John ‘the Man’ Frawley on Raidió Luimní

John 'the Man' Frawley on Raidió Luimní
John Frawley pictured in his obituary in The Limerick Tribune (courtesy Liam Byrne).

John ‘the Man’ Frawley was among the best known and most popular of Ireland’s pirate radio presenters, running the unique station Raidió Luimní from Limerick City for ten years from 1978-1988. He began broadcasting with Radio Limerick Weekly Echo (RLWE) in 1978 but left after a few months to set up his own station in Catherine Street, later moving into a derelict building in Lower Shannon Street. There was a hole in the roof, which was said to be useful for John the Man’s weather forecasts! When the station moved to a tiny shed near the old City Theatre, John persuaded a Christian brother to allow him run a wire across Sexton Street to the tall school building which was an ideal spot for his aerial. After a few more moves, the station’s final premises was at the corner of Gerald Griffin Street and Williams Street. Raidió Luimní closed in the early hours of 24th December 1988, a week ahead of the deadline for the pirates to leave the airwaves.

John 'the Man' Frawley on Raidió Luimní
AM and FM aerials at Sexton Street (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

This broadcast is from Monday 7th November 1988 towards the end of the station’s existence and features the inimitable style of John’s morning Snap, Crackle and Pop programme, including his own weather forecast based on what he could see from the studio. The Master Butcher downstairs gets a mention and John’s voice is heard on most of the adverts. There’s also the popular daily call to the ‘dressing gown brigade’ to get out of bed. Paul Davidson of Anoraks Ireland is in studio during the recording and John comments on the gap to be left by the pirates at the end of 1988. He also reads the death notices, including one of Raidió Luimní presenter Larry Foxy O’Brien, for whom the station had closed for a few days as a mark of respect. Death notices are commonplace on local radio today, but the tradition was started by Raidió Luimní.

John 'the Man' Frawley on Raidió Luimní
William Street studios in 1986 with the Master Butcher downstairs (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

John the Man died prematurely in 1989, before the licensed stations got up and running. According to his obituary published in The Limerick Tribune on 17th June 1989, John ‘became an articulate and amusing radio personality in the pirate days. He portrayed the Limerick jargon and way of life to a tee … There will never be another John Frawley and the freedom that he and his presenters were allowed on pirate radio is now sadly a thing of the past’.

John 'the Man' Frawley on Raidió Luimní
Original cassette label from the Anoraks Ireland Collection.

This recording was made from 103.05 FM. Part 1 above runs from 0907-0953 and part 2 below from 0954-1040.

Part 2 from 0953

Thanks to Eddie Bohan and Liam Byrne for assistance with images. The recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated by Paul Davidson.  

Dublin religious station Hope FM

Dublin religious station Hope FM
Sunday World advert reprinted by Anoraks UK in November 1988

Hope FM was a nominally religious station that broadcast to Dublin for the last few months of the pirate era at the end of 1988. It launched on Monday 12th September 1988 on 104.2 FM and soon moved to 104.4.

Hope FM came about when its owners bought another station CAU FM that had broadcast from November 1987 until July 1988, aiming mostly at the southside of the city. Some of the DJs on CAU FM were also heard on Hope FM and the same equipment was used. Using the strapline ‘the newest voice of Dublin’, the AOR music format was interspersed with various short reflections about life, although not overtly religious.

This recording was made on Monday 21st November and is an aircheck of morning and evening programming. It begins with Greg Edwards (aka Locky Butler, former owner of CAU FM and previous southside stations) on breakfast from before 9am and includes a competition, adverts and a promo for a daily job spot. The drivetime show from about 5.30pm is presented by an unidentified DJ and includes traffic news sponsored by a taxi company and a Christmas children’s toy appeal. News is read on the half-hour.

Dublin religious station Hope FM
Original cassette label from the Anoraks Ireland Collection.

This recording was made originally by Kieran Murray and is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated by Paul Davidson.

‘Media Network’ on Radio Rainbow International

'Media Network' on Radio Rainbow International
Radio Rainbow International’s shortwave transmitter (courtesy Kieran Murray).

‘Media Network’ was a weekly radio programme broadcast on the international service Radio Netherlands Worldwide from the early 1980s until 2000. Produced and presented by Jonathan Marks, it covered various aspects of communication and broadcasting. Radio Netherlands Worldwide stopped broadcasting in 2012 after its budgets were slashed.

This 1988 edition of ‘Media Network’ features the Irish pirate radio scene as it was about to be regulated by new broadcasting legislation. It includes interviews with Eddie Caffrey about his Louth stations Boyneside Radio and Radio Rainbow International, and with the late Peter Madison who was heard on various pirates in the 1980s. Radio Nova’s satellite broadcasts from the UK are also covered on the show.

This programme was recorded on 6th November 1988 from Radio Rainbow International on 6240 kHz shortwave. Reception is fair to good, with some fading. The recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Oldies on Galway’s Coast 103

Oldies on Galway's Coast 103
Coast 103 car sticker from 1987 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

Coast 103 was a successful station broadcasting from Galway from mid-1987 until the end of 1988. It later merged with Limerick pirate Hits 954, rebranded as Coast Hots Hits and covered the west and mid-west region from Galway to the outskirts of Cork. One of the two big Galway stations at the end of the pirate era, Coast played mostly chart music but also had some specialist programming outside peak times.

One such programme was the ‘Hitback’ oldies show presented by the late Carl Turner (aka John Steele) on Sunday mornings. This recording was made from 103 FM in stereo on 3rd April 1988 from 0900-0945 and features an eclectic mix including rhythm and blues, swing, rock and roll, country, soul and folk rock. John Steele had an impression collection of vinyl and also ran his own hobby pirate Swinging Radio Impulse late at night from his home in Galway city centre.

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

Closedown of West National Radio 3

Closedown of West National Radio 3
Information from a Radio West rates card (courtesy Ian Biggar).

This is the final programme on the Mullingar-based station West National Radio 3 on December 30th 1988. Launched as Radio West in 1981, the station expanded its coverage beyond the midlands on AM and FM and could be heard from Dublin to Galway by 1987. The closing programme is the Country Jamboree, hosted by one of the big names of offshore and Irish pirate radio, the late Don Allen. Don is joined studio by a host of station staff, local business owners and country music artists.

Station owner Shaun Coyne thanks everyone involved and expresses optimism that Radio West will get a licence. He also comments on the costs involving in running the station, including the weekly £500 bill for the generator that kept the 10kW AM transmitter on air. Radio West was supposed to close at 9pm and as the show continues past the deadline, Don Allen jokes that the diesel powering the transmitter will run out!

There is also evidence of how pirate radio supported the Irish country music scene, with warm recognition from country music artists for Radio West’s support. This theme was repeated on many other rural pirate stations when closing down at the end of 1988. The recording above runs from 2032-2106 and the one below from 2106-2205. Both were made from 100.1 FM and are kindly donated by John Breslin.

Final hour of West National Radio 3.

For a comprehensive account of the 1988 closedowns, see the Radiowaves site.