Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
The Radio Dublin transmitter at Christmas 1977 (photo courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

Radio Dublin was the only Irish station to ring in the New Year at midnight on Saturday 31st December 1977. The Evening Herald reported that RTÉ Radio had to scrap its planned New Year’s Eve special programme, to be presented by Pat Kenny, because of an industrial relations dispute. The state broadcaster would close down at 11.45pm, leaving the airwaves to Radio Dublin. This was an important period for the pirates as it marked the shift from hobby to full-time broadcasting. Radio Dublin stayed on air for 300 hours over the Christmas and New Year period 1977-1978 and began full-time daily broadcasting on 2nd January 1978.

This recording is of Radio Dublin staff saying farewell to 1977 and ringing in 1978. Running from 2312-0040, it features station owner Eamonn Cooke along with DJs John Paul, Shay West, DJ Sylvie, Mike Eastwood and James Dillon. There are plenty of requests from listeners and thanks to businesses for advertising with the station during the year. At midnight a recording of bells is almost scuppered by a faulty cassette tape. This is followed by the DJs singing Auld Land Syne and a message from the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Michael Collins. Eamonn Cooke urges listeners to lobby the government for a licence for Radio Dublin and also thanks Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) for relaying the broadcast on the shortwave frequency of Westside Radio International. This recording was made locally but there is some night-time co-channel interference and that characteristic Radio Dublin hum throughout. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation.

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
Early Radio Dublin letterhead (courtesy of Ian Biggar)

This was an important period for the pirates as it marked the shift from hobby to full-time broadcasting. Radio Dublin stayed on air for 300 hours over the Christmas and New Year period 1977-1978 and began full-time daily broadcasting on 2nd January 1978. However, the exuberance of New Year’s Eve did not last and in April James Dillon led a walk-out of most staff following allegations that Eamonn Cooke was involved in child abuse. Dillon formed a breakaway station, the Big D, which lasted until 1982. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following Cooke’s conviction for sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.

Sunday morning bandscan from 1982

Sunday morning bandscan from 1982
KISS FM car sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

This is a bandscan of Dublin radio by British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler during a visit to Dublin in 1982. It was made from about 0800-0930 on the morning of Sunday 12th September 1982 and features both AM and FM stations. The bandscan begins with Bryan Dobson reading the news on Radio Nova and is followed by the start of that day’s broadcasting on the brand new Nova offshoot KISS FM. Some of Nova’s main service on 88 FM is also heard. There are snippets of Boyneside Radio, Radio City and Radio Dublin, including a promo for the Lebanon Requests Show presented by DJ Angie. There’s also a short extract of ‘RTÉ Radio 1 on VHF’ and BBC Radio Scotland on FM as well as an unidentified English station on AM.

Sunday morning bandscan from 1982
Nova’s production studio in 1982 (courtesy of DX Archive).

The recording concludes with part of a Christian programme on Radio Nova called ‘Good News Tracks’, featuring religious music and reflections. Nova experimented with such specialist programmes in the early days, and Tipler’s documentary refers to another religious show on the station.

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

Marty Hall (Whelan) on Radio Dublin

Marty Hall (Whelan) on Radio Dublin
Early Radio Dublin masthead (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Marty Whelan was one of the many future RTÉ stars who would cut his broadcasting teeth in the late 1970s Dublin pirate scene. Here he is as Marty Hall presenting the Oldies Show on Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday, 26th March 1978 between 1200-1330.

The programme is interesting in how it uses advertising, as most commercials are read live by Marty. Businesses such as Windsor Rent-a-Car, the Dublin Bazaar, The Sportsman Inn in Mount Merrion and the Rosary Florist are promoted in this way and a segment of the show is sponsored by the Chariot Inn in Ranelagh. There are also letters from listeners with all sorts of requests including one reporting a broken television and another promoting a local sports club. Marty Hall would soon move on to the breakaway station Big D before joining the new RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979.

The recording is partially airchecked and was made by Eddie Caffrey in Co. Louth, so there is some interference in places. Thanks to Eddie and Ian Biggar for sharing with us.

Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday 1978

Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday 1978
Early Radio Dublin badge (Alan MacSiomoin collection).

Kieran Murray presented FRC (Free Radio Campaign) programmes on various pirates down the years, including in the early days of Radio Dublin as a full-time station. Here’s a recording of part of the FRC show presented by Kieran on Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday, 26th March 1978. This was just before the split that led to the breakaway station Big D. An ad is heard for FRC Ireland and its magazine Sounds Alternative, and new stations in Kildare and Galway are mentioned. There are also long lists of requests, reflecting the strong listenership enjoyed by Radio Dublin at the time.

The recording was made by Eddie Caffrey in Co. Louth, and there is some interference. Thanks to Eddie and Ian Biggar for sharing it with us.

Radio Dublin announces full-time broadcasting

Radio Dublin announces full-time broadcasting
Photo of Radio Dublin march from Sounds Alternative, February 1978 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Back when pirate stations were part-time hobbyists, Radio Dublin broke the mould on the 17th and 18th September 1977 when it broadcast non-stop for 36 hours. This was a key period in the development of the pirates as stations went full-time for the first time, with Radio Dublin pioneering round the clock broadcasting.

Over the Christmas and New Year period 1977/78, Radio Dublin broadcast continuously for 300 hours. According to Sounds Alternative magazine edited by Kieran Murray, it was the only station in Ireland to ring in the New Year, with the Lord Mayor of Dublin doing the honours. On Monday 2nd January 1978, the station announced that it would begin full-time daily broadcasting and unveiled a new schedule of DJs including Gerry Campbell, James Dillon, Sylvie, Mike Eastwood, Shay West, Dennis Murray and John Clarke.

This recording is of the last 40 minutes of Radio Dublin’s festive marathon from 0020-0100 on 2nd January. The presenter is unidentified but the voice of Shay West is heard with a message in basic French asking an overseas listener to phone home. The broadcast is closed by Radio Dublin’s owner Eamonn Cooke who announces that full-time programming will start later that morning at 8am. This recording was made in Leeds by Gary Hogg, so is very much DX reception, but it is an important piece of history as it marked the start of a new era in Irish radio history. Thanks to Ian Biggar for sharing it with us.

Radio Dublin announces full-time broadcasting
Early Radio Dublin letterhead (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The non-stop broadcasts attracted the attention of the authorities, and Radio Dublin was raided early on 17th January, only to return to the airwaves by midnight. On 21st January, a march in support of Radio Dublin was held in the city centre, attracting between 8,000-10,000 people, according to Sounds Alternative. The station’s aerial was cut down by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on 24th January but returned within a few weeks. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following the conviction of Eamonn Cooke for sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.