Drivetime on Big L from Limerick

Drivetime on Big L from Limerick
Big L logo (courtesy DX Archive).

Big L was one of the longer-running pirates from Limerick City, broadcasting from 1978 until 1985. It was set up by English DJ Mike Richardson and Hayman Harris (a nephew of actor Richard Harris) and based in Ellen Street in the city centre. The station was raided shortly after its launch in June 1978 but returned to the air and consolidated its audience and advertisers over time. The station occupied various frequencies towards the top end of the medium wave band and later added FM. An article in the Limerick Echo in August 1984 claimed that with four transmitters, Big L covered an area of a quarter of a million people in Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Tipperary and Cork. However, by April 1985 Big L had closed down, bringing almost seven years of broadcasting to an end. A more detailed station history written by Mike Richardson is available here.

Drivetime on Big L from Limerick
Big L studio photo from 1984 (Anoraks Ireland Collection).

This recording of Big L was made in the run-up to its final Christmas in 1984 and features part of the afternoon drivetime show with Liam Ahern. Music is a mixture of chart, oldies and ballads and adverts from Limerick City and surrounding towns are heard. There are some technical issues during the programme and crackle is audible on the FM reception.

Drivetime on Big L from Limerick
Original inlay from Anoraks Ireland cassette

The tape is from the Anoraks Ireland Collection and was made from 1605-1650 on Wednesday 12th December 1984 from 102 FM. A log from around the same time listed Big L on 1560 kHz AM (off-channel) and 91.7, 98.3 and 104.2 FM.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 7)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 7)
Part of ‘The Irish Pirates’ from the Leon Tipler Collection (photo by Brian Greene).

Continuing with Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’, we hear more from the Cork radio scene in 1983 and also learn about the Limerick pirates. The hour begins with a visit to the 10 kW South Coast Radio AM transmitter site in Cork in the company of John Lewis. That is followed by a visit to ERI and an interview with veteran broadcaster Don Allen. There is also a rare insight into the earliest days of the Cork pirates in an interview with Con McParland. Tipler then continues to Limerick where he calls into two local stations, Big L and Raidió Luimní. The episode concludes with interviews with Mike Richardson of Big L and the popular John ‘the Man’ Frawley of Raidió Luimní.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 7)
Big L logo, courtesy of DX Archive.

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

Index to Volume 7

00:00 Visit to South Coast Radio TX site
09:11 Visit to ERI studios
16:30 Interview with Don Allen
25:00 ERI heard in UK
26:10 John Lewis on South Coast Radio
27:45 Interview with Con McParland of Radio Sundown
30:00 Visit to Limerick
30:50 Raidió Luimní
33:00 Big L
35:00 Visit to Big L
36:50 Interview with Mike Richardson
44:05 John ‘the Man’ Frawley on Raidió Luimní
46:06 Visit to Raidió Luimní
49:00 Interview with John ‘the Man’ Frawley

Full recording: WRKY Rocky 103

Full recording: WRKY Rocky 103
WRKY flyer from 1985 courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive

WRKY Rocky 103 broadcast from Co. Kerry under different guises and from different locations. It was launched in September 1984 in Killarney on 103.2 FM with a repeater to the south in Farranfore on 97.2 FM. WRKY emerged from Mike Richardson’s popular Big L Radio in Limerick which closed in April 1985. In 1986 WRKY was hit by scandal when £10,000 raised as part of the global Sport Aid initiative went missing along with one of its presenters. In September Phoenix magazine reported that staff at WRKY walked out after demanding a pay rise from station owner Donal O’Doherty, having been offered more money by another local businessman planning to set up a rival, unnamed station.

Horizon Radio was a spin-off of WRKY set up in June 1986 by Mike Richardson and Francis Jones. It began in Killorglin but later moved to a hotel near Tralee before closing in 1987. Richardson ran a station called Rocky 103 from Listowel in north Kerry in 1988. Thanks to Ian Biggar, Liam Byrne and Martin Ryan for additional information.

This recording from 103 FM from 1.03pm was made on Friday the 7th of June 1985. The presenter is unidentified but sports news is read by Vincent Casey and news is read by Mary O’Sullivan at 1.30pm. The format is a mixture of pop, Irish showband and country and there are community notices and ads for local traders. The recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. Further jingles can be heard below.

WRKY jingles courtesy of Liam Byrne.

Interview: Paul Kelly (Radio Clare, Radio Munster, Hits 954)

Interview: Paul Kelly (Radio Clare, Radio Munster, Hits 954)
The corner of Parnell Street and Shannon Street in Limerick. One of the bigger Limerick pirates of the 1980s, City Centre Radio (CCR), was located in the yellow building.

In this interview, Paul Kelly remembers working as a presenter on pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick in 1987 and 1988. He began at Radio Clare in Ennis in 1987 and recalls the very basic studio and transmitter set-up before better equipment was installed with the assistance of Big L in Limerick. Paul then moved on to Limerick city stations Radio Munster and the more formatted Hits 954. He also discusses the bandscans that he did in Limerick in the final weeks and days of the pirates in December 1988. The interviewer is Mary Ryan.

Documentary: Limerick a Radio City – Episode 1

‘Limerick a Radio City’ documents the history and development of radio in limerick city, from the ground-breaking broadcasts of Jim O’Carroll in the 1930s, the pirate heyday of the 70s and 80s, to the current licensed stations that exist there today.

The story is told by the pirates themselves most of whom progressed to legal licensed stations and some who still currently work in the licensed radio industry. Their anecdotal accounts are both factual as well as entertaining, as they describe the characters and incidents, especially throughout the 70s and 80s pirate era. Brushes with the law, the freedom and fun of alternative radio, the flamboyant talent and the positive impact pirate radio had on modern broadcasting, ‘Limerick a Radio City’ has got it all.

Documentary by Martin Ryan.

Documentary: Limerick a Radio City - Episode 1