Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio

Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio
Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio (photo courtesy of Seán Brady).

Cavan Community Radio (CCR) was an AM station serving the north midlands from 1982 to 1988. This is an edited version of the station’s history kindly provided by Seán Brady.

CCR began broadcasting on 747 kHz AM in the spring of 1982. The catch-phrase, ‘The Big One on 747’, soon became a household phrase in homes all over the north Irish midlands, as well as counties Fermanagh and Tyrone. CCR’s AM signal also reached a wide area of Northern Ireland and attracted advertisers from counties Fermanagh and Tyrone. Programming originated from Farnham Road, Cavan quite close to the AM transmitter site, so there was no need for an FM link from the studio. The music format was a mix of pop and country music. Initially, broadcast hours ran from 0800 to 2000 daily and were later extended to midnight.

Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio
QSL from CCR in 1985 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

On Friday 24th January 1984, CCR moved into new custom built studios and offices, which were situated above the Musicland Record Store on Main Street, Cavan. CCR linked to the 747 kHz AM transmitter with a low powered FM transmitter on 98.1 MHz which was available locally in Cavan town. In May 1984, Dublin’s Radio Nova changed AM frequency, moving from 828 kHz to 738 kHz. As a result, CCR began to experience severe adjacent channel interference and a change of AM frequency was considered essential.

Sometime between May and November 1984, CCR moved from 747 kHz to 819 kHz. The new channel provided excellent signal coverage of counties Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh, along with Armagh, Leitrim, Sligo, Longford and Meath until the Dublin station Q102 decided to move from 828 to 819 kHz in early October 1985. The presence of two relatively high-powered stations only 100km apart on the same frequency continued to cause problems for both in terms of coverage area for the remainder of the pirate era. Depending on conditions and transmitter power from either station, CCR could often be heard underneath Q102 heading north from Dublin.  

Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio
Information about CCR transmission in 1985 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

In mid-May 1985, the CCR FM link on 98.1 MHz began to be jammed and the station had to move frequencies. Due to continuous jamming, CCR moved back to their former studios in Farnham Road, Cavan. With this move of premises, the FM link frequency was now lost and CCR became one of a select few Irish pirate radio stations to broadcast on AM only. The late ‘Daffy’ Don Allen, who counted CCR among the many Irish pirates where he worked, named the unknown person blocking the signal ‘Wammer the Jammer’ and even recorded a comedy song about him which he used to play over the airwaves. Don Allen moved to Radio West in Mullingar in September 1986.

Despite the coverage issue, at this time plenty of commercials were being aired and the station identified itself on air as ‘professional radio throughout the midlands and the northwest, CCR on 819 kHz’. The station had outside broadcasts including live commentary of the 1986 St. Patrick’s Day parades in Cavan. It also introduced a radio bingo game in association with Donagh Football and Social Club in Co. Fermanagh. Cavan Community Radio left the air on 819 kHz for the last time at on Saturday 31st December 1988.

The recording above was made from 98.1 FM from 1310-1341 on 21st September 1984. Ollie Clarke is on air and there is a promotion for a holiday giveaway. Ollie also worked with CCR, Channel 2 (Breffni Radio’s short-lived pop music service in Kilnaleck, Co. Cavan), Erneside Radio and Radio West. He has broadcast on licensed stations Northern Sound and Spirit Radio and is now a volunteer with Christmas FM.

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