Aircheck: Radio Annabel FRC

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 great recording of the popular Free Radio Campaign programme hosted by Gerard Roe on Dublin station Radio Annabel in the early 1980s. The first part is from May 20th 1984 and was recorded from 1035 kHz AM. It includes an interview with Kenny Everett from a BBC documentary about the offshore pirates, information about the new offshore station Laser 558, news about Radio Caroline, Gay Byrne celebrating 50 years of Radio Luxembourg and the 6th anniversary of Radio Carousel. The second part, probably from a week or two later, features Big D Radio and London pirate Thameside Radio. We’ve done our best with the sound but the AM signal was a bit over-modulated.

There’s another recording of the Radio Annabel FRC here.

Aircheck: remix of Gay Byrne Show announcing legalisation of radio

This recording is a remix of the Gay Byrne Show on RTÉ Radio 1 from 17 October 1988, the day that the newly-established Independent Radio and Television Commission published advertisements for the first independent radio licences designed to put the pirates off the air. Byrne seems dismissive of the initiative which would of course threaten his show’s dominance in the market, and appears to be imitating a folksy but clumsy pirate radio presenter. His kitsch portrayal of an amateur local pirate is part of Byrne’s theatre of the mind and evokes stereotypical illegal broadcasters of an earlier era. 

Gay Byrne’s voice, remixed by Brian Greene with Queen’s Radio Gaga, was broadcast on Centre Radio in Bayside, Dublin 13 at the end of 1988 up to the closedown.

RIP Gay. Your voice was part of the soundtrack of our youth during the pirate era.

Aircheck: Christian Community Radio

Dublin had a number of Catholic pirate radio stations during the 1980s. The Irish Christian Broadcasting Service (ICBS) broadcast mostly pre-recorded programmes on 1071 and later 981 kHz from Chapelizod from west Dublin. A more conservative outfit was Christian Community Radio operated by Catholic solicitor Gerry O’Mahony from Merrion Square in Dublin 2. O’Mahony was a leading campaigner against the liberalisation of Irish society in the 1980s and used his station to oppose gay rights, abortion and divorce. In 2008 he was banned by the Archbishop of Dublin from distributing leaflets in churches as part of a ‘prayer crusade’ against the Lisbon Treaty being debated at the time. Mr O’Mahony died that year aged 90.

Christian Community Radio is listed on 1512 kHz AM and 90.2 FM by Anoraks Ireland in November 1986. By July 1987, it was on 90.2 only. Sound quality and production standards were poor, the programmes consisting mostly of recordings of prayers and masses. The proximity of the Christian Community Radio frequency to a BBC Radio 1/2 transmitter on 90.1 MHz from Belfast prompted complaints from listeners and brought greater notoriety to the station. In October 1987 Gerry O’Mahony was interviewed on Ireland’s most-listened to radio programme, the Gay Byrne Show on RTÉ. He argued that the BBC signal was freak reception and even claimed brazenly that he had been licensed to broadcast. We’re not sure when Christian Community Radio closed down but there is no mention of the station in Anoraks Ireland lists from early 1988 and it is possible that the nationwide publicity provided by Gay Byrne sounded its death knell.