John Blake (aka Creedon) on ERI

John Blake (aka Creedon) on ERI
John Creedon in the ERI studio at White’s Cross (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

John Creedon is a well-known RTÉ broadcaster and presents a nightly programme from Cork on Radio 1. Like so many high-profile broadcasters, he started his career in pirate radio and was known as John Blake on air. He joined the Cork super-pirate ERI in 1982.

This is a recording of the John Blake show during a frenetic outside broadcast from the Wilton Shopping Centre in Cork in 1983. The ERI stage is mobbed by excited kids, one of whom signs a station jingle to rapturous applause. There are mounds of requests from shoppers and listeners around Co. Cork, plenty of spot prizes and a charity event introduced by station boss Joe O’Connor.

John Blake (aka Creedon) on ERI
ERI sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

The recording was made from 1305 kHz from 1503-1535 and 1638-1712 on 22nd October 1983. It is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England. ERI was among the Cork stations featured in Tipler’s documentary series ‘The Irish Pirates’ which is available on our site here.

Overnight ERI as heard in the English midlands

Overnight ERI as heard in the English midlands
Lucy Potter-Cogan in the ERI newsroom in 1982 or 1983 (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Today we bring you another late-night recording of the Cork pirate giant ERI as heard by the British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler at his home in the English midlands. Tipler (1942-2013) began his radio career on the offshore stations in the 1960s. He made extensive recordings of Irish radio and visited Ireland on many occasions. Recordings of ERI and other Cork stations are to be heard in his renowned documentary covering the early 1980s pirate stations.

This recording was was made from 1305 kHz on 3rd June 1983 from 0030-0105 and 0320-0350. On air is Liam Quigley followed by Ian Richards with the Night Shift programme and overnight news is read by John O’Connor. Despite the distance between Cork and Kidderminster, the signal is reasonable and the fading only adds to the sense of magic of pulling in distant stations on the crowded AM band of the time.

Overnight ERI as heard in the English midlands
Stuart Scott (aka Ian Biggar) in the Ballycotton studio in July 1982 (thanks to Ian for the photo).

ERI began its life in Ballycotton east of Cork City in summer 1982 using about 200 watts of power on 1305 kHz. After investing in a professional 5 kW US-manufactured transmitter in September that year and moving to Cork City, it quickly established itself as the region’s biggest pirate.

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

Cork station ERI as recorded by Leon Tipler

Cork station ERI as recorded by Leon Tipler
Andrew Hewkin in the ERI studio in 1982 or 1983 (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

This week we bring you recordings of the large Cork station ERI as recorded by British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler at his home in the English midlands.

ERI began in the village of Ballycotton to the east of Cork City in July 1982 when it was known as Cork Eastside Radio and then Eastside Radio Ireland. It broadcast on 1305 kHz AM and 102 FM locally. In September 1982, ERI, as the station was then known, invested in a high-powered 5 kW AM transmitter and moved its studios to portacabins at White’s Cross in the northern suburbs of Cork City. 1332 kHz was used for just a few days but after complaints from Suirside Radio who were on the same frequency in Waterford, ERI reverted to the original 1305 channel.

Cork station ERI as recorded by Leon Tipler
 ERI portacabins, one with newsroom and production studio, the other on air studio and news booth with record library (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

ERI was run by the O’Connor family and the AM transmitter and mast were located about a kilometre from the portacabins at Progress Engineering which they also owned. ERI became the largest and most successful pirate in Cork and continued until the closedowns at the end of 1988. It applied unsuccessfully for a licence when these were advertised in 1989.

This recording was made on 25th May 1983 from 2300-0005 in Kidderminster in England, about 430km from Cork. The DJ is Liam Quigley, who would go on to work on many licensed stations, and news is read by John O’Connor. Interesting this is shortly after the raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine in Dublin on May 19th which caused many stations, including ERI, to close temporarily as a precaution.

Reception features characteristic night-time skywave propagation but the signal is quite listenable and is a testament to the power of the transmitter and skill of station engineer Robin Adcroft. This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

The Pirate.ie Podcast #2

The Pirate.ie Podcast #2

We’re delighted to announce episode #2 of the Pirate.ie podcast which explores themes covered in our growing archive of Irish pirate radio.

AM broadcasting, widely used by the pirates up to the end of the 1980s, allowed radio signals to travel far and wide beyond the borders of the state. Even small stations could be carried long distances thanks to the magic of night-time AM propagation but dozens of pirates along the border deliberately beamed their signals northwards. With 50 kW of power at its peak, the Dublin super-pirate Radio Nova aimed specifically at the northwest coast of Britain. Ireland also had many hobby shortwave pirates which could be heard thousands of miles from home.

In episode #2, John Walsh and Brian Greene explore how AM spillover, both accidental and deliberate, brought the Irish pirates to a bigger audience.

Full recording: Community Radio Fingal

Full recording: Community Radio Fingal
CRF car sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

Community Radio Fingal (CRF) broadcast from Swords and then Skerries in north Co. Dublin from 1982 to 1988. It began with a 300 watt transmitter but then increased it to 1 kW, and moving from 1584 to 1575 kHz (announced as 189 metres) improved its reception, particularly on the west coast of Britain. Leon Tipler visited CRF in 1982 on one of his visits to Ireland and you can hear an interview with the owner of CRF Brian Matthews here in which he gives information about the station’s history and technical set-up.

Our recording was made from 1575 kHz from 1922-1952 on 1st July 1983, apparently on the west coast of Britain as it sounds like daytime groundwave reception. Des Lee is on the air with music and community notices. He mentions that CRF is broadcasting from the Castle Shopping Centre in Swords, Co. Dublin and also refers to an FM transmitter on 90 MHz. Audio quality deteriorates towards the end as the cassette has degraded with the passage of time.

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