held its own ‘Alternative Night’ every week.

This recording is from 96 MHz FM, begins at 9.15am on the 3rd of February 1984 and features the final 45 minutes of the ‘Daybreak’ show presented by George Long (Henry O’Donovan) who went on to work with Radio Nova and Energy 103. George also reads news also 9.15, 9.30 and 10.00 (quite a workload!) before handing over to Conor Brooks. There’s also a promo for a holiday giveaway giving the station’s address in Milltown, Dublin 14. At this time Capitol also broadcast on 1017 kHz but left AM at the end of March 1986 after reportedly selling the transmitter to the new Liberties Local Community Radio. Capitol-Nitesky 96 continued on FM until the 31st of December 1988. It was one of our absolute favourites and is still sorely missed.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.