Alternative listening with the Sunshine Cake

Alternative listening with the Sunshine Cake
A feature on the Sunshine Cake in the Sunshine Review of 1985 (courtesy of DX Archive).

The Sunshine Cake was a specialist programme broadcast by Sunshine Radio on Sunday mornings from 1985 on its FM frequency only, as an alternative to the station’s regular output on AM. It was a good example of the creativity of some of the pirates in using the existing technology to serve a broader audience, and also a reminder that niche programming was not only done by RTÉ.

In a feature in the Sunshine Review of 1985, presenter Justin McKenna wrote: ‘The idea for the Sunshine Cake was hatched when it became obvious that there was not one single programme on Irish radio which catered for the over 30 listener who enjoyed a wide range of music’. The Sunshine Cake included classical, jazz, blues and comedy slots and gained a regular audience around Dublin. In an interesting commentary on the continued dominance of AM radio in 1985, McCarthy wrote: ‘It’s been gratifying to note that a lot of the younger audience, who I would have expected to move down to the medium wave band, have stayed with FM and listened to the Cake’.

Alternative listening with the Sunshine Cake
The White Sands Hotel today, known as the Sands Hotel in Sunshine’s time (photo by John Walsh).

This recording was made from 101 FM from 1025-1122 on Sunday 31st March 1985. It includes the comedy slot and a diverse musical mix, a cinema review with Paul Vincent and a voice competition.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Weekend Sport on Waterford Local Radio

Weekend Sport on Waterford Local Radio
WLR logo (courtesy of Colin Kennedy).

This is another recording of Waterford Local Radio (WLR) made on Saturday 18th March 1985 from 1205-1250. It begins with the end of the Weekend Sport programme presented by Martin Harte with sports headlines read by Eleanor Kirby. At 1230 Jeff Harris takes over with the WLR Top 30, promising an interview with the band The Blades and prizes of LPs in a listeners’ competition. Of interest again is the large number of ads featuring businesses from Waterford City, Tipperary and Wexford, giving a sense of WLR’s coverage in the southeast. There is a short break in audio at around 09:30 but we don’t know if this was a problem in the transmission or a fault with the recording itself.

The recording was made from 100 FM, the link frequency to the main 88.8 FM transmitter. WLR also broadcast on 1197 kHz AM. We thank John Breslin for his donation.

Saturday breakfast on WLR

Saturday breakfast on WLR
The entrance to Waterford Local Radio (photo courtesy of Colin Kennedy).

This is a recording of Waterford Local Radio (WLR) on Saturday 18th March 1985 from 0805-0850. Tommy O’Keeffe is on air with the weekend breakfast show.

The long commercial breaks are evidence of the station’s success locally, with a wide range of local businesses advertising with WLR. Our vote for the best ad is for the plant and pet shop selling budgies for £5 each! The sound is slick and professional and is a good indication of the high standard reached by many pirates.

The recording was made from 100 FM and was kindly donated to us by John Breslin.

Sunshine Radio charity auction

Sunshine Radio charity auction
An ad by the Central Remedial Clinic in the Sunshine Radio Review from 1985.

Some of the pirates engaged in corporate social responsibility, raising money for various charitable and voluntary groups. One of the larger stations to do so was Sunshine Radio, which built a relationship with the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), an organisation supporting people with physical disabilities. Sunshine held an annual auction on air in aid of the CRC along with the Sunshine Extravaganza, an evening event that listeners could pay to attend, with the proceeds going to the charity. In the first five year’s of Sunshine’s existence, the station raised over £100,000 for the CRC, a considerable sum in the cash-strapped 1980s.

Sunshine Radio charity auction
Pat Courtenay as pictured in the Sunshine Review from 1985.

This recording is of part of the 5th CRC auction as recorded from 531 kHz AM from 1035-1120 on 13th April 1985. In studio are Kieran Ryan and Pat Courtenay, who looks after the bids. Items are up for auction in various lots and include a helicopter trip, a weekend in a Dublin hotel, a bonsai tree, an electronic telephone, attic insulation, a home brew kit, toys, gym membership, beauty treatments, silverware, a Philips radio recorder and even 22 tonnes of sand or gravel!  Irish cabaret singer Tony Kenny, who is taking part in the 5th Sunshine Extravaganza evening in aid of the CRC, is interviewed by station owner Robbie Dale (Robinson), who then joins Pat Courtenay in studio to promote the Sunshine Extravaganza. An ad break includes a promo for the Sunshine Cake, an FM opt-out service of easy listening music on Sunday mornings.

Sunshine Radio charity auction
Robbie Dale as pictured in the Sunshine Review 1985.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International was a shortwave station broadcasting from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

More live overnight ERI from 1985

More live overnight ERI from 1985
George Talbot and ERI engineer the late Robin Adcroft (Banks) in 1987 (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Live overnight radio is a thing of the past with some stations automated from early evening. Pirates big and small were on air around the clock, with a early example being Radio Dublin’s famous marathon broadcast from 1977 which set a new standard for the capital’s growing radio scene.

Some of the Cork pirates did round-the-clock live programming also, as in this recording of Tony Ashford (Ciaran Brannelly) on the graveyard shift on ERI. Emer Lucey (Lucy Potter Coogan) is heard every hour with ‘ERI News Review’, a pre-recorded bulletin of the previous day’ top stories. The recording was made from 96.7 FM and runs from 0438-0602 on Wednesday 23rd October 1985. At the end of his shift, Ciaran hands over to Hugh Browne (RIP), a well-known name on many 1980s pirates.

More live overnight ERI from 1985
ERI car sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

ERI (1982-1988) also broadcast on 1305 kHz (announcing 225 metres) and could be heard over much of Munster and beyond. We thank Ciaran Brannelly for his donation.