Interview with John Clarke of Radio Nova

Interview with John Clarke of Radio Nova
John Clarke in Radio Nova in 1983 (photo courtesy of Svenn Martinsen)

This is the original full recording of an interview by Leon Tipler with veteran DJ John Clarke on Radio Nova in September 1982. It was conducted in studio in the busy period leading up to 6pm and John chats away in between lining up music and ads on carts. An edited version was included in the documentary series ‘The Irish Pirates’.

He speaks about the history of Nova and describes the differences between it and its great rival, Sunshine Radio. Chris Cary wanted to begin broadcasting on FM and pushed a ‘clutter-free’ format with sweeps of music. The reaction from listeners was very positive from the start and Nova was soon a hit in boutiques, shops and factories with advertising flooding in. AM came later and the powerful signal increased the station’s popularity even more.

John also discusses the recent RTÉ jamming of Nova and a survey that established Nova’s dominance in the Dublin market. He says that most listeners to Nova and Sunshine were unaware of their pirate status because of the stations’ professionalism. The interview concludes with a mention of Kieran Murray’s Free Radio Campaign and the importance of logging pirate radio history. We’ll second that!

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Radio Leinster closes down suddenly

Radio Leinster closes down suddenly
Radio Leinster logo courtesy of DX Archive

Radio Leinster closed unexpectedly just after 1pm on the 19th of May 1983, following the raid on Sunshine Radio that morning and on Radio Nova the previous day. Although almost all stations in Dublin switched off their transmitters on the 19th as fears about raids spread, most were back on air within days but Radio Leinster was never to return. Anna Craig (Chisnall) read the lunchtime news at 1pm and said there would be another bulletin at 3pm but within minutes the closure of the station was announced suddenly by managing director Justin James. The station closed with its signature tune, Seán Ó Riada’s ‘Mise Éire’. 

Radio Leinster was an innovative and unique station which aimed at the RTÉ Radio 1 listenership with a mixture of musical styles, talk programmes and specialist shows. It broadcast on 738 kHz am (406 metres) and 93 FM, the signal benefiting considerably from a high site in Sandyford overlooking Dublin. You can hear a recording of Radio Leinster from the morning of the 19th of May here.

This recording is courtesy of one of the Radio Leinster presenters, Al Dunne who was on air for the closedown.

Final morning of Radio Leinster

Final morning of Radio Leinster
Radio Leinster logo courtesy of DX Archive.

Radio Leinster was one of Dublin’s niche pirates, featuring an easy listening and chat format in contrast with the chart music played on many stations. It began on 29th April 1981 from an elevated site in Sandyford overlooking the city. A professional 1 kW transmitter on 738 kHz travelled well by day but was subject to interference at night.

This recording is of interest because it is from the last day of Radio Leinster, 19th May 1983. Like many other stations, Radio Leinster was spooked by the raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine and closed down suddenly at lunchtime. This recording which begins at 10.20am gives no impression of a crisis, and presenter Mike Moran even announces a competition. The recording is from 93 FM. Sadly, Radio Leinster was never to return but future stations in the same easy listening vein would be Magic 103, KISS FM (for a period) and KLAS.

Radio Leinster presenters included many experienced broadcasters and launched the careers of others. One of the station’s presenters was Gavin Duffy who led the consortium to be awarded the local radio licence for counties Meath and Louth in 1989. Peter Mulryan’s book Radio Radio (1988) reports that in 1982 Duffy announced that he would interview senior Sinn Féin figures including Gerry Adams, in breach of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. The station received a warning from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and Duffy was fired.

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

Punk and reggae on Concord Community Radio

Punk and reggae on Concord Community Radio
Concord Community Radio flyer (courtesy Alan MacSimoin collection).

Concord Community Radio broadcast from the Artane/Coolock area of northeast Dublin from 1982 and would become North Dublin Community Radio (NDCR), which continued until the end of 1988. It was an AM-only station, announcing 337 metres or 890 kHz (presumably 891). This is a recording from 18th May 1983, the day of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs raid on Radio Nova, which sent shockwaves through the pirate world. No time is given, but the choice of music suggests an evening programme. The unnamed presenter plays punk and reggae and takes requests from listeners but there is no mention of the raid that morning. In the following days many pirates closed down temporarily as a precaution.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Sunday morning on Radio Nova

Sunday morning on Radio Nova
Radio Nova studio in 1982 (courtesy of DX Archive).

This is a recording of Radio Nova as heard on 88 FM on Sunday morning 12th September 1982 from 0930-1016. It begins at the end of the religious programme ‘Good News Tracks’ and is followed by the late Eddie West, who announces that Nova and KISS FM cars will be racing at the Mondello Park motorsports venue later that day. Ad breaks include regular spots for the Sunday World newspaper and the Red Corner Shop and a request is received from the Isle of Man. News is read by Bryan Dobson, now a well-known RTÉ journalist.

Eddie West worked at many pirates including Capitol and ARD as well as Nova and became Programme Controller at Downtown Radio and Cool FM in Belfast. He died in 2017 after an illness.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection donated to us by Steve England.