Sonic Independent Radio relayed on shortwave

Sonic Independent Radio relayed on shortwave
Bob Nailor in the Sonic Independent Radio studio in 1981 (courtesy DX Archive).

Sonic Independent Radio was one of many short-lived south Dublin stations during the early 1980s. Based in Shankill on the southside, it was first logged in the winter of 1980/1981 on 1314 kHz (announcing 228 metres) and was noted on that frequency several times during 1981. Sonic was run by Joe Jackson, who provided many AM transmitters for pirate radio around that time. According to an entry on DX Archive, the same transmitter was used for later short-term stations such as East Coast Radio, ABC (Dún Laoghaire) and South City Radio. Sonic features in a log of stations received in Lancashire in summer 1981 and was said to have a very good signal at the time. However reception of the station outside Ireland was soon to be hampered by the expansion of Norwegian station NRK of its broadcasts on 1314 kHz.

This recording of Sonic Independent Radio is of the weekly FRC (Free Radio Campaign) Ireland show, presented by Rick Davenport and Steve Johnston. The FRC show covers radio news, both licensed and pirate, and includes listeners’ letters and reception reports. The presenters announce that Sonic is to be relaunched the following day, with a new format and name. This edition of the FRC Ireland show was a relay by Capital Radio International on 6268 kHz. It was made on 8th November 1981 from 1200-1245 and begins with the voice of Capital Radio operator, Aidan Hughes. Capital Radio began broadcasting in 1981 and continued as a regular Sunday morning shortwave pirate throughout the 1980s. It returned in the early 1990s but ceased to broadcast after Aidan Hughes died prematurely.

Audio quality on this recording ranges from fair to poor, reflecting the fact that it is of a shortwave relay of an original medium wave broadcast. There is also some wobble due to degradation of the cassette, which is from the Anoraks Ireland Collection.

Tony Dixon on early Sunshine Radio

Tony Dixon on early Sunshine Radio
Feature on Tony Dixon from the 1985 Sunshine Review (courtesy DX Archive).

Tony Dixon (RIP) was one of the popular DJs on Sunshine Radio, a large and successful pirate that broke the mould in Irish local radio when it came on the air in September 1980. In this short recording from the station’s early days, he is heard on a Sunday night programme that includes the tagline ‘Dance Radio – Sunshine 539’, highlighting the station’s emphasis on that genre of music after its launch. There’s also mention of Tamango’s nightclub that advertised heavily on Sunshine and was based next door at the Sands Hotel in Portmarnock. The tape ends with the iconic Desiderata that closed down Sunshine every night, followed by the station’s theme song ‘You are my sunshine’. Tony Dixon went on to have a career on licensed radio but died prematurely in 2010.

The airchecked recording was made from between 2000 and 2100 on 12th January 1981 from 531 kHz AM, announced as 539 metres, and is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection.

’88 News’ on Radio Nova in 1981

'88 News' on Radio Nova in 1981
Nova sticker from autumn 1981 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

This snippet of Radio Nova from 1981 gives a sense of the super-pirate after its first few months on air. Beginning testing on FM only at the start of June that year, Nova shook up the Dublin market due to its distinctive sound, professional standards and most importantly the significant investment of station founder and owner Chris Cary. The tape includes station idents and jingles, an advert for upmarket newspaper The Sunday Tribune and the ’88 News’ presented by Sybil Fennell. The news branding reflected Nova’s prioritisation of high quality stereo FM at a time when RTÉ’s use of the superior quality band was limited. In fact, the station did not begin broadcasting on AM until just a few days before this tape was made, adding a 10 kW transmitter on 846 kHz.

This airchecked recording was made from 88.5 FM on 13th September 1981 by British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler during one of his many visits to Dublin in the early part of that decade. It is kindly donated by Steve England.

Religious programme on Radio Leinster

Religious programme on Radio Leinster
Radio Leinster sticker from 1983 (courtesy Svenn Martinsen).

Radio Leinster was a specialist Dublin station with an easy listening and talk format in contrast with the diet of pop preferred by most pirates. It broadcast from 29th April 1981 until 19th May 1983, closing down suddenly as panic spread following the raids on super-pirates Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio. Radio Leinster was situated on an elevated site in Sandyford with an excellent view of the city from its studios. The professionally-made 1 kW transmitter on 738 kHz (406 metres) gave good coverage by day but suffered co-channel interference after dark.

This short recording from Sunday 13th September 1981 features part of a religious programme presented by Fr. Michael Conaghty, who reads headlines from the Catholic Universe. Some of Radio Leinster’s distinctive interval signals are also heard. The clip was recorded in Malahide, north Co. Dublin and is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England. proudly supports An Cailín Ciúin proudly supports An Cailín Ciúin
An Stoirm Chiúin, adapted from Q102 advert in 1985

In February 2021, the director and writer of an Irish language film to be known as Fanacht contacted about using clips from our archive as ‘radio filler’. Colm Bairéad told us that the film was based on Claire Keegan’s novel Foster and set in Louth and Waterford over the summer of 1981. In order to give a flavour of local radio from that era, he said that they would like to use audio of DJs and adverts on Radio Carousel and ABC Radio from the early 1980s. We were more than happy to support this and wrote back to Colm in Irish and English with information about using or adapting the clips.

Two years later and what is now known as An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) has become a huge hit in Ireland and across the world and is the most successful Irish language film ever. It received numerous awards and was nominated for the 95th Academy Awards in the ‘International Feature Film’ category of the Oscars. An Cailín Ciúin is supported by TG4’s Cine4 scheme, an exciting initiative that has boosted several new films in Irish in recent years. Screen Ireland and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland also provided assistance. is proud to have contributed to the film’s success in a small way and we are delighted that Irish pirate radio audio from our archive has been heard at film festivals and cinemas throughout the world as an authentic representation of the cultural and audio history of Ireland in the 1980s. proudly supports An Cailín Ciúin

To mark the occasion, we have adapted a 1985 poster by the then new Dublin pirate station Q102, which used the tagline ‘the Quiet Storm’ in its early months on air. Q102 was the newest ‘super-pirate’ in the city, a large and professional operation that went on to enjoy commercial success until it closed down at the end of 1988 in line with new broadcasting legislation. An Cailín Ciúin is also ‘an stoirm chiúin’ – the quiet storm – that has taken the cinema world by storm and made (radio) waves in Ireland and abroad.

Déanaimid comhghairdeas ó chroí le Colm Bairéad, an léiritheoir Cleona Ní Chrualaoich agus aisteoirí agus criú uile an tsárscannáin An Cailín Ciúin. Tá ‘stoirm chiúin’ spreagtha agaibh i saol na scannánaíochta agus na Gaeilge in Éirinn agus ar fud na cruinne agus táimid fíorbhródúil asaibh.