Radio Nova from September 1982

Radio Nova from September 1982
Bryan Dobson’s Nova ID card – although they misspelled his name! Image courtesy of Bryan himself.

Continuing our focus on the tapes of British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler, this is a recording of Radio Nova that he made during a trip to Ireland in September 1982. The recording runs from 1728-1808 on Saturday 11th September and features DJ Hugh O’Brien followed by Bryan Dobson (now one of RTÉ’s leading journalists) and Michael O’Brien reading news. After the news is the US syndicated show The American Country Countdown with Bob Kingsley. Nova was announcing 846 kHz AM and 88 FM at the time.

Ads are heard for Hickson Holidays, the Sunday World newspaper, Tiger shoes and the newly-released film Bladerunner with Harrison Ford. This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Sunday afternoon on Radio Leinster

Sunday afternoon on Radio Leinster
Radio Leinster poster (courtesy of DX Archive).

The British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler visited Ireland regularly in the late 1970s and early 1980s to record the local pirate scene and interview those involved. Pirate.ie has received Tipler’s tapes collection courtesy of Steve England and is delighted to share these as they are digitised.

This is a recording of the easy listening station Radio Leinster on 93 FM from 1440-1607 on Sunday 12th August 1982 made by Tipler during one of his visits to Dublin. The station also broadcast on 406 metres (738 kHz) and could be heard over a wide area. On air is Mike Moran with an eclectic mix followed by Jean Howard with her choice of easy listening favourites. It was rare enough to hear women’s voices on the pirates but Radio Leinster was an exception and other female presenters included Daphne Mitchell, Anna Craig (aka Chisnell), Shauna Cusack and Anne Kent. Ads are heard for various businesses including the Elvery’s chain of sports shops, Maxime’s Night Club and Lamb Doyle’s restaurant in Sandyford right next door to the station.

The Pirate.ie Podcast #6

The Pirate.ie Podcast #6

In episode #6 of the Pirate.ie podcast, we analyse the politics and economics of Irish pirate radio from 1978-1988. The pirates emerged because of the political failure to develop diversity in radio and became a thorn in the side of the authorities, especially from the early 1980s with the arrival of high-powered, professional operators.

The Pirate.ie Podcast #6
Sunshine Review 1985 (DX Archive). Sunshine raised a lot of money for the Central Remedial Clinic in Dublin.

Many stations practised corporate social responsibility in an effort to appear respectable but once they began to attract advertising revenue away from RTÉ, they were raided or jammed. Political instability and ideological differences stymied the development of legislation to regulate the radio sector, with several failed radio bills in the 1980s.

The Pirate.ie Podcast #6
Political influence in high places: Mike Hogan in the Q102 helicopter over Dublin in 1986 (pic Irish Times).

In this episode, listen to Brian Greene and John Walsh explore the politics and economics of the era with the help of extracts from our archive including news programmes, interviews, commercial breaks and advertising promos. This discussion is based on our article published in 2020 in the Journal of Radio and Audio Media.

Steve Gordon on Radio Leinster

Steve Gordon on Radio Leinster
Radio Leinster logo (based on poster in DX Archive).

This is another early recording of Radio Leinster made just a few days after the station’s launch in 1981. The presenter is the late Steve Gordon who had come from Radio Tees in England and worked in Dublin in the 1980s as a jingle and commercial producer for most stations. The recording was made from 1725-1810 on Friday 1st May 1981. Steve is standing in for another deceased DJ of the era, Roland Burke. As this was recorded just two days after Radio Leinster’s launch, presumably Roland wasn’t available at the very start of the station.

The music is eclectic including MOR, oldies, disco and pop and clearly Radio Leinster’s easy listening policy was still in gestation. The recording was made in Scotland by Ken Baird and there is severe interference at times. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation.

40 years since the launch of Radio Leinster

40 years since the launch of Radio Leinster
Radio Leinster logo (courtesy of David Baker),

After a fortnight of tests, Radio Leinster launched its new service for Dublin at 7am on Wednesday 29th April 1981, announcing a frequency of 738 kHz or 406 metres. The first presenter was Eugene Elliott on the breakfast programme who promised competitions, quizzes and a news service in the coming days and weeks. There was easy listening music for the first hour but the style was more varied after 8am. Sports news and a Dublin and European weather forecast also featured. The music policy was fairly mixed in the early days and took a while to settle into the easy listening format for which Radio Leinster became well-known for most of its two-year existence. Formatting was not common in Irish pirate radio at the time but that would soon change with the introduction of strict playlisting by super-pirates such as Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova.

The short airchecked recording above was made in Dublin and includes some of the links in the first show. The longer recording below was made from 0656-0821 but is of poorer quality as it was recorded in Scotland. There is some fading, electrical interference and a heterodyne whistle as the transmitter was slightly off channel in the early days. An FM transmitter on 93 MHz was added at a later stage.

The airchecked recording was made in Dublin by Ger Roe and the longer version was made in Scotland by Ken Baird. Thanks to Ian Biggar for sharing these with us.