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.
WBEN was a Cork station that broadcast under different names between October 1985 and December 1988. It was launched on the Cork Jazz Festival long weekend by Pete O’Neill and Romano Macari, both of who were involved in earlier Cork stations including Radio City and the original South Coast Radio. WBEN began on low power on FM only in the city centre but by summer 1986 had added an AM transmitter on 1386 kHz followed by high powered FM. Initially, WBEN specialised in mainly American Top 40 music and had no presenters but it later got rid of the automated style. Under Macari’s management, the format changed to mixed oldies, pop and showbands. WBEN was relaunched as South Coast Radio at the end of 1987 and continued under that name until December 31st 1988.
One of those involved in the station was former offshore DJ Nick Richards, who shares his memories of WBEN:
It was 1986 and I was preparing to return to the Ross Revenge when out of the blue I had two calls from Ireland, both from Cork as it happened. The first call was to ask would I be interested in joining WKLR in Clonakilty and the other call was to ask if I might be interested in joining a new station about to launch in Cork City and called WBEN.
I briefly put off my trip back to the Caroline ship and and got a ferry over to Ireland. First I made my way to Clonakilty and WKLR. I met Dave Heffernan who was running WKLR, we had a long chat and I said that I’d get back to him and let him know. The following day I met Pete O’Neill in Cork city to see what his plans for WBEN were. I immediately liked what Pete had to say. He was planning an American sounding station which I agreed would do well. Pete also asked if I knew of anyone that might be interested in joining the station. I returned to Radio Caroline with a decision to make and the job of finding someone else that might head back to Ireland with me. Once back on board the Ross I knew who might be interested in working in Cork, so one evening I put the idea to Neil Frances, who was very interested. Once we had both left the ship, I contacted Pete O’Neill to say we would both be on our way in a week or so.
Pete met us at Cork Airport and took us into town and gave myself and Neil a great welcome which involved a tour of most of the bars in the city and then on to Co-Co’s nightclub. The following day it was down to work in the studios in Cook Street. Neil would be doing drivetime and I would do the afternoon show. The studios were well fitted out, the station jingles were from WBEN in Buffalo, New York but sounded good on what was a tight FM format. The summer was one of those that seemed to produce sunny day after sunny day. Eamonn Kelly was another DJ on the station. He had come from Radio Nova in Dublin and was a very professional sounding presenter.
Neil Prendeville was another local presenter on the station and a keen tennis fan. Somehow we gained accreditation to have live comentary on the tennis games at Wimbledon and Neil was the obvious person to send over to London to capture all the action for our news bulletins and live updates. We had an outside broadcast booked on one of the weekends during Wimbledon, during which we planned to also broadcast Neil from Wimbledon. For any station today, this would be relatively easy but for a small pirate station in Ireland at the time, this was quite a tricky thing to pull off. It worked a treat, much of the technical side of things was down to the legendary Keith York (RIP) who just made things work.
A point came where the radio station took a dip in advertising and unknown to me at the time Neil Francis had applied to join a radio station in the UK, I told him that I was thinking along similar lines and had applied to join the new Radio HMV in the company’s flagship store on Oxford Street in London. Needless to say we both left WBEN at the same time.
WBEN left its mark on Cork, it sounded so different to existing stations and I will always remember it fondly and the people I worked with while I was there.
The first recording above is of Nick Richards from 1525-1555 on Wednesday 25th June 1986. The recording below is of Neil Francis from 1822-1843 on the same date. Commercial breaks include promos urging ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes in the forthcoming divorce referendum.
Both recordings were made from 98 MHz FM and are donated by Ian Biggar.
Henry Owens (real name Henry Condon) was heard on various pirate stations in the 1980s, including Q102, Radio Nova and South Coast Radio in Cork, where he was known as Alan Reid. In this recording from 1986, he presents an afternoon show on Dublin super-pirate Q102. Along with plenty of agency adverts, there’s also a competition to win a trip across the skies of Dublin in the Eye in the Sky helicopter, from which Q102 delivered its traffic reports each morning. News is read by Anne Cassin at two minutes to the hour, an innovation allowing the station to claim that it was first to bring the news to Dublin listeners.
Henry went on to enjoy a long career on licensed radio in Ireland and UK up to his untimely death in 2013. Anne Cassin is now a presenter of Nationwide on RTÉ. This tape was recorded on Tuesday 11th March 1986 from 102.1 FM. Part 1 above runs from 1519 and Part 2 below from 1618.
This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.
Radio Valleri was a pioneering pirate station broadcasting from Dublin in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the early hobby operations in the city, it was set up in 1972 by Derek Jones and Mike Anderson and broadcast initially on medium wave from a garden shed in Drumcondra. In 1973, Radio Valleri switched to shortwave and was heard sporadically, often on Sunday mornings, on various frequencies in the 49-metre band over the following years. In the 1980s, the station became one of many to broadcast regularly on shortwave on Sunday mornings, by which time it had settled on 6400 kHz.
This tape is of one of Radio Valleri’s founders, Mike Anderson, with a Sunday show from 1200-1300 in April 1986 (the precise date is unknown). Mike announces broadcasting hours of 0900-1300 and gives a postal address in Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. That broadcast is to be followed by a QSO with another well-known Dublin shortwave pirate, Westside Radio, and Weekend Music Radio in Scotland.
The recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.
Zoom 103 was a short-lived replacement for Dublin super-pirate Radio Nova after it went into receivership and closed on 19th March 1986. Zoom began identifying itself shortly after 10pm that evening and the following day’s programming featured the normal Nova presenters but without an AM service. Nova founder Chris Cary denied any involvement in the new station and said he was leaving Ireland. Zoom 103 was based at 144 Upper Leeson Street in the city centre but lasted only until 24th March, when the Nova receiver seized the transmitter. On 28th March, a new station called Energy 103 began broadcasting from the same location, continuing until 11th March 1988.
This recording of Zoom 103 features Richard Jackson with a late night show on the second day of the station. There are very few commercials and no jingles or idents, but listeners are reportedly hearing the station as far away as Belfast and Blackpool. Our tape was made on 20th and 21st March 1986 from 103.1 FM. Part 1 above is from 2246 and Part 2 below from 2359.
The recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.