The owner and operator of the Radio Carousel network was country music impresario Hugh Hardy from Omeath in Co. Louth. He presented the popular lunchtime Country Call programme which was relayed from Dundalk to the other satellite stations at the height of Carousel’s operations. Hugh lived in Dublin and commuted to Dundalk but in November 1986 he set up KLAS, an easy listening station aimed at the Dublin market, in a garage complex at the back of his home.
Radio Carousel Dundalk closed on Friday 23rd January 1987 after a surprise visit from officials of the Department of Communications who complained about interference to mobiles and directed the station to close down. Carousel left the air the following day at 1pm but its other stations in Navan and at the border continued.
This recording features a renowned interview with Hugh Hardy on the Radio West Anoraks Programme on Sunday 25th January. The weekly show was always unpredictable and relied heavily on rumour and hearsay, as station owner Shaun Coyne openly admitted. The recording opens with a heated argument between Hugh and Shaun with both trading accusations. Hugh then explains the reasons for Carousel Dundalk leaving the air and announces that given the success of KLAS, he is to concentrate on the easy listening station from then on. Both station owners compare notes about their experience of presenters down the years, with Hugh Hardy recounting how one of his newsreaders resigned live on air the previous week. The other presenter Don Allen tries to get a word in from time to time without much success but the interview ends amicably.
Radio Carousel Dundalk would in fact return in mid-February 1987 but by early 1988 both the Dundalk and border stations were in decline, leaving only Radio Carousel Navan. Hugh Hardy did not get involved in the licensed stations after 1989 but developed his video production business instead. He died in 2008.
There is a strong whiff of the drama of 1980s pirate radio in this recording: pirates encroaching on each other’s frequencies, RTÉ ordering pirates to move, stations being forced to close down and rumours circulating about those working in the business. We thank Ian Biggar for sharing this recording.
This is a feature programme about the first five-and-a-half years of the Radio Carousel network, broadcast in December 1983. It was compiled by Kieran Murray who was the first voice to be heard on the station on 20th May 1978. There are also interviews with station founder and owner Hugh Hardy, information about listenership surveys and extracts from shows featuring presenters such as Dave Scott (Joe Reilly), Mike Ahern (Richard McCullen) and Tina Anderson. Kieran describes the satellite stations in Navan, Drogheda and on the border and there are also extracts from news programmes and outside broadcasts. Hugh Hardy’s interview with BBC Radio Ulster following the 1983 raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio is included. The programme also includes a flavour of Radio Carousel Dundalk’s 5th birthday on 20th May 1983 and of Radio Carousel Navan’s 2nd birthday on 22nd October 1983.
Kieran Murray announces the programme as a two-hour special but this recording contains only one hour so is presumably an edited version. A full version of the station’s theme tune ‘Don’t stop the carousel’ by Roy Taylor and the Nevada is heard at the end. We thank Eddie Caffrey for donating the recording.
Full photo information
Back row: Richard Crowley, Kieran Murray, Shay Breslin, Ray Stone, Hugh Hardy, Dave Scott, Mike Ahern, Frank Mitchell.
Front row: Shane Mullen, Hugh Sands, Penny Palmer, Tony Farrelly.
This is another recording of Radio Carousel Dundalk made on two consecutive days, 30th and 31st May 1985 from 101 FM. First up is a segment from the evening show presented by Dave Scott (aka Joe Reilly, RIP) from 2240 to 2325 on the 30th. The classified ads at 2300 include Bruce Springsteen tickets for the forthcoming concert in Slane, various cars for sale, a JCB driver for hire, roofing services, Kerr’s pink potatoes for sale and a BBC colour television aerial!
This is followed by part of the next day’s breakfast programme presented by Mike Ahern (aka Richard McCullen) from 0815 to 0900 on the 31st. It sounds like a one-man show at times as Mike’s voice can be heard on several ads and he also reads news headlines at 0830. However there is no shortage of advertising and there are requests too, including for children on their way to school.
Richard McCullen went on to work in the local licensed station LMFM. Joe Reilly (using that name) went on to work at ERI in Cork and later licensed station Radio Kerry. We thank Gary Camblin for this recording.
This recording of Radio Carousel features Frank Mitchell on air from 1645-1728 on 20th May 1983, the station’s 5th birthday. The date is significant because it was the time of the raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio, which caused many other pirates to close temporarily as a precaution. The recording was made from FM and there is interference at times. The channel is also re-tuned on a few occasions during the recording.
A noticeable aspect is the large number of requests from listeners throughout Louth and beyond. There are also competitions to win tickets for nights out in local hotels as well as adverts and notices. Shane Mullen reads sports news at 5.30 and the evening news programme at 6pm is mentioned. It all sounds like a respectable local station offering a mixture of music and information and with no shortage of listeners and advertisers. Frank Mitchell currently works as a weather presenter on UTV and presents on radio station U105. This recording was made by Gary Camblin and given to us by Ian Biggar.
This is another early recording from Radio Carousel made in Dundalk itself on 3rd January 1979 from 1330-1403. Mike Ahern (aka Richard McCullen) is finishing his lunchtime programme and hands over to Eric Vaughan (aka Eric Griffin) at 2pm. The station was announcing 265 metres (1134 kHz) at this time and had moved to a better studio in Dundalk Shopping Centre. There are adverts for the shopping centre voiced by Mike Ahern himself, an ad for a business in Warrenpoint in Co. Down and a request from a listener in Drumiskin south of Dundalk, giving a sense of Carousel’s core coverage area at the time. Both Mike and Eric worked in Carousel and Boyneside during the pirate era and continued in licensed stations afterwards as Richard McCullen (LMFM) and Eric Griffin (C103).
The tape is a bit wobbly in places but has withstood the passage of time relatively well and the signal is strong having been recorded locally. The recording was made by Kieran Murray and was donated to us by Ian Biggar.