Aircheck: Radio Dublin

Aircheck: Radio Dublin
Radio Dublin badge courtesy of Brian Greene.

Here is some vintage Radio Dublin from the days when 7-day a week broadcasting was still a dream. This is part of their 36-hour marathon over the 17th and 18th of September 1977 with DJs John Paul, Jimmy St Ledger, DJ Sylvie and Johnny Day. It gives a fascinating insight into a key period in the development of the Irish pirates.

Transmission quality left a little to be desired at times, but there’s no doubt this was the biggest station in Dublin at the time. This recording is courtesy of Kieran Murray and was donated to us by Ian Biggar.

Full recording: ABC (Dún Laoghaire)

Full recording: ABC (Dún Laoghaire)

ABC Radio broadcast from Dún Laoghaire in south Dublin in 1982 on 96 FM. This recording is from 1557-1727 on the 27th of February 1982 and features Jonathan Stewart followed by Sid Reade. Hugh Farley presents television highlights. There is a laid back, studenty vibe to the station’s music and style and the lack of adverts suggests a hobby operation.

Information about ABC is scarce but we have pieced together some details. The station may have been linked to the earlier Sonic Independent Radio from Shankill. ABC was run by Ian McDonald from his house in Clarinda Park, Dún Laoghaire, referred to as ‘Broadcasting House’ in this recording! There was a medium wave relay for a time, announced as 297 metres. The Dún Laoghaire station had no connection with the other ABC which broadcast from Dublin city centre from 1981-1984, so there were two ABCs on air for a time within a few miles of each other. This ABC later changed its name to South City Radio in May 1982. An Anoraks UK listing from the 1st of November 1982 lists South City Radio from Dún Laoghaire on 98 FM and 999 kHz AM. South City Radio later became KOVE FM. We thank Ian Biggar for his donation of this recording.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Capitol Radio compliments slip courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

The first Dublin pirate station named Capitol Radio came to the air on August the 2nd 1975, from a location near Portobello Bridge in Rathmines. The station operated on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons on 220 metres medium wave using a 30-watt transmitter into a half-wave end fed aerial. Presenters included C.B. (Chris Barry), Ed McDowell (ex Radio Empathy), Alan Russell and Kenneth Murphy. In addition to playing popular album and chart music, interviews with bands and singers were also a regular feature. The station was raided by inspectors from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on the 21st December 1975. While no transmitter was found, they seized a power supply unit which effectively disabled the transmitter.

After a two-year hiatus following a raid by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, Capitol Radio returned to the air on a full-time basis (18 hours a day) in February 1978 from studios on Bachelor’s Walk in Dublin city centre. Initially the station operated on 220 metres again and was using a 300 watt transmitter into a half-wave dipole aerial which gave it coverage into Europe (DX reports were received from places such as Lancashire and Norway). However, Radio Moscow was transmitting on an adjoining frequency and as
autumn/winter approached, the Capitol signal was being overwhelmed so the
station changed to 226 metres in October/November 1978.

This recording is from 1450-1525 on Saturday afternoon the 3rd of February 1979 with Ed McDowell and eventually Chris Barry who is late for his show. Capitol was broadcasting on 1332 kHz at this time (announcing 226 metres). The multilingual ident of the pirate Capital Radio, which operated from international waters off the coast of the Netherlands in 1970, is also heard.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Rooftop photo above studio at 26 Bachelors Walk, Dublin, May 1978. L-R: Unknown, Fergus Murphy, Alan Russell, Chris Barry, Dave Lee (photo courtesy of Alan Russell).

We thank Ian Biggar for sharing this recording. You can read more about Capitol here.

Full recording: Zoom 103 (Dublin)

Full recording: Zoom 103 (Dublin)
Cassette label from the Skywave Collection (photo by Brian Greene).

Zoom 103 was a short-lived station which came on air on 103.1 FM immediately following the final closure of Radio Nova on the 19th of March 1986. After a receiver was appointed to Nova Media Services, Nova’s FM service was replaced by continuous music just after 3pm on that day while continuing on 738 kHz AM until 6pm. Shortly after 10pm, the music service on 103.1 FM began identifying itself as Zoom 103. Programmes continued as normal the following day, with the usual line-up of Nova presenters but without Chris Cary and an AM service. Zoom broadcast from 144 Upper Leeson Street in the city centre but closed suddenly on Monday the 24th of March, after the Nova receiver reportedly seized the transmitter. A new station calling itself Energy 103 emerged from the ashes of Zoom on the 28th of April and continued until the 11th of March 1988, also from Upper Leeson Street.

Full recording: Zoom 103 (Dublin)
144 Upper Leeson Street, former home of Zoom and Energy 103, is now a hair salon (photo by John Walsh).

This recording is from 1405-1450 on the second day of Zoom, the 20th of March 1986, and features Colm Hayes on air, who refers to Gary Hamill (Seán McCarthy) on news. There are no jingles, imaging or ads. It was made from 103.1 FM and despite the tape label, is in mono.

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

Full recording: County Sound (Dublin)

Full recording: County Sound (Dublin)
Close-up of the cassette featuring County Sound from the Skywave Collection (photo by Brian Greene).

We have featured the popular Galway station, County Sound (1987-1988) elsewhere in this archive, but Dublin also had a County Sound. This seems to have been a short-lived operation in 1986, broadcasting from the Rathgar/Churchtown areas of south Dublin. The station is first listed on 105.7 FM in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report on the 23rd of February 1986, shortly after this recording was made. An Anoraks Ireland list from April 1986 lists County Sound as a full-time station (0700-0300) and gives an address in Churchtown. The same month, Anoraks UK logged the station on 104.7 and then 104.9 and gave an address in Rathgar. It also published a full daily schedule which included Ray Stephens, Stephen O’Rourke, Paul Smith, Mike Evans, Derek Hennessy and John Taylor. Whether these names were real or assumed, we do not know. County Sound announced 1503 kHz AM also but this was not confirmed. The station moved around the top end of the FM band for a few months from February 1986 but there are no references to it in logs from July onwards. Although full-time for a period and using a professional jingle package, it seems to have been one of the many short-lived hobby stations increasingly common on FM at the time.

This recording is from 106.2 FM on the 21st of February 1986 from 1140-1225 and features Dan Malone (whose voice hadn’t yet broken!) followed by Brendan Dowling (who sounds a bit older). It is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.