A day on Radio Dublin from 1978

A day on Radio Dublin from 1978
Radio Dublin sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

This unique recording is of an entire day’s programming on Radio Dublin from Monday 20th February 1978, including some DJs who would go on to become household names on local and national radio. Starting just after 8am, DJ Sarge comments on the cold weather and heavy snow outside. He is followed at 9.30 by Gerry Campbell and at 1pm by James Dillon. DJ Sylvie takes over at 4pm and the Mike Eastwood request show begins at 6pm. Denis Murray is on from 8-10pm and the night’s programming is completed by John Clarke from 10pm until midnight.

Radio Dublin had been broadcasting continuously since January 1978 and built up a loyal listenership across Dublin. This recording contains plenty of ads, some pre-recorded and some read live by DJs, and various segments of the day are sponsored by different businesses. The station’s iconic ‘253’ jingles are heard regularly also, an early branding exercise by Irish pirate radio. A separate recording of part of the James Dillon show, undated but also from February 1978, is heard below.

James Dillon show from February 1978.

Two months later, James Dillon led a walk-out of most Radio Dublin staff following allegations that station owner Eamonn Cooke was involved in child abuse. Dillon formed a breakaway station, the Big D, which lasted until 1982. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following Cooke’s conviction 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 recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

The Rockabilly Programme on Capitol Radio

The Rockabilly Programme on Capitol Radio
Advert for Capitol featuring the Rockabilly programme (courtesy Alan Russell).

The Rockabilly Programme was a regular weekly feature on Dublin’s Capitol Radio (1975 and 1978-1981), initially on Tuesdays before moving to Wednesdays between eleven and midnight. It was presented by Stompin’ George (George Verschoyle), who also hosted a Rockabilly music session on Monday nights at the Magnet Bar in Pearse Street, featuring various local Rockabilly bands such as Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers, Crazy Cavan and others.

The Rockabilly Programme on Capitol Radio
Stompin’ George in the Magnet in 1978.

On this programme from c. August 1978, George is joined by Ferdia Mac Anna (Rocky from Rocky and the Gravediggers) to review and play Ferdia’s top Rockabilly music choices. One of the founders of Capitol, Ed McDowell, is heard giving the timecheck after the programme handover. Thanks to another Capitol founder, Alan Russell, for the recording and photos.

The Rockabilly Programme on Capitol Radio
Advert for the Magnet from Hot Press (courtesy Alan Russell).

Click here for a Stompin’ George (George Verschoyle) biography and review of 1970s Dublin Rockabilly music scene.

Click here for Fanning Sessions clips of Rocky and the Gravediggers.

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
The Radio Dublin transmitter at Christmas 1977 (photo courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

Radio Dublin was the only Irish station to ring in the New Year at midnight on Saturday 31st December 1977. The Evening Herald reported that RTÉ Radio had to scrap its planned New Year’s Eve special programme, to be presented by Pat Kenny, because of an industrial relations dispute. The state broadcaster would close down at 11.45pm, leaving the airwaves to Radio Dublin. This was an important period for the pirates as it marked the shift from hobby to full-time broadcasting. Radio Dublin stayed on air for 300 hours over the Christmas and New Year period 1977-1978 and began full-time daily broadcasting on 2nd January 1978.

This recording is of Radio Dublin staff saying farewell to 1977 and ringing in 1978. Running from 2312-0040, it features station owner Eamonn Cooke along with DJs John Paul, Shay West, DJ Sylvie, Mike Eastwood and James Dillon. There are plenty of requests from listeners and thanks to businesses for advertising with the station during the year. At midnight a recording of bells is almost scuppered by a faulty cassette tape. This is followed by the DJs singing Auld Land Syne and a message from the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Michael Collins. Eamonn Cooke urges listeners to lobby the government for a licence for Radio Dublin and also thanks Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) for relaying the broadcast on the shortwave frequency of Westside Radio International. This recording was made locally but there is some night-time co-channel interference and that characteristic Radio Dublin hum throughout. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation.

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
Early Radio Dublin letterhead (courtesy of Ian Biggar)

However, the exuberance of New Year’s Eve did not last and in April James Dillon led a walk-out of most staff following allegations that Eamonn Cooke was involved in child abuse. Dillon formed a breakaway station, the Big D, which lasted until 1982. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following Cooke’s conviction 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.

Dr. Don hosts a phone-in on ARD

Dr. Don hosts a phone-in on ARD
Don Moore (left) and ARD backer Bernard Llewellyn after a raid on 31.01.78 (photo Eric Luke/Irish Press).

ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin) first broadcast on July 31st 1976 on 217 metres. It was set up by Declan Meehan, Mark Story and Davitt Kelly (RIP). Following a split at Radio Dublin, the late Don Moore (Dr. Don) joined ARD and it moved to 1161 kHz (announcing 257 metres), next to its rival on 253 metres. The competition between Radio Dublin and ARD forced up standards as both stations experimented with extending broadcast hours and more professional programming. Don Moore developed ARD into a credible station in its own right and planned to seek a licence.

In this recording from 1978, Dr. Don is heard hosting a lively phone-in on a Sunday afternoon. Listeners sing their favourite songs on air and appreciate Don’s zany style, corny jokes and canned laughter. We get a real sense of a rapport with listeners and this recording reminds us that Don was a gifted and natural broadcaster. The voices of the late Tony Allen and Dave C are heard on ads and promos.

This recording was made from 1161 kHz (announcing 257 metres) from 1620-1700 on 4th June 1978. Thanks to Ian Biggar for the donation. 

Alan Edwards celebrates one year on CBC

Alan Edwards celebrates one year on CBC
Alan Edwards in the CBC studio in May 1979 (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

This recording of Alan Edwards was made on 1st July 1979, a year to the day after he began working at CBC. Alan plays snippets from his first show on 1st July 1978 and comments on the difference in his voice over the past year. A birthday cake was delivered to the station by a loyal fan and Alan and his producer tuck in between records. It is announced that the station will close at 10pm instead of midnight because Barry Jones won’t be in for his show.

In the 1978 recording CBC’s frequency is given as 1327.52 kHz which is equivalent to almost 226 metres rather than the announced 230 metres. A year later, Alan announces 1303 kHz which is equivalent to 230 metres. This is a 40+ year-old cassette recorded from AM, with the 1978 inserts themselves recorded from AM, so audio quality is poor throughout. The recording above starts at around 7.30pm and is a partial aircheck. The recording below starts just before 9pm. Thanks to Lillian O’Donoghue for the donation.

Part 2 of the Alan Edwards show.