Sunrise Special on Westside Radio

Sunrise Special on Westside Radio

This is another recording of Westside Radio, a station broadcasting from Sligo from 1986 to 1988. On air is Ed Stevens with the breakfast show called Sunrise Special although as he notes, the morning is wet and overcast. He claims that Westside is the only station broadcasting in either Sligo or Leitrim at that time. The style isn’t particularly slick, audio levels are uneven and the station phone is out of order, but there are plenty of ads for local businesses so clearly Westside had an audience around Sligo.

The recording was made from 0800-0932 on 30th August 1988 from 97.6 FM, announced as 97.5. We thank John Breslin for the donation. It seems that Westside Radio closed in the autumn of that year.

Part 2 of recording from 0845-0932.

Westside Radio from Sligo

Westside Radio from Sligo
Westside Radio ad from Anoraks UK Weekly Report, February 1987

Westside Radio began broadcasting from Sligo on 97.5 MHz FM on 15th November 1986, playing mostly country and western music. The Weekly Report of Anoraks UK on 7th December reported that the audio was quite loud and sometimes distorted. An advert in Weekly Report in February 1987 (pictured) claimed that Westside was Sligo’s ‘first ever country music, folk and traditional and easy listening radio station’. Subsequent reports by Anoraks UK referred to plenty of requests and adverts, so the format appeared to be working locally. By April 1987, the station had changed its name to Westside Community Radio.

In February 1987, a West Coast Radio from Sligo was reported to be testing on 1143 kHz AM and 103.5 FM. This was a shortlived station but there must have been confusion between the similar names when both were on air.

This recording of Westside Radio was made from 97.6 FM from 2028-2202 (part 2 below) on 29th August 1988 and features a chart music show with Des McAleer who adds ‘Power 97.5 FM’ to the station ID. Clearly Westside had moved beyond its original easy listening format by this late stage in its existence, at least in its evening shows. The station was listed in an Anoraks UK log on 5th July 1988 and Power 97 is mentioned in a report from Sligo on 24th September, suggesting that it may have changed its name by that time. We thank John Breslin for this donation.

Part 2 of the recording (2115-2202).

Fossett’s Circus on Galway’s Atlantic Sound

Fossett's Circus on Galway's Atlantic Sound
Atlantic Sound studios (photo courtesy of Alan Russell).

In the first half of 1984, Galway pirate Atlantic Sound broadcast a varied schedule of music and original speech programming. This is a clip from station founder Alan Russell’s magazine programme from May or June 1984. Seán Costello interviews Annie, a South African trapeze artist with Fossett’s Circus at Fairgreen in Galway city centre during a visit by the circus to town. It was recorded on a Marantz Superscope machine. Below is a longer interview by Seán with the late Teddy Fossett who provides a brief history of the circus before taking the opportunity to share some grievances about the circus industry. Seán attempts to wrap up the interview after 15 minutes but Teddy is in full flight about the competition with Circus Hoffmans from the UK.

Atlantic Sound interview with Teddy Fossett, 1984.
Fossett's Circus on Galway's Atlantic Sound
Atlantic Sound studios (photo courtesy of Alan Russell).

The photos were taken in the Atlantic Sound studio at the end of 1983 when the station had begun testing. A full schedule began in 1984. Pictured are a Canary 12- channel mixer, Technics decks, a JVC cassette deck, Sennheiser headphones, a Shure mic and the news reader’s desk. We thank Alan Russell for the donation. In the second half of 1984 after his departure, the station was re-launched as a ‘hot hits’ format.

Time World News Service on Atlantic Sound

Time World News Service on Atlantic Sound
Atlantic Sounds complements slip (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The Time World News Service (TWNS) was set up in early 1984 in order to bring the work of Time Magazine to radio stations around the world. A letter from the publisher of Time on April 16th that year said that TNWS was ‘a new entry in radio journalism that will draw its material from the pages of TIME and its 87 correspondents and 32 news bureaus around the world’. TWNS was recorded in New York and broadcast in more than 100 US cities and 20 other countries including Ireland, where it was organised by the late Robbie Robinson of Sunshine Radio.

Time World News Service on Atlantic Sound
Atlantic Sound poster from 1984 (courtesy Alan Russell).

One Irish pirate station to broadcast TWNS was Atlantic Sound in Galway, whose founder Alan Russell recalls that they received a special delivery each month with the news features on cassettes.

‘From memory it cost £40 per month – a pint of Guinness was £1.37 back then and £40 would have been an average weekly rent on a good flat or small house’, he said.

It seems that the service was less popular than expected and was phased out from the summer of 1984.

The recording above is an edition of TWNS about the arms race and below is another edition about film releases. Both date from March or April 1984, were broadcast on Atlantic Sound and are donated kindly by Alan Russell.

‘Never more than a minute from music’: Galway’s Atlantic Sound

'Never more than a minute from music': Galway's Atlantic Sound
An Atlantic flyer from early 1984 when the station was still on 1107 kHz (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Atlantic Sound began testing at the end of 1983 and launched a full schedule at the start of 1984. A report in the Galway Advertiser on 29th December 1983 said that the station aimed to be ‘a fusion of RTÉ Radio One, Community Radio and Radio Nova’. Presumably the reference to ‘community radio’ was to the temporary local RTÉ stations on air at the time. Atlantic Sound’s founder journalist Alan Russell was quoted as saying that the station would buy equipment from the BBC and comply with the specifications required by the proposed radio authority. He added that it would not be a pop music station.

In mid-1984, after the arrival from Cork of two DJs with an offshore radio background, the late Keith York and Don Stevens, Alan Russell left Atlantic Sound and the broad schedule was changed to a ‘hot hits’ format. In this recording from the August bank holiday weekend of 1984, Seán Costello plays requests for mostly chart music and generic jingles are heard. He says that Atlantic Sound is ‘never more than a minute away from music’ and there’s a reference to a £1,000 giveaway but the thin commercial breaks suggest that the station was not making much money.

The recording was made from 99 FM and runs from 1858-1945 but is undated. Atlantic had moved from 1107 to 1026 kHz AM by this stage and had added FM. Thanks to Shay Geoghegan for the donation and to Alan Russell for background information.