Dublin bandscan from 1981

Dublin bandscan from 1981
Some of the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection held by Pirate.ie.

This is a bandscan of radio as heard on AM and FM in Dublin in August 1981 by Leon Tipler on one of his many visits in Dublin to document the local pirate scene. The scan gives a sense of the sheer volume of stations on AM and the less crowded FM band, where British stations could regularly be heard due to lack of congestion. We don’t have a precise date but part of the recording was made on a Sunday.

The bandscan begins on FM with Belfast station Downtown Radio’s closedown with a read- through of the next day’s schedule. This is followed by unidentified Irish and British stations on FM and céilí music on RTÉ Radio 1. Leon then switches to AM and tunes past foreign stations before settling on Radio City on 257 metres where Brian Harmon is signing off for the night. This is followed by classical music on what sounds like Radio 1 again. A live ad is read out by the DJ for the new Sunday Tribune newspaper on Sunshine Radio on AM and Leon then switches to Radio Nova on 88 FM. This is followed by exchanges from air traffic control, as was the norm on part of the FM band in those days.

Dublin bandscan from 1981
Early Sunshine Radio sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

The scan then returns to AM and Radio Leinster on 738 kHz (406 metres) where Anna Craig is signing off at the end of her Sunday morning show. She is followed by Fr. Michael Culloty with a religious programme. The bandscan ends with more AM stations include ARD and part of the Disco Format show on Sunshine.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated by Steve England.

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
The Radio Dublin transmitter at Christmas 1977 (photo courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

Radio Dublin was the only Irish station to ring in the New Year at midnight on Saturday 31st December 1977. The Evening Herald reported that RTÉ Radio had to scrap its planned New Year’s Eve special programme, to be presented by Pat Kenny, because of an industrial relations dispute. The state broadcaster would close down at 11.45pm, leaving the airwaves to Radio Dublin. This was an important period for the pirates as it marked the shift from hobby to full-time broadcasting. Radio Dublin stayed on air for 300 hours over the Christmas and New Year period 1977-1978 and began full-time daily broadcasting on 2nd January 1978.

This recording is of Radio Dublin staff saying farewell to 1977 and ringing in 1978. Running from 2312-0040, it features station owner Eamonn Cooke along with DJs John Paul, Shay West, DJ Sylvie, Mike Eastwood and James Dillon. There are plenty of requests from listeners and thanks to businesses for advertising with the station during the year. At midnight a recording of bells is almost scuppered by a faulty cassette tape. This is followed by the DJs singing Auld Land Syne and a message from the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Michael Collins. Eamonn Cooke urges listeners to lobby the government for a licence for Radio Dublin and also thanks Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) for relaying the broadcast on the shortwave frequency of Westside Radio International. This recording was made locally but there is some night-time co-channel interference and that characteristic Radio Dublin hum throughout. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation.

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
Early Radio Dublin letterhead (courtesy of Ian Biggar)

This was an important period for the pirates as it marked the shift from hobby to full-time broadcasting. Radio Dublin stayed on air for 300 hours over the Christmas and New Year period 1977-1978 and began full-time daily broadcasting on 2nd January 1978. However, the exuberance of New Year’s Eve did not last and in April James Dillon led a walk-out of most staff following allegations that Eamonn Cooke was involved in child abuse. Dillon formed a breakaway station, the Big D, which lasted until 1982. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following Cooke’s conviction for sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.

Limerick Broadcasting Company

Limerick Broadcasting Company

Limerick Broadcasting Company (LBC) was a late-1970s pirate based in Limerick City. Information is scant, but the station is included in an update on the Irish scene by John Dowling, published in Sounds Alternative in December 1979, which lists it on 270 metres medium wave or 1110 kHz, so off-channel. The report says: ‘LBC was very cautious when dealing with us and reluctantly allowed us a look around the studios. We were asked not to publicise any information about the station, especially its location’. LBC continued to be logged until the spring of 1981 but we have no further information about it.

This recording of LBC is from 1st August 1979 from 1623-1710 and features DJ Jeff Steele with music and requests. 270 metres and 1110 kHz are announced on air. Only one advert is heard in the entire recording, so it’s clear that LBC wasn’t operating on a commercial basis. The heyday of the 1980s was yet to come, and most Irish pirates were small or part-time operators at this time. There’s a break in audio towards the end but we’re not sure if this is due to a technical issue at LBC or a problem with the cassette.

We thank John Breslin for his donation of this recording.

Independent Radio Mayo as heard in Scotland

Independent Radio Mayo as heard in Scotland
IRM flyer from 1987 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

This is a recording of Independent Radio Mayo (IRM) as received in Scotland from 1525-1720 on Friday 25th July 1988 on 738 kHz AM. IRM was in fact heard by accident when Dublin station Q102, broadcasting on the same frequency, went off the air for approximately two hours. The recording begins with adverts on Q102 and a relatively strong signal due to the geography, followed by the weaker signal of IRM when the Dublin station goes off. However IRM’s 1kW professional transmitter, used originally by Radio Leinster in Dublin, was very effective and as can be heard, the signal travelled well as far as Scotland.

There follows almost two hours of IRM, including the afternoon show of one of the founders Gerry Delaney with plenty of community announcements, requests, the Golden Hour and a sports round-up. Joe Finnegan takes over at 5pm with his teatime programme and news is read on the hour by Chris Clesham. Of note are the long ad breaks featuring businesses from across Mayo and occasionally Sligo. At the end Q102 returns to the frequency, blocking out IRM.

This recording was made by Ken Baird and we thank Ian Biggar for sharing it with us. Reception is fair to poor but perfectly listenable for DXers.

Radio Leinster – June 12th 1981

Radio Leinster - June 12th 1981
Radio Leinster logo courtesy of David Baker.

A new recording of what would become Dublin’s easy listening station Radio Leinster has surfaced. It was recorded early in the station’s life on June 12th 1981, the day after the general election. Paul Vincent is on air. The recording comes to us courtesy of Ian Biggar and the DX Archive.