Border series: Mother’s Day requests on Radio Star Country

Border series: Mother's Day requests on Radio Star Country
Radio Star Country mast in August 2022 (from Facebook page).

This recording of Radio Star Country was made on Mother’s Day in 2021 and features one of the Monaghan station’s popular DJs, Country Girl Claire presenting her Sunday morning breakfast programme. The recording begins just after Showers of Blessings, one of the station’s many religious shows. Claire promises the best of country and Irish music, a gospel corner every hour and community notices. Reflecting the station’s cross-border existence, a phone number in Co. Monaghan is given out for requests, along with a UK mobile number for text messages. The postal address for letters is in Portadown, Co. Armagh. News on the hour is from Sky and Claire promotes another religious show, Let the Bible Speak, coming up later that afternoon. Although there are plenty of listeners’ requests, only a handful of adverts are heard, in stark contrast with earlier recordings in this series.

The recording was made from the station’s webstream on 14th March 2021. Part 1 above runs from 0940 and Part 2 below from 1040.

Part 2 from 1040-1200.

Radio Star Country broadcasts on 981 kHz AM and online.

Border series: Radio Star Country prepares for Christmas 2010

Border series: Radio Star Country prepares for Christmas 2010
RadioStar Country banner (from station website).

This recording of border station Radio Star Country was made in the week before Christmas 2010 when Ireland and the UK were paralysed by a severe cold snap. There was snow on the ground where the station was located north of Emyvale in Co. Monaghan, but DJ Rita plays the usual country and gospel music and shares plenty of seasonal requests from listeners. There are adverts for businesses in Antrim, Armagh, Fermanagh and Tyrone including jarring references to ‘Southern Ireland’. A promo thanks listeners and advertisers for their support during 2010 and businesses are invited to advertise by contacting sales representatives on UK mobile numbers. The religious programme New Life in Christ is broadcast from Killeen Gospel Hall in Co. Armagh and Rita is followed at 4pm by ‘The Cowboy’ on the drivetime programme.

This tape was recorded from 981 kHz from 1435-1640 on 16th December 2010. Made in Blackpool in England, it suffers from worsening co-channel interference and fading as darkness falls. The recording is courtesy of DX Archive.

Border series: Radio Star Country still going after 22 years

Border series: Radio Star Country still going after 22 years
Radio Star Country flyer (courtesy Ian Biggar).

Radio Star Country marked 20 years on air in 2008 and continued to broadcast in defiance of the strict broadcasting legislation in the Republic of Ireland. Many pirate stations around the country had been raided or chose to apply for licences but the Monaghan station defied the odds and stuck to its winning formula of country and gospel music aimed mostly at a Northern audience. This recording from the run-up to Christmas 2010 gives a good sense of the station as it entered its third decade on air. On air is ‘The Cowboy’ who reads out seemingly endless requests from listeners across a wide area stretching from the border to Belfast and Ballymena and even Stranraer in Scotland. Christmas songs, often with religious themes, are added to the usual country and gospel mix. The adverts are from Northern counties only in contrast to earlier recordings of Radio Star Country, perhaps reflecting a clampdown on businesses in the Republic advertising on pirate radio. Promos inviting businesses to advertise for the Christmas period refer to the recession that was in full swing at the time. Hourly news is from the Sky News Centre in Britain and the Cowboy is followed by Jenny B with her drivetime show.

This tape was made from 981 kHz from 1233-1640 on 14th December 2010, 22 years after Radio Star Country began broadcasting. It was recorded in Blackpool in England and reception deteriorates as darkness falls, with some fading and increasing co-channel interference. The recording is courtesy of DX Archive.

Border series: religious shows on Radio Star Country

Border series: religious shows on Radio Star Country
Advert for Let the Bible Speak in the Northern Standard, 13.05.1999. Note the wrong frequency given!

Radio Star Country is distinctive from the few pirates that venture on air these days in Ireland. As well as its longevity, it stands out for its musical style – Irish and American country and gospel music – and its daily religious content. The station was sold on by Gerry Byrne in 1992 and after three further changes of ownership was taken over by Dr Albert Chambers from Portadown in Co. Armagh, founder and director of religious organisation World Vision for Christ. A letter from WVFC to a Swedish DXer in 2006 referred to Radio Star Country as ‘our radio station in Ireland’ and said that, as well as playing country and gospel music, ‘the major programmes are the Christian broadcast messages given by pastors of various denominations’. Dr Chambers himself was listed as presenting programmes on Monday and Thursday evenings.

The Radio Star Country website lists daily religious programmes including Showers of Blessing, Let the Bible Speak, New Life in Christ and Foundations of Faith, the latter presented by Albert Chambers. World Vision for Christ is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, whose website states that its ‘aim is to promote Biblical Christianity’ by a number of means, including radio ministry. Its income increased from £57,000 in 2017 to £114,000 in 2021.  

This recording begins with the 15-minute religious programme Let the Bible Speak presented by an evangelical minister from Co. Tyrone. It is followed by a music show with Patsy Jordan (McDonald, RIP) who reads out requests from over a wide area including Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Meath, Monaghan, Fermanagh and Tyrone. Long adverts for businesses in Monaghan, Armagh and Fermanagh are also heard. The tape was made in Troon in Scotland from 981 kHz from 1002-1048 on Monday 16th May 2005. Thanks to Ian Biggar for the donation and for background information.

Border series: Radio Star Country bids farewell to 2004

Border series: Radio Star Country bids farewell to 2004
Country Girl Claire letterhead (courtesy Ian Biggar).

Monaghan station Radio Star Country was still going strong 16 years after the licensing of independent radio in Ireland. In this recording, Country Girl Claire shares New Year’s greetings from listeners in her final programme of 2004. Adverts are heard from north and south of the border, including as far away as Larne. There’s the first reference in this series to euro prices in the Republic and traffic and travel news is also broadcast. The date is significant because on New Year’s Eve 1988, the vast majority of Ireland’s pirates fell silent to comply with the new laws. Radio Star Country was one of the few that stayed on air.

The tape was made in Troon in Scotland from 981 kHz AM between 1302 and 1348 on 31st December 2004. Thanks to Ian Biggar for the donation.