This recording of County Sound is from 101 FM on the 23rd or 24th of July 1988 and features Ciaran Wilson (Brannelly) on air. Charley Anderson of the Irish reggae group Century Steel Band, who are in town for Galway Race Week, is in studio and livens up proceedings. Century Steel Band’s version of the popular ballad ‘The Fields of Athenry’ is played and there’s a competition for listeners to win a 12-inch by the band.
Evidence of the success of County Sound is provided by the large number of adverts, many voiced by Jon Richards, now of Galway Bay FM, who was the overnight presenter. A temporary offshoot of County Sound, Tuam Festival Radio, is also mentioned. Thanks to Ciaran Brannelly for this donation.
Another recording of County Sound gives a sense of this successful Galway station in the final months of broadcasting. Big Sam presented an evening show from 9pm to midnight and again from 6pm to 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays. This recording was made on the 18th of September 1988 from 1818-1906 and includes the ‘Yes/No Game’ which attracts plenty of callers from around the county.
A noticeable aspect of the County Sound recordings is the large number of adverts for businesses in Galway City and County. This tape is no exception, and the first commercial break also includes a promo for a gig by Daniel O’Donnell in Salthill. County Sound closed on the 31st of December 1988 along with most other pirates. We thank Ian Biggar for sharing this recording.
Over the coming days we’ll bring you recordings of the popular Galway station County Sound which broadcast first from Tuam and then Galway City in 1987 and 1988. This recording is from 1607-1707 on the 3rd of April 1988, Easter Sunday, and features Ciaran Wilson (Brannelly) on air. Ciaran interviews Dave West of the Coventry band The Bonediggers who were busking in Galway at the time, as well as the band manager Gerard Joyce who is Irish. The programme contains an interesting discussion of the independent Irish and UK music scene and focuses on the challenges of being a band from the English midlands when so much of the scene is based in London. There are references to the importance of radio play for small bands of the 1980s attempting to break through. The Bonediggers also express their desire to meet the Galway singer Mary Coughlan, who was enjoying national success at the time.
County Sound broadcast on 101 FM to Galway and also had transmitters covering the county on 96.4 and Ballinasloe on 95.8. We thank Ciaran Brannelly for his donation of this recording.
Jon Richards has been a familiar voice on Galway radio for 35 years and is currently Programme Director of Galway Bay FM. He cut his teeth in the pirates beginning with WLS Music Radio in 1985 before moving in 1987 to County Sound, first in its home base of Tuam, and subsequently in Galway after it moved into the city in 1988.
In this interview, Jon shares his pirate memories of both stations, including transmitters and studio equipment, programme content and the colourful characters on both sides of the microphone. He recalls many near misses, including falling asleep on air during his first shift and missing a vital lift from Galway to Tuam! Jon remembers fondly his overnight shifts in the pirate days and laments the lack of live nighttime programming on radio today. He also consider the pirate legacy and gives his views on the health of the current radio scene.
We thank Jon Richards warmly for his contribution to this archive. You can listen back here to a feature about Pirate.ie on Galway Bay FM.
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.