This is a jingles package from WLS Music Radio which broadcast from Galway from 1985-1987. WLS was one of the larger commercial stations in Galway during the pirate era. These re-cuts were based on a set from the Chicago station of the same name, which has been on air since the 1920s and continues to broadcast today. The voice of one of the station owners, Don Stevens, is heard before each jingle. We thank Brendan Mee for this donation.
You can read more about WLS and listen to full recordings here.
Jon Richards has been a familiar voice on Galway radio for 35 years and is currently Programme Director of Galway Bay FM. He cut his teeth in the pirates beginning with WLS Music Radio in 1985 before moving in 1987 to County Sound, first in its home base of Tuam, and subsequently in Galway after it moved into the city in 1988.
In this interview, Jon shares his pirate memories of both stations, including transmitters and studio equipment, programme content and the colourful characters on both sides of the microphone. He recalls many near misses, including falling asleep on air during his first shift and missing a vital lift from Galway to Tuam! Jon remembers fondly his overnight shifts in the pirate days and laments the lack of live nighttime programming on radio today. He also consider the pirate legacy and gives his views on the health of the current radio scene.
We thank Jon Richards warmly for his contribution to this archive. You can listen back here to a feature about Pirate.ie on Galway Bay FM.
Emerald Radio was a part-time hobby station broadcasting on 97.5 FM from the Shantalla area of Galway City in 1986 and 1987. It came on the air in June 1986 and was run by the 20-year-old Dónal Mahon. According to the Anoraks UK Weekly Report, Emerald was a summer operation running from June to September and closed down at the end of the school holidays. It described Emerald Radio as ‘surprisingly professional’ with ‘nice equipment and pleasant audio’. Emerald FM was included as an irregular operator by Anoraks Ireland in their listing of November 1986, with a plan to return at Christmas.
In February 1987, the Galway City Tribune reported that Dónal Mahon (named in the report as Dónal Murphy) intended to relaunch Emerald commercially following the success of the previous summer, but that 97.5 FM was being used by a country music pirate called WMAQ. When Emerald moved to other frequencies, Mahon complained that they were followed each time and jammed by WMAQ. According to the Tribune, he traced the offending signal to the address of the main Galway pirate WLS but the owner denied any involvement.
These jingles for Emerald Radio were unusual in that they were professionally produced by Alfasound with specific reference to the west of Ireland. There are also some generic jingles and idents for presenters including Gary Hardiman, one of the founders of Radio Renmore, and Dónal Mahon himself. We thank Brendan Mee for donating these jingles to the archive.
On the 12th of June 2020, John Walsh spoke to Keith Finnegan of Galway Bay FM about the recent series about Galway pirates on Pirate.ie. The interview includes a rare jingle from Independent Radio Galway (1978-1979), sung by the choir of University College Galway (now the National University of Ireland, Galway). Keith, now CEO of Galway Bay FM, remembers his own involvement in West Coast Community Radio (WCCR). The interview finishes with a montage of jingles and idents from the Pirate.ie series on Galway.
Many of those at Galway Bay FM cut their teeth in the Galway pirates of the era. Licensed in 1989 as Radio West, one group involved in the successful consortium was the original pirate Radio West from Mullingar. The station changed its name to Galway Bay FM in 1993.
We thank Galway Bay FM for their interest in Pirate.ie and hope that the interview will encourage more people in Galway to come forward to memories and recordings.
Coast 103 was on air for 18 months in 1987 and 1988 and was the last of the large commercial Galway stations of the era. It emerged from WLS Music Radio and began testing on the 10th of July 1987 as Coast 100. The station was set up by Steve Marshall and Keith York (RIP) who had been involved in both WLS and an earlier station, Atlantic Sound. Coast was located at 24 Prospect Hill, the same address as WLS. It soon moved to 103 FM and added a 1 kW transmitter on 1566 kHz AM. According to the Anoraks UK Weekly Report, the backers were Keith York himself, another pirate station WKLR in Bandon and a number of Galway businessmen.
In April 1988 the Limerick station Hits 954 closed and merged with Coast 103, calling itself Coast Hot Hits and covering Galway, Clare and Limerick. The original Hits 954 AM transmitter was used to relay the Galway signal although there were problems with the antenna and power was never too high. There is poor audio quality on this promo for the new station, voiced by Stuart Clark, recorded from AM in Limerick.
A chain of FM transmitters was installed between Galway and Limerick allowing FM reception to the south almost as far as Cork city and well into counties Kerry, Tipperary. The Galway FM transmitter, with an estimated maximum power of 3 kW ERP was brought to a higher location to allow improved reception to the north into Counties Mayo and Roscommon. The AM signal could be heard in Scotland but FM was the priority in the station’s last year. Coast Hot Hits was one of a number of stations to carry the satellite service Radio Nova International on overnights in 1988. It also made a number of successful outside broadcasts from Limerick and Galway. In the competitive Galway pirate scene of 1988, there was intense rivalry with the other big station County Sound. Coast presenters included Tony Allan, Steve Marshall, Stuart Clark, Brian Walsh, Ger Sweeney and Shane Martin. The station closed at the end of 1988 in line with the new broadcasting legislation. You can listen here to an interview with Ger Sweeney in which he remembers his time at Coast.
This recording, courtesy of Ian Biggar of DX Archive, is from the 1st of November 1988 from 1113-1200 and features Steve Marshall on air with the great Tony Allan’s voice on many ads and promos.