After breaking away from Boyneside Radio in July 1981, Community Radio Drogheda went its own way until May 1982 when the two stations merged once again. The economic reality of two pirate radio stations in the one town had hit home and given that Boyneside had more financial backing, it was unsurprising that it won out in the end.
According to Eddie Caffrey, Gavin Duffy had had enough of the final nine months of CRD and announced that he was moving on and that anyone who wished to return to Boyneside was welcome to do so. Eddie and Richard Crowley (pictured above) met Boyneside owner Eobain McDonnell and brokered a merger involving every second presenter from both stations. Some Boyneside staff were not happy about the return of the prodigal sons but Eobain persisted. Around the same time, a meeting was also arranged with Radio Carousel in Dundalk which was trying desperately trying to break into the Drogheda market. That came to nothing as Carousel owner Hugh Hardy’s offer was too weak.
The merged station was known as Boyneside Community Radio but the name Boyneside/CRD was also used for a time before references to CRD were dropped entirely by the late summer.
Other DJs such as Mike Cluskey, Neil O’Brien and Seán Neilon were regulars on Boyneside following the merger doing weekend and holiday cover. This recording was made from 1540-1639 on 19th June 1982 and begins with a reference to the forthcoming Rolling Stones concert at Slane Castle in Co. Meath. Mike Cluskey is the presenter and uses Boyneside/CRD on air. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation of this recording.
Boyneside Radio was one of a handful of Irish pirate radio stations to venture briefly into television. A basic studio with Betamax machines but without mixing facilities was built at Donaghy’s Mill in Drogheda. Boyneside Television came on the air in November 1981 using a 10-watt transmitter, giving it patchy reception on Channel D in the town. Broadcasts were initially from approximately 4pm to 7.30pm daily and included news, sport and a simulcast of the DJs presenting their radio programmes. By 1982, Boyneside Television was coming on air twice daily, at lunchtime and teatime, and also extended broadcasts into Saturdays.
Boyneside Television was used extensively by local politicians in the run-up to the general election of 18th February that year. Around that time, Boyneside accused RTÉ of jamming its signal in Drogheda and said that the national broadcaster had placed a jamming transmitter in the centre of the town. RTÉ responded by claiming that it was carrying out tests following complaints of interference to television reception from pirate broadcasters.
Boyneside Television continued for a while after the merger of Community Radio Drogheda and Boyneside Radio but petered out by around May 1982.
This is an audio recording of an hour of Boyneside Television from February 25th 1982, shortly after the election. The main lunchtime news is read by Áine Ní Ghuidhir and includes a reference to the RTÉ jamming which seems to be audible from the recording. Ad breaks and interviews are also heard. These are followed by sports news, apparently recorded later in the day, which includes an interview with former Down GAA manager Joe Lennon. Audio quality is poor at times and breakthrough from Garda communications can be heard. We are unsure if this was in the transmission signal itself or if a scanner was located near the recorder. Many thanks to Eddie Bohan for donating this recording.
Today we bring you two more recordings of Boyneside Radio made during the period of the split when the rival Community Radio Drogheda was also broadcasting from the town. The recording above was made on 4th October 1981 and features Stuart Scott (Ian Biggar) and Niall McGowan on the pre-recorded overnight programming. There is a gap in the middle where the C120 cassette flips over in the auto-reverse machine.
The recording below is of Owen Barry (Larkin) on his evening show from 2310-2333 on 14th August 1981. Thanks to Ian Biggar for the recordings, both of which were recorded originally from 98.1 FM in Dublin by Gerard Roe.
After the departure of key staff to set up Community Radio Drogheda in July 1981, Boyneside Radio continued to broadcast, although it faced a serious challenge with poor AM reception in Drogheda. The problem was a faulty replacement transmitter after the original was brought to CRD, meaning that Boyneside could hardly be heard in the town. A better transmitter was obtained in September 1981 and an agreement with CRD allowed Boyneside to use the superior frequency of 1323 kHz.
This recording was made from 1347-1524 on 13th August 1981 and features Owen Barry (Larkin) on air, followed by Daire Nelson. Daire announces a prize aimed at encouraging people to listen on FM, no doubt due to the problems with the AM transmitter. RTÉ Radio 2 also ran competitions in its early days to attract listeners to FM but AM would retain its dominance for another while.
Drogheda’s two pirate radio stations, the original Boyneside Radio and the breakaway Community Radio Drogheda continued to battle it out through the second half of 1981 and into 1982. As the brochure below illustrates, the CRD team included several presenters who would move on to Radio Leinster in Dublin such as Richard Kenny (Crowley), Gavin Duffy and Ken Murray while Eddie Caffrey and Dermot Finglas would eventually return to Boyneside.
The final page of the brochure above includes news editor Michael O’Dowd, whose brother Fergus is now a Fine Gael TD for Louth. Another brother Niall is a well-known Irish-American journalist. Tony Clayton-Lea, who would become a well-known rock critic and writer, is also among the presenters.
Community Radio Drogheda was among the pirates whose schedules were published in the Sunday Journal (see left). As we can see, many of the presenters did two shows per day and there were more specialist programmes at the weekend.
The long recording above was made from 1250-1420 on 7th April 1982 and features Gavin Duffy with a packed Lunchtime Special show. He interviews excited local teenagers about their school opera, reads letters from listeners and introduces various features. News at 1.15 is read by Richard Kenny (Crowley), who would eventually work as a journalist with RTÉ. Niall McGowan follows Gavin’s show at 2pm.
The shorter recording below is an airchecked version of part of Ken Murray’s afternoon show on 26th March 1982.
We thank Ian Biggar and Eddie Caffrey for the recordings.