Hits and requests on Galway’s Coast 103

Hits and requests on Galway's Coast 103
Coast 103 flyer (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Coast 103 (also Coast Hot Hits and Coast Power FM) was on the air for 18 months from mid-1987 until the end of 1988 and was one of Galway’s bigger pirate stations. Based on Prospect Hill just off Eyre Square, it was set up by Steve Marshall and the late Keith York. The station broadcast on 1566 kHz AM and on 103 and other FM frequencies. In April 1988 it merged with the Limerick station Hits 954 and became known as Coast Hot Hits. 954 kHz was used for a while and there was a chain of FM transmitters covering an area from Mayo to Limerick and even Cork City. In the summer of 1988 Coast had outside broadcasts from Galway and an official launch in Limerick City was planned.

Hits and requests on Galway's Coast 103
An ad for Coast Hot Hits in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report in July 1988. Note the AM frequency mentioned.

This recording is of Brian Davis from 1956-2045 on 9th December 1988, with pop hits and plenty of requests. It was made from 102.5 FM and is kindly donated by John Breslin. There are requests from Galway and Clare and the voice of Tony Allan is heard on sweepers and ads. A promotion worth £200 in association with local shops is also heard.

Full recording: County Sound (Galway)

Full recording: County Sound (Galway)
Jon Richards in the County Sound studio in 1988 (photo courtesy of Big Sam).

County Sound was one of the bigger Galway pirate stations and built up a considerable listenership during its relatively short period on air. County Sound began broadcasting on St. Patrick’s Day 1987 in the town of Tuam north of Galway before moving into the city in January 1988 where it continued until the end of 1988. There was fierce competition between County Sound and another large station Coast 103, which was located just a short distance away in the city centre. Both were professional operations and covered large areas of Co. Galway and beyond.

Jon Richards was County Sound’s overnight presenter and this recording features a segment of his show from midnight to 0240 on 2nd August 1988. Jon’s voice was also heard on many of the station’s ads and he went on to build a career in local radio from 1989 when Radio West (now Galway Bay FM) was licensed. Jon is currently Programme Director at Galway Bay FM and an interview with him can be heard here. Click on the County Sound tab if you want to hear other recordings of this station.

Tomorrow we’ll bring you the rest of this overnight programme and the breakfast show afterwards. Thanks to Ian Biggar for donating the recording.

Jingles: County Sound (Galway)

Jingles: County Sound (Galway)
County Sound logo courtesy of DX Archive. Thanks to Shane Martin for the enhancement.

County Sound was among the most successful of the Galway pirates, launched on St. Patrick’s Day 1987 in Tuam, 30 kilometres north of the city. It moved into the city centre in January 1988, just across the road from its main competitor, Coast 103. County Sound continued until the 31st of December 1988 and was an unsuccessful applicant for the Co. Galway licence in 1989. We’ll bring you recordings of County Sound over the coming days.

The County Sound jingle package was the same as that of the commercial station of the same name based in Guildford, Surrey, near London. The County Sound theme was written by Les Reed, who as well as being a board member, also wrote ‘Man Of Action’ which offshore radio fans will remember from RNI or Radio Nordsee International in the 1970s. The jingles were produced in Manchester by Steve England, himself an ex-offshore radio DJ, and Alan Fawkes. One of the jingles heard in this clip features Trella Hart, who sang on many of the famous PAMS jingles heard on US and European radio stations in the 1960s and 1970s. We thank Steve Marshall for sharing these jingles with us.

Full recording: KFM (Galway)

Full recording: KFM (Galway)
KFM flyer, courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

KFM, also known as Galway County Radio, broadcast from 1986 to 1988 from a village west of Galway before moving into the city itself. It was set up by Shane Martin and John Browne in November 1986 and broadcast initially on 99 FM for 12 and a half hours a day, from 7.30am to 8.00pm. The transmitter site was over 130 metres above sea level in Moycullen, a village 12 kilometres west of Galway, and this gave it a large coverage area. An entry from KFM in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report of February the 1st 1987 claimed that the station was covering an 80-kilometre radius and that it would soon be extended to specialist programming and community information. An AM channel was also promised although this never materialised.

By June 1987, KFM was broadcasting 24 hours a day and claiming to cover both Galway City and Co. Galway, including Connemara. The station told Weekly Report that it was aimed at the 20-50 audience and had a minimum of 15 percent programming in Irish and English, reflecting the fact that part of the Connemara is a Gaeltacht area. KFM also produced a bilingual leaflet, in which it announced its intention to seek a licence.

Full recording: KFM (Galway)
Bilingual KFM flyer, courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

At this stage KFM was on 95, 99 and 99.3 FM and was reported to be listenable as far east as Ballinasloe. There were also reception reports from as far south as Ennis in Co. Clare. In November 1987, KFM moved into Galway City, adding to the competition between the pirates there. Coast 103 were the most successful city station at the time but in early 1988 the Tuam station County Sound would also move into Galway. Like most other stations, KFM closed down on the 31st of December 1988.

This recording of KFM was made from 96 FM on the 24th of September 1988 from 2222-2310 and features Shane Keating on air. There are requests for ‘madly in love’ couples and a mixture of pop music and oldies. Keating was clearly a bit of an anorak: he mentions listening to RTÉ Radio 2 on AM in Birmingham and promises a new programme for DXers, with a special focus on shortwave. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation. This was originally recorded by John Breslin in Co. Clare and being outside the core coverage area, audio quality is fair. Thanks also to Shane Martin for further information.

Feature: Pirate.ie discussed on Galway Bay FM

Feature: Pirate.ie discussed on Galway Bay FM
Galway Bay FM on-air studio (photo by John Walsh)

On the 12th of June 2020, John Walsh spoke to Keith Finnegan of Galway Bay FM about the recent series about Galway pirates on Pirate.ie. The interview includes a rare jingle from Independent Radio Galway (1978-1979), sung by the choir of University College Galway (now the National University of Ireland, Galway). Keith, now CEO of Galway Bay FM, remembers his own involvement in West Coast Community Radio (WCCR). The interview finishes with a montage of jingles and idents from the Pirate.ie series on Galway.

Feature: Pirate.ie discussed on Galway Bay FM
Galway Bay FM headquarters at Sandy Road (photo by John Walsh).

Many of those at Galway Bay FM cut their teeth in the Galway pirates of the era. Licensed in 1989 as Radio West, one group involved in the successful consortium was the original pirate Radio West from Mullingar. The station changed its name to Galway Bay FM in 1993.

We thank Galway Bay FM for their interest in Pirate.ie and hope that the interview will encourage more people in Galway to come forward to memories and recordings.