We’re delighted to announce episode #2 of the Pirate.ie podcast which explores themes covered in our growing archive of Irish pirate radio.
AM broadcasting, widely used by the pirates up to the end of the 1980s, allowed radio signals to travel far and wide beyond the borders of the state. Even small stations could be carried long distances thanks to the magic of night-time AM propagation but dozens of pirates along the border deliberately beamed their signals northwards. With 50 kW of power at its peak, the Dublin super-pirate Radio Nova aimed specifically at the northwest coast of Britain. Ireland also had many hobby shortwave pirates which could be heard thousands of miles from home.
In episode #2, John Walsh and Brian Greene explore how AM spillover, both accidental and deliberate, brought the Irish pirates to a bigger audience.
As part of our northeast series, we’re delighted to share a video of Boyneside Radio jingles and photos of the station over the years. This was compiled by Kieran Murray who spent many years working on stations in the northeast, including Boyneside. Kieran’s website of pirate memories was sorely missed when it went offline but is now hosted here on Pirate.ie.
For more recordings featuring Kieran, including our extended interview with him, click here.
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.
After the merger things ran pretty smoothly for Boyneside Radio. The advertising log was healthy and the station was really establishing itself as one of the leading regional radio stations in Ireland. However, like a bolt from the blue all that changed. On the afternoon of Monday 13th April 1987 an official from the Department of Communications, along with three Gardaí, entered the station premises on Mill Lane. The staff were told to close all transmitters, cease broadcasting at once and never return to the air. The official said that interference was being caused, but refused to elaborate further.
The only transmitter that was thought might have caused the alleged interference was the FM link on 99.1 MHz, as this was the only transmitter located in a built-up area. This was taken out of service and replaced with a known and tested clean transmitter. In the meantime, unofficial contact had been made between a station representative and a head official in the Department. It was arranged that the official would check on the morning of Wednesday 15th if there was still interference. However, on that day at 1407 the raiding party arrived consisting of six Gardaí, one detective, and two Department officials. During the raid a local newspaper photographer had his camera snatched by a Department official. This was covered in the next issue of the paper (see above).
The officials then proceeded to remove all equipment from the studios as well as the FM transmitter and compressor. They used cutters rather than disconnecting the equipment. The station was instructed to switch off all transmitters and never return or another raid would take place.
The officials left and headed back to Dublin. Meantime Boyneside Radio was back on the air by 1730 from a secret location. Programmes were pretty much as normal, although initially some technical breaks were experienced. By the end of April 1987 the station was back in the usual studios on Mill Lane and things returned to normal.
The recording above is of an interview with Eddie Caffrey about the incident on the Radio West Anorak Hour on the following Sunday, 19th April 1987. The recording below is of Boyneside shortly after the raid on 23rd April 1987, featuring automatic music from 0620-0700 and Mike Ahern (Richard McCullen) on the breakfast show from 0700-0936. It was made in Blackpool by Gary Hogg and the station’s output sounds perfectly normal. Of interest to DXers is the skywave propagation in the first hour when ERI in Cork, also on 1305 kHz, can be heard clearly at times. Many thanks to Ian Biggar for these recordings and for the research.
Boyneside Radio continued to provide a service to the people of the north east until finally closing at just after 3pm on Saturday 31st December 1988.
Boyneside Radio made good use of professional jingles and idents during its ten-year existence.
Here is a selection of station idents featuring the unforgettable voice of Bill Mitchell, in which several Boyneside presenters are named. They are followed by Boyneside’s familiar jingle package which was produced through CPMG (aka PAMS Europe) in Bexleyheath in England. The same company made the first jingles for ERI in Cork and did the South Coast Radio package as well.
Thanks to Eddie Caffrey for the donation and to Ian Biggar for background information. You can hear more Boyneside jingles here.