Top 100 love songs on South Coast Radio

Top 100 love songs on South Coast Radio
Keith York in the South Coast studio (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

On the October bank holiday 1982, South Coast Radio broadcast the Top 100 love songs of all time for seven hours from 12 noon. Presented by Pete O’Neill and Keith York, the programme was produced by Hugh Browne. This recording is of the final hour of the show from 1800 on Monday 25th October and includes the full countdown from 100 to 1, read by Hugh and Keith. There are some edits and although recorded from 104 FM, audio quality is only fair in places due to either issues with recording or cassette degradation.

Both Hugh and Keith went on to work in many other pirate and licensed stations. Keith died in 2010 and Hugh in 2013. Thanks for Lillian O’Donoghue for the recording and photo.

Pamela Wilson and Keith York on WLS

Pamela Wilson and Keith York on WLS
WLS advert from 1986/7 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

This recording of WLS Music Radio from Galway was made in the autumn of 1985 and features two of the station’s top presenters, Pamela Wilson and Keith York (RIP). It begins with a love songs spot on Pamela’s programme, which is packed with local adverts. There are also shout-outs to listeners in shops and businesses around town. News on the hour is read by Chris Ashford. Pamela is followed at midday by Keith York, who was one of the station’s founders. There’s an indirect reference to the Voice of Peace, the offshore station where Keith worked before coming to Ireland.

Pamela Wilson and Keith York on WLS
Cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

Made from 102.7 FM on 4th October 1985, part 1 above runs from 1121-1207 and part 2 below from 1207-1253.

Part 2 from 1253.

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

Keith York on South Coast Radio

Keith York on South Coast Radio
Keith York on 24.03.82 in the South Coast studio (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

Originally from Yorkshire, the late Keith York (‘Yorkie’) worked with many Irish pirate stations on both the engineering and presentation side, including the first South Coast Radio in Cork. In this recording, he presents the drivetime show on South Coast from 5pm on Tuesday 13th April 1982, a few weeks after the station’s launch. News on the hour is read by Mark Lawrence and a promo for the ‘jobline’ service is voiced by another late radio legend, Tony Allan. In the licensed era, Keith worked as chief engineer with Midlands 103 and was well known in the midlands. He died prematurely in 2010.

Keith York on South Coast Radio
Cassette label from Anoraks Ireland Collection.

Part 1 of the recording above runs from 1659-1746 and part 2 below from 1746-1833.

Part 2 from 1746

Both were made from 104 FM in stereo and are from the Anoraks Ireland Tapes Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson.

Birthday cake on South Coast Radio

Birthday cake on South Coast Radio
Pete O’Neill blows out the candles on his birthday cake (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue)

Today we feature three hours of afternoon programming on Cork super-pirate South Coast Radio from 1982, not long after it was launched. Pete O’Neill is on air with his usual mix of music and requests, including the Listener’s Top 5 after the 2pm news, the ‘3 at 3’ after the 3pm news and oldies spot ‘South Coast Supergold’. Station staff and loyal fan Lillian McCarthy (O’Donoghue) sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Pete who is presented with a cake in studio. The voice of legendary DJ Tony Allan is heard on ads and on a promo for South Coast Radio ‘jobline’, a service to advertise job vacancies. There’s also a promo for the American Country Countdown, a syndicated programme from the US, and Pete announces a new events spot ‘What’s on in Munster’ that will air every weekday afternoon.

The recording is divided into four segments, running from 1305-1610 on 25th March 1982. News on the hour is read by Mark Lawrence and Pete’s show is followed by the late Keith York.

Part 2 from 1353
Part 3 from 1440
Part 4 from 1525

The recording was made from 104 FM but is in mono. South Coast also broadcast on 1557 kHz AM, announcing 194 metres. Thanks to Lillian O’Donoghue for the recording and photo.

40th anniversary of South Coast Radio

40th anniversary of South Coast Radio
Keith York on 24.03.82 in the South Coast studio (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

South Coast Radio was the first big station to shake up the Cork radio scene introducing a level of professionalism and slickness not heard on the smaller pirates that had sprung up since the late 1970s. The station was set up by Pete O’Neill and Peter Maher who had worked previously with Radio City and was on air by February 1982. South Coast was launched officially on March 3rd and the first voice heard was Peter Madison (RIP) who at various times presented on other stations such as Sunshine Radio, Radio Nova, Magic 103 and Boyneside Radio. South Coast was based at the Metropole Hotel in McCurtain Street until April 4th 1982 when it moved to Adelaide Place in St. Luke’s. On 26th September it moved again to a premises above Henchy’s Bar also in St. Luke’s. South Coast closed on 13th July 1984 and was revived briefly but didn’t last long.

This recording is of the late Keith York on South Coast’s official launch day, 3rd March 1982. It was recorded from 104 FM and runs from 1752-1855. The station also broadcast on 1557 kHz, announcing 194 metres. Keith had previously worked on the Voice of Peace, Radio Capitale in Brussels and in Dublin pirates Southside Radio and Island Radio. Thanks to Ian Biggar for the recording and Lillian O’Donoghue for the background information and photos.  

40th anniversary of South Coast Radio
Pete O’Neill in studio in March 1982 (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

Pete O’Neill remembers:

I came up with the name South Coast Radio and the concept in the summer of 1981 having travelled to Portmarnock in Co. Dublin to spend a few days visiting Sunshine Radio. I approached Peter Maher, a salesman with me at Radio City and he agreed to work with me on it. He quit his job with an insurance company and we both left Radio City to work on the project. We had to sell some of our record collection to fund coffee and scones!

Peter assembled six business men in the Imperial Hotel and they all agreed to commit to the initial tune of £25,000. I travelled to London as a late teenager and purchased Technics turntables, Revox PR 99s, AKG Mics, a Quad amp and Kef speakers at a London outlet Music Lab. I also purchased many vinyl records at several stores to have shipped back to Ireland for a record library. After a trip around Capital Radio with Michael Aspel, I went to Kent to visit a rep for Pams Jingles. While there, I went over my lyrics to a re-sing of a QRUU/Radio Luxembourg package. I then headed to Brighton where I visited the Alice Stancoil factory and purchased an STM-8 Mixer (the same one as Sunshine had), an Alice 2008P production mixer and Sonifex cart machines.

I can remember all the equipment stored in a warehouse on Patrick’s Quay. I wired up the Revox and speakers and John Ashford (John Buckley) and myself listened to the new jingle package on Ampex tape. Amazing! We used the Southern Advertising Agency to design our headphones logo and they also did the initial launch photos using models. We secured a medium wave TX site near the airport which would be used with a 1kW transmitter. The then head of air traffic control at Cork airport built our FM TX, having given me a shopping list of parts including a Phillips stereo generator. He constructed it in his garden shed and I can remember him showing me the progress as it was built into a filling cabinet!

One of our shareholders knew the managing director of the Metropole Hotel so we acquired two rooms which we converted to studio/production. Great fun was had here with room service for the presenters! We even recorded cheerleaders from the States over for the St. Patrick’s Parade for station imaging. We made the front page of The Irish Times on April 2nd 1982 after Peter Madison told listeners to retune to watch him on breakfast television as an April Fool’s joke. The NUJ Cork branch were not happy with a pirate located in the hotel and protested outside, so we were forced to relocate.

I brought on many of the best local presenters to the station including Henry Condon (Alan Reid RIP), Neil Prendeville (Jim Lockhart), John Buckley (John Ashford RIP), Luke Ward, Steve Douglas and George Long. Most were on weekends so I needed to find others for weekdays. I was hoping I could attract some from Sunshine in Dublin like Tony Fenton and Declan Meehan but they had moved on to the new Radio Nova. Siobhán Walls and Stevie Dunne came down as did Keith York (RIP), Hugh Browne (RIP), John Kenny, Peter Madison (RIP) and Nick Richards. Later the line-up included John Lewis, Don Stevens and Steve Marshall.

We eventually moved to 40 St Luke’s Cross after a short stint at a premises nearby. This was to be our permanent home and consisted of reception, advertising offices, record library, production, news, and on air studios and of course a pub downstairs! I talked a friend’s mother to agree to give us a part of her farm land at Dublin Hill and we put up a higher AM mast there. We also flew in a 10,000 watt AM TX which took some time to get up and running with the help of Keith, Terry Vacani and a relation of one of our directors from east Cork. The sound and coverage was amazing with the signal loud and clear in Dublin and the south coast of England and London by night.

I gave away a £1,000 summer splash-out on air and the initial response was so great that it blew many of the Telecom exchange lines. I had to re-run it a week later! South Coast’s signal, sound, quality and personality of presenters and imaging was amazing and it quickly became an instant hit. There were problems down the road though with our new competitor ERI and we had water put into our site generator and then the entire mast was cut down. This, coupled with a major fire at the site and RTE jamming of commercial breaks, led to a quick demise of the station. I left in early 1984 as the writing was on the wall. I’m very proud to have met and worked with so many talented people, and to be afforded the opportunity to put on an amazing station while still in my late teens. South Coast radio will always be one of my favourite achievements!