Sunday on Radio Valleri International

Sunday on Radio Valleri International
Early Radio Valleri poster (DX Archive).

Radio Valleri was a pioneering pirate station broadcasting from Dublin in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the early hobby operations in the city, it was set up in 1972 by Derek Jones and Mike Anderson and broadcast initially on medium wave from a garden shed in Drumcondra. In 1973, Radio Valleri switched to shortwave and was heard sporadically, often on Sunday mornings, on various frequencies in the 49-metre band over the following years. In the 1980s, the station became one of many to broadcast regularly on shortwave on Sunday mornings, by which time it had settled on 6400 kHz.

This tape is of one of Radio Valleri’s founders, Mike Anderson, with a Sunday show from 1200-1300 in April 1986 (the precise date is unknown). Mike announces broadcasting hours of 0900-1300 and gives a postal address in Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. That broadcast is to be followed by a QSO with another well-known Dublin shortwave pirate, Westside Radio, and Weekend Music Radio in Scotland.

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

Border blasters: Sean Brady on Radio Star Country

Border blasters: Sean Brady on Radio Star Country
An undated photo of Sean Brady in studio in the early 1990s (courtesy of Sean).

Today’s recording of Radio Star Country features Sean Brady presenting an afternoon show in 1994. With experience on various 1980s pirates in the north Leinster region (Cavan Community Radio and Breffni Radio), Sean later joined Northern Sound Radio, the licensed service for Counties Cavan and Monaghan. He returned to the pirate fold in the form of Radio Star Country, where he spent more than four years. Sean shares his fond memories of that period:

I began hosting shows on Radio Star Country in January 1992, following a stint (May 1990 to December 1991) at Northern Sound. When I was at Northern Sound, Isobel Byrne (RIP), late wife of former Radio Star Country owner, Gerry Byrne, used to listen in and phone me, wondering if I’d like to join Radio Star Country.

When I joined Radio Star Country, the station was broadcasting on 981 kHz from a caravan near Smithboro in County Monaghan, but it did move – I’m not sure when – to Carrigans, Emyvale. I wasn’t informed of the move and drove on a Sunday morning to Smithboro to find the farmyard empty of its radio occupant! The move was related to some sort of family dispute!

I very much enjoyed working for Radio Star Country, as I could play the kind of music I loved, and still do to this day, country music, particularly American country music. I have to admit that station owner Gerry Byrne and I had a few heated arguments as to the amount of American country music I played on-air, but I was adamant that the material I featured was the correct format to adhere to. I spent a lot of time planning my shows, in the pre-internet days, researching country music artists, as I featured them on their respective birthdays. I had a quite extensive country music collection – I still do to this day, although it’s obviously been increased – on CD, vinyl and cassette, and I used to bring at least three carry cases of material with me, along with my handwritten country music notes.

I have to say that, while I was hosting shows on Radio Star Country, between January 1992 and March 1996, sitting in the caravan-based on-air studio, I never thought of, or was fearful of, a raid taking place. Perhaps I was a little naive, but I simply got on with the job in hand, playing the finest selection of country music, which no other radio station in the land was doing. I hosted the afternoon slot between 1.00pm and 6.00pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, and enjoyed it immensely, even though it involved a car journey of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Although I departed Radio Star Country in March 1996, I’m so pleased to know that the station is still broadcasting today, but I feel that a move in frequency from 981 kHz should have been undertaken – the frequency, which is adequate for daytime coverage, does tend to suffer from co-channel interference at night. I always thought that 954 kHz would have been a more suitable AM frequency to use, as the medium wave band is now more uncluttered.

This recording of Sean was made on bank holiday Monday 29th August 1994 from 1640-1740. Adverts are from Counties Armagh, Monaghan, Down, Tyrone and Derry and there are plenty of stations idents and jingles, many of which are still heard today. The station was sold on by Gerry Byrne in 1992 and a reference by Sean to the religious programme Showers of Blessings indicates an expansion to content beyond country music alone. Sponsored religious programmes have become increasingly prominent on Radio Star Country but, as Gerry Byrne recalls, listeners remain loyal to the station:

Radio Star Country changed ownership a couple of times and has now a number of religious features and gospel programmes. Over the years, it has had steady staff and a large loyal bunch of listeners, among them the late Big Tom who played Radio Star Country in his shed. I moved to London completely in 1992 even though I had been back and forth and began broadcasting with Spectrum Radio London on a Sunday night and later Saturday afternoon.

Today’s tape was made in Scotland from 981 kHz AM and is courtesy of Ian Biggar.

Border blasters: Patsy Jordan on Radio Star Country

Border blasters: Patsy Jordan on Radio Star Country
Patsy Jordan (McDonald) pictured in The Impartial Reporter, 2016

This recording of Monaghan border pirate Radio Star Country features one of the station’s best known presenters, the late Patsy Jordan (McDonald). It was made on 19th February 1993 from 0857-1030 and features Patsy on a long shift from early morning until 1pm. Patsy, who was from Newtownbutler in Co. Fermanagh, was a country musician whose band, Patsy Jordan and the Blue Train Line, gained huge success in the 1980s. In an obituary in Enniskillen newspaper The Impartial Reporter, it was stated that on the back of the band’s popularity, Cavan pirate station Erneside Radio invited Patsy to present his own show. That was very popular with listeners so it was natural that Patsy would continue to be heard on Radio Star Country after other pirates left the airwaves at the start of 1989. He died in 2016 and country musicians and radio colleagues were among those who attended his large funeral in Clonmaulin close to the border with Co. Monaghan.

Border blasters: Patsy Jordan on Radio Star Country
Radio Star rate card from 1992 (courtesy Sean Brady/Ian Biggar).

On this tape of one of Patsy’s shows, there are copious adverts from Down, Tyrone, Armagh, Cavan and Antrim including Belfast. Plenty of requests are received from both sides of the border and even from the Isle of Man and various local country music singers are promoted. The recording was made from 981 kHz AM in Scotland by Gary Hogg of DX Archive. Thanks to Gary for the recording and to Ian Biggar for assistance with the text.

Mid-morning music and requests on CBC

Mid-morning music and requests on CBC
Jonathan Ryan in the CBC studio c. 1986 (courtesy of Jonathan).

Clonmel Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) broadcast from the town of Clonmel in south Tipperary for over seven years from 1981 to the end of 1988. CBC had a wide variety of programmes and strong roots in its community, reflected in the number of requests from listeners heard in this recording made about two months before the station closed down. First up is one of the long-standing DJs, John (Jonathan) Ryan, presenting the breakfast show. There’s a mixture of musical styles, community notices and a jobs slot and adverts are heard from local businesses in south Tipperary and nearby areas of Waterford and Wexford. John is followed by station manager Peg Power with Golden Memories and a competition to win a breadbin sponsored by Dunnes Stores. News is read by Jimmy Williams.

Mid-morning music and requests on CBC
Jimmy Williams reading the news (courtesy Jonathan Ryan).

Frequencies announced are 102.7, 99.5 and 96 FM. CBC also broadcast on 828 kHz and for a while on 1512 kHz AM, the latter frequency being the former Radio Carrick channel from Carrick-on-Suir. CBC closed down at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1988, along with the vast majority of the pirates.

Mid-morning music and requests on CBC
Original cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

This recording was made on Wednesday 2nd November 1988 from 102.7 FM. Part 1 above runs from 0938 and Part 2 below from 1027.

Part 2 from 1027.

The recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson. interviewed for podcast about pirate border signals interviewed for podcast about pirate border signals
Cross-border transmitter built by Sean McQuillan, installed by Tom O’Dea and Frank Sweeney at the CCA as part of the Ballads of Rhinestones and Newcomers exhibition.

In 2022, collaborated with an exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Derry about how analogue radio and television signals spilled across the Irish border in the past. The exhibition, Ballads of Rhinestones and Newcomers, covered differing experiences of the border at a time when the implications of Brexit are being felt. As part of the exhibition, the film 2 Channel Land illustrated how pirate radio and television deflector signals could be heard on both sides of the border in times past. Created by artists Frank Sweeney and Tom O’Dea, the exhibition was presented as a radio sculpture and visitors could move through the gallery with handheld radios and learn about the technology and culture of signal overspill.

As part of the project, Frank and Tom interviewed John Walsh of for a podcast about the background to our archive, with particular attention to recordings of border stations. The podcast was first published in February 2023.