Final day of Centre Radio (Dublin), New Year’s Eve 1988

Final day of Centre Radio (Dublin), New Year's Eve 1988
Brian Greene in the original Centre Radio studio, Christmas 1986. Kim Wilde was popular with the DJs!

Today we begin a series of recordings to mark the closedown of Centre Radio on 31st December 1988. Centre was a youth radio station broadcasting from Baldoyle and Bayside in northeast Dublin during holidays from 19th December 1986 and each day from February 1988 until closedown. Although not widely known outside its small transmission area, Centre is important to this archive because both of the people behind Pirate.ie were involved as teenagers, Brian Greene as one of the station’s founders and John Walsh as a broadcaster.

Over the coming days, we’ll bring you various recordings from the final day of Centre Radio, one of only a handful of pirates still broadcasting in Dublin. This first clip is of Brian Greene (Bobby Gibbson) in the final hours of his overnight programme between 0500 and 0700 on the 31st. There’s a strong anorak feel as Brian talks about pirate history in Ireland, plays jingles from other stations and explains Centre’s plans for the rest of the day.

Final day of Centre Radio (Dublin), New Year's Eve 1988
Centre Radio flyer when the station was on 92.5 FM.

Listen here to Brian interview Radio Dublin on its last official day on air. Of course, Radio Dublin would defy the new legislation and continue after midnight on the 31st. Listen here to a bandscan presented by Brian and Eamonn Roe (Dave Evans) of the stations still on air on New Year’s Eve in Dublin.

Closedown of Raidió Luimní, Christmas Eve 1988

Closedown of Raidió Luimní, Christmas Eve 1988
Raidió Luimní owner John ‘the Man’ Frawley on air. Photo courtesy of http://www.stellamaris.no/luimni.html

Raidió Luimní was one of the longest-serving pirates in the country, broadcasting from Limerick City from 1978 to 1988. It had a large following of loyal listeners in counties Limerick, Tipperary and Clare due to the eccentric broadcasting style of its owner, the late John ‘the Man’ Frawley. Raidió Luimní was a community station with a difference featuring all sorts of local characters and unusual programming. It was also one of the first stations to feature death notices, a tradition that continues on local radio today.

Closedown of Raidió Luimní, Christmas Eve 1988
Raidió Luimní notepaper, courtesy of Ger Sweeney.

Raidió Luimní installed a new Irish-made transmitter on 1125 kHz in 1985, boosting its signal and increasing its listenership. The station closed down a week earlier than other the pirates at the end of 1988, leaving the air at 0130 on Christmas Eve. This recording is of the final half-hour of the station with Alf de Lacy who says a long goodbye to Raidió Luimní listeners and staff and even thanks local Gardaí for their hard work over Christmas! A few bars of Denis Allen’s song ‘Limerick, You’re a Lady’ are played and then the national anthem brings Raidió Luimní to the end of its colourful life.

The recording was made from 103 FM from 0100-0130 on 24th December 1988. We thank John Breslin for the donation.

Northeast series: Rainbow Radio (1987-1988)

Northeast series: Rainbow Radio (1987-1988)
Advert for Rainbow Radio from August 1987, reproduced from the Sunday World by Anoraks UK Weekly Report.

Rainbow Radio was one of several Co. Louth stations which placed transmitters beside the border in order to beam their signals into the North. It was set up by former Boyneside Radio North staff ‘Big O’, aka Oliver McMahon and the late Eugene Markey, onetime Chairman of Newry Council. Rainbow began broadcasting on 2nd of August 1987 from a disused pigsty beside a furniture warehouse in Carrickcarnon right on the border. The musical style was country and Irish as was common on many rural pirate stations at the time. Rainbow’s AM frequency was 1152 kHz with about 500 watts of power, using a rig built by Eddie Caffrey of Boyneside Radio. For approximately a year, 96.1 FM was also used.

An advert for Rainbow in the Sunday World Northern Ireland edition in August 1987 (see above) used the slogan ‘the station of the stars’ and listed presenters Big O, Eugene Markey, Tommy Ballance, Leon and Danny Doran and Jeff T. Telephone numbers for Warrenpoint and Newry were given, reflecting the fact that Rainbow was aiming at the south Armagh and south Down market.   

Editions of the Anoraks UK Weekly Report from the time mention confusion between Rainbow Radio and another Louth station, Radio Rainbow International, a hobby shortwave operation set up by Eddie Caffrey near Drogheda. Attempts were made to get the new Rainbow to change its name but this was said to be impossible as they had already printed promotional material.

Due to the proximity of the transmitter sites of Radio Carousel, Boyneside North and Rainbow in Carrickcarnon, there were frequent reports of mixing of signals. In December 1987, Weekly Report reported fierce competition between the three stations when new FM transmitters were installed. In July 1988, Rainbow Radio was reported as being audible in Belfast on 96.1 FM, but the station was forced to move frequencies in November when BBC Radio 1 installed a new FM transmitter for Belfast on 96.0. Rainbow moved to 98.5, blocking out the signal of easy listening station CLASS which could be heard from Dublin.

In its final months of existence, Rainbow ran regular outside broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday evenings which were said by Anoraks UK to be very popular. They closed shortly after 3pm on the 31st of December 1988 with the presenters signing Auld Lang Syne.

The recording above is the of the launch of Rainbow Radio on 2nd August 1987 and features Big O and Eugene Markey on air. It was made in Portadown about 45 km from Carrickcarnon and the signal is fairly weak with variable audio levels. The second recording below is of Big O near the end of Rainbow’s existence on 29th December 1988 from 0918-1000. It was recorded from 98.5 FM. Many thanks to Rodney Neil and Ian Biggar for these recordings.  

That concludes our series on the pirates of the northeast in the decade up to the end of 1988. Thanks to everyone who contributed, especially Ian Biggar, Eddie Caffrey, John Gartlan, Kieran Murray, Michael Gerrard and Rodney Neil. Click on the tabs ‘Louth’ or ‘Meath’ if you want to hear all the recordings.

Northeast series: Michael Gerrard of Boyneside Radio

Northeast series: Michael Gerrard of Boyneside Radio
Michael Gerrard in the early days of LMFM where he still presents a show today.

Michael Gerrard was a well-known voice on late-night Boyneside Radio in the station’s later years and gained a large following on his Radio Romance and Night-Time Music slots. Like so many pirate presenters, Michael joined Boyneside when just a teenager and in this interview with John Walsh, he shares his memories of the station with us. After 1989, he went on to work with the local licensed station LMFM.

We also thank Michael for sharing with us two of his final recordings in the run-up to the closedown of Boyneside on 31th December 1988. The first is an aircheck of the final Night-Time Music show on 23rd December.

The second features the final half-hour of Michael’s programme on Friday 30th December 1988, the penultimate day of broadcasting. Some of this has been airchecked.

Both recordings include a farewell message for Boyneside listeners voiced by Eddie Caffrey.

Aircheck: Treble TR Radio

Treble TR was Dublin’s country and Irish music station and broadcast from 1981 until the end of 1988 on 945 kHz and 99.5 FM. This recording is from the 30th of December 1988, the station’s final day of broadcast. It begins just after 6pm with Aidan Cooney referring to the fact that Q102 had just gone off the air. The aircheck also includes a recording of Simon Dee of Radio Caroline fame criticising the Dutch & British governments’ approach to pirate radio and Aidan reminiscing about other Dublin stations. Aidan also talks to two people who had been involved in radio in Wicklow. Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) had closed down earlier that week.

Aircheck: Treble TR Radio
Image courtesy of DX Archive