By the summer of 1984, Radio Nova was riding the crest of a wave. Having endured the storm of the RTÉ jamming, the station was now broadcasting a massive 50kW of power on AM, allowing it greater penetration of the northwest of Britain. After using various FM and AM frequencies to avoid the jamming, in May 1984 Nova switched to 738 kHz and 102.7 FM only, opened an advertising office in Liverpool and began including references to England in news, weather and traffic reports.
This recording was made in the English midlands near Birmingham, south of the area being targetted by Nova in the northwest of England, southern Scotland and the Isle of Man. There is plenty of co-channel interference from the Spanish broadcaster on the same frequency of 738 kHz and deep fading consistent with night-time propagation. Transmitter power would also have been turned down to 10kW at night to minimise interference. On air is Chris Barry, a well-known DJ from the pirate era and later licensed independent radio. News on the hour is read by another familiar Nova voice, Sybil Fennell.
The recording was made on 6th July 1984 from 2137 to 2307 and is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.
One of the characteristics of the super-pirate Radio Nova was its high-powered broadcasts on medium wave aimed at listeners in Britain. By 1985, the station was broadcasting 50kW of power on 738 kHz AM and reaching cities such as Liverpool and Manchester but the frequency was prone to interference at night. Longwave – capable of covering larger distances and using a less crowded band – seemed like an option to reach Britain more effectively and was tested by Radio Nova in late 1985 and early 1986.
Nova began broadcasting on 254 kHz on 6th December 1985, relaying the main service on 738 kHz. The audacious move was noted by the Media Network programme on Radio Netherlands International but the initial broadcasts were intermittent and on low power. Signal strength improved in the first fortnight in January 1986 but no mention of longwave was made on air and it is likely that few listeners were aware of the broadcasts. Separate longwave broadcasts did not begin until 28th January, when Nova was relayed until 1400, followed by a programme presented by Chris Barry until 1800. The same schedule continued for the following two days until the transmitter was switched off on Thursday 30th January at around 2215. It is estimated that power output was in the region of 15 kW at the time. The reason for the switch-off of longwave is not known but Nova was by this time in deep trouble and would close down completely on March 19th.
254 kHz (later 252) was the longwave frequency allocated to Ireland by the International Telecommunication Union and would later be used by the joint RTÉ and Radio Luxembourg venture, Atlantic 252 (1989-2002). Atlantic 252 broadcast from Co. Meath but was aimed at the UK market and covered most of the British landmass with its 500 kW of power. From 2004 to 2023, RTÉ used the frequency to broadcast Radio 1 into Britain, but power was reduced significantly in later years and there were problems with co-channel interference from an Algerian station.
This recording of Radio Nova on longwave was made in the English midlands on 22nd January 1986 from 254 kHz between 1254-1326 and is a relay of the main service. It features the usual high-level adverts from agencies and for large businesses and the ABC Network News is presented by Bob Gallico and Sybil Fennell. After the news, Electric Lunchtime is hosted by Tony McKenzie. The recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England, and background information is courtesy of DX Archive.
Erneside Community was one of several pirates broadcasting from Co. Cavan during the 1980s. It was a strong supporter of local country and western artists throughout its four years on air. Erneside began test transmissions in January 1985 and started full programming on 25th February, broadcasting on 1251 kHz (announcing 240 metres). A detailed report by Seán Brady of Cavan Community Radio in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report of 31st March 1985 described the ‘Cavan Radio Explosion’ and noted that Erneside broadcast from 8am to midnight, specialising mostly in Irish country and western music. Erneside also had an outside broadcast unit that had travelled to Counties Cavan, Leitrim and Fermanagh and carried community notices each day. The station later added FM and continued to broadcast until 30th December 1988.
This tape was recorded in the English midlands and is of DX quality, with plenty of deep fading and interference. No times were noted on the cassette, but it was made during the afternoon of 13th November 1985 as winter darkness fell. There are adverts from both sides of the border in the run-up to the busy Christmas period. The first DJ is Brian Gold and he is followed by Don Woods.
This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.
In the summer of 1984, things were looking up for Radio Nova following the end of RTÉ’s relentless jamming of the station for the early part of the year. A public backlash led to the jamming being called off but although the obstacles to reception of Nova had been removed, storm clouds were gathering due to a bitter industrial relations dispute with journalists laid off by Chris Cary.
This tape is of Jason Maine’s evening programme as heard in the English midlands around this time. It was recorded from the high-power transmitter on 738 kHz AM, which had recently become the only AM frequency following the end of the jamming. The weather forecast contains reference to the northwest of England as Nova was targetting that area at the time.
The recording features good skywave reception with fading and occasional co-channel interference from the Spanish station on the same frequency. It was made on Monday 28th May 1984 from 2141-2211 and is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.
Finding suitable frequencies on the crowded AM band of the 1980s was one of the technical challenges facing the Irish pirates and the story of Radio West is a case in point. The midlands station began on 1071 kHz in 1982 before moving to 702 kHz and then 729 kHz, a bad choice given the presence of RTÉ’s Cork opt-out service on the same frequency. Radio West switched to 765 kHz on 27th June 1983, increasing its range within Ireland and beyond. From 1986-1988, it returned to 702 kHz, rebranding itself as ‘West National Radio 3’ and claiming national coverage on AM and a series of FM transmitters.
This tape was made from 765 kHz in the early hours of Saturday 9th July 1983 and features the closedown of Radio West for the night. The unidentified DJ signs off in both Irish and English and then plays the iconic Desiderata song, also used by Sunshine Radio in Dublin at closedown each night. The broadcast ends with the national anthem.
There is plenty of fading as would be expected in late-night DX reception outside the core transmission area. The recording was made in the English midlands and is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.