Long before the reality television series of the same name, Cork had its very own Big Brother Radio. This Cork station lasted for about 3-4 months at the start of 1981 and was operated from a garage on the Blarney Road. Experimenting with an American style, Big Brother Radio was owned by Philip O’Connor who had worked previously with the Cork Broadcasting Company (CBC). The FM signal on 88.6 MHz was in mono only but the signal was good in the city because of where the studio and dipole were located. An AM transmitter at the snooker club in Blackpool relayed the signal but was weak and didn’t last long. The studio was impressive and was nicely fitted out with professional record decks, cart machines and carpet tiles.
This recording of Big Brother Radio was made from 88.6 FM from 1729-1900 on 3rd February 1981. It begins with a sign-off from Captain Peacock who is followed by Alan Edwards. Alan, who had been a regular DJ previously on CBC, announces a competition for a £10 note. Thanks to Lillian O’Donoghue for the donation of the tape and to Rob Allen for background information.
We’re very grateful to Ken O’Sullivan for his donations of recordings of Cork City Local Radio (CCLR). The first recording was made on 24th April 1983 from 95.5 FM in stereo and features Ken Regis, as he was known on air, with a Sunday afternoon requests show. There’s also a pretty tough competition with a prize of a box of chocolates up for grabs. Some of the recording is airchecked and there’s a bit of wobble on the 40-year old cassette.
The recording below is of Ken Regis on 19th March 1983 from 1555 from 95.5 FM. It begins with adverts for local businesses around Cork and a generic sung jingle. There’s also a radio-related competition and interestingly, the show is being taped for a listener in Galway. Sound quality is fair due to the wobbly cassette.
The final recording features Ken in the early evening of 22nd May 1983 and is again from 95.5 FM. There’s a reference to a petition to support local radio in Cork, a reflection of the raids on Dublin stations a few days previously. Adverts are a mixture of pre-records and live-reads and once again the tape is showing its age.
This recording of Cork City Local Radio (CCLR) was made from 1830-1900 on 27th December 1982 and features the end of a marathon show featuring the Top 100 songs of the year. DJ Brian Downey has come to the of a long shift and signs off before the jingle at the top of the hour.
In September 1982, CCLR added an FM transmitter on 95.6 MHz in line in changes in radio listening. We have no record of the frequency from which this recording was made but it sounds like FM mono. Perhaps the tape recorder was set to mono on that day, or CCLR may not have had a stereo encoder yet.
This recording of Cork City Local Radio (CCLR) is of Philip Knight (Johnston) on his early evening show on 24th August 1980 from 1900-1930. The show gives a sense of CCLR’s popularity at this time as there are plenty of requests and the buzz created by the DJ shines through the poor audio quality. There’s even a reference to Radio Luxembourg, which was a big influence on Irish DJs of the time. As the article below outlines, CCLR had plans in 1982 to make its style sound more American and increase its coverage area. However, the arrival of larger pirates such as South Coast Radio and ERI put smaller stations off the air and CCLR closed in late 1983.
This is a recording of part of the Sunday afternoon oldies show on Cork City Local Radio. The presenter refers to himself only as ‘BG’ and promises that the music ‘will make your valves glow or your batteries run low’. Audio quality is poor but there are a few interesting retro jingles. The recording was made from 1600-1630 on 24th August 1980 and is donated by Lillian O’Donoghue.