Youth radio for northeast Dublin: Centre Radio (1986-88)

Youth radio for northeast Dublin: Centre Radio (1986-88)
Centre Radio, Christmas 1986. L-R behind: Mark McGuinness, Frank Decker. L-R front: John Walsh, Peter Walsh, Dónal Greene, Liam Ward.

Centre Radio may not be the most famous of pirates in the decade 1978-1988, but it was especially important for the founders of this archive. Brian Greene, known on air as Bobby Gibbson, was one of those who set up Centre Radio on 19th December 1986 at the Baldoyle Youth Club in Dublin 13. John Walsh was also involved and called himself Richard Taylor on air.

Youth radio for northeast Dublin: Centre Radio (1986-88)
Some of the original recordings of Centre Radio digitised for Pirate.ie.

The station broadcast during school holidays for the next year and by November 1987, it had teamed up with Bayside Youth Club to train up to 80 young people in radio. From February 1988 Centre was on the air every evening and all day at weekends from the Mid-Sutton Community Centre in Bayside, Dublin 13. The station broadcast a live concert in aid of charity on 30th December and broadcast through the night into its final day before the airwaves were silenced by the new broadcasting legislation.

Youth radio for northeast Dublin: Centre Radio (1986-88)
Ticket to a Centre Radio fundraising disco from 1986 (courtesy of Brian Greene).

Over the next few days we’ll bring you a selection from the final day of Centre Radio on 31st December 1988. But first, complete with plenty of reverb and clunky cassette edits, here’s a selection of jingles based on an Alfasound package and various station promos voiced by Brian and John. The final two refer to the fact that Centre carried the Radio Nova satellite service overnight.

Aircheck: Capitol Radio (Dublin)

Aircheck: Capitol Radio (Dublin)
Capitol/Niteksy ad in the Sunday World, April 1986 from Alan MacSimoin collection.

Here’s a short aircheck of Capitol Radio from sometime in 1988. Capitol was a strong supporter of the alternative Irish music scene and the bands A-House and Cypress Mine are featured in this recording. The weather sting doesn’t fire at 3pm so the presenter carries on and reads the forecast. The request for ‘Brian and Pat listening in the Centre in Bayside’ is a reference to Centre Radio, the station ran by Brian Greene from Dublin 13 in 1988. Brian and fellow Centre presenter Pat Kenny phoned in the request – one station listening to another!

Aircheck: remix of Gay Byrne Show announcing legalisation of radio

This recording is a remix of the Gay Byrne Show on RTÉ Radio 1 from 17 October 1988, the day that the newly-established Independent Radio and Television Commission published advertisements for the first independent radio licences designed to put the pirates off the air. Byrne seems dismissive of the initiative which would of course threaten his show’s dominance in the market, and appears to be imitating a folksy but clumsy pirate radio presenter. His kitsch portrayal of an amateur local pirate is part of Byrne’s theatre of the mind and evokes stereotypical illegal broadcasters of an earlier era. 

Gay Byrne’s voice, remixed by Brian Greene with Queen’s Radio Gaga, was broadcast on Centre Radio in Bayside, Dublin 13 at the end of 1988 up to the closedown.

RIP Gay. Your voice was part of the soundtrack of our youth during the pirate era.

Full recording: Centre Radio (Dublin)

Full recording: Centre Radio (Dublin)
A flyer for Centre Radio courtesy of Eamonn Roe.

Centre Radio began as a hobby station on December 19th 1986 from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin and came on air during school holidays. Brian Greene of Pirate.ie was one of the original founders and the other half of this site John Walsh was also involved. By 1987 the station had developed into a youth project and was training up to 80 young people in radio. From February 1988 Centre was on air every evening and weekend from Bayside. It was one of the last stations in Dublin to closedown at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1988.

This recording is of an oldies show presented by Bobby Gibbson (aka Brian Greene) on 25.09.88. It includes community news and stations idents by Richard Taylor (aka John Walsh). Despite the claims in the idents, Centre broadcast in mono only, with the exception of its overnight stereo relay of the Radio Nova satellite service via the former Southside Radio FM TX in Dublin. You can read more about the history of Centre here.

Feature: Pirate.ie discussed on Radio Survivor

On January 29th 2019 we were honoured to take part in a special edition of the Radio Survivor podcast dedicated to this archive. You can listen back here to an hour of discussion with Brian Greene and John Walsh about the story of Irish pirate radio, the aims behind the archive and the plans for the future.