Into the early hours on South Coast Radio

Into the early hours on South Coast Radio
Steve Douglas in the South Coast studio in 1982 (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

Aged only 20 when he joined, Steve Douglas was South Coast’s youngest DJ, having started in Capital Radio Cork in May 1979 when still a teenager. He later presented on another Cork pirate, Radio City, and began working weekend shifts on South Coast in October 1982 before getting a regular daily slot.

This recording features Steve Douglas finishing off his evening show with a relaxed music mix. News at midnight is read by Andrew Hewkin and includes stories from Cork. Next up is popular South Coast DJ Nick Richards with Nightline into the early hours.

Into the early hours on South Coast Radio
Nick Richards in the South Coast newsroom in 1982 (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

The tape was recorded from 103.7 FM, announced as 104, from 2320-0054 on 11th and 12th May 1983. It is from the Anoraks Ireland Collection, donated to us by Paul Davidson. A week later the Irish radio world would be rocked by raids on high-profile Dublin stations Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio.

Summer 1986 on Cork’s WBEN

Summer 1986 on Cork's WBEN
WBEN sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

WBEN was a Cork station that broadcast under different names between October 1985 and December 1988. It was launched on the Cork Jazz Festival long weekend by Pete O’Neill and Romano Macari, both of who were involved in earlier Cork stations including Radio City and the original South Coast Radio. WBEN began on low power on FM only in the city centre but by summer 1986 had added an AM transmitter on 1386 kHz followed by high powered FM. Initially, WBEN specialised in mainly American Top 40 music and had no presenters but it later got rid of the automated style. Under Macari’s management, the format changed to mixed oldies, pop and showbands. WBEN was relaunched as South Coast Radio at the end of 1987 and continued under that name until December 31st 1988.

One of those involved in the station was former offshore DJ Nick Richards, who shares his memories of WBEN:

It was 1986 and I was preparing to return to the Ross Revenge when out of the blue I had two calls from Ireland, both from Cork as it happened.  The first call was to ask would I be interested in joining WKLR in Clonakilty and the other call was to ask if I might be interested in joining a new station about to launch in Cork City and called WBEN.

I briefly put off my trip back to the Caroline ship and and got a ferry over to Ireland. First I made my way to Clonakilty and WKLR. I met Dave Heffernan who was running WKLR, we had a long chat and I said that I’d get back to him and let him know. The following day I met Pete O’Neill in Cork city to see what his plans for WBEN were. I immediately liked what Pete had to say. He was planning an American sounding station which I agreed would do well. Pete also asked if I knew of anyone that might be interested in joining the station. I returned to Radio Caroline with a decision to make and the job of finding someone else that might head back to Ireland with me. Once back on board the Ross I knew who might be interested in working in Cork, so one evening I put the idea to Neil Frances, who was very interested. Once we had both left the ship, I contacted Pete O’Neill to say we would both be on our way in a week or so.

Pete met us at Cork Airport and took us into town and gave myself and Neil a great welcome which involved a tour of most of the bars in the city and then on to Co-Co’s nightclub. The following day it was down to work in the studios in Cook Street. Neil would be doing drivetime and I would do the afternoon show. The studios were well fitted out, the station jingles were from WBEN in Buffalo, New York but sounded good on what was a tight FM format. The summer was one of those that seemed to produce sunny day after sunny day.  Eamonn Kelly was another DJ on the station. He had come from Radio Nova in Dublin and was a very professional sounding presenter. 

Neil Prendeville was another local presenter on the station and a keen tennis fan.  Somehow we gained accreditation to have live comentary on the tennis games at Wimbledon and Neil was the obvious person to send over to London to capture all the action for our news bulletins and live updates. We had an outside broadcast booked on one of the weekends during Wimbledon, during which we planned to also broadcast Neil from Wimbledon.  For any station today, this would be relatively easy but for a small pirate station in Ireland at the time, this was quite a tricky thing to pull off.  It worked a treat, much of the technical side of things was down to the legendary Keith York (RIP) who just made things work.

A point came where the radio station took a dip in advertising and unknown to me at the time Neil Francis had applied to join a radio station in the UK, I told him that I was thinking along similar lines and had applied to join the new Radio HMV in the company’s flagship store on Oxford Street in London.  Needless to say we both left WBEN at the same time.

WBEN left its mark on Cork, it sounded so different to existing stations and I will always remember it fondly and the people I worked with while I was there.

The first recording above is of Nick Richards from 1525-1555 on Wednesday 25th June 1986. The recording below is of Neil Francis from 1822-1843 on the same date. Commercial breaks include promos urging ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes in the forthcoming divorce referendum.

Neil Francis show.

Both recordings were made from 98 MHz FM and are donated by Ian Biggar.

Nick Richards marks 100 shows on South Coast Radio

Nick Richards marks 100 shows on South Coast Radio
Nick Richards at South Coast Radio in December 1982 (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

This is a recording of the 100th programme presented by popular South Coast Radio DJ Nick Richards in August 1982. At this stage of South Coast’s run, Nick’s Nightline show was heard on the Cork station in the late evening and early hours. Nick mentions August 14th 1967, when offshore pirate radio ships were closed down under new UK legislation, and plays music to make the occasion.  

This partially airchecked recording begins just after midnight on Friday 13th August 1982 and is from 104 FM. Thanks to Lillian O’Donoghue for the donation.

Cork’s South Coast Radio Top 40

Cork's South Coast Radio Top 40
Pete O’Neill in the South Coast studio (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

In its first year on air, Cork’s popular new station South Coast Radio broadcast its own Top 40 on Saturday afternoons with a repeat on Tuesday nights. This show from Saturday 19th June 1982 is presented by Pete O’Neill, who is standing in for Mark Lawrence. The usual mix of local and agency adverts is heard throughout, evidence of South Coast’s growing success in the Cork radio market. The Top 40 is followed by the favourite records of the station’s DJs that week. There are no timechecks in the recording, presumably because it would be repeated. The final section below also contains snippets of Nick Richards, Tony Allan and Hugh Browne from what seem to be other editions of the Top 40 show.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4 and clips of other Top 40 shows

Audio quality is fair to good with some distortion in places. The recording was made from 104 FM and is courtesy of Lillian O’Donoghue.

Album tracks with Nick Richards on South Coast Radio

Album tracks with Nick Richards on South Coast Radio
Nick Richards in summer 1982 (courtesy Lillian O’Donoghue).

This is a recording of Nick Richards on South Coast Radio from the summer of 1982. Nick is sitting in for Keith York on his Saturday evening slot and plays tracks from the station’s albums of the week. South Coast was on the air for almost three months at this stage, so it is surprising that no adverts are broadcast, although a promo encouraging businesses to advertise is aired a few times.

The recording was made from 104 FM on 23rd May 1982 and runs from 1843-1928. Thanks to Ian Biggar for the donation.