Border series: Radio Star Country thrives in 1989

Border series: Radio Star Country thrives in 1989
Isobel Byrne (RIP) in the Radio Star studios in 1988 (courtesy Andy Carter).

Having defied the new broadcasting laws that came into effect at the end of the 1988, Radio Star Country entered 1989 on a high. The Anoraks UK Weekly Report of 7th January commented that ‘Star Country carried many adverts and it was as if news of the legislation had not yet reached that quarter!’ On Friday 27th January, the station announced on-air that it was going to move AM frequency, from 891 kHz to 981 kHz. This latter frequency had been used by Hometown Radio in Castleblayney, County Monaghan until Saturday 31st December 1988. Radio Star Country moved frequency on Friday 3rd February 1989 at 3.37pm and station owner Gerry Byrne was heard on air.

Similar to Radio Dublin which also defied the new laws, Radio Star Country was issued with notices that its telephones and electricity supply would be cut off after 14 days. In possible anticipation of a raid, Anoraks UK reported on 21st January that the station had introduced a new sales number in Armagh where it was not illegal to take advertising.

Border series: Radio Star Country thrives in 1989
Isobel Byrne (RIP) in the Radio Star Country studio in 1988 (courtesy Andy Carter).

Despite the increased risks of pirate broadcasting, 1989 was a bumper year for Radio Star Country. In February, the veteran pirate DJ Don Allen (RIP) joined the station with his popular ‘Country and Western Jamboree’, taking over the breakfast slot. Station owner Gerry Byrne was heard at lunchtime and there were live shows all day with tapes overnight. Advertising revenue was strong and the verdict of Anoraks UK on 11th February was: ‘The station gets ten out of ten for its fighting spirit’. In March, Radio Star Country even advertised for additional sales staff, such was the demand from businesses wishing to buy time on the station.

This recording was made from 0832-1002 on 23rd January from the old frequency of 891 kHz. On air is Isobel Byrne (RIP), late wife of former station owner Gerry Byrne. There are long ad breaks featuring mostly Northern businesses but the Swan Lake Hotel has a spot also. Part 1 above runs from 0832 and Part 2 below from 0917.

Part 2 from 0917.

Reception is fair as the recording was made in Scotland. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation and Seán Brady for assistance with the text.