’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.

Pirate.ie proudly supports An Cailín Ciúin

Pirate.ie 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 Pirate.ie 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. Pirate.is 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.

Pirate.ie 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.  

Chris Barry and David Dennehy on ARD/Radio 257

Chris Barry and David Dennehy on ARD/Radio 257
ARD DJs, undated. Back: Eddie West (RIP). Front L-R: David Dennehy, Chris Barry, Aidan Leonard (courtesy Dave Reddy).

Radio 257 was the new name for ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin) when the station relaunched on 4th January 1980. Many of the DJs on ARD/Radio 257 would go on to become household names in Irish radio, including John Clarke, Mike Moran, Tony Allan (RIP), Paul Vincent and Ian Dempsey. The station closed in 1982 as the super-pirates gained dominance in the Dublin radio market.

Radio 257 reverted to the ARD name at a later stage but in this recording from April 1981, both versions are heard in links and idents. First up is Chris Barry with his drivetime show which includes plenty of adverts and generic jingles re-cut with the ‘257’ tagline. He is followed by David Dennehy who has a write-in competition for listeners. Both Chris and David went on to work in larger pirate stations and eventually licensed radio.

Chris Barry and David Dennehy on ARD/Radio 257
Original cassette from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

This recording was made from 99.9 FM on 2nd April 1981 and Part 1 above runs from 1727-1815. Part 2 below is from 1815-1833 on 2nd April and is followed by part of the Night Train show from 3rd April 1981, presented by Gary Edwards.

Part 2 from 2nd and 3rd April 1981.

The tape is from the Anoraks Ireland Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Drivetime on Big D

Drivetime on Big D
Big D sticker (couresty DX Archive).

This is a recording of the evening drivetime show on Dublin pirate Big D as it began to decline towards the end of 1981. Aidan Cooney is on air from the studios in South Richmond Street in the city centre and takes calls from listeners entering a quiz. The voice of the late Tony Allan is heard on some of the adverts, but commercials are relatively thin on the ground given the time of day. By this time, the Dublin radio market had been shaken up by the arrival of the larger and more professional Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova and the days of pioneering 1970s stations such as Big D were numbered. The station would be relaunched as Big D Automated in 1982, playing continuous music only, but it was gone by the end of the year.

Drivetime on Big D
Original label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

The recording was made on 21st September 1981 from 1116 kHz, announced as 273 metres. Part 1 above runs from 1747-1832 and Part 2 below from 1840-1925.

Part 2 from 1840.

Audio quality is fair with variable levels and increasing co-channel interference as darkness falls. Our tape is from the Anoraks Ireland Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.