Phone-in competition on Kandy Radio

Phone-in competition on Kandy Radio
Kandy Radio poster (courtesy Andy Carter).

This recording of Kandy Radio from Ballinasloe in east Galway was made on 27th December 1986 from 1510-1556. An unidentified DJ holds a phone-in competition but there are technical issues with the line and some callers are barely audible. Adverts feature small businesses from around east Galway, giving the station a distinctive local sound. The recording was made from 1386, a frequency that suffered congestion and there is co-channel interference. Kandy Radio also broadcast on 98.2 FM in Ballinasloe. It closed in April 1988.

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

Afternoon music mix on Kandy Radio

Afternoon music mix on Kandy Radio
Kandy Radio poster (courtesy Ian Biggar).

Kandy Radio broadcast from Ballinasloe in east Galway from 1986 to 1988. This recording was made on Monday 13th October 1986 from 1320-1405 from the station’s AM frequency, 1386 kHz. Mark White is on air until 1330 and is followed by Paul Davis for the afternoon show. News is read by Tara and adverts feature local businesses in east Galway, south Roscommon and west Offaly. The music is a mixture of middle-of-the-road, country and chart hits. There is co-channel interference due to congestion on the frequency, suggesting that the recording was made outside Kandy’s core area of east Galway.

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

Kandy Radio on fair day in Ballinasloe

Kandy Radio on fair day in Ballinasloe
Kandy Radio in 1987 (courtesy Andy Carter).

Kandy Radio broadcast from the town of Ballinasloe in east Galway from the middle of 1986 until spring 1988. Serving the town and its rural hinterland, Kandy sounded very different to the slicker Galway City stations that aped the ‘hot hits’ format of the super-pirates in other cities. Kandy Radio was initially logged by Anoraks Ireland on 1386 kHz AM and 98.2 FM and although manager John McGrath said it had a radius of 30 miles, he also reported reception reports from Norway and Sweden. An Anoraks Ireland survey from November 1987 recorded a move to 1404 kHz and both 98.5 and 100.9 FM. Hours of broadcasting were 0800-1900 and there were plans for programmes 24 hours a day. A log from April 1988 recorded Kandy on 103.5 FM only and the station closed down that month.

This recording of Kandy Radio was made from 1386 kHz from 1636-1721 on Saturday 11th October 1986, country fair day in Ballinasloe. Paul Davis is on air until 5pm and says that he will be gigging later that night in Hayden’s Hotel where Irish Eurovision star Johnny Logan will also be performing. News at 5pm is read by Tara and she is followed by Steve Jones with more requests and a mix of music. There are plenty of ads for small businesses in Ballinasloe and surrounding areas and the Top 30 is donated by a local record shop. Complete with uneven audio and technical glitches, this is the authentic sound of a small town radio station from the height of the pirate era.

Kandy Radio on fair day in Ballinasloe
Original cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

The recording may have been made some distance from Ballinasloe because it suffers from co-channel interference due to congestion on 1386 kHz by both Irish and British stations. It is from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Background: other Galway City and County pirates

Background: other Galway City and County pirates
Entry about IRG in FRC Ireland Newsletter, issue 5, August/September 1978 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Our series on the pirate stations based in and around Galway City in the 1980s includes Atlantic Sound, WLS, Coast 103, County Sound and Radio Pirate Woman. These were all from the final part of the Irish pirate radio era from 1984 to 1988 with the exception of Radio Pirate Woman which defied the new legislation and carried on into the 1990s and beyond. Like Dublin, Galway also had an earlier wave of pirates which paved the way for the larger commercial stations. Among those were Independent Radio Galway and Atlantic Radio.

Independent Radio Galway, broadcasting in the late 1970s on 199 metres (1503 kHz) was the closest that Galway came to a community radio station. Set up by Tom O’Connor of O’Connor’s television repair shop, it began on April 15th 1978 and was one of major pirates that emerged from the RTÉ local radio experiment of that period. IRG closed on July 28th 1979 following the establishment of RTÉ Radio 2. More information is available here. Surprisingly for a city with a long tradition of the arts and community development, Galway never developed community radio in the mould of well-known stations such as Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) and North Dublin Community Radio (NDCR). Another early station was Atlantic Radio (no relation to the later Atlantic Sound as far as we know), which was due to begin broadcasting on February 25th 1978. As the report below indicates, they had big plans including transmitters in North Galway and Mayo and a separate city service, Galway Community Radio. The station gave an address in Renmore on the east side of the city.

Background: other Galway City and County pirates
Entry about Atlantic Radio in FRC Ireland Newsletter, issue 3, February/March 1978 (courtesy Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

County Sound was an example of a station situated outside Galway city which moved eventually into the city centre. Another county station, KFM, was set up in 1986 in the village of Moycullen 12 km northwest of Galway. Later it opened a studio in the city centre and announced two FM frequencies, one for the city (99 MHz) and another for the county (95 MHz). AM was planned but never materialised.

Background: other Galway City and County pirates
Rate card for KFM (c. 1986) courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

There was a remarkable similarity between the design of the KFM rate card and the one used previously by Atlantic Sound!

Background: other Galway City and County pirates
Atlantic Sound rate card c. 1986 (courtesy Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Other stations included West Coast Community Radio (WCCR) which broadcast from spring 1982 until July 1983 on AM only, with its aerial running along the terrace of Cloonacauneen Castle north of Galway before moving to a frozen meat factory in Roscam on the east side of the city. Among those involved with WCCR were the current CEO of Galway Bay FM, Keith Finnegan. Radio Renmore was a low-powered station (approximately 5 watts) on 100 FM which operated from August 1983 until early 1985 from the eastern suburb of Renmore. Set up by three teenagers, Gary Hardiman, Tom Breen and Brendan Mee, it broadcast during the school holidays and was known as Radio Snowflake at Christmas 1984. Emerald FM was an irregular pirate from Shantalla in 1986 as was WHYT which gave an address in Eglinton Street in the city centre. In 1987 another hobby station, Radio Impulse, was logged mainly at weekends.

Stations in Co. Galway included the very early pirate Saor-Raidió Chonamara which broadcast on two separate occasions in 1970 from Ros Muc, a village in the Gaeltacht area of Connemara. It was a pioneer in Irish language broadcasting and led to the establishment of RTÉ’s Irish language service Raidió na Gaeltachta in 1972. Further to the northwest, Connemara Community Radio came on the air in 1988 in the village of Letterfrack. It is now a licensed station of the same name. In the east of the county, Kandy Radio broadcast from Ballinasloe from 1986 to 1988 and Galway District Radio was a short-lived station in Loughrea.

Thanks to Brendan Mee and Ian Biggar for background details.

Interview: Gerry Reilly, transmitter man

Interview: Gerry Reilly, transmitter man

On October 20th 2018 over 100 radio anoraks gathered in the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin. The purpose was to meet and record oral history of the pirate radio era.

In this interview, Walter Hegarty talks to Gerry Reilly, a radio engineer from Co. Cavan. Gerry worked on transmitters for almost 50 stations including Kandy Radio, Galway District Radio (GDR), Hometown Radio, Big M, Erneside, NWCR, CCR, Breffni Radio, Midwest Radio. East Coast Radio (Louth), Melvin Radio, Radio North, Riverside Radio, Boyneside Radio, DCR Letterkenny, Radio West, Rainbow Radio, Star Radio, North Star, KISS FM, KITS, North Atlantic Radio and many more.