More from oldies station Swinging Radio Impulse

More from oldies station Swinging Radio Impulse
The late John Steele (Carl Turner) in Swinging Radio Impulse (courtesy Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Swinging Radio Impulse was a hobby station specialising in oldies. On air in 1987 and 1988, it broadcast at night and at weekends on 95.89 FM from Galway city centre with just 5 watts of power. This recording from 2044-2130 on 21st November 1987 features the late John Steele (on-air name Carl Turner) presenting a live show. There’s a real hobby feel to the programme with plenty of reverb in idents and even live voiceovers. John also mocks the midlands station Radio West which was then available on a local Galway relay and there’s a request for the late Keith York of large Galway station Coast 103.

This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Galway oldies station Swinging Radio Impulse

Galway oldies station Swinging Radio Impulse
The set-up at Swinging Radio Impulse c. 1987 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Swinging Radio Impulse (SRI) was a small hobby pirate station broadcasting from Galway city centre in 1987 and 1988. It was run by the late John Steele (on-air name Carl Turner), who had a large vinyl collection and was something of an authority on various musical styles from the 1950s on. SRI dubbed itself ‘Ireland’s only oldies station’ and was on air mostly in the evenings and at weekends. Precise dates are unknown, but in July 1987 Anoraks Ireland listed a ‘Radio Impulse’ on 95.3 or 96.1 FM in Galway and Swinging Radio Impulse was logged in an Anoraks UK Weekly Report in November that year. It’s not clear when the station closed down. An Anoraks Ireland survey from November 1987 recorded that SRI broadcast on 95.89 FM in mono, announcing 96, with a power of just 5 watts from a house in Bohermore, Galway city centre. Broadcasting hours were 2100-0100 during the week, 0900-1500 on Saturday and 1100-1700 on Sunday.

Galway oldies station Swinging Radio Impulse
Handwritten cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

This recording was made on 10th November 1987 from 0026-0100 and features Carl Turner with what appears to be a pre-recorded programme for the first half-hour. Audio quality is poor with a lot of hiss but improves when programming goes live. There is an American advert for Old Spice shampoo from the 1960s and music is interspersed with home-made and generic station idents. A promo for Anoraks Ireland is voiced by a young John Walsh, co-founder of Pirate.ie.

Carl Turner also presented an oldies programme on Sunday mornings on commercial Galway station Coast 103. He was also an active member of Galway Radio Club. Thanks to Ciaran McCarthy and Shane Martin for background information. This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.  

Launch of Saor-Raidió Chonamara at Easter 1970

Launch of Saor-Raidió Chonamara at Easter 1970
Micheál Ó hÉalaithe & Piaras Ó Gaora in the studio (source: ‘Raidió na Gaeltachta’ by R. Ó Glaisne).

At Easter 1970, Irish language pirate Saor-Raidio Chonamara (Free Radio Connemara) came on the air for the first time in Ros Muc in the Connemara Gaeltacht. Inspired by Radio Free Derry set up at the outbreak of the Troubles in 1969, a local radio service for the Gaeltacht was one of the demands of the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Campaign. One of those involved, Seosamh Ó Cuaig, wrote in the Connacht Tribune on 17th October 1969 that an all-Irish pirate station would be set up and that a transmitter could be bought for £50. With the assistance of an engineering student from UCC, Micheál Ó hÉalaithe, Saor-Raidió Chonamara began broadcasting on 1484 kHz (202 metres) on Saturday 28th March from a caravan in Ros Muc and stayed on the air until Sunday 5th April. It returned again in November that year for the Oireachtas na nGael festival, also held in Ros Muc.

Faoi Cháisc 1970, chuaigh an stáisiún bradach Saor-Raidió Chonamara ar an aer den chéad uair ó Ros Muc i nGaeltacht Chonamara. Spreagtha ag Radio Free Derry a bunaíodh ag tús na dTrioblóidí, bhí stáisiún raidió Gaeilge ar cheann d’éilimh Ghluaiseacht Chearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta. Ina alt ar an Connacht Tribune ar 17 Deireadh Fómhair 1979, scríobh duine de na daoine a bhí páirteach, Seosamh Ó Cuaig, go mbunófaí a leithéid de stáisiún agus nach gcosnódh tarchuradóir ach £50. Le cúnamh ó mhac léinn innealtóireachta ó Chorcaigh, Micheál Ó hÉalaithe, thosaigh Saor-Raidió Chonamara ag craoladh ar 1484 kHz (202 méadar) Dé Sathairn 28 Márta ó charabhán i Ros Muc agus d’fhan ar an aer go dtí an Domhnach 5 Aibreán. Chraol sé den dara uair faoi Shamhain na bliana sin mar chuid d’Oireachtas na nGael i Ros Muc.  

Saor-Raidió Chonamara led within two years to the establishment of Raidió na Gaeltachta under the auspices of RTÉ. It began broadcasting on Easter Sunday, 2nd April 1972. Many campaigners doubted RTÉ’s commitment to Irish and had wanted Raidió na Gaeltachta to be under community control but the new station quickly gained listeners in the Irish-speaking areas. Initially only available on part-time and on AM in each of the three main Gaeltacht areas (west Kerry, south Connemara and northwest Donegal), Raidió na Gaeltachta was extended nationwide on FM in 1973. It is now a full-time, national Irish language station.

Laistigh de dhá bhliain ó chraoltaí an tSaor-Raidió, bunaíodh Raidió na Gaeltachta faoi choimirce RTÉ ar Dhomhnach Cásca, 2 Aibreán 1972. Bhí amhras ar lucht an fheachtais faoi thacaíocht RTÉ don Ghaeilge agus theastaigh uathu an stáisiún a bheith faoi smacht an phobail ach níorbh fhada go raibh éisteacht mhaith ag an stáisiún nua sa Ghaeltacht. Ar fáil go páirtaimseartha agus ar an meántonn amháin i dtosach báire i gConamara, Corca Dhuibhne agus Tír Chonaill, leathnaíodh Raidió na Gaeltachta go náisiúnta ar an ardmhinicíocht in 1973. Is é an stáisiún lánaimseartha, náisiúnta Gaeilge anois é.

In 2020, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta planned a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Saor-Raidió Chonamara but this was cancelled due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The station broadcast special programmes from Ros Muc on Easter Monday, 28th April 2022, including interviews with those involved in Saor-Raidió Chonamara.

This short clip is of Piaras Ó Gaora from Easter Sunday, 29th March 1970 and translates as: ‘You are listening to Saor-Raidió Chonamara broadcasting on 202 metres medium wave and at two minutes past six on this glorious Easter evening, it’s time for the news’. The clip is from the television documentary Splanc Dheireadh na Gaeltachta (2005, subtitled). Other historical material about the history of Saor-Raidió Chonamara is available on the Irish language website Cartlann Ghaeltacht Chonamara (Connemara Gaeltacht Archive), hosted by NUI Galway.

Oldies on Galway’s Coast 103

Oldies on Galway's Coast 103
Coast 103 car sticker from 1987 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Coast 103 was a successful station broadcasting from Galway from mid-1987 until the end of 1988. It later merged with Limerick pirate Hits 954, rebranded as Coast Hots Hits and covered the west and mid-west region from Galway to the outskirts of Cork. One of the two big Galway stations at the end of the pirate era, Coast played mostly chart music but also had some specialist programming outside peak times.

One such programme was the ‘Hitback’ oldies show presented by the late Carl Turner (aka John Steele) on Sunday mornings. This recording was made from 103 FM in stereo on 3rd April 1988 from 0900-0945 and features an eclectic mix including rhythm and blues, swing, rock and roll, country, soul and folk rock. John Steele had an impression collection of vinyl and also ran his own hobby pirate Swinging Radio Impulse late at night from his home in Galway city centre.

This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Twiggs FM from Galway

Twiggs FM from Galway
Twiggs FM 1988 calendar (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Twiggs FM was a short-lived pirate station from Galway broadcasting for about six months at the end of 1987 and beginning of 1988. Called after a nightclub of the same name in Salthill, it was set up by local man Shane Martin and Alan Russell from Dublin who had established another Galway station, Atlantic Sound, in 1984. Alan was also a founder of Dublin station Capitol Radio (1975 and 1978-1981). When Twiggs FM was wound down, DJs either moved to other Galway stations such as County Sound and Coast 103, returned to Dublin or emigrated.

Twiggs FM from Galway
Handwritten cassette label from the Anoraks Ireland Collection.

This recording from 11th November 1987 is of a morning show presented by Mike Richardson, apparently in the middle of a storm (Twiggs FM was located on the promenade facing the Atlantic Ocean). A founder of Big L Radio in Limerick, Mike provided the transmitter and studio equipment for Twiggs FM and did shows when he was in Galway. The recording was made from 98.2 FM in stereo from 0912-0937 and is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson. Thanks to Alan Russell and Shane Martin for background information.