Capitol Radio featured on the BBC

Capitol Radio featured on the BBC
Capitol Radio poster from 1980 (courtesy Alan Russell).

This is a recording of a BBC report on Irish pirate radio, featuring the specialist station Capitol Radio in Dublin (1975 and 1978-1981). It was broadcast on the BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat programme on 26th November 1981 and on BBC World Service on shortwave around the world. One of Capitol’s founders Alan Russell is interviewed and speculates about the establishment of legalised commercial radio in Ireland. The report also includes a clip from Capitol DJ Chris Barry.

The interview was conducted in Dublin in February 1981 but not broadcast until November. Capitol had in fact closed the previous March and Alan speculates that the delay in airing the interview could have been because the BBC did not want to unduly antagonise RTÉ by featuring a pirate currently on air. Similarly, they may not have wanted to publicise Robbie Robinson of Sunshine Radio or Chris Cary of Radio Nova, both of whom had a history in UK offshore pirate radio. Capitol Radio had been known to the UK radio industry as a specialist station following a 1980 article in a British trade magazine Radio Month (see below). Alan believes that Capitol was one of the few Irish pirates, if not the only one, to get worldwide airtime on the BBC.

Thanks to Alan Russell for the donation of this recording and images.

Capitol Radio featured on the BBC
Part 1 of Radio Month feature from January 1980 (courtesy Alan Russell).
Capitol Radio featured on the BBC
Part 2 of Radio Month feature.

Cork’s Big Brother Radio adds AM transmitter

Cork's Big Brother Radio adds AM transmitter

This short recording of Big Brother Radio was made sometime early in 1981 near the beginning of the station’s short run. Big Brother began broadcasting on 88.6 FM but in this recording ‘Philip G’ (presumably founder Philip O’Connor) announces that the station is to add 220 metres medium wave (approximately 1359 kHz) the following Monday. FM broadcasting was still underdeveloped so obviously Big Brother felt that it needed to be AM also. On the same day, the station was to would introduce all-day programming and required additional DJs. The AM transmitter was located at the snooker club in Blackpool but didn’t last long due to a weak signal. Thanks to Pat Galvin for the donation.

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.