Paul Vincent on Galway’s WLS

Paul Vincent on Galway's WLS
Exterior of WLS studios in Prospect Hill Galway in 1986 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Paul Vincent (aka Brendan Mee) was a DJ on the Galway pirate WLS and later did stints on the border pirate Zee 103 and the offshore station the Voice of Peace. This airchecked recording is of him on an undated show from July 1986, which includes a detailed events guide for Galway for the late summer and autumn. The clip below is of Brendan reading the WLS midday news bulletin on Thursday 19th June 1986.

WLS news on 19.06.1986

Thanks for Brendan Mee for the donation.

Breakfast on Galway’s Coast 103

Breakfast on Galway's Coast 103
Coast 103 sticker (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Coast 103 was a popular Galway station broadcasting from the middle of 1987 until the end of 1988. Run by Keith York and Steve Marshall who had been involved with previous Galway stations Atlantic Sound and WLS, Coast later merged with Limerick station Hits 954 and eventually claimed to cover a large area from Galway to the outskirts of Cork City. This recording was made towards the end of Coast’s run and features Ger Sweeney’s upbeat breakfast show, sponsored by the Happy Spud. A promo refers to Coast being heard in Limerick, Tipperary, Kerry and Cork but all of the adverts are from Galway. Ger must have been in a rush to leave as there is continuous music at the end of his show before Shane Martin takes over.

Breakfast on Galway's Coast 103
Original cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

The recording was made from 102.95 FM on 8th November 1988 from 0836-0924. It is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Evening show on WLS from Galway

Evening show on WLS from Galway
WLS flyer from 1985 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

This recording of Galway pirate WLS dates from summer 1986, when the station was well established as the city’s main local broadcaster. Paul Vincent (aka Brendan Mee) presents a late-night show and adverts feature a mixture of local businesses and national companies. There’a also a promo for fellow DJ Richie O’Shea doing a local disco. The station identification at the top of the hour claims that the ‘West’s local station’ is growing with Galway.

The recording was made from 102.7 FM on 5th July 1986 from 2217-2303. There is some wobble in places due to the age of the cassette. Thanks to Brendan Mee for the donation.

Steve Marshall on Galway’s WLS

Steve Marshall on Galway's WLS
WLS flyer from 1986/7 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

Steve Marshall was one of the founders of Galway station WLS (1985-1987), along with other ex-offshore DJs Keith York (RIP) and Don Stevens. WLS broadcast on 846 kHz AM and 104 FM, but switched to 102.7 in May 1985 after RTÉ alleged that it was interfering with television reception in Galway. By the summer of 1986, WLS was established as a popular and successful commercial station but it closed in unexplained circumstances in June 1987 after the departure of Don Stevens. Keith York and Steve Marshall went on to form Coast 103, which broadcast until the end of 1988.

This undated recording features Steve Marshall presenting a late night show sometime around October 1986. It was made from 102.7 FM from 2157-2233 and is courtesy of Brendan Mee.

Last night of Galway station WLS

Last night of Galway station WLS
WLS studios at Prospect Hill, 1986 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

This unconfirmed recording may be part of the final night of broadcasting of Galway pirate WLS Music Radio. The cassette label refers to ‘last night’ but it is not clear from the recording that this is the case. It begins at either midnight or 1am as the unidentified DJ refers to both. He sarcastically thanks Brian Mackay for letting disco music run on without waiting for him to arrive, perhaps an indication that things were not well at WLS.

Last night of Galway station WLS
Part of original cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

If this is in fact the final night, it would date from sometime in the second half of June 1987. The Anoraks UK Weekly Report of 28th June said it had received several reports during the previous week that WLS was off the air. It repeated a claim made on the Anoraks Show on Radio West that ‘an irate WLS investor arrived at the studios and seeing no immediate return forthcoming for his investment, proceeded to remove first transmitters, then studio equipment’. The Galway City Tribune on 3rd July reported that WLS had been off the air for the previous two weeks and its premises emptied of equipment. The owner of the premises at Prospect House where the station was located said he arrived on Monday morning to find the lock broken, the door ajar and everything gone. Manager Don Stevens was unavailable for comment and had left Galway. The City Tribune on 10th July reported that a listener who had won £1,000 in a phone-in competition in May was never paid by WLS.

Whatever about the circumstances of its closure, WLS established a slick on-air sound over its more than two years on air and changed the nature of pirate radio in Galway city. WLS developed a commercial model similar to the ‘super-pirates’ in other cities and a style that would influence subsequent stations. Indeed, two founders of WLS, Steve Marshall and Keith York, went on to set up Coast 103, another successful Galway pirate that broadcast from July 1987 to December 1988. However, despite a high quality FM signal for its time on air, WLS still managed to cause interference to television reception in the city, which led to RTÉ being granted an injunction against it.