Big D station idents

Big D station idents
Big D poster from c. 1979 (courtesy of DX Archive).

We’ve already covered the fascinating story of the first pirate jingles in Ireland, the American package used by Radio Dublin from the early 1970s. The jingles, made by a company called SPOT Productions in Texas, referred to ‘WDEE – The Big D’ and at that time, Radio Dublin used the Big D tagline. It was probably the first of many cases of a station calling itself after whatever jingle package it could find.

Of course, the infamous split in Radio Dublin led to a separate station calling itself Big D, which came on air in April 1978. The SPOT jingle package surfaced again and can be heard in this selection of idents for DJ Bryan Lambert, voiced by the legendary Tony Allan.

We thank Kieran Murray for his donation of this recording.

Big D discusses frequency congestion in Dublin

Big D discusses frequency congestion in Dublin
Big D sticker (courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

There was plenty of frequency congestion in Dublin in the late 1970s as the pirates upped their gain and became full-time operations. Stations congregated around the same part of the AM band between 1100-1200 kHz often interfering with each other or hopping onto each other’s favourite spot. We heard already how ARD switched frequency at night to avoid co-channel interference with overseas stations.

This discussion on the FRC show on Big D from 13th November 1980 gives a sense of the problem. The unidentified presenter takes a call from a listener who has a lot to say on the topic and veteran of the pirate scene Ken Sheehan (Edwards) comments that the new Sunshine Radio has set an example by choosing the other end of the band. The recording ends with the Big D song, which was recorded by one of the DJs, John Paul.

Hear a better quality version of the song here, courtesy of Kieran Murray.

Launch of Radio 257 as covered by Radio Rainbow International

Launch of Radio 257 as covered by Radio Rainbow International
Ian Dempsey at the Crofton Airport Hotel (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Radio 257 was the new name for Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD), a pioneering station of the late 1970s that itself had broken away from Radio Dublin. Radio 257 was launched on 4th January 1980 and based at the Crofton Hotel near Dublin Airport, but reverted to the former ARD name at a later stage. Household names of the future were among the early ARD/Radio 257 crew, including John Clarke, Mike Moran, Tony Allan (RIP), Paul Vincent and Ian Dempsey. The station closed in 1982, a casualty of super-pirates Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio, which had come to dominate the Dublin radio market.

Launch of Radio 257 as covered by Radio Rainbow International
Tony Allan (RIP) in ARD before the relaunch as Radio 257 (photo courtesy of DX Archive).

This recording is of edition #47 of the Free Radio Campaign show on Radio Rainbow International, presented by Kieran Murray on 5th April 1987. It begins with a 5-minute jingle sweep, followed by a recording of the launch of Radio 257 at 12 noon on 4th January 1980. Dave C is in the chair and the launch includes an interview with new breakfast DJ Ian Dempsey and the iconic Tony Allan 257 jingles. The show ends with a weekly round-up of free radio news from Ireland and abroad.

Launch of Radio 257 as covered by Radio Rainbow International
Radio 257 sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

Radio Rainbow International was a hobby station set up by Boyneside Radio engineer Eddie Caffrey from his home in Co. Louth. It broadcast every Sunday on shortwave, AM and FM for three years from 1985 to the end of 1988. As well as the weekly FRC show, Radio Rainbow also leased airtime to British pirate stations at risk of being raided. We thank Eddie Caffrey for sharing this recording.

Peter Madison and Tony Allan on Sunshine Radio

Peter Madison and Tony Allan on Sunshine Radio
Early Sunshine sticker (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Sunshine Radio was the first Dublin station to earn the label of ‘super-pirate’ when it launched in September 1980. With massive investment, professional equipment and a powerful transmitter, it shook up the Dublin radio market and the pirate scene would never be the same again.

Peter Madison and Tony Allan on Sunshine Radio
Peter Madison on Radio Nova (photo courtesy of DX Archive).

Peter Madison (RIP) was another talented broadcaster who joined Sunshine in the early days and would later broadcast on other pirates such as Boyneside Radio and Radio Nova. He is heard here at the end of his shift from 1442-1500 on Sunday 19th October 1980 and is then followed by another broadcasting giant, Tony Allan (RIP) from 1500-1525.

Peter Madison and Tony Allan on Sunshine Radio
The original Sunshine studio in 1981 (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The short recording below is of Peter Madison a few days earlier, 16th October 1980, from 1206-1227. Quality is poor due to electrical interference but Peter can be heard telling listeners that he has cycled 10 miles to the studio in Portmarnock!

These recordings from 531 kHz AM were made in Ayrshire, Scotland by Ken Baird. We thank Ian Biggar for sharing them with us.

More Jason Maine on early Sunshine Radio

More Jason Maine on early Sunshine Radio
Early Sunshine car sticker (courtesy of Ian Biggar)

Today we bring you another recording from the first few weeks of Sunshine Radio, the station which broke the mould of Irish pirate radio when it launched officially on 29th September 1980.

The recording runs from 0953-1006 and again from 1013-1041 on 19th October 1980. It’s a cold and sunny Sunday morning and Jason Maine is in a relaxed vibe. The early Sunshine slogan ‘the dance station of the 80s’ is heard intermittently. This was used until around Christmas when the format changed to Top 40 and oldies. There are ads voiced by Tony Allan for the Sands Hotel where Sunshine was based and Tamango’s Nightclub next door. Jason also announces thousands of pounds’ worth of prizes in the coming week, a sign that Sunshine meant business.

More Jason Maine on early Sunshine Radio
Declan Meehan in the Sunshine studio in 1981 (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

This recording was made from 531 kHz by Ken Baird in Ayrshire in Scotland and co-channel interference can be heard from the Swiss German station underneath. Many thanks to Ian Biggar for sharing it with us.