East Coast Top 40 on BLB

East Coast Top 40 on BLB
BLB car sticker from c. 1986 (courtesy of DX Archive).

Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) was one of the pioneers of community radio in Ireland, broadcasting for almost a decade from 1979 until the end of 1988. It was a leading member of the National Association of Community Broadcasters (NACB) which at its height involved eleven stations around the country all committed to a community model of radio inspired by AMARC principles.

BLB broadcast on 837 and then 828 kHz in its early days but the arrival of Radio Nova on high power in that part of the band in 1981 caused it to move down to 657 kHz. In later years the FM signal on 97.8 MHz got good coverage into Dublin from its high site in Bray. However, in March 1988 Breffni Regional Radio in Co. Cavan moved onto 657 kHz, prompting a complaint from BLB. Such was the world of unregulated pirate radio where competition for suitable frequencies was fierce.

East Coast Top 40 on BLB
The building on Prince of Wales Terrace in Bray from where BLB broadcast (photo by John Walsh).

This is an airchecked recording of part of the East Coast Top 40 from BLB in May 1988. The presenter is Timmy Hannigan and the show is produced by Elaine Keogh. Despite the co-channel interference from Breffni Radio underneath, there’s a tight and punchy feel to the programme and it is a good example of how professional BLB could sound. Among the voices heard on ads and promos are BLB manager Adrian Kennedy and afternoon presenter Daphne Mitchell who worked on other stations such as Radio Leinster. There’s also a promo for the ‘new look BLB’ giving a flavour of the variety of programming heard on this innovative station.

The East Coast Top 40 was compiled from record sales in shops from Dundalk to Wicklow and aired every Saturday from 1-4pm on BLB. Timmy Hannigan became a leading name in Irish DJ and electronic music culture using the name Mr Spring. Elaine Keogh went on to work in licensed local radio and is now a freelance journalist. Many of those involved in BLB worked in the short-lived licensed station Horizon Radio in Bray from 1989. By 1992, Horizon had merged with the south Wicklow station Easy 103. The station eventually became East Coast FM which holds the country licence today.

We thank Barry Dunne for his donation of this recording.

Pop-up community radio: STYC Radio

Pop-up community radio: STYC Radio
The Stella Cinema where STYC Radio was based (photo courtesy www.cinematreasures.org)

Because radio technology was so accessible in 1980s Dublin, all sorts of groups could get involved including youth clubs and community associations. Another station which began under the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC) banner was St. Teresa’s Youth Club Radio (STYC) in the Dublin suburb of Mount Merrion.

Following the usual CBC model, STYC Radio came on the air first in August 1983 to coincide with a local festival and was due to return the following summer but never did so. The station was back on 17th August 1986 from the old Stella Cinema under the direction of John Marren and Greg Manahan.

Pop-up community radio: STYC Radio
The demolition of the Stella Cinema in February 2019 (courtesy @brianedempsey / Twitter)

There was a still a link with CBC through the FM transmitter which was supplied by Dave Reddy. Although output was only about 40 watts, the signal on 88 FM got good coverage because of the height of the antenna on the roof of the cinema which was only demolished recently. From 1986 STYC also broadcast on 963 kHz AM using the old Dún Laoghaire Local Radio transmitter, formerly Radio South County from Cabinteely in 1980.

The recording above was made on 24th August 1986 and features the final day of STYC Radio that summer. A giddy presenter at the start has mic problems and is followed by Greg Manahan, one of those running the station. There are references to festival events including a kids’ party, car treasure hunt and double DJ disco that night. It’s an Irish music show and bootlegs of U2 are among the songs played. Given that the destructive storm Hurricane Charley hit Ireland that very night, it was just as well that this was STYC’s final day. 

The short airchecked recording below is also from August 1986 and includes Kevin O’Leary & Ken Kelleher with their punk show followed by Greg Manahan. The voice of John Marren is heard on the advert.

The long recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International was a shortwave station broadcasting from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. The shorter clip is shared courtesy of Kevin Branigan. Thanks to Dave Reddy, Paul Murray and Kevin Branigan for background information.

Pop-up radio: Community Broadcasting Co-operative

Pop-up radio: Community Broadcasting Co-operative
L-R Victor Ryan, Mick Nugent and Al O’Rourke at Radio Ringsend (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

We’ve recently featured a number of temporary stations run by the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC). CBC was set up by Dave Reddy in 1982 and operated short-term summer stations coinciding with local festivals in Sandymount, Ringsend, Glasnevin, Donnybrook and Mount Merrion. CBC was also involved with pop-up stations in Ráth Chairn, Co. Meath and Wicklow Town, the latter leading to the full-time station WLCB (Wicklow Local Community Broadcasting).

Pop-up radio: Community Broadcasting Co-operative
Letterhead for the Community Broadcasting Co-operative from 1986 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

CBC also sometimes broadcast using its own name, rather than as a specific local station. This recording from 1005-1050 on Sunday, 15th April 1984 is one such example. Al O’Rourke is on air and is full of chat about the morning’s papers and the news of the week. He explains that CBC will soon be operating local temporary stations and lists upcoming broadcasts from Sandymount, Glasnevin, Ringsend and Mount Merrion. Interested community groups or youth clubs are invited to get in touch. The recording was made from 1116 kHz (announcing 270 metres) but Al O’Rourke also mentions that they will be on 199 metres (1512 kHz) later that morning.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
John Murray in the Radio Sandymount studio (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

John Murray was a well-known voice on the temporary summer stations set up by Dave Reddy in the 1980s. In this recording from Radio Sandymount on 27th May 1984, he is heard doing a review of the Sunday newspapers. John was a natural broadcaster and could give a comprehensive overview of the papers without doing any preparation in advance, a skill very much in evidence in this clip. The recording also contains a two-hander between John and Dave about a competition and reference to the 78s Show with Tony and Fran Boylan, a regular simulcast with Radio Galaxy.

John Murray went on to work in journalism and public relations in the UK. He was editor of the Scottish edition of the Daily Express for a time and also spent a period at the Independent group. He worked as director of communications with public and private institutions including the Financial Services Authority. We thank Dave Reddy for sharing this recording with us.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
Charlie Sheehan in the Radio Sandymount studio (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Today we bring you a fascinating recording from pop-up community station Radio Sandymount in 1985. Charlie Sheehan, who worked as a postman in Sandymount, was a popular presenter on the station. In this recording, he interviews Mahmood ‘Mike’ Butt, the man credited with introducing Ireland to curry.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
Mahmood ‘Mike’ Butt (photo credit Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire).

Mike Butt was born in Kenya in 1927 and came to Ireland in 1949. In 1956 he opened what was then the only Indian restaurant in Ireland, the Golden Orient in Leeson Street in Dublin. He is also credited with bringing the ice lolly to the Irish market. Mike opened Browne’s spice shop in Sandymount in 1984 and was therefore of particular interest to Radio Sandymount’s listeners. He died in 1988.

This interview gives a great sense of how people like Mike Butt were early pioneers in the diversification of Irish food tastes and the popularisation of all sorts of culinary styles. It was recorded in May 1985 and is shared here with the kind permission of Dave Reddy who ran Radio Sandymount.

Radio Sandymount and similar stations in areas of Dublin such as Ringsend, Glasnevin and Donnybrook were part of the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC) and were regular features during local summer festivals between 1982 and 1988. The photo of Mike Butt is courtesy of Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire and the article in which it was used is available here. Further information about Mike Butt is available here.