This is another early recording of Radio Leinster made just a few days after the station’s launch in 1981. The presenter is the late Steve Gordon who had come from Radio Tees in England and worked in Dublin in the 1980s as a jingle and commercial producer for most stations. The recording was made from 1725-1810 on Friday 1st May 1981. Steve is standing in for another deceased DJ of the era, Roland Burke. As this was recorded just two days after Radio Leinster’s launch, presumably Roland wasn’t available at the very start of the station.
The music is eclectic including MOR, oldies, disco and pop and clearly Radio Leinster’s easy listening policy was still in gestation. The recording was made in Scotland by Ken Baird and there is severe interference at times. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation.
After a fortnight of tests, Radio Leinster launched its new service for Dublin at 7am on Wednesday 29th April 1981, announcing a frequency of 738 kHz or 406 metres. The first presenter was Eugene Elliott on the breakfast programme who promised competitions, quizzes and a news service in the coming days and weeks. There was easy listening music for the first hour but the style was more varied after 8am. Sports news and a Dublin and European weather forecast also featured. The music policy was fairly mixed in the early days and took a while to settle into the easy listening format for which Radio Leinster became well-known for most of its two-year existence. Formatting was not common in Irish pirate radio at the time but that would soon change with the introduction of strict playlisting by super-pirates such as Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova.
The short airchecked recording above was made in Dublin and includes some of the links in the first show. The longer recording below was made from 0656-0821 but is of poorer quality as it was recorded in Scotland. There is some fading, electrical interference and a heterodyne whistle as the transmitter was slightly off channel in the early days. An FM transmitter on 93 MHz was added at a later stage.
The airchecked recording was made in Dublin by Ger Roe and the longer version was made in Scotland by Ken Baird. Thanks to Ian Biggar for sharing these with us.
Radio Leinster broadcast talk, easy listening and MOR to the Dublin area for two years from 1981 to 1983. It is an important station in the history of Irish pirate radio because it aimed at an older audience whereas most pirates chased younger listeners. British pirate radio enthusiast Leon Tipler described it as being more similar to RTÉ Radio 1 than Radio 2. The station began test transmissions in mid-April 1981 on 738 kHz (406metres) with a professionally-built 1kW transmitter, giving it good coverage across Dublin and beyond.
This is a recording of the final test from 1823-1910 on 28th April 1981, the day before Radio Leinster was due to launch. An address of 22 Herbert Street, Dublin 2 is given but the station was located in Sandyford above the city. The programme schedule is announced, including presenters Eugene Elliot, Gordon Sommerville, Danny Hughes and Stevie Gordon. Some of the station’s characteristic interval signals are also heard.
The signal suffers from a heterodyne whistle as it was recorded in Scotland by Ken Baird. This would not be noticeable in Dublin where Radio Leinster had a strong signal, but further afield it was. This happened because the Leinster transmitter was off channel for the first week or so, on 735 kHz rather than the official 738 frequency. As the transmitter came from the USA, it may well be that the original American crystal for 735 kHz was in the unit. Thanks to Ian Biggar for background information and for sharing this recording with us.
Finding a good spot on the crowded AM band was a challenge for all pirates, especially before the development of FM in the 1980s. With no formal process to regulate frequencies and the presence of powerful signals from Britain and across Europe, ensuring that the intended audience heard you was not simple. There were turf wars over the best frequencies, with smaller stations sometimes bullied out by larger operators and banished to less than ideal positions on the AM band. Night-time interference was common and stations were sometimes drowned out after dark by big European operators.
ARD was one station that suffered issues with its AM spot after its temporary closure on December 31st 1979 before it was relaunched as Radio 257. Rival station Radio City jumped on ARD’s original frequency of 1161 kHz when it closed and the new Radio 257 had to settle for 1152 kHz, an inferior channel due to interference from local stations in the UK. At some point in 1980, ARD/Radio 257 moved to 1143 kHz but due to poor night-time reception, it switched to 1134 kHz after dark and back to 1143 in the morning. This airchecked recording was made in Scotland on 7th June 1981 and begins at 0752. It features Owen Conroy followed by Derek Jones, who is standing in for Uncle Bren (Brendan O’Carroll). The change of frequency is announced at 0800 and the receiver is retuned. Co-channel interference can be heard due to the distance from the transmitter.
This recording is courtesy of Ken Baird. Thanks to Ian Biggar for background information and the copy of the letter.
ARD continued to broadcast from the Crofton Airport Hotel throughout 1981. By that time, the station was feeling the pressure of the arrival of the super-pirates on the Dublin scene and it was its last full year of broadcasting. Although ARD had by now dispensed with much of its speech programming due to cost, it continued to broadcast niche shows at the weekend, calling it ‘the weekend service of ARD’.
This recording was made on 31st July 1981 from 2021-2104 and consists mostly of the Tony King (Plunkett) show in which he interviews the late Derry singer Eamonn McGirr. Tony is followed at 9pm by Paul Downey with his ‘Touch of Country’ programme. Paul was a popular DJ on 1980s stations including Radio Dublin and Tony went on to present a sports programme on Sunshine Radio.
Thanks to David Baker for his donation of this recording and to Ian Biggar for background information.