The Podcast #8: Our audio tribute to Robbie Robinson

The Podcast #8: Our audio tribute to Robbie Robinson
Robbie Dale in the Radio Caroline days (photo courtesy of Sunshine Review 1985).

We’ve compiled an audio tribute to the radio legend Robbie Robinson who died on August 31st 2021 at the age of 81 in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. In episode #8 of the podcast, colleagues, friends and listeners share their memories of Robbie and his station, Sunshine Radio, which transformed the Irish radio scene when it hit the airwaves in 1980.

Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to remember Robbie and honour his legacy in this way: Cathy Cregan, Aidan Cooney, David Baker, Lawrence John, Eddie Bohan, Cathy Dunne, John Fleming, Lillian O’Donoghue, Paul Allen, Simon Maher, Kevin Branigan, Pat Courtenay and Andy Preston.

Robbie Robinson closes 3rd Sunshine charity auction

Robbie Robinson closes 3rd Sunshine charity auction
Letter from Valerie Goulding of the CRC in the 1985 Sunshine Review (courtesy DX Archive).

This is the final section of the 3rd annual Sunshine Radio charity auction in aid of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC). Station owner Robbie Robinson (RIP) auctions one of that year’s big prizes, a holiday to Portugal donated by Joe Walsh Tours. He then calls the founder of the CRC Lady Valerie Goulding to tell her that Sunshine has raised over £22,000 that year. As the letter above indicates, by 1985 the auction had brought in over £100,000 for the CRC, a considerable amount for the time and evidence of Sunshine’s commitment to charitable causes.

Another item of interest in this recording is a advert placed by the Association of Independent Broadcasters in Ireland, a group formed by some of the commercial pirate stations to represent the sector. News at 9pm is read by Caroline Callaghan.

This recording was made from 2054-2132 on 11th April 1983. It is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated by Steve England.

Live on-air bidding at Sunshine’s 3rd charity auction

Live on-air bidding at Sunshine's 3rd charity auction
Sunshine Radio CRC badge (courtesy DX Archive).

The third Sunshine Radio charity auction for the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) was held in 1983 and continued to build on the success of earlier years. This is the final part of the first day’s 12-hour auction programme, presented by the late Robbie Robinson. There is live on-air bidding for the Sunshine Extravaganza, an evening gala concert with music, food and drink, all profits from which went to the CRC. News is read by Emer Dolan (Woodfull). Within a month, Sunshine would be put off the air when the station was raided by the authorities in a crackdown on pirate radio.

The recording was made from 2053-2139 on 9th April 1983. It is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Robbie Robinson on the Sunshine charity auction

Robbie Robinson on the Sunshine charity auction
L-R: Cathy Cregan, unidentified prize winners, Robbie Robinson (Sunshine Review 1985, DX Archive).

The annual auction for the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) in Dublin was a staple in the Sunshine Radio calender, raising over £100,000 for the charity in the station’s first five years from 1980-1985. In this recording, station boss Robbie Robinson (RIP) directs proceedings with the help of Greg Merriman and other studio guests. Items for auction include teddy bears, tickets to see Emmylou Harris, a home alarm system, an IBM computer and an Opel Kadett car. Listeners are also invited to bid to attend the Sunshine Extravaganza, an annual meal and show that followed the auction. News is ready by Patsy McGarry.

This recording was made from 101 FM from 1220-1305 on 28th April 1984. It is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International was a shortwave station broadcasting from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Robbie Robinson 1940-2021

Robbie Robinson 1940-2021
Robbie Robinson as pictured in the Sunshine Review 1985.

The death of Robbie Robinson (aka Dale) yesterday at the age of 81 marked the passing of one of the giants of pirate radio since the 1960s and of Irish pirate radio in the 1980s. The owner of Sunshine Radio, one of the country’s most successful and popular stations, Robbie was widely tipped to get one of the Dublin licences in 1989 but it was not to be. Many former pirates lost out in the lean new era of independent radio but the rejection of Sunshine’s application was arguably the biggest shock of all.

‘Desiderata’, the title track of a 1971 album by Les Crane, is a poem deeply associated with Sunshine Radio because it was used as a reflection at the end of broadcasting every night. A generation of radio listeners in Dublin and beyond will remember listening to ‘Desiderata’ under the covers as their favourite station bade them good night. We present it here as a poignant tribute to a man whose dedication and imagination changed the direction of Irish radio.

Click here to listen to all of our recordings of Robbie Robinson. May he rest in peace.