Big D rings in New Year 1980

Big D rings in New Year 1980
Big D sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

This is a recording of Dublin station the Big D in the early hours of New Year’s Day 1980. To mark the occasion, there is a link-up with Dennis Murray by a poor quality phone line to a pub at John’s Lane Church in the city centre. Revellers, many of them worse for wear, come on the line to talk to Vincent Stewart in the studio. Clearly Big D is delighted at the departure of rival station ARD, judging by the canned laughter when Vincent announces that the other station has just closed down.

Other DJs and staff are in the studio with best wishes for the new decade. There are pleas for peace given the ongoing horrors of the Troubles and the broadcast ends with the Garda Síochána choir singing ‘Let There be Peace on Earth’. This is followed by pre-recorded music through the night. The recording was made from 273 metres (1116 kHz) from 0054-0120 on 1st January 1980. Thanks to Shay Geoghegan for the donation.

ARD and Big D on New Year’s Eve 1979

ARD and Big D on New Year's Eve 1979
ARD flyer (courtesy DX Archive).

The late 1970s was a key period of growth for pirate radio in Dublin, with hot competition developing between Radio Dublin and rival breakaway stations ARD and the Big D. This recording from the medium wave band on 31st December 1979 gives a flavour of how the pirates rang in the new decade that would prove so crucial for Irish radio. It runs from 2351-0035 and switches between ARD on 273 metres, which was due to close down that night, and the Big D on 273 metres.

Paul Vincent winds down ARD in the company of the late Dave C and financial backer Bernard Llewellyn, who explains that the station is closing down in order to apply for a licence. Optimistically, he predicts that local radio will be legalised by June 1980. The late Don Moore, who invited Llewellyn into ARD, is also heard in the background and one of the DJs to say his goodbyes is none other than Ian Dempsey. ARD left the airwaves just after half past midnight but pretty much everyone involved in it – bar Llewellyn – returned in the form of Radio 257 within a few days.

The recording also includes snippets of the Big D’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, including a scratchy phone connection with Dennis Murray who is in the company of drunker revellers in the city centre. We thank Shay Geoghegan for his donation.