Brendan O’Carroll (Uncle Bren) on ARD

Brendan O'Carroll (Uncle Bren) on ARD
Brendan O’Carroll aka Uncle Bren (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

ARD closed down on New Year’s Eve 1979 but returned a few hours later as Radio 257 on New Year’s from the Crofton Hotel near Dublin Airport. The station would revert to the ARD name by late 1980. Many household names of the future passed through the doors of ARD/257, one of whom was Brendan O’Carroll, now better known as Mrs Brown in the BBC and RTÉ comedy Mrs Brown’s Boys. Here he is as ‘Uncle Bren the kiddies’ friend’ presenting the breakfast show. The voices of the late Tony Allan and Dave C. are heard on ads.

Brendan O'Carroll (Uncle Bren) on ARD
A selection of the Leon Tipler Tapes in our archives.

This is an original recording made by British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler for his acclaimed documentary series ‘The Irish Pirates’. Part of the ARD recording is heard in the documentary here but the full original tape has not been published previously. Unfortunately the cassette isn’t dated but we estimate it to be from July 1981. The Leon Tipler Tapes Collection was donated to us by Steve England.

Holiday giveaway on Cavan Community Radio

Holiday giveaway on Cavan Community Radio
A newspaper ad for a CCR giveaway on 25th March 1985 (courtesy of Seán Brady).

Generous giveaways are often associated with super-pirates such as Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova in Dublin, but Cavan Community Radio also had several high-profile competitions during its five years on air. In September 1984, CCR ran a competition for a sun holiday for two, inviting listeners to call the station if they heard three songs consecutively, ‘Walk on By’ by Larry Cunningham, ‘When Julie Comes Around’ by the C-60 band and ‘Cavan Girl’ by the Barleycorns. The 20th caller would win the holiday.

This recording was made from 819 kHz from 1242-1257 on 28th September 1984. Ollie Clarke is on air and the holiday competition is being pushed heavily. It is heard twice during the commercial break with one of the promotions featuring the voice of Don Allen.

Holiday giveaway on Cavan Community Radio
Ollie Clarke in the CCR studio (photo courtesy of Seán Brady).

On Thursday 4th April 1985, CCR began broadcasting promos for another giveaway comprising a holiday and prizes worth £2,000. Four records, ‘You must be Joking’ by Lucky Numbers, ‘Baby don’t go’ by Sandy Kelly, ‘My Own Native Land’ by Pat Woods and ‘Breakaway’ by Ann Breen, would be played in that exact order, only once, between Thursday 4th April and Friday 26th April. On hearing the last beat of the last record, listeners had to phone CCR on (049) 32747 and, if they were the tenth caller, they would win a holiday for two in Spain. Thanks to Seán Brady for this information.

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

Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio

Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio
Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio (photo courtesy of Seán Brady).

Cavan Community Radio (CCR) was an AM station serving the north midlands from 1982 to 1988. This is an edited version of the station’s history kindly provided by Seán Brady.

CCR began broadcasting on 747 kHz AM in the spring of 1982. The catch-phrase, ‘The Big One on 747’, soon became a household phrase in homes all over the north Irish midlands, as well as counties Fermanagh and Tyrone. CCR’s AM signal also reached a wide area of Northern Ireland and attracted advertisers from counties Fermanagh and Tyrone. Programming originated from Farnham Road, Cavan quite close to the AM transmitter site, so there was no need for an FM link from the studio. The music format was a mix of pop and country music. Initially, broadcast hours ran from 0800 to 2000 daily and were later extended to midnight.

Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio
QSL from CCR in 1985 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

On Friday 24th January 1984, CCR moved into new custom built studios and offices, which were situated above the Musicland Record Store on Main Street, Cavan. CCR linked to the 747 kHz AM transmitter with a low powered FM transmitter on 98.1 MHz which was available locally in Cavan town. In May 1984, Dublin’s Radio Nova changed AM frequency, moving from 828 kHz to 738 kHz. As a result, CCR began to experience severe adjacent channel interference and a change of AM frequency was considered essential.

Sometime between May and November 1984, CCR moved from 747 kHz to 819 kHz. The new channel provided excellent signal coverage of counties Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh, along with Armagh, Leitrim, Sligo, Longford and Meath until the Dublin station Q102 decided to move from 828 to 819 kHz in early October 1985. The presence of two relatively high-powered stations only 100km apart on the same frequency continued to cause problems for both in terms of coverage area for the remainder of the pirate era. Depending on conditions and transmitter power from either station, CCR could often be heard underneath Q102 heading north from Dublin.  

Ollie Clarke on Cavan Community Radio
Information about CCR transmission in 1985 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

In mid-May 1985, the CCR FM link on 98.1 MHz began to be jammed and the station had to move frequencies. Due to continuous jamming, CCR moved back to their former studios in Farnham Road, Cavan. With this move of premises, the FM link frequency was now lost and CCR became one of a select few Irish pirate radio stations to broadcast on AM only. The late ‘Daffy’ Don Allen, who counted CCR among the many Irish pirates where he worked, named the unknown person blocking the signal ‘Wammer the Jammer’ and even recorded a comedy song about him which he used to play over the airwaves. Don Allen moved to Radio West in Mullingar in September 1986.

Despite the coverage issue, at this time plenty of commercials were being aired and the station identified itself on air as ‘professional radio throughout the midlands and the northwest, CCR on 819 kHz’. The station had outside broadcasts including live commentary of the 1986 St. Patrick’s Day parades in Cavan. It also introduced a radio bingo game in association with Donagh Football and Social Club in Co. Fermanagh. Cavan Community Radio left the air on 819 kHz for the last time at on Saturday 31st December 1988.

The recording above was made from 98.1 FM from 1310-1341 on 21st September 1984. Ollie Clarke is on air and there is a promotion for a holiday giveaway. Ollie also worked with CCR, Channel 2 (Breffni Radio’s short-lived pop music service in Kilnaleck, Co. Cavan), Erneside Radio and Radio West. He has broadcast on licensed stations Northern Sound and Spirit Radio and is now a volunteer with Christmas FM.

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

Radio Leinster: wooing listeners from RTÉ Radio 1

Radio Leinster: wooing listeners from RTÉ Radio 1
Daphne Mitchell at Radio Leinster in 1982 (photo courtesy David Baker).

Radio Leinster stood out from the other Dublin pirates of the early 1980s because of its diet of easy listening music and chat as opposed to the pop played by most stations. In his documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’, British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler commented that while the majority of the Dublin stations were in direct competition with RTÉ Radio 2, Radio Leinster seemed intent on attracting listeners from Radio 1.

Radio Leinster began broadcasting in late April or early May 1981 from the city centre before moving to an elevated site in Sandyford overlooking Dublin. A professional 1 kW transmitter on 738 kHz (406 metres) travelled well by day but was subject to interference at night. The station closed suddenly on 19th May 1983 as panic spread following the raids on Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova and never returned.

Tipler was particularly interested in the niche offering of Radio Leinster and made several recordings of it during his visit in September 1982. The recording above was made from 738 kHz and is an aircheck of part of Daphne Mitchell’s afternoon programme beginning at 1556 on Friday 10th September. It includes a letter from a listener and a lengthy community notice board. The voices of Richard Crowley and Anna Chisnell, both of whom would go on to work in RTÉ, can be heard on ads. Daphne Mitchell was also heard on BLB in Bray in the 1980s.

Radio Leinster: wooing listeners from RTÉ Radio 1
David Baker on Radio Sandymount in 1984 (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

The recording below is from 93 FM on Monday 13th September 1982 and features a young David Baker reading the sports bulletin on his breakfast programme. David’s breakfast shift from 0700-0900 meant that he arrived late for school each morning!

These recordings are from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Through the ether: Don Allen on Cork pirate ERI

Through the ether: Don Allen on Cork pirate ERI
Portacabins housing the ERI studios at White’s Cross (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The Canadian DJ Don Allen (1939-1995) gained fame on this side of the Atlantic on stations such as Radio Caroline and Radio Northsea International before moving to Ireland in the 1980s. He was a familiar voice on Irish pirate radio, working at stations such as Radio Carousel, Radio West, Cavan Community Radio, Royal County Radio and ERI in Cork .

This recording of Don on ERI was made on 21st November 1983 by Leon Tipler at his home in the English midlands. Unlike Tipler’s other tapes of night-time ERI, in this case the signal is much fainter and the whole experience is a bit of a DXer’s dream with faint traces of ERI fading in and out from time to time. Perhaps the 5 kW transmitter was on lower power that night, but it’s all part of the joy of pulling in pirate signals from afar.

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