Full recording: Magic 103 (Dublin)

Full recording: Magic 103 (Dublin)
Magic 103 sticker from Brian Greene’s collection.

This is a recording of a very relaxed Peter Madison (RIP) on Nova’s short-lived sister station Magic 103 from 1315-1402 on the 25th of June 1985. It begins with some pirate nostalgia in the form of ‘Goodbye Caroline’ by the One Shots, a song about the sinking of the Mi Amigo in 1980 and ‘Get Turned on to Big D’ by John Paul, a presenter at the popular Dublin station of the late 1970s where Peter himself had worked. Some of the vinyl is very scratched, more so than would be expected on a station like Magic 103. News at 1400 is read by Mark Weller (Costigan) who takes over for the afternoon shift. Peter Madison, who died in 2018, worked at many pirates during the 1980s. More recordings of Magic 103 are available here.

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 Leinster (Dublin)

Full recording: Radio Leinster (Dublin)
Radio Leinster logo courtesy of DX Archive.

Radio Leinster was one of Dublin’s niche pirates, featuring an easy listening and chat format in contrast with the chart music played on many stations. It began in April or May 1981 from central Dublin before moving to an elevated site in Sandyford overlooking the city. A professional 1 kW transmitter on 738 kHz travelled well by day but was subject to interference at night. Radio Leinster presenters included Gavin Duffy who led the consortium to be awarded the local radio licence for counties Meath and Louth in 1989. Peter Mulryan’s book Radio Radio (1988) reports that in 1982 Duffy announced that he would interview senior Sinn Féin figures including Gerry Adams, in breach of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. The station received a warning from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and Duffy was fired.

This recording is of interest because it is from the last day of Radio Leinster, the 19th of March 1983. Like many other stations, Radio Leinster was spooked by the raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine and closed down suddenly at lunchtime. This recording which begins at 10.20am gives no impression of a crisis, and presenter Mike Moran even announces a competition. The recording is from 93 FM. Radio Leinster was never to return but future stations in the same easy listening vein would be Magic 103, KISS FM (managed by David Baker) and KLAS.

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: Magic 103 (Dublin)

Full recording: Magic 103 (Dublin)
Magic 103 car sticker, courtesy of DX Archive

Magic 103 (103.5 FM and 1521 kHz AM) was one of the many short-lived sister stations of Radio Nova, and was on air from Leeson Street in Dublin for a few months in 1985. The station began broadcasting on April 29th and promised ‘easy listening and information for Dublin’. Presenters were journalists, most of whom were in dispute with station owner Chris Cary, and ‘ABC Network News’ was shared between the two stations. Magic 103 was gone by September 22nd, as the Radio Nova empire began to unravel.

This recording is of Mark Weller (Mark Costigan) from 3.25pm on 19 June 1985, featuring a studio discussion about stock car racing, including a forthcoming competition between teams from Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio! There’s also a comedy extract featuring iconic Nova voices such as Bob Gallico, John Clarke and Tony Allan. The 4pm news bulletin shared by both stations features international, Irish and British news. When the simulcast ends there is additional Irish news on Magic 103, evidence that Nova catered to a much larger broadcast area than just Dublin. Mark Costigan went on to work as a journalist for national independent station Radio Ireland/Today FM in the 1990s and 2000s and was eventually appointed Head of Government Information Services.

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

Aircheck: Radio Nova from 1985

Aircheck: Radio Nova from 1985
Jessie Brandon on offshore pirate Laser 558 in 1984. Courtesy offshoreradio.co.uk and Offshore Echoes magazine.

This is an aircheck of Radio Nova from September 29th 1985, featuring legendary American DJ Jessie Brandon who took up a job with the new offshore pirate Laser 558 in 1984. Jessie moved to Nova in October 1985 and was one of only a handful of female presenters on the commercial pirates of the era. In this recording she plays ‘the JAM song’, a selection of jingles made by JAM Creative Productions in Dallas, Texas whose clients included Radio Nova. There’s an interesting interview with Jessie in Charlie Connelly’s excellent book Last Train to Hilversum.

The recording also includes a promo for the new ‘Zoo Crew’, presented by Colm Hayes and Bob Gallico, a riotous breakfast show which ran from October 7th 1985 to January 24th 1986. Sybil Fennell is also heard on news but a bitter dispute between Nova and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) had resumed by this time and contributed to the demise of the station in March 1986.

According to Nova fan Kevin Branigan, September 1985 was a pivotal month for the station. At the start of the month, Nova was powerful and untouchable, was giving away £10,000 in cash, still running easy listening station Magic 103 and packing out club night Disco Nova. By the end of September Chris Cary had closed Magic 103, fired the journalists, the NUJ was back on strike and big name DJs were departing for other stations such as the rival Q102. Magic 103 transmitters and studio equipment were sold by Cary to Q102, allowing it to surround Nova on the FM Band and with the help of ex-Nova talent, move into the big league. It was the beginning of the end.

We thank Kevin Branigan and Ian Biggar for help with information and analysis.

Aircheck: Magic 103 (Dublin)

Aircheck: Magic 103 (Dublin)
Image courtesy of DX Archive

Magic 103 (103.5 FM and 1521 kHz although AM was never announced on air) was set up by Radio Nova in 1985 and was one of many examples of Chris Cary’s innovation in splitting AM/FM services to expand programming. Magic, which began broadcasting on April 29th, was a mostly easy-listening and talk service in contrast to the chart music format of Nova.

‘ABC Network News’ was broadcast on both Nova and Magic, and the journalists also presented programmes on Magic. This airchecked recording is from the first evening of the service. Dave Johnson (aka Andrew Hanlon) is both presenter and newscaster. He reads out a request from a listener in Co. Down, evidence of how far the FM signal travelled on a relatively uncrowded band. Sound quality is variable on this recording and some of it may have been recorded from AM.

Magic 103 was short-lived and closed in September 1985.