Bandscan: Irish radio as heard in Wales in 1983

Bandscan: Irish radio as heard in Wales in 1983
A winter shot from Aberystwyth promenade with Constitution Hill in the background (photo by John Walsh).

‘Hello Again’, Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary series The Irish Pirates was based on a return visit to Dublin in September 1983. The episode features an AM and FM bandscan from Aberystwyth on the west Wales coast, recorded by Tipler in August 1983. Having climbed Constitution Hill to the north of the town, Tipler gave himself the best chance of picking up radio signals from Ireland a mere 150km away.

This is the original, unedited bandscan as recorded by Tipler on both AM and FM from his perch overlooking the Irish Sea on a sunny Saturday afternoon, 13th August 1983. The pirates heard include Arklow Community Radio, Kilkenny Community Radio, Sunshine Radio and Radio Dublin. RTÉ Radio 1, Radio 2 and Raidió na Gaeltachta are all received loud and clear on FM. There are snippets of unidentified UK stations as well as occasional breakthrough from police communication, possibly due to harmonics.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)

Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)
Q102 logo from Alan MacSimoin collection.

This recording of Dublin super-pirate Q102 from May 1988 was made just before it was relaunched as ‘Super Q 102’. The new format was the work of American radio consultant Bill Cunningham, who had transformed Sunshine Radio into ‘Sunshine Hot Hits 101’ in 1986. Q102 had acquired the transmitters and equipment of Energy 103 the previous March and, along with Sunshine, was one of the two biggest players in the Dublin pirate radio market.

The recording is from 1218-1340 on the 17th of May 1988 and features Jason Maine, followed by the start of Greg Gaughran’s show. There are regular mysterious promos for the new ‘super sounds’ format to be launched within hours, and a competition to win tickets to the Michael Jackson concert in Cork at the end of July. The recording also contains advertisements for the Mosney holiday centre north of Dublin (now a direct provision centre for asylum seekers), an event to choose Miss Ireland 1988 at Rumour’s Nightclub, regular promos for the Evening Herald small ads and a Tony Allan voiceover for Bewley’s coffee.

We thank Ian Biggar for his donation of this recording.

Full recording: Radio Nova

Full recording: Radio Nova
A Radio Nova envelope from the days on 846 kHz (courtesy of DX Archive).

This recording was made by the British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler at his home in Kidderminster in the English midlands. The tape label states that it was made from 819 kHz from 2217-2305 on the 17th of September 1982, but there is a jingle for ‘the mighty 890’ and the news ident at the top of the hour announces 846 kHz. According to the November 1981 edition of Short Wave News, Nova returned to 846 after briefly trying 891. Based on Anoraks UK logs, it seems the move to 819 kHz happened between the 7th and the 23rd of September 1982. It is possible, therefore, that Nova had very recently moved by the time of this recording but the ident had not yet been updated. Thanks to Ian Biggar for confirming details.

The DJ in this recording is Eddie West and news is read by Bryan Dobson, now a senior RTÉ journalist. Audio quality ranges from poor to fair as there is plenty of skywave interference. At about 300km from Dublin, Kidderminster is well outside the coverage area of Nova’s 10 kW transmitter. During the recording, Eddie West wishes Sunshine Radio a happy 2nd birthday and also mentions Leon Tipler. That clip was used in Leon’s acclaimed documentary series The Irish Pirates, which is available on this archive.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)
Crowds at Herbert Street on the day of Radio Nova’s official closedown, 19 May 1983 (photo by Joe King).

In the final instalment of Part 3 of ‘The Irish Pirates’, Leon Tipler returns to Dublin. Volume 8 covers his visits to Sunshine and Radio Nova in September 1983 to get the views of the staff about the raids of the previous May which put both stations off the air temporarily. Tipler interviews Sybil Fennell, Chris Cary and Robbie Robinson and also features the iconic Nova closedown with Tony Allan at 6pm on the 19th of May 1983. He also recounts the horrified political reaction to Cary’s plans for Nova Television. This final episode ends with Tipler’s analysis of the political implications of the raids and changed attitudes to the pirates in their aftermath.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)
Equipment removed from Sunshine Radio, 19 May 1983, with RTÉ television crew filming (photo by Joe King).

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England. We will bring you more from this valuable collection over the coming weeks and months.

Index to Volume 8

00:00 Visit to Galway – no pirates on air
00:30 Visit to Sunshine Radio offices
01:15 Visit to Radio Nova
02:00 Interview with Sybil Fennell
04:30 Nova TV
08:10 Chris Cary on Nova in May 1983
09:40 RTÉ coverage of 1983 raid on Nova
10:40 Interview with Chris Cary about raids
15:50 Interview with Robbie Robinson about raids
17:55 Interview with Sybil Fennell about raids
18:20 Continuation of interview with Cary
20:20 Continuation of interview with Robinson
25:00 Sunshine closedown in 1983
27:40 Radio Nova closedown on 19.05.83
33:05 Interview with Sybil Fennell about closedown
33:50 Tony Allen closing Nova
42:00 Continuation of interview with Cary about closedown
46:00 Continuation of interview with Robinson about closedown
51:45 Return of Sunshine
55:00 Changed political response
55:45 Conclusion

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 4)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 4)
One of the episodes of ‘The Irish Pirates’ from the Leon Tipler Collection (photo by Brian Greene)

This is the final volume of Part 2 of ‘The Irish Pirates’, Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary on the Irish scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. This hour covers Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova in more detail, including a visit to the Nova transmitter site and interviews with Chris Cary and Stuart McLoughlin about the economics of radio and the ratings wars. There are also interesting clips of specialist programmes such as the current affairs show ‘Dublin Today’ and the religious hour ‘Life is a Celebration’. Tipler discusses the local radio legislation proposed in 1981, one of the many failed attempts to legalise the sector, and offers an in-depth analysis of the state of play at the time. The hour finishes with a long and fascinating bandscan of Dublin pirate radio. Tipler refers to Part 2 of ‘The Irish Pirates’ being in production and we will bring you those recordings shortly.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Index to Volume 4

00:11 Dublin Today
02:12 Life is a Celebration
03:45 Trip to TX site
07:35 KISS FM promos
10:45 Chris Cary on Nova ratings
17:00 Interview with Stuart McLoughlin of Nova
27:10 1981 Local Radio Bill
31:55 Aim of the documentary
36:20 Possibility of local RTÉ opt-out for Dublin
37:00 Pirates raise money for charity
40:48 Thanks to those who appeared in Part 1
41:43 Final bandscan