Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 4)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 4)
One of the episodes of ‘The Irish Pirates’ from the Leon Tipler Collection (photo by Brian Greene)

This is the final volume of Part 2 of ‘The Irish Pirates’, Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary on the Irish scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. This hour covers Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova in more detail, including a visit to the Nova transmitter site and interviews with Chris Cary and Stuart McLoughlin about the economics of radio and the ratings wars. There are also interesting clips of specialist programmes such as the current affairs show ‘Dublin Today’ and the religious hour ‘Life is a Celebration’. Tipler discusses the local radio legislation proposed in 1981, one of the many failed attempts to legalise the sector, and offers an in-depth analysis of the state of play at the time. The hour finishes with a long and fascinating bandscan of Dublin pirate radio. Tipler refers to Part 2 of ‘The Irish Pirates’ being in production and we will bring you those recordings shortly.

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

Index to Volume 4

00:11 Dublin Today
02:12 Life is a Celebration
03:45 Trip to TX site
07:35 KISS FM promos
10:45 Chris Cary on Nova ratings
17:00 Interview with Stuart McLoughlin of Nova
27:10 1981 Local Radio Bill
31:55 Aim of the documentary
36:20 Possibility of local RTÉ opt-out for Dublin
37:00 Pirates raise money for charity
40:48 Thanks to those who appeared in Part 1
41:43 Final bandscan

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 3)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 3)
Some of the episodes of ‘The Irish Pirates’ as found in the Leon Tipler Collection (photo by Brian Greene).

Volumes 3 and 4 of Leon Tipler’s ‘The Irish Pirates’ make up Part 2 of the documentary. The third recording focuses mostly on Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova, the new superpirates which emerged in Dublin in the early 1980s. Tipler begins by visiting Sunshine Radio in 1981 and interviews its director Robbie Robinson. He tours the Sunshine studios in Portmarnock and hears its professional jingles produced by Alfasound. The documentary covers the controversy caused by politicians appearing on pirate radio and the coverage given by Sunshine to community events in its area. The episode also includes a feature on Community Radio Fingal in north Dublin in 1982. It ends with a visit to the Radio Nova studios at Herbert Street and a long interview with Nova boss Chris Cary.

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

Index of Volume 3

00:00 1981 visit to Sunshine
01.38 Interview with Robbie Robinson
07:06 Sunshine jingles
08:35 Visit to Sunshine studios
11:30 Establishment of Radio Nova
14:52 Irish Association of Independent Broadcasters
15:30 Controversy over politicians on pirate radio
18:15 Sunshine covering community events
24:40 1982 visit to Community Radio Fingal
33:15 Visit to Radio Nova in Herbert Street
34:15 Interview with John Clarke
40:55 KISS FM
43:09 Interview with Chris Cary

Full recording: South Dublin Community Radio

Full recording: South Dublin Community Radio

South Dublin Community Radio broadcast from c. 1982 to 1984 from Dún Laoghaire, one of many southside pirates of the era. The station was linked to Radio South County that first came on air in 1980 and was active on 963 kHz for a time. South Dublin Community Radio was based in Pottery Road in Dún Laoghaire. This recording is from 2155-2240 on the 27th of August 1983 from 102.7 FM and features Bruce Foxton, to be followed at 2300 by Jimmy Cliff. In the time-honoured pirate tradition, these were pseudonyms inspired by the singers of the same names!

An interesting aspect of this recording is the frequency, as 102.7 had been used by Chris Cary’s KISS FM up to the Radio Nova raids of May 1983. KISS would return to 102.7 on the 30th of September. South Dublin Community Radio shifted to 102 MHz but moved down the band to around 91 because of ongoing jamming by RTÉ of Nova frequencies. When RTÉ began broadcasting Radio 2 from the Three Rock transmitter on 90.7 in 1984, that was the beginning of the end of South Dublin Community Radio and it seems to have closed by the autumn of that year. Many of the same people got involved in the popular 1990s pirate DLR 106 which broadcast from the same address in Dún Laoghaire. Thanks to all those who provided additional background information to us.

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

Aircheck: closedown of KISS FM (102.7)

Aircheck: closedown of KISS FM (102.7)
KISS FM sticker courtesy of DX Archive.

KISS FM was one of the many sister stations to Radio Nova, broadcasting from September 1982 to January 1984. Chris Cary set up the station to absorb additional advertising revenue from Nova and experiment with local radio for Dublin. The station was closed down along with Nova on the 18th of May 1983 and did not return until the 30th of September. In January 1984 RTÉ jammed the signals of both Nova and KISS when it was granted permission by Minister Ted Nealon to test broadcast on 88.2 and 102.7 FM and 819 kHz AM. Cary closed KISS at midnight on the 15th of January 1984 as the jamming worsened and laid off staff, some of whom were members of the National Union of Journalists. This sparked a bitter and extended industrial relations dispute which eventually contributed to the demise of Nova in 1986.

KISS FM was known for its lavish competitions, offering listeners prizes ranging from £102.70 to £5,000 in cash for correctly identifying three songs played in a row. One such competition occurred on the 29th of March 1983 when the station gave away £5,000. The giveaway would be repeated by Nova on the 31st of August 1983, when a prize of £6,000 was offered, putting enormous pressure on the Dublin telephone system. There were even bigger problems with the network when Nova gave away another £5,000 over a year later, on the 29th of September 1984.

This recording was made mostly on the final day, 15th of January 1984, is airchecked and not in linear order. It begins with Denis Murray presenting his final rock show and chatting with fellow presenters Chris Barry and Stephanie McAllister. News at midnight is read by David Malone and the Radio Nova news jingle is heard as KISS passes into the history books and Nova is broadcast on 102.7. Mike Moran is then heard on the Nova overnight and then the tape stops and picks up with Chris Barry signing off and handing over to Denis Murray earlier in the evening. The recording continues with airchecks of Denis Murray apparently from the 14th of January on his second last show. We also hear idents for KISS FM Weekend, part of Al Dunne’s final show, Bernie Jameson on news and Geraldine Nugent reading community news. Community news is not something associated with the Nova network, but KISS FM was an experimental station.

Our archive also includes interviews with Tom Hardy and Denis Murray about their involvement in KISS FM and other stations. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: Radio Nova (Dublin)

Full recording: Radio Nova (Dublin)
L-R: Sybil Fennell, Declan Meehan and Bob Gallico on 19th May 1983,the day of Nova’s official closedown (photo courtesy Joe King).

This is the well-known recording of Radio Nova on the morning of the infamous raid on the 18th of May 1983. Gardaí and officials from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs arrived at about 9.30am and requested that both Nova and KISS FM cease transmission at once. Keys were sought for the transmission site and just over an hour later, the plug was pulled. Nova returned at about 4.15am the following morning but on lower power and at lunchtime the station announced that it would close officially at 6.00pm that evening.

Full recording: Radio Nova (Dublin)
Crowds at Herbert Street in anticipation of the 6pm closedown on May 19th 1983 (photo courtesy Joe King).

This recording from 819 kHz AM begins on May 18th during the 10am news with Bob Gallico. After the news, DJ Declan Meehan asks station owner Chris Cary to come to the studios in Herbert Street immediately. During the following 30 minutes, Declan makes several references to the fact that Nova may go off the air and back to back jingles are played during records. Bob Gallico joins Declan throughout the hour for live versions of their inimitable two-handers, responding to unfolding events. At the same time another DJ Tom Hardy was bringing the P&T officials to the transmitter site in Rathfarnham in order to put Nova off the air. During out interviews with former Nova staff, many recalled their memories of the 1983 raids including Tom Hardy and Dennis Murray. Declan Meehan recalls his Nova days here.

Full recording: Radio Nova (Dublin)
Some of the crowd at Herbert Street for the Nova closedown on 19th May 1983. Photo courtesy of Gary Hogg/Ian Biggar.

This recording is courtesy of DX Archive where more information about and recordings of the 1983 raids can be found.