As part of our northeast series, we’re delighted to share a video of Boyneside Radio jingles and photos of the station over the years. This was compiled by Kieran Murray who spent many years working on stations in the northeast, including Boyneside. Kieran’s website of pirate memories was sorely missed when it went offline but is now hosted here on Pirate.ie.
For more recordings featuring Kieran, including our extended interview with him, click here.
Today we bring you the history of the split in Boyneside Radio in July 1981 and the new station Community Radio Drogheda (CRD), courtesy of Ian Biggar. Following the split, premises were found for CRD and studios and an office were set up at 15 Fair Street. CRD commenced a 24-hour broadcast using the Boyneside medium wave transmitter that was owned by Eddie Caffrey (although he had been accused of stealing it!). This was located at a good site, the former Rosnaree Hotel on the Dublin Road.
Meanwhile, Boyneside Radio continued on 98.1 and 99.2 FM, but soon added a medium wave transmitter in Donaghy’s Mill, built by Peter Gibney. This was originally on 1314 kHz, only two channels next to CRD. This, combined with the fact the transmitter was not operating properly, meant that Boyneside could barely be heard in the town. To compound this, CRD put a second transmitter on 1323 kHz, meaning Boyneside was sandwiched between the two transmitters.
This was the situation when the DX Archive team arrived in mid August 1981. Boyneside Radio was desperate for some technical help to resolve the situation with the AM transmitter and was having difficulty in tracking down Peter Gibney. During this visit another FM transmitter appeared on 102 MHz with non stop music that soon began transmitting the CRD programming. By mid-September 1981 Boyneside Radio had obtained a new transmitter built by Con McParland from Cork. This was operating on 1262 kHz with an output of no more that 200 watts. An agreement was reached with CRD resulting that Boyneside was able to move that transmitter to the better channel of 1323 kHz. Throughout all this, both Boyneside Radio and Community Radio Drogheda announced they were broadcasting on 225 metres.
There commenced a battle with each station trying to outdo the other. Firstly, Boyneside tried to break into the Navan market in October 1981, spurred on mainly by the opening of a new shopping centre. This was just as Radio Carousel had opened their new station located in the Navan Shopping Centre. An aerial was erected at the greyhound track in the town and a transmitter was installed by Con McParland on 1404 kHz. A studio of sorts consisting mainly of disco gear was installed above a hairdressers. The station would relay the Drogheda service with some opt-outs for Navan. This service was short lived and was off the air within a month or so.
The next project was Boyneside Television. A 10-watt television transmitter was obtained from Italy and aerials erected at Donaghy’s Mill. A studio was built consisting of Betamax machines with no mixing facilities but buttons used to switch between programme sources. The equipment was basic but due to the skill of the staff a sterling effort was made to put something credible together. The station came on air in November 1981 with transmissions usually commencing around 4pm which featured the on air DJ presenting his radio programme. This lasted until 6.15pm when there was a news bulletin presented by Áine Ní Ghuidhir followed by sport with Eric Vaughan. This lasted until around 6.45pm when a local film would be broadcast until closedown around 7.30pm. Although reception could be patchy around the town, a small amount of advertising was obtained.
Programmes were extended over time with a lunchtime broadcast on Saturdays featuring a discussion programme with Dermot Kierans. Into 1982 and daily programmes had been extended as seen in the printed schedule from the Sunday Journal (see left). All TV programmes were relayed on Boyneside Radio due to interference which could not be eliminated.
The station was used by local politicians, especially during the general election of February 1982. This seemed to worry the authorities enough to place a mobile jamming transmitter behind the main post office in Drogheda. This was discovered by the Boyneside staff who surprised the occupants!
Meantime CRD had been focussing on bringing a local radio service to Drogheda, as well as experimenting on various medium wave frequencies. The December 1981 edition of Short Wave News notes reception of CRD on 1071 kHz and the March 1982 issue notes them on 1197 kHz (Telstar Community Radio in Dundalk were off the air at this point). These were of course in parallel with the main transmitter on 1305 kHz.
Around the end of 1981 some staff left Boyneside Radio with a view to starting a rival to Radio Carousel in Navan. The CRD staff provided some technical support to this station to be called Radio Tara. The station had obtained the transmitter used by Radio Meath in 1979 and intended to use it on 255 metres medium wave. An advertisement for prospective staff appeared in one of the Sunday newspapers. However, Eddie Caffrey remembers the transmitter did not function properly and there was great difficulty in setting it up. There were reports of Radio Tara being heard on air, but the station did not last long due to these technical problems.
Ken from the DX Archive visited Drogheda at the end of March 1982. He found that CRD had moved premises from the town centre to a house on the Baymore Road. A second AM transmitter was operating from that location on 1233 kHz as well as an FM on 98.6 MHz linking to the main transmitter at the Rosnaree.
Both stations had entered 1982 battling for advertising, with each trying to undercut the other. Boyneside Radio had the advantage of a wealthy businessman owner, whereas CRD was very much dependant on income from advertising sales. The situation had to reach breaking point, which it did in the second half of April 1982. CRD had pretty much run out of money and left the air. Gavin Duffy and Richard Kenny (Crowley) headed to Dublin and Radio Leinster. After negotiations, others like Eddie Caffrey and Dermot Finglas rejoined Boyneside Radio. As the promos said, Boyneside and CRD are ‘back together again’ as Boyneside Community Radio. At this point Boyneside could be heard on 1305, 1314, 1323 and 1332 kHz! Boyneside Television continued for a short time following the merger but a transmitter fault put the station off the air in early summer 1982 and it never returned.
The long recording above is an aircheck of the 13th August 1981 from 0853-1330 on CRD featuring Dermot Finglas, Richard Kenny and Gavin Duffy. We thank Ian Biggar for his donation of the these recordings and will bring you more about this period of Boyneside and CRD in the coming week.
This is a feature programme about the first five-and-a-half years of the Radio Carousel network, broadcast in December 1983. It was compiled by Kieran Murray who was the first voice to be heard on the station on 20th May 1978. There are also interviews with station founder and owner Hugh Hardy, information about listenership surveys and extracts from shows featuring presenters such as Dave Scott (Joe Reilly), Mike Ahern (Richard McCullen) and Tina Anderson. Kieran describes the satellite stations in Navan, Drogheda and on the border and there are also extracts from news programmes and outside broadcasts. Hugh Hardy’s interview with BBC Radio Ulster following the 1983 raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio is included. The programme also includes a flavour of Radio Carousel Dundalk’s 5th birthday on 20th May 1983 and of Radio Carousel Navan’s 2nd birthday on 22nd October 1983.
Kieran Murray announces the programme as a two-hour special but this recording contains only one hour so is presumably an edited version. A full version of the station’s theme tune ‘Don’t stop the carousel’ by Roy Taylor and the Nevada is heard at the end. We thank Eddie Caffrey for donating the recording.
Full photo information
Back row: Richard Crowley, Kieran Murray, Shay Breslin, Ray Stone, Hugh Hardy, Dave Scott, Mike Ahern, Frank Mitchell.
Front row: Shane Mullen, Hugh Sands, Penny Palmer, Tony Farrelly.
Royal County Radio was set up in Navan, Co. Meath on the 8th of October 1982 and was a rival station to the popular Radio Carousel which broadcast from the town’s shopping centre. RCR was set up by ex-Carousel staff including the legendary Don Allen (RIP) who had worked on Radio Caroline North and Radio North Sea International. The station used the old Southside Radio transmitter from Dublin and moved around the medium wave band, starting on 254 metres (announcing 244 metres as in the flyer) then moving to 301 metres (999 kHz although they were slightly off-channel on 1000 kHz), before settling on 355 metres (846 kHz). An FM transmitter on 96.8 was added later. A report on an Irish tour by Anoraks UK in May 1984 describes RCR as going downhill as many presenters had left to join the new Cavan Community Radio, and the Navan station seems to have closed that summer.
This short recording is from 846 kHz and starts just before the midday news with Lynsey Shelbourne (Dolan). Don Allen’s voice can be heard on promos and presenting. We estimate the date as sometime in the spring of 1983, as Don left RCR to go to ERI in Cork in April. One of the best known voices on rural Irish pirate radio in the 1980s where he presented many country music shows, Don died in 1995. Thanks to Ian Biggar for his detective work which allowed us to piece together this information. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.
This is an aircheck of a full day’s broadcasting on Radio Carousel Navan on the 28th of April 1983. The station was one of four in the Radio Carousel network in Counties Louth and Meath and along the border which by 1982 was claiming to cover 30% of Ireland from Belfast to north Dublin. The recording begins at 8am and includes presenters Kieran Murray (who also does news), Tina Anderson, station boss Hugh Hardy on a relay from Dundalk, Mike Ahern (aka Richard McCullen), Robbie Byrne and Nick Butler. The studio was situated in a glass booth in the middle of Navan shopping centre, showing that the days of pirates hidden in sheds and attics were over.
Carousel began broadcasting from Dundalk on the 19th of May 1978 and gradually expanded throughout the region. A 1982 advertising brochure lists four stations in Dundalk (265 metres), Drogheda (215 metres), Navan (210 metres) and Newry (212 metres). There was also a short-lived station in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan. By April 1988 the Carousel network was being wound up by Hugh Hardy who moved into video production and promotion of live artists. Radio Carousel Navan was the last station on air, closing in June 1988. Hear a panel discussion on the Louth pirates here and the memories of former Carousel broadcaster Ian Biggar here.
Radio Carousel Navan announced 210 metres but in fact broadcast on 1386 kHz as well as 95.1 FM. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.