This is a day-long airchecked recording of Local Radio Drogheda from August 1979 when it was beginning to identify as Boyneside Radio. The programme opens with the end of David Browne’s breakfast show which is followed by David (aka Michael Comyn, now of RTÉ) reading the 10am news which includes the tragedy of the Fastnet yacht race off Co. Cork in which 19 people were killed. Eric Vaughan (aka Griffin) is then heard on the mid-morning show which is followed at 12 noon by a religious reflection (in later years, Boyneside would broadcast the Angelus at 12 and 6pm). Future Irish presidential candidate Gavin Duffy is next, followed by Heady Eddie Caffrey from 2-4pm. Main lunchtime news is read by Áine Ní Ghuidhir who refers to the ‘LRD newsdesk’, and Áine herself is to take over as presenter at 4pm following Eddie.
This is a unique opportunity to experience the early sound of Local Radio Drogheda as it transformed itself into Boyneside Radio. The recording was made from 0942-1600 on 14th August 1979 and is courtesy of Ian Biggar.
Northern Radio broadcast from 1980 to 1982 from Omeath, just a few kilometres south of the border. We bring you a synopsis of the station’s history written by Ian Biggar.
Northern Radio was set up to serve listeners in the northeast border counties and attract advertisers from those areas. Most of the advertising seemed to come from Newry and Rostrevor. The man behind the station was Marty Donnan, who later went on to work for Downtown Radio and BBC Radio Ulster. Disc jockeys included Andrew Gold and Davy Hamill, both of whom subsequently worked for other stations around this part of the border.
The first note we have of the station is from January 1980 when it was announced as operating on 1278 kHz or 230 metres. However, any logs I have seen of the station have given the actual frequency as 1296 or 1298 kHz. The transmitter was built by Bill Ebrill from Dublin and would give around 300 watts output. The station was located in what was described as a ‘ramshackle caravan’ beside the Park Hotel in Omeath, a location that according to some was not the best for getting a signal out.
In the early days Northern Radio seemed to have quite a full schedule, including a country and western programme. The schedule became more erratic with the passage of time, if and when someone turned up to do a programme. Anoraks Ireland visited the station in February 1982, only to find it deserted with a pre-recorded tape running. Northern Radio may have been off the air for a period as in the July 1982 edition of Short Wave News, Paul Davidson notes the station on 1314 kHz and asks: ‘is it back on air?’
On a further visit in August 1982, Paul Davidson was told that programmes were live whenever transport was laid on for the DJs to come from Rostrevor, otherwise it was tapes from 0800-1800. This August visit was probably towards the end of the station’s life because in the October edition of Short Wave News, Paul Davidson reported that Northern Radio had closed. Marty Donnan and other staff joined Boyneside Radio’s new border station which started broadcasting on 1233 kHz in early autumn 1982.
The recording above is an aircheck of Andrew Gold’s show on 30th January 1980 from 1410-1615. It features ads from Newry and Warrenpoint and Andrew with plenty of chatter, birthday requests, horoscopes and even references to dogs and cattle in and around the studio. As darkness falls, co-channel interference from an overseas station is heard. The shorter recording below is an aircheck from 2nd February 1980 and features Hugh Farrell with news, Des Carson’s country music show and Andrew Gold with music and sports results.
North East Radio (NER) was a short-lived station in Dundalk in 1979-1980. We thank Ian Biggar of DX Archive for the recording and for writing this account of the station’s history.
As it became clear that the days of Radio Dundalk were numbered, a man called Gerry Duffy began looking for investors for a new station in the town. Seeing the prospects of local commercial radio, it did not take too long before some local businessmen were willing to invest in the project and provide secure financial backing, along with Dr. Don Moore of Dublin pirate radio fame. Studios were built in the Imperial Hotel and aerial masts erected on the building roof. A transmitter was obtained, built by Declan Kane from Dublin, who had done similar work for ARD. The rig was allegedly running some 800 watts of power.
The station went on air in October 1979 on 1196 kHz (off channel), announced as 257 metres. From the start the station broadcast nonstop, 24 hours a day with slogans like ‘North East Radio – the station that never sleeps’ and ‘Your slice of heaven on 257’. NER was set up in direct competition to Radio Carousel which by this time had become rather stale. It was hoped that the new station could gain a share in the lucrative advertising market in the area. Listeners found the programming a refreshing change from Carousel and the station’s future looked bright. Crispian St. John, a well known broadcaster on the offshore stations Radio Nordsee International and Radio Caroline joined NER, as well as local talent such as Owen Larkin, Alec Fennell and Daire Nelson.
However, as 1980 progressed, technical problems beset the station. Disagreements between station staff and the engineer caused the latter to depart. This left the transmitter in the hands of the station staff, resulting in a deterioration of audio quality. Meantime management-staff relations were growing sour, as a result of presenters claiming they were not being paid for work done.
In June 1980, FRC Ireland reported that a mobile CB operator just outside the hotel caused the NER transmitter to blow up. This put the station off air for almost a week while the damaged transmitter was repaired. Eddie Caffrey also recalls an incident where a staff member attempted to change the off-channel 1196 kHz crystal for the new channel 1197. Because the individual did this while the rig was switched on, it caused damage. The station engineer constructed a new transmitter employing parts of the original rig with parts of the standby transmitter.
While this combination of transmitters worked satisfactorily, it produced some harmonics on the trawler band. Anglesey lifeboat radio in north Wales noted interference to their transmissions and the source was named as North East Radio. In fact, in the August 1980 issue of Short Wave News, two DXers in England reported reception of NER on 2394 kHz, the second harmonic of the fundamental 1197 kHz. An official complaint was sent to the Irish Department of Posts and Telegraphs and they in turn contacted NER. The station was given 24 hours to sort out the problem. The staff decided to switch the transmitter off until the problems could be fixed.
Meantime the hotel owners were growing unhappy with the presence of the station and the financial backers were becoming disillusioned. In late August 1980 the hotel indicated that NER would have to vacate the studios and remove the twin 100-foot aerial towers within a week. We don’t have an exact date of closure of North East Radio, but assume it was sometime during August 1980. It was a sad ending to a station that started with such positive prospects.
The recording consists of airchecks of the station on 31st January 1980 and features Dara Nelson, Crispian St. John, Gerry D., Phil Llewelyn and Alec Evans. There is a fresh sound with plenty of ads, professional links and station idents voiced by Tony Allen.
This is our final recording of Radio Dundalk shortly before the station’s closure due to financial difficulties. It was made on 21st August 1979, just a week before the station left the air for good on 28th August and consists of airchecks of various daytime presenters including PJ the DJ, Brick Wallace and Eric Vaughan. There are adverts, plenty of requests, a competition to win a £1 note, a notice about a lost watch and a news bulletin at 1pm. By this time, the station was calling itself Independent Radio Dundalk or IRD Radio, possibly influenced by other stations such as Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD) or Independent Radio Galway (IRG).
It’s possible to hear a station in the background in part of the recording which we assume was Manx Radio as they were pretty much on the same frequency. The station announced 220 metres or 1367 kHz, although they were also logged on 1360 kHz. We thank Ian Biggar for background information and for sharing this recording with us.
Today we bring you three short airchecked recordings of Radio Dundalk from 1978. The first recording above features a very young (Heady) Eddie Caffrey, reading a statement on behalf of the station criticising an article published in the Sunday World newspaper that morning. The context for the announcement was that there was a raid on Radio Carousel on the 7th of July 1978, but Radio Dundalk was left untouched. The Sunday World was suggesting that Radio Dundalk had contacts in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and hence was not raided. That was loosely true as one of the owners, Hugh McKittrick, worked for the department but had nothing to do with the radio division. The statement was the Radio Dundalk’s response to the article. We estimate that this recording was made on Sunday the 9th of July 1978, two days after the Carousel raid. Radio Dundalk itself was raided on the 13th of July.
The two short recordings below were made on the 14th of May 1978. There are plenty of requests from Dundalk and surrounding towns.
This recording was made about 20km from Dundalk and there is interference on the channel. The presenter reads a live advert for a music shop in Dundalk and there are lots more requests.
Many thanks to Eddie Caffrey for the recordings and to both Eddie and Ian Biggar for background information.