Feature: Radio Carousel history

Feature: Radio Carousel history
Radio Carousel staff in 1981. Information below (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

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.

Feature: Radio Carousel history
Kieran Murray in the original Radio Carousel studio in 1978 (photo courtesy of Eddie Caffrey).

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.

Aircheck: Royal County Radio (Navan)

Aircheck: Royal County Radio (Navan)
Early flyer for RCR courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

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.

Aircheck: Radio Carousel (Navan)

Aircheck: Radio Carousel (Navan)
Image courtesy of Ian Biggar

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.

Aircheck: Radio Carousel (Navan)
Image courtesy of Ian Biggar.

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.