Dublin bandscan from 1981

Dublin bandscan from 1981
Some of the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection held by Pirate.ie.

This is a bandscan of radio as heard on AM and FM in Dublin in August 1981 by Leon Tipler on one of his many visits in Dublin to document the local pirate scene. The scan gives a sense of the sheer volume of stations on AM and the less crowded FM band, where British stations could regularly be heard due to lack of congestion. We don’t have a precise date but part of the recording was made on a Sunday.

The bandscan begins on FM with Belfast station Downtown Radio’s closedown with a read- through of the next day’s schedule. This is followed by unidentified Irish and British stations on FM and céilí music on RTÉ Radio 1. Leon then switches to AM and tunes past foreign stations before settling on Radio City on 257 metres where Brian Harmon is signing off for the night. This is followed by classical music on what sounds like Radio 1 again. A live ad is read out by the DJ for the new Sunday Tribune newspaper on Sunshine Radio on AM and Leon then switches to Radio Nova on 88 FM. This is followed by exchanges from air traffic control, as was the norm on part of the FM band in those days.

Dublin bandscan from 1981
Early Sunshine Radio sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

The scan then returns to AM and Radio Leinster on 738 kHz (406 metres) where Anna Craig is signing off at the end of her Sunday morning show. She is followed by Fr. Michael Culloty with a religious programme. The bandscan ends with more AM stations include ARD and part of the Disco Format show on Sunshine.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated by Steve England.

Sunday morning bandscan from 1982

Sunday morning bandscan from 1982
KISS FM car sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

This is a bandscan of Dublin radio by British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler during a visit to Dublin in 1982. It was made from about 0800-0930 on the morning of Sunday 12th September 1982 and features both AM and FM stations. The bandscan begins with Bryan Dobson reading the news on Radio Nova and is followed by the start of that day’s broadcasting on the brand new Nova offshoot KISS FM. Some of Nova’s main service on 88 FM is also heard. There are snippets of Boyneside Radio, Radio City and Radio Dublin, including a promo for the Lebanon Requests Show presented by DJ Angie. There’s also a short extract of ‘RTÉ Radio 1 on VHF’ and BBC Radio Scotland on FM as well as an unidentified English station on AM.

Sunday morning bandscan from 1982
Nova’s production studio in 1982 (courtesy of DX Archive).

The recording concludes with part of a Christian programme on Radio Nova called ‘Good News Tracks’, featuring religious music and reflections. Nova experimented with such specialist programmes in the early days, and Tipler’s documentary refers to another religious show on the station.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Final day of Centre Radio (Dublin), New Year’s Eve 1988

Final day of Centre Radio (Dublin), New Year's Eve 1988
Brian Greene in the original Centre Radio studio, Christmas 1986. Kim Wilde was popular with the DJs!

Today we begin a series of recordings to mark the closedown of Centre Radio on 31st December 1988. Centre was a youth radio station broadcasting from Baldoyle and Bayside in northeast Dublin during holidays from 19th December 1986 and each day from February 1988 until closedown. Although not widely known outside its small transmission area, Centre is important to this archive because both of the people behind Pirate.ie were involved as teenagers, Brian Greene as one of the station’s founders and John Walsh as a broadcaster.

Over the coming days, we’ll bring you various recordings from the final day of Centre Radio, one of only a handful of pirates still broadcasting in Dublin. This first clip is of Brian Greene (Bobby Gibbson) in the final hours of his overnight programme between 0500 and 0700 on the 31st. There’s a strong anorak feel as Brian talks about pirate history in Ireland, plays jingles from other stations and explains Centre’s plans for the rest of the day.

Final day of Centre Radio (Dublin), New Year's Eve 1988
Centre Radio flyer when the station was on 92.5 FM.

Listen here to Brian interview Radio Dublin on its last official day on air. Of course, Radio Dublin would defy the new legislation and continue after midnight on the 31st. Listen here to a bandscan presented by Brian and Eamonn Roe (Dave Evans) of the stations still on air on New Year’s Eve in Dublin.

Bandscan: Irish radio as heard in Wales in 1983

Bandscan: Irish radio as heard in Wales in 1983
A winter shot from Aberystwyth promenade with Constitution Hill in the background (photo by John Walsh).

‘Hello Again’, Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary series The Irish Pirates was based on a return visit to Dublin in September 1983. The episode features an AM and FM bandscan from Aberystwyth on the west Wales coast, recorded by Tipler in August 1983. Having climbed Constitution Hill to the north of the town, Tipler gave himself the best chance of picking up radio signals from Ireland a mere 150km away.

This is the original, unedited bandscan as recorded by Tipler on both AM and FM from his perch overlooking the Irish Sea on a sunny Saturday afternoon, 13th August 1983. The pirates heard include Arklow Community Radio, Kilkenny Community Radio, Sunshine Radio and Radio Dublin. RTÉ Radio 1, Radio 2 and Raidió na Gaeltachta are all received loud and clear on FM. There are snippets of unidentified UK stations as well as occasional breakthrough from police communication, possibly due to harmonics.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Bandscan: From 1017 to 1035 kHz including Breffni Central Radio

Bandscan: From 1017 to 1035 kHz including Breffni Central Radio
Breffni Central Radio poster courtesy of Ian Biggar. We’ve never seen a medium wave band stretch quite as far as 2000 kHz!

This recording made by Brian Greene on AM in July 1985 shows how licensed stations were sometimes literally sandwiched between two pirates. The scan begins with Downtown Radio in Belfast, a faint signal as heard in north Dublin on 1026 kHz. Of course ABC Radio in Tramore were on the same frequency but could not be received on the northside of Dublin because of Downtown. Brian then tunes slightly to the left where Capitol Radio can be heard on 1017 kHz, before tuning back to Downtown again. The scan then moves up another channel to 1035 kHz, where a faint signal from Breffni Central Radio in Longford can be picked up, over 120 km from Dublin.

We are not aware of any online recordings of Breffni Central Radio, an offshoot of Breffni Radio in Kilnaleck in Cavan. Breffni Central began on the 10th of June 1985 and was intended for reception in counties Longford, Roscommon, Galway and Mayo. In fact the estimated 1 kW signal on 1035 kHz was heard over a wide area, helped by a 50-ft high mast. This stretched as far as Galway and Dublin, as this recording shows. Similar to the original Breffni Radio, Breffni Central broadcast Irish and American country music but the two stations each had separate services and did not share programming. We thank Seán Brady for help with information and Ian Biggar for the image.

You can listen to an interview with Gerry O’Reilly, who built transmitters for several stations including Breffni Radio, here.