A day on Radio Dublin from 1978

A day on Radio Dublin from 1978
Radio Dublin sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

This unique recording is of an entire day’s programming on Radio Dublin from Monday 20th February 1978, including some DJs who would go on to become household names on local and national radio. Starting just after 8am, DJ Sarge comments on the cold weather and heavy snow outside. He is followed at 9.30 by Gerry Campbell and at 1pm by James Dillon. DJ Sylvie takes over at 4pm and the Mike Eastwood request show begins at 6pm. Denis Murray is on from 8-10pm and the night’s programming is completed by John Clarke from 10pm until midnight.

Radio Dublin had been broadcasting continuously since January 1978 and built up a loyal listenership across Dublin. This recording contains plenty of ads, some pre-recorded and some read live by DJs, and various segments of the day are sponsored by different businesses. The station’s iconic ‘253’ jingles are heard regularly also, an early branding exercise by Irish pirate radio. A separate recording of part of the James Dillon show, undated but also from February 1978, is heard below.

James Dillon show from February 1978.

Two months later, James Dillon led a walk-out of most Radio Dublin staff following allegations that station owner Eamonn Cooke was involved in child abuse. Dillon formed a breakaway station, the Big D, which lasted until 1982. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following Cooke’s conviction for sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.

This recording is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
The Radio Dublin transmitter at Christmas 1977 (photo courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

Radio Dublin was the only Irish station to ring in the New Year at midnight on Saturday 31st December 1977. The Evening Herald reported that RTÉ Radio had to scrap its planned New Year’s Eve special programme, to be presented by Pat Kenny, because of an industrial relations dispute. The state broadcaster would close down at 11.45pm, leaving the airwaves to Radio Dublin. This was an important period for the pirates as it marked the shift from hobby to full-time broadcasting. Radio Dublin stayed on air for 300 hours over the Christmas and New Year period 1977-1978 and began full-time daily broadcasting on 2nd January 1978.

This recording is of Radio Dublin staff saying farewell to 1977 and ringing in 1978. Running from 2312-0040, it features station owner Eamonn Cooke along with DJs John Paul, Shay West, DJ Sylvie, Mike Eastwood and James Dillon. There are plenty of requests from listeners and thanks to businesses for advertising with the station during the year. At midnight a recording of bells is almost scuppered by a faulty cassette tape. This is followed by the DJs singing Auld Land Syne and a message from the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Michael Collins. Eamonn Cooke urges listeners to lobby the government for a licence for Radio Dublin and also thanks Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) for relaying the broadcast on the shortwave frequency of Westside Radio International. This recording was made locally but there is some night-time co-channel interference and that characteristic Radio Dublin hum throughout. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation.

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
Early Radio Dublin letterhead (courtesy of Ian Biggar)

However, the exuberance of New Year’s Eve did not last and in April James Dillon led a walk-out of most staff following allegations that Eamonn Cooke was involved in child abuse. Dillon formed a breakaway station, the Big D, which lasted until 1982. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following Cooke’s conviction for sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.