Tony Dixon on early Sunshine Radio

Tony Dixon on early Sunshine Radio
Feature on Tony Dixon from the 1985 Sunshine Review (courtesy DX Archive).

Tony Dixon (RIP) was one of the popular DJs on Sunshine Radio, a large and successful pirate that broke the mould in Irish local radio when it came on the air in September 1980. In this short recording from the station’s early days, he is heard on a Sunday night programme that includes the tagline ‘Dance Radio – Sunshine 539’, highlighting the station’s emphasis on that genre of music after its launch. There’s also mention of Tamango’s nightclub that advertised heavily on Sunshine and was based next door at the Sands Hotel in Portmarnock. The tape ends with the iconic Desiderata that closed down Sunshine every night, followed by the station’s theme song ‘You are my sunshine’. Tony Dixon went on to have a career on licensed radio but died prematurely in 2010.

The airchecked recording was made from between 2000 and 2100 on 12th January 1981 from 531 kHz AM, announced as 539 metres, and is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection.

Various shows on Donegal’s KTOK

Various shows on Donegal's KTOK
1988 KTOK studio shot with owner Russ Padmore in the blue shirt (courtesy Andy Carter).

KTOK was a successful commercial station broadcasting from Donegal Town between summer 1987 and the end of 1988. This recording features airchecks of various programmes between Christmas 1987 and February 1988. First up is Dave James, formerly of offshore station Radio Caroline, recorded between 1400 and 1800 on 27th December 1987. Frequencies mentioned are 103 and 96 FM and 1566 kHz AM. There are plenty of requests, promos for Christmas holiday events and gigs, the ‘gosh factor’ trivia segment and a television guide. The KTOK Cinderella Christmas Pantomine is mentioned but is unfortunately edited out of the recording, as are most of the adverts for local businesses. News on the hour with John Breslin is similarly cut, but the DJ is heard reading the headlines at half-past the hour.

At 17 minutes, the recording switches to airchecks of the Dave James show from 8th February 1988 between 1000-1300. 99 FM is heavily promoted as the new transmitter for North Donegal, with 96 FM serving South Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo. There is no mention of the AM transmitter as it may have been discontinued at this time.

At 58 minutes, station founder Russ Padmore is heard from 18th February 1988 between 1500-1800. Local gigs and discos are promoted and news on the hour is read in English and Irish but edited out. The inclusion of Irish may have been as much due to impending broadcast legislation as the fact that many parts of Donegal are Irish-speaking. Music is mostly pop but includes some oldies and country, reflect the huge popularity of the latter in rural areas of Ireland.

It is unclear which FM frequency the recording was made from. It is from the Anoraks Irish Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Northeast series: Summer shows on Boyneside Radio

Northeast series: Summer shows on Boyneside Radio
Boyneside sticker from the early 1980s (courtesy DX Archive).

This recording features excerpts from two shows on Boyneside Radio from Co. Louth in the summer of 1984. Boyneside was 6 years on the air at this stage and had grown into one of the largest regional radio stations in Ireland, with its main studios in Drogheda. The tape begins with an aircheck of Declan McGowan’s Saturday night show between 2000-2130 on 11th August 1984. Requests are heard from both sides of the border along with plenty of adverts and a few clunky chopped-up jingles.

Northeast series: Summer shows on Boyneside Radio
Original cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

This is followed by an aircheck of Daire Nelson’s breakfast show from 0745-0930 on Monday 13th August 1984. Some of the comments are a bit off by today’s standards but the recording also underlines Daire’s real talent as a broadcaster. News is read by Shane Harrison, who went off to work for BBC Northern Ireland. The tape was recorded from 98.1 FM by Kieran Murray and is part of the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection. Audio quality is generally very good but there is a buzz at the start, which may have been due to an issue with the recording device.

Northeast series: Radio Carousel Navan as heard in Donegal

Northeast series: Radio Carousel Navan as heard in Donegal
Christine Reilly and Kieran Murray in the Radio Carousel Navan studio in 1982 (courtesy Kieran Murray).

Radio Carousel Navan was one of four stations in the Carousel network at its height in the early 1980s. The original Dundalk operation was set up by the late Hugh Hardy in 1978 and later expanded to satellite stations for Drogheda (Co. Louth), Navan (Co. Meath) and Newry (Co. Armagh and Co. Down), with a short-lived experiment in Castleblayney (Co. Monaghan). The Navan station had a high-profile location in the middle of the town’s shopping centre. Hugh Hardy began winding down the Carousel network from late 1987 and the Navan station was the last to close in June 1988.

This recording of Radio Carousel Navan was made by from 1386 kHz by station manager Kieran Murray while on holidays in Carrick, Co. Donegal, about 170km to the northwest. As expected, the signal is weak but is nonetheless an interesting example of daytime groundwave reception on a busy pirate frequency, shared with Kilkenny Community Radio and North Cork Community Radio. The Carousel AM transmiter was situated in the Navan shopping centre and ran about 400 watts. On air is Tina Anderson (Christine Reilly) with a requests programme and the voices of Kieran Murray and another DJ Mike Ahern (Richard McCullen) are heard on adverts.

The tape was made from about 1100 on 3rd July 1984 and is from the Anoraks Ireland Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

’88 News’ on Radio Nova in 1981

'88 News' on Radio Nova in 1981
Nova sticker from autumn 1981 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

This snippet of Radio Nova from 1981 gives a sense of the super-pirate after its first few months on air. Beginning testing on FM only at the start of June that year, Nova shook up the Dublin market due to its distinctive sound, professional standards and most importantly the significant investment of station founder and owner Chris Cary. The tape includes station idents and jingles, an advert for upmarket newspaper The Sunday Tribune and the ’88 News’ presented by Sybil Fennell. The news branding reflected Nova’s prioritisation of high quality stereo FM at a time when RTÉ’s use of the superior quality band was limited. In fact, the station did not begin broadcasting on AM until just a few days before this tape was made, adding a 10 kW transmitter on 846 kHz.

This airchecked recording was made from 88.5 FM on 13th September 1981 by British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler during one of his many visits to Dublin in the early part of that decade. It is kindly donated by Steve England.