Steve Marshall and Richie O’Shea on WLS

Steve Marshall and Richie O'Shea on WLS
WLS letterhead from 1986 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

This recording of Galway pirate WLS was made towards the end of the station’s life in June 1987. It begins with the end of Steve Marshall’s show and a promo for the Solid Gold Sunday programme with Don Stevens. The top-of-the-hour ident mentions ‘VHF stereo’ only as AM had been discontinued at this time. Steve is followed by Richie O’Shea from midday who mentions a £1,000 giveaway. Commercials include local businesses and agency adverts. The sound is tight with good music and slick jingles but WLS would be gone within the next few weeks.

Steve Marshall and Richie O'Shea on WLS
Cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

Made on 4th June 1987, part 1 above runs from 1150-1238 and part 2 below from 1238-1326. The tape was recorded from 96.4 FM in stereo with excellent audio quality.

Part 2 from 1238.

This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Richie O’Shea on WLS Music Radio

Richie O'Shea on WLS Music Radio
WLS studios at Prospect Hill in Galway in 1986 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

By mid-1986, WLS was well-established as the leading pirate in Galway city. Professional on-air standards led to strong advertising revenue, as this recording from May of that year indicates. Commercial breaks feature local businesses including a private bus company and there are agency adverts for national brands. A station newsletter from late 1986/early 1987 claimed a market share of at least 54 percent of listeners in the city and included testimonials from a range of advertisers.

In this recording, Richie O’Shea takes over from Steve Marshall for his early evening show which includes an interview with Galway band Manic Depression. A top-of-the-hour promo for WLS mentions both AM and FM and describes it as the ‘West’s local station’.

Richie O'Shea on WLS Music Radio
Cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

Part 1 above is from 7th May 1986 from 1757-1842 and part 2 below from 1843-1928.

Part 2 from 1843.

Both were made from 102.7 FM and are from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Summer shows on WLS Music Radio

Summer shows on WLS Music Radio
WLS flyer from 1985 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

These recordings of Galway station WLS Music Radio were made in the summer of 1986, when the station was well established as the leading pirate in Galway. Part 1 above was made on 1st May 1986 from 2143-2228 and features Barry Williams with a requests show. Among the adverts is one for Supermac’s, now a highly successful fast-food company.

Summer shows on WLS Music Radio
Cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

Part 2 below was made from 1559-1644 on 2nd May 1986 and features news with an unidentified presenter followed by Steve Marshall, one of the station’s founders.

Recording from 2nd May 1986.

Both recordings were made from 102.7 FM and are from the Anoraks Ireland Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Closedown of Big Beat Radio

Closedown of Big Beat Radio
Peter Walsh on Big Beat Radio in 1986 (photo Brian Greene).

Big Beat Radio is especially important to us as it involved both co-founders of Pirate.ie, Brian Greene and John Walsh. The station began broadcasting on June 17th 1986 in a room belonging to the community centre on the seafront in the suburb of Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. There were six founders, all of whom were 16: Brian Greene (Bobby Gibbson* on air), Dónal Greene, Michael Redmond, Peter Walsh, Brian Hegarty and Mark Tynan. John Walsh was a year younger and joined as a newsreader and occasional DJ.

Big Beat was on air for seven weeks of the summer school holidays. The original plan was to go on AM with the copper wires running along the seafront behind the studio but the station ended up on FM. Around the same time, the Carroll’s Irish Open Golf tournament was held across the estuary in Portmarnock about 400 metres from the studio. RTÉ set up a dedicated radio station for the tournament on 96.6 FM, forcing Big Beat to move down to 96.2 at the last minute.

Closedown of Big Beat Radio
Brian Greene (top) and Mark McGuinness set up the studio (from Brian’s collection).

Power was about 15 watts but the mast wasn’t more than 20 feet off the ground and therefore the signal didn’t travel far. Audio quality was poor with levels very uneven. The single microphone was wrapped in a cloth to prevent popping and taped to a wooden banister which protruded from a scratchy mixer dating from the 1960s. Two turntables, a cassette deck and headphones completed the studio set-up.

Closedown of Big Beat Radio
A radio theme prevails at the site in 2022. The studio was through the door (photo John Walsh).

The studio heated up easily and the door to the green outside was usually left open, with a result that passing buses were often heard during shows. The room was invariably crammed with friends of the DJ so keeping people quiet during links was a challenge. News was presented from 11am until 6pm each day and was lifted from RTÉ, BBC and other pirates. The newsroom was in a stifling disused toilet with no window.

There was no phone at Big Beat, so the telephone box across the road was used for requests. The postal address was 3A Brookstone Road, Baldoyle where co-founder Peter Walsh lived. Sunshine Radio engineer Peter Gibney (RIP) visited one evening because of interference caused to the transmitter in Portmarnock a few kilometres to the north. Big Beat also ran discos for visiting Spanish students at the community centre next door.  

Closedown of Big Beat Radio
2016 reunion at the phone box. L-R: Dónal Greene, Brian Greene, Peter Walsh, Mark Tynan, Michael Redmond, Brian Hegarty (photo John Walsh).

Big Beat closed suddenly at 6pm on Friday August 8th with Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds. This recording is of the final hour from that day. Two of the Big Beat founders, Brian Greene and Peter Walsh, went on to set up Centre Radio, another part-time station that operated from Baldoyle and neighbouring Bayside from Christmas 1986 to the end of 1988. For more memories of Big Beat, see here.

* No, it’s not a typo: the extra ‘b’ in Gibbson was deliberate because the name was fake.

Afternoon music mix on Kandy Radio

Afternoon music mix on Kandy Radio
Kandy Radio poster (courtesy Ian Biggar).

Kandy Radio broadcast from Ballinasloe in east Galway from 1986 to 1988. This recording was made on Monday 13th October 1986 from 1320-1405 from the station’s AM frequency, 1386 kHz. Mark White is on air until 1330 and is followed by Paul Davis for the afternoon show. News is read by Tara and adverts feature local businesses in east Galway, south Roscommon and west Offaly. The music is a mixture of middle-of-the-road, country and chart hits. There is co-channel interference due to congestion on the frequency, suggesting that the recording was made outside Kandy’s core area of east Galway.

This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.