Afternoon music mix on Kandy Radio

Afternoon music mix on Kandy Radio
Kandy Radio poster (courtesy Ian Biggar).

Kandy Radio broadcast from Ballinasloe in east Galway from 1986 to 1988. This recording was made on Monday 13th October 1986 from 1320-1405 from the station’s AM frequency, 1386 kHz. Mark White is on air until 1330 and is followed by Paul Davis for the afternoon show. News is read by Tara and adverts feature local businesses in east Galway, south Roscommon and west Offaly. The music is a mixture of middle-of-the-road, country and chart hits. There is co-channel interference due to congestion on the frequency, suggesting that the recording was made outside Kandy’s core area of east Galway.

This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Kandy Radio on fair day in Ballinasloe

Kandy Radio on fair day in Ballinasloe
Kandy Radio in 1987 (courtesy Andy Archer).

Kandy Radio broadcast from the town of Ballinasloe in east Galway from the middle of 1986 until spring 1988. Serving the town and its rural hinterland, Kandy sounded very different to the slicker Galway City stations that aped the ‘hot hits’ format of the super-pirates in other cities. Kandy Radio was initially logged by Anoraks Ireland on 1386 kHz AM and 98.2 FM and although manager John McGrath said it had a radius of 30 miles, he also reported reception reports from Norway and Sweden. An Anoraks Ireland survey from November 1987 recorded a move to 1404 kHz and both 98.5 and 100.9 FM. Hours of broadcasting were 0800-1900 and there were plans for programmes 24 hours a day. A log from April 1988 recorded Kandy on 103.5 FM only and the station closed down that month.

This recording of Kandy Radio was made from 1386 kHz from 1636-1721 on Saturday 11th October 1986, country fair day in Ballinasloe. Paul Davis is on air until 5pm and says that he will be gigging later that night in Hayden’s Hotel where Irish Eurovision star Johnny Logan will also be performing. News at 5pm is read by Tara and she is followed by Steve Jones with more requests and a mix of music. There are plenty of ads for small businesses in Ballinasloe and surrounding areas and the Top 30 is donated by a local record shop. Complete with uneven audio and technical glitches, this is the authentic sound of a small town radio station from the height of the pirate era.

Kandy Radio on fair day in Ballinasloe
Original cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

The recording may have been made some distance from Ballinasloe because it suffers from co-channel interference due to congestion on 1386 kHz by both Irish and British stations. It is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Requests and local news on Radio na nGael

Requests and local news on Radio na nGael
Radio na nGael flyer from 1984 (courtesy DX Archive).

Radio na nGael was a specialist station broadcasting mostly ballads and traditional Irish music from a village near Swords in north Co. Dublin between 1984 and 1986. It broadcast on 1350 kHz AM and on low power on 92 MHz FM, presumably to link to the AM transmitter. The station was also heard on 6340 kHz shortwave but the frequency suffered from interference. Radio na nGael broadcast some problems in Irish but was closed down after RTÉ sought an injunction due to the similarity of the name with that of the national Irish language station Raidió na Gaeltachta.

This recording was made from the AM frequency and dates from the end of January 1985. The cassette label refers to 30th January but the 31st is announced on air. Beginning at 1335, we first hear Mairéad with housewives’ requests and she is followed at 1400 by Danny Tobin. Community news for Fingal is also broadcast.

The signal sounds over-modulated, particularly near the end but we do not know if this was due to a transmission issue at the time or is related to the age of the cassette. The recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International was a 1980s shortwave station broadcasting from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

John Ashford on South Coast Radio

John Ashford on South Coast Radio
John Ashford in the South Coast studio at Adelaide Place (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

John Ashford (real name John Buckley, RIP) was one of the younger DJs who were heard on South Coast Radio in the summer of 1982. Aged only 19 at the time, John had started broadcasting at an even younger age at Cork City Local Radio and then Radio City. He joined South Coast in June 1982 and stayed on as a weekend presenter through the summer.

This recording is of John’s first show in the late night slot on 13th and 14th June 1982, from 2349-0026. There are some wobbles as John gets the hang of things. Some agency adverts are heard also. Thanks to Lillian O’Donoghue for the recording.

Radio Dublin broadcasts non-stop for 36 hours

Radio Dublin broadcasts non-stop for 36 hours
Radio Dublin flyer (courtesy Ian Biggar).

Here’s a recording of some vintage Radio Dublin from the days when full-time broadcasting was still a dream. This is part of their 36-hour marathon over Saturday and Sunday 17th and 18th September 1977 with DJs John Paul, Alistair Mac, Jimmy St. Leger, Sarge, Sylvie, Kieran Murray and Johnny Day. Transmission quality left a little to be desired at times and the cassette is showing its age, but there’s no doubt that Radio Dublin was the leading station in Dublin at the time. As well as the music, there are community announcements, adverts and a live link-up to the Radio Dublin car at a racing event in the Phoenix Park. One of those interviewed in the park is the late Irish author Lee Dunne, who was at the time writing the popular RTÉ radio series Harbour Hotel.

Previously the pirates were sporadic hobby operations, appearing at night or at the weekend. This broadcast was a decisive step in the professionalisation of pirate radio in Dublin and led to full-time broadcasting by Radio Dublin at the beginning of 1978. Other stations soon followed and the rest is history.

The recording was made by Kieran Murray and is part of the Anoraks Ireland Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson. A shorter extract below is courtesy of Ian Biggar.

20 minute version of the marathon broadcast

We’re very grateful to Kieran for sharing his memories of this unique broadcast:

Having listened to this recording that I made way back in 1977, many memories have flooded back! Here are my thoughts as of today, 12th June 2022.

This recording was made at 53 Charleston Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, in the flat where I lived with my parents. It was also the address used as the contact details for the Free Radio Campaign – Ireland, the pirate radio club that I ran from April 1976 to March 1981.

First, 1977 was the year that I completed my Leaving Cert and this marathon broadcast occurred just after my 19th birthday! I recorded this broadcast from an old valve radio (you know the ones with the tubes that light up!) and the speaker output was wired to a cassette recorder. The radio was given to me by my maternal grandmother and it was connected to a long wire antenna that went out the bedroom window and ran along the full length of the wall of the long back garden at the rear of the flat in Charleston Road.

To be fair, the actual broadcast quality was a bit better than my recording here displays. Recording the entire weekend was a challenge for me, because I had never done an ‘aircheck’ recording before. Plus, I was constrained in the amount of cassette tape that I had to hand at that time and it was over an entire weekend, so I took a sample of each show.

Firstly, I was aware at this time that this was completely new territory for pirate radio. Previous to this, pirate radio stations were limited to broadcasting for short periods, mostly at weekend and at night time, as it was thought that you would be less likely to be raided by the dreaded Posts and Telegraphs and Gardaí. Secondly, because a pirate radio station had never before attempted a marathon broadcast like this, I was aware that Radio Dublin could have been raided at any time – and my hope was that if it were raided, I could possibly catch this event on tape. As it transpired, the broadcast went on uninterrupted and I’m sure that is what emboldened future pirate radio stations from then on.

The contract address used for Radio Dublin during this broadcast was 90 Ranelagh, Dublin 6 (I think Don Moore lived at that address). This was also the very first time that commercials had been broadcast on pirate radio. Featured on this recording is a commercial for the Band Centre, Harcourt Road, Dublin. They had a special offer that you could hire your complete Christmas disco for just £12! Another commercial featured was for Casanova’s Unisex Hair Stylist in 15 North Earl Street, Dublin. The commercial you hear for Sounds Alternative magazine, from Free Radio Campaign – Ireland (the radio club I ran), was on a pre-recorded cassette. In fact, it was one of the first commercials that was pre-recorded on Radio Dublin up to that point. All of the commercials at that time were all read live, over an instrumental bed.

The Alistair Mac show at 6pm was ground-breaking, because it was the first to feature music that was non-commercial and also album tracks. I think it pre-dates Dave Fanning for this type of show. Also featured was a link-up by telephone to a motor racing event that was being held in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. The Radio Dublin outside broadcast unit was a white Jaguar car owned by Eamonn Cooke, with the name Radio Dublin along the side. Again, another first for Irish pirate radio.

The presenters you hear on this recording are: John Paul, Jimmy St Leger, DJ Sylvie, Johnny Day, Alistair Mac, Sarge, Johnny Day and Kenneth Murphy (yes, that’s me using the DJ name that I had used previously on Capitol Radio (August – December 1975).

Each show featured a stream of requests and the landline telephone was ringing constantly. Up to this point, it was unheard of that you could just call up a radio station and get your request read out and your favourite song played within 30 minutes or so. This was quite revolutionary at the time and went down very well, particularly with younger listeners. I often imagine that if Radio Dublin had been raided immediately during that marathon broadcast, then the course of radio here in Ireland may have taken a completely different turn.   

Kieran Murray – June 2022