Aircheck: Radio Dublin

Aircheck: Radio Dublin
Radio Dublin badge courtesy of Brian Greene.

Here is some vintage Radio Dublin from the days when 7-day a week broadcasting was still a dream. This is part of their 36-hour marathon over the 17th and 18th of September 1977 with DJs John Paul, Jimmy St Ledger, DJ Sylvie and Johnny Day. It gives a fascinating insight into a key period in the development of the Irish pirates.

Transmission quality left a little to be desired at times, but there’s no doubt this was the biggest station in Dublin at the time. This recording is courtesy of Kieran Murray and was donated to us by Ian Biggar.

Full recording: ABC (Dún Laoghaire)

Full recording: ABC (Dún Laoghaire)

ABC Radio broadcast from Dún Laoghaire in south Dublin in 1982 on 96 FM. This recording is from 1557-1727 on the 27th of February 1982 and features Jonathan Stewart followed by Sid Reade. Hugh Farley presents television highlights. There is a laid back, studenty vibe to the station’s music and style and the lack of adverts suggests a hobby operation.

Information about ABC is scarce but we have pieced together some details. The station may have been linked to the earlier Sonic Independent Radio from Shankill. ABC was run by Ian McDonald from his house in Clarinda Park, Dún Laoghaire, referred to as ‘Broadcasting House’ in this recording! There was a medium wave relay for a time, announced as 297 metres. The Dún Laoghaire station had no connection with the other ABC which broadcast from Dublin city centre from 1981-1984, so there were two ABCs on air for a time within a few miles of each other. This ABC later changed its name to South City Radio in May 1982. An Anoraks UK listing from the 1st of November 1982 lists South City Radio from Dún Laoghaire on 98 FM and 999 kHz AM. South City Radio later became KOVE FM. We thank Ian Biggar for his donation of this recording.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Capitol Radio compliments slip courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

The first Dublin pirate station named Capitol Radio came to the air on August the 2nd 1975, from a location near Portobello Bridge in Rathmines. The station operated on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons on 220 metres medium wave using a 30-watt transmitter into a half-wave end fed aerial. Presenters included C.B. (Chris Barry), Ed McDowell (ex Radio Empathy), Alan Russell and Kenneth Murphy. In addition to playing popular album and chart music, interviews with bands and singers were also a regular feature. The station was raided by inspectors from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on the 21st December 1975. While no transmitter was found, they seized a power supply unit which effectively disabled the transmitter.

After a two-year hiatus following a raid by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, Capitol Radio returned to the air on a full-time basis (18 hours a day) in February 1978 from studios on Bachelor’s Walk in Dublin city centre. Initially the station operated on 220 metres again and was using a 300 watt transmitter into a half-wave dipole aerial which gave it coverage into Europe (DX reports were received from places such as Lancashire and Norway). However, Radio Moscow was transmitting on an adjoining frequency and as
autumn/winter approached, the Capitol signal was being overwhelmed so the
station changed to 226 metres in October/November 1978.

This recording is from 1450-1525 on Saturday afternoon the 3rd of February 1979 with Ed McDowell and eventually Chris Barry who is late for his show. Capitol was broadcasting on 1332 kHz at this time (announcing 226 metres). The multilingual ident of the pirate Capital Radio, which operated from international waters off the coast of the Netherlands in 1970, is also heard.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Rooftop photo above studio at 26 Bachelors Walk, Dublin, May 1978. L-R: Unknown, Fergus Murphy, Alan Russell, Chris Barry, Dave Lee (photo courtesy of Alan Russell).

We thank Ian Biggar for sharing this recording. You can read more about Capitol here.

Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)

Full recording: Q102 (Dublin)
Q102 logo from Alan MacSimoin collection.

This recording of Dublin super-pirate Q102 from May 1988 was made just before it was relaunched as ‘Super Q 102’. The new format was the work of American radio consultant Bill Cunningham, who had transformed Sunshine Radio into ‘Sunshine Hot Hits 101’ in 1986. Q102 had acquired the transmitters and equipment of Energy 103 the previous March and, along with Sunshine, was one of the two biggest players in the Dublin pirate radio market.

The recording is from 1218-1340 on the 17th of May 1988 and features Jason Maine, followed by the start of Greg Gaughran’s show. There are regular mysterious promos for the new ‘super sounds’ format to be launched within hours, and a competition to win tickets to the Michael Jackson concert in Cork at the end of July. The recording also contains advertisements for the Mosney holiday centre north of Dublin (now a direct provision centre for asylum seekers), an event to choose Miss Ireland 1988 at Rumour’s Nightclub, regular promos for the Evening Herald small ads and a Tony Allan voiceover for Bewley’s coffee.

We thank Ian Biggar for his donation of this recording.

Full recording: Radio Nova

Full recording: Radio Nova
A Radio Nova envelope from the days on 846 kHz (courtesy of DX Archive).

This recording was made by the British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler at his home in Kidderminster in the English midlands. The tape label states that it was made from 819 kHz from 2217-2305 on the 17th of September 1982, but there is a jingle for ‘the mighty 890’ and the news ident at the top of the hour announces 846 kHz. According to the November 1981 edition of Short Wave News, Nova returned to 846 after briefly trying 891. Based on Anoraks UK logs, it seems the move to 819 kHz happened between the 7th and the 23rd of September 1982. It is possible, therefore, that Nova had very recently moved by the time of this recording but the ident had not yet been updated. Thanks to Ian Biggar for confirming details.

The DJ in this recording is Eddie West and news is read by Bryan Dobson, now a senior RTÉ journalist. Audio quality ranges from poor to fair as there is plenty of skywave interference. At about 300km from Dublin, Kidderminster is well outside the coverage area of Nova’s 10 kW transmitter. During the recording, Eddie West wishes Sunshine Radio a happy 2nd birthday and also mentions Leon Tipler. That clip was used in Leon’s acclaimed documentary series The Irish Pirates, which is available on this archive.

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