Waterford Local Radio (WLR) was one of the longest running pirate stations of its era, broadcasting from 23rd June 1978 to 31st December 1988. It was founded by Rick Whelan in his garage in Butlerstown west of Waterford City and was managed for 10 years by Rick’s brother Des until the pirate closedowns. The station was one of a handful pirates to be licensed and returned to the air as WLR FM on 8th September 1989. Des Whelan is still managing director and Rick continues to present on the station.
This recording features Rick Whelan on his morning show in the weeks before Christmas 1986. News on the half-hour is read by Denise Wall and there are also sports results and a community noticeboard. Adverts cover Counties Waterford, Wexford and Tipperary and the station tagline is WLR – South East Radio. The name of the company behind WLR was and continues to be the South East Broadcasting Company. This is separate from South East Radio, the licensed station for Wexford.
The tape was made on 3rd December 1986 from 100 FM and runs from 0906-1042. It is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson. WLR also broadcast on 88.8 FM and 1197 kHz (252 metres) medium wave.
By the mid-1980s Boyneside Radio was calling itself the ‘biggest regional radio station in Ireland’ and could be heard over a large area from Dublin to Belfast. From humble origins in Drogheda, Boyneside developed into a network of stations in Counties Meath and Louth, including a Northern service based in Carrickcarnon right on the border. This recording from 1986 features two well-known DJs presenting early afternoon shows. First up is Kieran Murray with the end of the People’s Choice requests programme. He is followed by one of the station’s founders Eddie Caffrey with Afternoon Delight and the Golden Hour. There are plenty of local adverts in the busy pre-Christmas period.
The recording was made between 1350 and 1438 on 25th November 1986 from Boyneside’s Dublin FM relay transmitter on 105.5 FM. It is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.
One of the characteristics of the super-pirate Radio Nova was its high-powered broadcasts on medium wave aimed at listeners in Britain. By 1985, the station was broadcasting 50kW of power on 738 kHz AM and reaching cities such as Liverpool and Manchester but the frequency was prone to interference at night. Longwave – capable of covering larger distances and using a less crowded band – seemed like an option to reach Britain more effectively and was tested by Radio Nova in late 1985 and early 1986.
Nova began broadcasting on 254 kHz on 6th December 1985, relaying the main service on 738 kHz. The audacious move was noted by the Media Network programme on Radio Netherlands International but the initial broadcasts were intermittent and on low power. Signal strength improved in the first fortnight in January 1986 but no mention of longwave was made on air and it is likely that few listeners were aware of the broadcasts. Separate longwave broadcasts did not begin until 28th January, when Nova was relayed until 1400, followed by a programme presented by Chris Barry until 1800. The same schedule continued for the following two days until the transmitter was switched off on Thursday 30th January at around 2215. It is estimated that power output was in the region of 15 kW at the time. The reason for the switch-off of longwave is not known but Nova was by this time in deep trouble and would close down completely on March 19th.
254 kHz (later 252) was the longwave frequency allocated to Ireland by the International Telecommunication Union and would later be used by the joint RTÉ and Radio Luxembourg venture, Atlantic 252 (1989-2002). Atlantic 252 broadcast from Co. Meath but was aimed at the UK market and covered most of the British landmass with its 500 kW of power. From 2004 to 2023, RTÉ used the frequency to broadcast Radio 1 into Britain, but power was reduced significantly in later years and there were problems with co-channel interference from an Algerian station.
This recording of Radio Nova on longwave was made in the English midlands on 22nd January 1986 from 254 kHz between 1254-1326 and is a relay of the main service. It features the usual high-level adverts from agencies and for large businesses and the ABC Network News is presented by Bob Gallico and Sybil Fennell. After the news, Electric Lunchtime is hosted by Tony McKenzie. The recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England, and background information is courtesy of DX Archive.
The Munster Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was one of the smaller Limerick pirates, broadcasting in 1986. Despite the gradiose name, the station was situated in a tiny loft room on Catherine Street in the city centre. It claimed coverage of counties Limerick, Clare and Tipperary on various FM frequencies, but most of the advertisements were from Limerick City itself. This recording from July 1986 features the lunchtime show with current pop hits presented by Will Rogers, who had one of the stranger mid-Atlantic accents of the pirate era. He also features on many of the adverts. MBC was relaunched as Stereo Radio Munster in 1987.
The tape may have been recorded from one of the Limerick City frequencies, 95.9 or 98.6 FM. There is no date but Part 1 above runs from 1304-1349 and Part 2 below from 1351-1437.
The tape is from the Anoraks Ireland Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.
Westside Radio International broadcast on shortwave from Dublin on Sunday mornings between 1975 and 1989, returning in the 1990s under different names. It was one of several shortwave hobby pirates operating during that period and was steeped in the free radio spirit.
This recording from Easter Sunday 1986 features one of the station founders Roger Lloyd (Prince Terry on air) with his trademark musical mix of rock and oldies. The other founder of Westside, Don Moore (Dr Don) died in 2021. There are generic jingles and promos for free radio, including a long advert for Anoraks Ireland. The weekly DX Programe follows, with plenty of news about the pirate scene and following Westside’s closedown, the station is to hold a QSO with fellow shortwave pirate Radio Valleri. No times are noted and there are some edits in the tape. Part 1 above begins after 1100 and Part 2 below finishes after 1300.
The recording was made from 6280 kHz on Sunday 30th March 1986 and is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.