Cork’s Big Brother Radio from 1981

Cork's Big Brother Radio from 1981
Alan Edwards in his CBC days in 1978 (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

Long before the reality television series of the same name, Cork had its very own Big Brother Radio. This Cork station lasted for about 3-4 months at the start of 1981 and was operated from a garage on the Blarney Road. Experimenting with an American style, Big Brother Radio was owned by Philip O’Connor who had worked previously with the Cork Broadcasting Company (CBC). The FM signal on 88.6 MHz was in mono only but the signal was good in the city because of where the studio and dipole were located. An AM transmitter at the snooker club in Blackpool relayed the signal but was weak and didn’t last long. The studio was impressive and was nicely fitted out with professional record decks, cart machines and carpet tiles.

This recording of Big Brother Radio was made from 88.6 FM from 1729-1900 on 3rd February 1981. It begins with a sign-off from Captain Peacock who is followed by Alan Edwards. Alan, who had been a regular DJ previously on CBC, announces a competition for a £10 note. Thanks to Lillian O’Donoghue for the donation of the tape and to Rob Allen for background information.

Simon Young from Sloopy’s nightclub

Simon Young from Sloopy's nightclub
Sloopy’s advert from 1977 courtesy of Retro Now.

The late Simon Young referred regularly to Sloopy’s nightclub in Fleet Street in his soul and disco show on the Big D and there were live broadcasts from there on Tuesday nights.

On this occasion, Simon hosts a round of the Miss Sloopy competition at the club with the assistance of Martin King. The ten contestants are interviewed by Simon, Rose of Tralee style, and at the end there’s a surprise appearance from an eleventh entrant, ‘Julie Carriage’ who sounds like an early version of Agnes Brown!

The recording is undated but we estimate it to be from August or September 1981. Sound quality is poor and it was necessary to aircheck some of the recording.

The advert for the Miss Sloopy contest is from 1977 and before Big D’s time, but there are some interesting names among the judges! Many thanks to Brand New Retro for the image and to Shay Geoghegan for the recording, which was made from 99.5 FM.

Below are two sides of a Big D card sent by Simon Young to Ian Biggar in 1979. The first side features current advertisers with the station and the other provides a schedule. There are some big names among the DJs, many of whom would go on to national prominence on RTÉ Radio 2, including Marty Hall (Whelan), Dave Fanning and Neil O’Shea. Of course, that was where Simon himself ended up.

Simon Young from Sloopy's nightclub
A Big D card from 1979 sent by Simon Young to Ian Biggar (thanks to Ian).
Simon Young from Sloopy's nightclub

Disco Top 30 with Simon Young on Big D

Disco Top 30 with Simon Young on Big D
Big D sticker (courtesy Bill Ebrill).

This is another recording of popular DJ Simon Young (RIP) presenting the Top 30 Disco Survey on the Big D in 1981. Sloopy’s Nightclub sponsors the survey and Simon promos the Big D Boogie Night held in Sloopy’s on Tuesday nights. The voices of the late Dave C and Tony Allen are heard on ads and station idents. Simon Young went on to become one of the leading DJs on RTÉ 2FM.

Below is a letter sent by Simon in 1979 to Ian Biggar, confirming his reception report of Big D in Scotland.

Disco Top 30 with Simon Young on Big D
Letter from Simon Young in 1979 to Ian Biggar (thanks to Ian for sharing this).

This recording is undated but it was made from 99.5 FM on a Monday evening from 2215-2300 sometime in the spring of 1981. Thanks to Shay Geoghegan for the donation.

Simon Young (RIP) on the Big D

Simon Young (RIP) on the Big D
Big D poster (courtesy DX Archive).

It was with sadness that we learned of the death of another talented radio presenter, Simon Young, who like so many others began his career in the pirates. In this recording, Simon presents his popular weekly American soul and disco show on the Big D in 1981. A rowdy crowd in the studio is talking away in the background and enjoying the tunes. There’s a reference to the Big D Boogie Night broadcast from Sloopy’s nightclub on Fleet St. and indeed Sloopy’s is the sponsor of the disco Top 30. Simon, whose real name was Thomas Meade, went on to become a well-known DJ on RTÉ 2FM.

The Big D was a pioneering pirate station that contributed to the transformation of the Dublin radio scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It began broadcasting on April 10th 1978 as a result of a split in Radio Dublin, was run by James Dillon and backed by businessman Noel Kirwan. The station was raided on June 15th but returned to the air after a short time. In addition to Simon Young, many big names of radio in the 1980s and beyond were heard on the Big D including Marty Whelan, Gerry Ryan, John Clarke, Dave Fanning and Declan Meehan. Several were poached by RTÉ when Radio 2 was set up in 1979. The Big D closed in December 1981 in the context of increased competition in the Dublin radio market.

The recording was made from 99.5 FM on 9th March 1981 from 2140-2245. Big D also broadcast on 1116 kHz AM, announcing 273 metres. Thanks to Shay Geoghegan for the donation.

More Stevie Dunne on Sunshine Radio

More Stevie Dunne on Sunshine Radio
Early Sunshine compliments slip (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

This recording is of veteran English DJ Stevie Dunne (Stevie Gordon) on Sunshine Radio from 1410-1456 on 12th February 1981. Stevie did stints with the offshore stations Voice of Peace and Radio Caroline and was the last voice to be heard from the Mi Amigo before it sank in 1980. After coming to Dublin, he used the radio name Stevie Dunne to avoid confusion with another English DJ, Steve Gordon, who worked with Radio Leinster and also presented on Sunshine and Radio Nova on a stand-in basis. Stevie Dunne went on to work at Nova and South Coast Radio in Cork before moving to Scandinavia. He is currently Programme Director of Radio Seagull, which broadcasts on AM in the Netherlands.

There is co-channel interference on this recording, as it was made in Scotland by Ken Baird, some distance from the transmitter on 531 kHz. We thank John Breslin for the donation.