Hugh O’Brien and David Dennehy on ARD

Hugh O'Brien and David Dennehy on ARD
ARD’s aerial at the Crofton Hotel in 1981 (courtesy Noel Hiney).

This recording of Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD) was made on a Saturday afternoon in 1981. Hugh O’Brien is on air with mostly oldies and is joined by David Dennehy with sports news. Both would be heard on other pirates throughout the 1980s and on licensed radio thereafter. The recording includes a news flash about the highjacking of an Aer Lingus plane in Paris.

There are plenty of adverts including one for Channel 3 television, later to be known as Channel D. Channel 3 was one of a handful of short-lived pirate television stations broadcasting in the 1980s. It was set up by Don Moore of ARD and Michael Tiernan of the National Independent Broadcasting Organisation, a grouping of commercial pirate stations. Other voices heard on adverts are Paul Vincent, Dave C. and Tony Allan. The cassette has become degraded over time and there is some audio distortion.

Hugh O'Brien and David Dennehy on ARD
Original cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

The recording was made from 99.9 FM from 1659-1745 on 2nd May 1981. It is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

John Dolan on Sunshine Radio

John Dolan on Sunshine Radio
Early Sunshine sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

John Dolan (real name Tadhg Dolan) worked in the first Cork pirates CBC and CCLR in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He also did some shows on Sunshine Radio in Dublin as well as stints with RTÉ’s Cork Local Radio and licensed station Radio South (later Cork’s 96 FM).

This airchecked recording is of John’s first show on Sunshine Radio between 1955-2100 sometime in May 1981. Audio is fair as the recording was made by placing a cassette recorder up against a radio. John is introduced by the previous DJ, Tony Dixon (RIP) and the voice of Sunshine boss Robbie Robinson (RIP) is heard on some of the adverts. Broadcasting ends at 2100 with the iconic Desiderata song, which closed the station down each night.

Thanks to Lillian O’Donoghue for the donation.

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.