The economics and technology of pirate radio

The economics and technology of pirate radio
West National Radio 3 sticker from 1988 (courtesy DX Archive).

This is a recording of part the Anoraks Show on West National Radio 3 from December 1988, towards the end of the popular show’s run as the pirates prepared to close down. Station boss Shaun Coyne interviews radio engineer Gerry Reilly from Co. Cavan, who reckons that he set up between 30 and 40 pirate stations in the 1980s.

The economics and technology of pirate radio
Shaun Coyne pictured in 1986 (photo by Andy Carter, courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The discussion gives a fascinating insight into the economics and technology of the pirates and there are nuggets of information about how certain stations made big profits and provided much needed work in their areas. There’s also plenty of speculation about the new licensed era in 1989. Following the Anoraks Show we hear part of the final edition of the weekly farming programme Landlink.

This recording was made from 1052-1141 on Sunday 11th December 1988 from 100.1 FM. We thank John Breslin for the donation. Listen to our own interview with Gerry Reilly in 2018 here.

Prince Terry on Centre Radio

Prince Terry on Centre Radio
A home-made Centre Radio flyer from the days on 92.5 FM.

Centre Radio was a small FM-only youth station broadcasting from Baldoyle and Bayside in northeast Dublin from 1986-1988. It is especially important for us because it played a big part in our teenage lives: Brian Greene was one of the founders and a regular DJ and John Walsh had his own show also. Centre began broadcasting on 19th December 1986 and was heard during school holidays only. From February 1988, it moved to Bayside and broadcast every weekday evening and all day long at the weekends. It was one of the last stations in Dublin to close at midnight on 31st December 1988.

Prince Terry on Centre Radio
Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) on Westside Radio International c. 1987.

This recording was made from 94.2 FM on Sunday 13th March 1988 from 1630-1800. It begins with pirate veteran Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) presenting a once-off show. Prince Terry was the operator of Westside Radio International, a long-running shortwave pirate and indeed this show was recorded to be broadcast on shortwave the following Sunday. The music begins with oldies but later changes to heavy metal in line with Roger’s taste!

Prince Terry on Centre Radio
Dave Evans (Eamonn Roe) in Centre Radio on 31 December 1988.

Dave Evans (Eamonn Roe) takes over at about 1740 with more music and community news. The recording was made by Roger Lloyd and is courtesy of DX Archive.

Sunrise Special on Westside Radio

Sunrise Special on Westside Radio

This is another recording of Westside Radio, a station broadcasting from Sligo from 1986 to 1988. On air is Ed Stevens with the breakfast show called Sunrise Special although as he notes, the morning is wet and overcast. He claims that Westside is the only station broadcasting in either Sligo or Leitrim at that time. The style isn’t particularly slick, audio levels are uneven and the station phone is out of order, but there are plenty of ads for local businesses so clearly Westside had an audience around Sligo.

The recording was made from 0800-0932 on 30th August 1988 from 97.6 FM, announced as 97.5. We thank John Breslin for the donation. It seems that Westside Radio closed in the autumn of that year.

Part 2 of recording from 0845-0932.

Westside Radio from Sligo

Westside Radio from Sligo
Westside Radio ad from Anoraks UK Weekly Report, February 1987

Westside Radio began broadcasting from Sligo on 97.5 MHz FM on 15th November 1986, playing mostly country and western music. The Weekly Report of Anoraks UK on 7th December reported that the audio was quite loud and sometimes distorted. An advert in Weekly Report in February 1987 (pictured) claimed that Westside was Sligo’s ‘first ever country music, folk and traditional and easy listening radio station’. Subsequent reports by Anoraks UK referred to plenty of requests and adverts, so the format appeared to be working locally. By April 1987, the station had changed its name to Westside Community Radio.

In February 1987, a West Coast Radio from Sligo was reported to be testing on 1143 kHz AM and 103.5 FM. This was a shortlived station but there must have been confusion between the similar names when both were on air.

This recording of Westside Radio was made from 97.6 FM from 2028-2202 (part 2 below) on 29th August 1988 and features a chart music show with Des McAleer who adds ‘Power 97.5 FM’ to the station ID. Clearly Westside had moved beyond its original easy listening format by this late stage in its existence, at least in its evening shows. The station was listed in an Anoraks UK log on 5th July 1988 and Power 97 is mentioned in a report from Sligo on 24th September, suggesting that it may have changed its name by that time. We thank John Breslin for this donation.

Part 2 of the recording (2115-2202).

More shortwave DXing on Galway’s KFM

More shortwave DXing on Galway's KFM
KFM rate card from 1988 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

This is another selection of undated excerpts from the DXers’ programme on Galway pirate KFM in the final months of 1988. Presenter Shane Keating chats to contributor John Breslin from north Co. Clare about shortwave DXing. John lists DX clubs and shortwave stations he has heard recently including Radio Budapest, Transworld Radio, Voice of Ethiopia and Radio Finland. Shane provides addresses of European stations so that listeners can request QSLs.

Shane Keating also presented a Saturday morning children’s programme on KFM and there are excerpts of this including phone calls from young listeners. The recording ends with Shane signing off for the last time on 31st December 1988, the day that KFM closed and the Irish airwaves fell largely silent.

We thank John Breslin for his donation of this recording, which was made from 95.99 FM in north Clare. Reception is variable as it outside the core KFM coverage area.