We are grateful to Ken O’Sullivan for his donation of this recording from the final days of the first incarnation of South Coast Radio in Cork.
The first South Coast began in 1982 and broadcast from studios above Henchy’s pub in St. Luke’s, Cork only to close on Friday 13th July 1984. This is a recording from the previous Sunday, 8th July. The station was revived temporarily in studios on North Main Street shortly afterwards but this was mostly a rebranding of another station and didn’t last long. There was a third generation when the station known as WBEN which broadcast from Cook Street changed its name to South Coast in 1987. They used some of the original equipment (record decks, cart machines and desk) and kept the name until closedown in December 1988. This was the final incarnation of South Coast Radio.
The disc jockey on this recording is Ken O’Sullivan under his pirate name Ken Regis with jingles and stings made by the late Keith York. Tony Allan and Rob Allen (still with Cork’s 96FM) provided voiceovers for the ads and promos. South Coast used 1557 kHz AM (announcing 194 metres), also trying 1566 for a time, and the FM frequency was 104 MHz. You can listen to jingles from South Coast Radio here and WBEN here.
WBEN was founded in October 1985 by Peter O’Neill and Romano Macari. O’Neill had helped set up Radio City Cork in 1980 and later the original South Coast Radio. WBEN specialised in playing mainly American Top 40 and initially had no presenters. It broadcast on low-power FM in the city centre and therefore coverage was limited, although the station gained a following from shops looking for background music. In summer 1986 they replaced the automated style with presenters and introduced a medium wave transmitter on 1386 kHz.
O’Neill left Ireland temporarily in late 1986 and the station continued under Macari but changed format to mixed oldies, pop, showbands and an infamous late-night phone show presented by Macari himself. WBEN was eventually changed to South Coast Radio using the jingle package from the original station of that name and the station continued until December 31st 1988. O’Neill remains influential in Cork radio circles, having recently put Juice FM on the trial DAB service. He works as a lecturer in radio at CSN College of Further Education, Cork. This jingle package came from the original WBEN in Buffalo, New York.
thanks to Martin O’Brien for the donation and Gearóid Quill for background information.