Opening day of Magic 103

Opening day of Magic 103
Bob Gallico in the Magic 103 studio (courtesy Paul Buckle).

Magic 103 (103.5 FM and 1521 kHz although AM was never announced on air) was set up by Radio Nova in 1985 and was one of many examples of Chris Cary’s innovation in splitting AM/FM services to expand programming. Magic was a mostly easy-listening and talk service in contrast to the chart music format of Nova. Its first full day on air was April 29th 1985.

Opening day of Magic 103
Image courtesy of DX Archive

‘ABC Network News’ was broadcast on both Nova and Magic, and the journalists also presented programmes on Magic. These recordings of the opening day begin with the segment above from 0900 with the shared news bulletin, followed by the first hour with Dave Harvey who describes Magic as the ‘new chat and information station for Dublin’. He invites listeners to call in and give their opinions on joyriders but the callers are often off topic and some of the conversations sound staged. There’s a news bulletin on the half-hour and a round-up of British news, strange for a station that was aimed at Dublin.

Opening day of Magic 103
Original label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

Part 2 below runs from 0945 and includes news with Bob Gallico (RIP) and then Bob’s own show, ‘Morning Magic’ from 1000. He promises chat, easy listening music, racing news, recipes, features, film scores and news about events around town. The first two segments are from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Part 2 from 0945.

Part 3 below is of the evening programme with Shane Mac Gabhann from 1823-1909. Listeners from around town send in their good wishes but one caller describes the musical selection as ‘ancient’ and wants more Lionel Ritchie. The main evening ABC Network News is read by Bernie Jameson and Mark Weller. Shane Mac Gabhann is now a newsreader on RTÉ, Mark Weller (Costigan) would become political correspondent on licensed national commercial station Today FM and Bernie Jameson continues to read news today. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection and there is some breakthrough in the background, due either to a problem with recording or deterioration of the cassette.

Part 3 from 1823.

The final snippet is an undated airchecked recording of an evening show in the first few days of the station. Dave Johnson (aka Andrew Hanlon, later head of news at independent station TV3) is both presenter and newscaster. A listener in Co. Down says Magic is coming in ‘crystal clear’, evidence of how far the FM signal travelled on a relatively uncrowded band. Sound quality is variable on this recording (it may have been recorded from AM), which is from the collection.

Part 4 from around 2000.

Magic 103 was short-lived and closed at the end of September 1985, citing financial difficulties. Its closure led to the worsening of a bitter dispute between the National Union of Journalists and Radio Nova that contributed to the main station’s demise in 1986.

Saturday shows on Smile FM

Saturday shows on Smile FM
Original cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

Smile FM began broadcasting from the suburb of Ballyfermot in west Dublin in January 1987 and continued until the pirate closedowns at the end of 1988. It was set up by former Radio Dublin manager Brian Paige and first noted around 94 FM by Anoraks UK in its Weekly Report of 11th January 1987. The edition of the following week reported that an easy listening format was planned originally but that Smile FM had opted for Top 40 music instead.

In this recording from about six weeks before the closedown of Smile FM, we hear airchecks of Saturday morning and evening shows. First up is Rob Davis from 10am with chart hits, adverts for small local shops and businesses and a community noticeboard. An announcement advises about the impending closedown of pirate radio and invites listeners to express their support for Smile FM. A promo is aired for a Sunday Anoraks Programme about the radio scene, a feature on various pirate stations of the era. Links from the drivetime show with Graham Turner are heard towards the end of the recording, featuring a more easy listening format. Station idents are voiced by Seán Ashmore.

This recording was made on 12th November 1988 from 94.3 FM by Kieran Murray, who is mentioned by the DJs. It is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Requests and dedications on Kildare Community Radio

Requests and dedications on Kildare Community Radio
Irish language poster for Kildare Community Radio c. 1982 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Kildare Community Radio (KCR) was a long-running station broadcasting from Naas in Co. Kildare from 1979 until 1988. This tape is of an afternoon show featuring a mixture of music including ballads, traditional, country and oldies presented by DJ John. There are plenty of requests and dedications from listeners, including a few who call in on crackly phone lines. It’s a bare bones style of presentation with no station idents or adverts and a few technical problems.

No times are given but the recording is airchecked. It is dated 6th November 1983 and the frequency of 1404 kHz (214 metres) noted, but this is more likely to have been KCR’s long-running channel of 1413 kHz to which it had moved by December 1982. Logs by DX Archive from before that time record it off-channel on 1400 kHz. KCR never broadcast on FM. A visit by DX Archive in 1981 recorded that the station was located in a large house called St. Martin’s at Naas Harbour and that the building was dilapidated like so many pirate premises. KCR is listed in an Anoraks Ireland log from April 1988 but closed soon afterwards in advance of the December deadline for pirates to leave the airwaves.

This tape was made originally by Kieran Murray and is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Final day of Radio Ringsend 1982

Final day of Radio Ringsend 1982
L-R: Victor Ryan, Michael Nugent and Al O’Rourke at Radio Ringsend (courtesy Dave Reddy).

Radio Ringsend was one of several temporary community stations under the umbrella of the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC) in the 1980s. Set up by Dave Reddy, the pop-up stations went on air to coincide with local community festivals in Dublin and surrounding counties. Based in the southeast inner city, Radio Ringsend broadcast for the first time during the Ringsend and District Community Festival in 1982 and continued each year until summer 1988.

This recording from 1982 is of part of the final day of Radio Ringsend’s first run. Up first is Victor Ryan with music, a copious number of requests and community notices. He is followed at 4pm by Al O’Rourke and at 6pm by Mick Nugent who hosts the final show until 8pm. There’s a real community feel with local kids interviewed in studio between the records. Adverts for local businesses such as corner shops, chippers, garages and pubs are aired. The airchecked tape begins before 3pm on Sunday 18th July 1982 and was recorded from 1512 kHz (199 metres). Radio Ringsend also broadcast on 104 FM. This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Westside Radio International returns for New Year’s Eve 1989

Westside Radio International returns for New Year's Eve 1989
Westside operator Prince Terry in May 1983 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Westside Radio International was a long-running shortwave pirate broadcasting on Sunday morning from Dublin between 1975 and 1989 with later appearances under different names including Ozone Radio. The station was set up by the late Don Moore and was taken over by Roger Lloyd (Prince Terry on air) in 1977. It was steeped in the pirate spirit and created a real sense of community among free radio enthusiasts in Ireland and abroad. The station closed down on 31st December 1988 along with the vast majority of Irish pirates but returned for a special commemorative broadcast exactly one year later.

This airchecked recording was made between 1123 and 1253 on 31st December 1989 from 6280 kHz shortwave. Prince Terry announces that Westside has returned just for that day to mark the first anniversary of the pirate closedowns and says that it is also broadcasting on FM and medium wave. There are greetings to well-known radio anoraks and news about the small number of remaining pirate stations, including Radio Dublin which is said to have switched back on its AM transmitter.

Audio is fair to poor with deep fading but is an authentic representation of how Westside sounded on shortwave in the west of Ireland at the time. The recording was made in Co. Clare by John Breslin, who we thank for the donation.