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.

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)

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.

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: Magic 103 (Dublin)

Magic 103 sticker from Brian Greene’s collection.

This is a recording of a very relaxed Peter Madison (RIP) on Nova’s short-lived sister station Magic 103 from 1315-1402 on the 25th of June 1985. It begins with some pirate nostalgia in the form of ‘Goodbye Caroline’ by the One Shots, a song about the sinking of the Mi Amigo in 1980 and ‘Get Turned on to Big D’ by John Paul, a presenter at the popular Dublin station of the late 1970s where Peter himself had worked. Some of the vinyl is very scratched, more so than would be expected on a station like Magic 103. News at 1400 is read by Mark Weller (Costigan) who takes over for the afternoon shift. Peter Madison, who died in 2018, worked at many pirates during the 1980s. More recordings of Magic 103 are available 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: Radio Nova (Dublin)

L-R: Sybil Fennell, Declan Meehan and Bob Gallico on 19th May 1983,the day of Nova’s official closedown (photo courtesy Joe King).

This is the well-known recording of Radio Nova on the morning of the infamous raid on the 18th of May 1983. Gardaí and officials from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs arrived at about 9.30am and requested that both Nova and KISS FM cease transmission at once. Keys were sought for the transmission site and just over an hour later, the plug was pulled. Nova returned at about 4.15am the following morning but on lower power and at lunchtime the station announced that it would close officially at 6.00pm that evening.

Crowds at Herbert Street in anticipation of the 6pm closedown on May 19th 1983 (photo courtesy Joe King).

This recording from 819 kHz AM begins on May 18th during the 10am news with Bob Gallico. After the news, DJ Declan Meehan asks station owner Chris Cary to come to the studios in Herbert Street immediately. During the following 30 minutes, Declan makes several references to the fact that Nova may go off the air and back to back jingles are played during records. Bob Gallico joins Declan throughout the hour for live versions of their inimitable two-handers, responding to unfolding events. At the same time another DJ Tom Hardy was bringing the P&T officials to the transmitter site in Rathfarnham in order to put Nova off the air. During out interviews with former Nova staff, many recalled their memories of the 1983 raids including Tom Hardy and Dennis Murray. Declan Meehan recalls his Nova days here.

Some of the crowd at Herbert Street for the Nova closedown on 19th May 1983. Photo courtesy of Gary Hogg/Ian Biggar.

This recording is courtesy of DX Archive where more information about and recordings of the 1983 raids can be found.

Full recording: ABC Radio (Dublin)

A photo of the studio courtesy of abcradio-dublin.com – location unknown.

ABC Radio was one of the smaller Dublin stations on air from 1981 to 1984. This recording is from the 18th of May 1983 from 1436-1451 and features Gerry Williams on air, who says that all the pirates could be in jeopardy following the raid on Radio Nova that morning. ABC was in fact one of only two stations in Dublin to remain on air following the 19th of May 1983. ABC was based for a while at the Ivy Rooms Hotel (now the Gate Hotel) on Parnell Street in the north inner-city. In 1984 it merged with another small station Westside Radio to become Radio Annabel, which also broadcast from the Ivy Rooms Hotel.

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: Radio West (Mullingar)

Radio West compliments slip courtesy of DX Archive.

Radio West was a large station broadcasting to the midlands from 1982, first on 1071 kHz and then on 765 kHz as in the compliments slip. Acquiring the old Radio Nova 10kW transmitter, it could be heard far and wide especially when it moved to the clearer channel of 702 kHz. By 1988 Radio West was styling itself as ‘West National Radio 3’ and claiming to be nationwide, based on the 10kW AM rig and a chain of FM transmitters stretching from Dublin to Galway.

This recording is from the 18th of May 1983 from 1908-1925 and features Davina Carr on air with a country programme, a style of music popularised by rural stations such as Radio West. There is no mention of the raid on Radio Nova that morning, although Davina explains that the station had been off the air earlier due to technical issues. Radio West was among those stations to close down temporarily following the other raid on Sunshine Radio on the 19th of May. You can hear airchecks and jingles from Radio West here.

Full recording: Boyneside Radio (Drogheda)

The former Boyneside Radio studios at Mill Lane in Drogheda (pic John Walsh).

This is a snippet from Eddie Caffrey’s ‘Afternoon Delight’ programme on Boyneside Radio from Drogheda on the 18th of May 1983 from 1614-1632, recorded from 1332 kHz/225 metres. There is no mention of the raid on Radio Nova that morning but pirates throughout the country were becoming nervous. Many Dublin stations closed voluntarily the following day following another raid on Sunshine Radio but Boyneside stayed on the air.

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: Westside Radio (Dublin)

Advertisement for Westside Radio in Irish Radio News (1983), courtesy of Ian Biggar.

Westside Radio broadcast on 290 metres (1035 kHz) and began its life as Double R Radio in Inchicore in the house of the late Seán Day (Murphy). It migrated between various hotels and pubs in the city. In early 1983, Gerard Roe reported in Irish Radio News that Westside had tested on a number of occasions on 290 metres from a site in Mulhuddart in the northwest of the city with a strong signal and good audio quality. They were later reported to have run into legal trouble and were told to vacate the pub in Mulhuddart from where they were broadcasting. This recording was made on the 18th of March 1983, the day of the raid on Radio Nova which led many stations to close down temporarily. Westside returned but not for long because Anoraks UK reported in July that it had closed down ‘due to interference with a computer’. According to Offshore Echoes in October 1983, one theory circulating was that as the station was based on licensed premises, the pub owner didn’t want to jeopardise their forthcoming licence renewal.

Westside merged with ABC Radio to become Radio Annabel, which began testing by September 1983 on 1035 kHz and 98 MHz FM. Some of those involved in Westside set up Blanchardstown Community Radio in a near-derelict building on the main street in the west Dublin suburb. The second undated clip below is also from 290 metres, although the very start is clipped. It is an advertising promo for Westside voiced by Gerry Marsden who took over management of the station in 1983 and would later work in Radio Dublin. There is no link with the long-running shortwave pirate Westside Radio International. Thanks to Ian Biggar and Paul Shepherd for additional information.

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

Full recording: Treble TR Radio (Dublin)

Treble TR car sticker courtesy of DX Archive

Treble TR was Dublin’s country and Irish music station and broadcast from 1981 until the end of 1988 on 945 kHz and 99.5 FM. This recording is from the 18th of May 1983, the day of the Radio Nova raid when panic took root among pirates throughout the country. This recording (presenter unidentified) is of part of the Top 20 of country and Irish, a programme sponsored by none other than Nova Dry Cleaners! A barking dog also features but there is no mention of the Nova raid. Like many other stations, Treble TR closed temporarily the following day.

This recording from a noisy 945 kHz AM 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)

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.