Marty Whelan was one of the many future RTÉ stars who would cut his broadcasting teeth in the late 1970s Dublin pirate scene. Here he is as Marty Hall presenting the Oldies Show on Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday, 26th March 1978 between 1200-1330.
The programme is interesting in how it uses advertising, as most commercials are read live by Marty. Businesses such as Windsor Rent-a-Car, the Dublin Bazaar, The Sportsman Inn in Mount Merrion and the Rosary Florist are promoted in this way and a segment of the show is sponsored by the Chariot Inn in Ranelagh. There are also letters from listeners with all sorts of requests including one reporting a broken television and another promoting a local sports club. Marty Hall would soon move on to the breakaway station Big D before joining the new RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979.
The recording is partially airchecked and was made by Eddie Caffrey in Co. Louth, so there is some interference in places. Thanks to Eddie and Ian Biggar for sharing with us.
Kieran Murray presented FRC (Free Radio Campaign) programmes on various pirates down the years, including in the early days of Radio Dublin as a full-time station. Here’s a recording of part of the FRC show presented by Kieran on Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday, 26th March 1978. This was just before the split that led to the breakaway station Big D. An ad is heard for FRC Ireland and its magazine Sounds Alternative, and new stations in Kildare and Galway are mentioned. There are also long lists of requests, reflecting the strong listenership enjoyed by Radio Dublin at the time.
The recording was made by Eddie Caffrey in Co. Louth, and there is some interference. Thanks to Eddie and Ian Biggar for sharing it with us.
Back when pirate stations were part-time hobbyists, Radio Dublin broke the mould on the 17th and 18th September 1977 when it broadcast non-stop for 36 hours. This was a key period in the development of the pirates as stations went full-time for the first time, with Radio Dublin pioneering round the clock broadcasting.
Over the Christmas and New Year period 1977/78, Radio Dublin broadcast continuously for 300 hours. According to Sounds Alternative magazine edited by Kieran Murray, it was the only station in Ireland to ring in the New Year, with the Lord Mayor of Dublin doing the honours. On Monday 2nd January 1978, the station announced that it would begin full-time daily broadcasting and unveiled a new schedule of DJs including Gerry Campbell, James Dillon, Sylvie, Mike Eastwood, Shay West, Dennis Murray and John Clarke.
This recording is of the last 40 minutes of Radio Dublin’s festive marathon from 0020-0100 on 2nd January. The presenter is unidentified but the voice of Shay West is heard with a message in basic French asking an overseas listener to phone home. The broadcast is closed by Radio Dublin’s owner Eamonn Cooke who announces that full-time programming will start later that morning at 8am. This recording was made in Leeds by Gary Hogg, so is very much DX reception, but it is an important piece of history as it marked the start of a new era in Irish radio history. Thanks to Ian Biggar for sharing it with us.
The non-stop broadcasts attracted the attention of the authorities, and Radio Dublin was raided early on 17th January, only to return to the airwaves by midnight. On 21st January, a march in support of Radio Dublin was held in the city centre, attracting between 8,000-10,000 people, according to Sounds Alternative. The station’s aerial was cut down by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on 24th January but returned within a few weeks. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following the conviction of Eamonn Cooke for sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.
This is a recording of part of a bandscan of stations from Dublin as heard on Sunday, 23rd April 1978 in Drogheda, Co. Louth. It includes Davitt Kelly (RIP) presenting ‘The Soul Service’ on the Big D, followed by John Paul and part of the sponsored Chariot Inn programme. The recording ends with DJs Johnny Casey and Pat Stewart on Radio Dublin, who announce the address of 3, Sarsfield Road, Dublin 10 for letters.
Big D was formed as a result of a staff mutiny at Radio Dublin in April 1978 and there was great rivalry between both stations. This bandscan, which also includes snippets of British stations heard on the east coast, gives a great sense of the AM radio scene at the time. We thank Eddie Caffrey for his donation.
This is a recording of Marty Hall (Marty Whelan) on the Dublin station Big D on 23rd April 1978. Along with many other DJs from stations such as Big D, Marty went on to become one of the stars of the new RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979. Apart from a brief spell at the failed national station Century Radio (1989-1991), he has spent most of his career with RTÉ and currently presents the breakfast programme on RTÉ Lyric FM.
Big D was formed as a result of a split in Radio Dublin in April 1978 when most staff walked out in a protest against station owner Eamonn Cooke, who was in Spain on holidays at the time. The ringleader was DJ James Dillon who acted following allegations that Cooke was involved in child abuse. This is a snippet from an interview with Dillon telling another pirate Capitol Radio about the split.
There is a long description of the reasons for the staff mutiny in Peter Mulryan’s book Radio Radio (1988). Cooke was convicted in 2002 for sexually abusing children, jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release.
Big D began broadcasting officially from Chapel Lane on April 10th 1978. Run by Dillon, it was backed financially by businessman Noel Kirwan who had been an advertiser on Radio Dublin. Big D broadcast around the clock and attracted many DJs who defected from ARD. Big D was raided on June 15th and equipment and transmitter taken but returned to the air in a short time. At the suggestion of ex-ARD staff, Big D Weekend was initiated as a niche service with Davitt Kelly in charge. Many DJs who would become big names were heard including Marty Whelan, Gerry Ryan, John Clarke, Dave Heffernan, Declan Meehan, Dave Fanning and Neil O’Shea.
Disaster struck Big D on 2nd January 1979 when the studios in Chapel Lane were burned to the ground. The station moved location and returned to the air within days. Many Big D and ARD DJs were poached by the new RTÉ Radio 2 that came on the air on 31st May 1979, but Big D soldiered on into the new decade before closing down in December 1981 in the face of stiff competition in the Dublin pirate radio market. It returned as an automated service in 1982 but closed down for good just before Christmas that year.
This airchecked recording begins at about 1245 and includes links, music and ads. Audio is low in places, particularly on the links and there is co-channel interference from other stations as the recording was made in Co. Louth. Many thanks to Eddie Caffrey for his donation of this rare recording.