Big D and Radio Dublin from 1978

Big D and Radio Dublin from 1978
Big D sticker (courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

This is a recording of part of a bandscan of stations from Dublin as heard on Sunday, 23rd April 1978 in Drogheda, Co. Louth. It includes Davitt Kelly (RIP) presenting ‘The Soul Service’ on the Big D, followed by John Paul and part of the sponsored Chariot Inn programme. The recording ends with DJs Johnny Casey and Pat Stewart on Radio Dublin, who announce the address of 3, Sarsfield Road, Dublin 10 for letters.

Big D and Radio Dublin from 1978
Big D sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

Big D was formed as a result of a staff mutiny at Radio Dublin in April 1978 and there was great rivalry between both stations. This bandscan, which also includes snippets of British stations heard on the east coast, gives a great sense of the AM radio scene at the time. We thank Eddie Caffrey for his donation.

Interview with Aidan Cooney

Interview with Aidan Cooney
Aidan Cooney as pictured in the Sunshine Radio Review from 1985 (courtesy of DX Archive).

Aidan Cooney is another well-known broadcaster who spent many years in the pirates up to 1989. In this interview, he recalls his earliest memories of and involvement with the 1970s Dublin pirates. ‘Aidan Jay’, as he was known, started his broadcasting career with ARD and Radio Dublin from 1978 when he was just 16 and still at school. Other pirates where he worked in the 1980s included Radio Leinster, Sunshine Radio and Treble TR.

Since the licensing of the independent sector in 1989, Aidan has been a familiar name on commercial radio and television and is currently a presenter on Dublin’s Q102.

Interview with Aidan Cooney
ARD at the Crofton Hotel, L-R: listener, Bryan Lambert, Mike Maloney (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

This interview was conducted by Dave Daly in 2017. We thank Dave for his donation to the archive.

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingles (update)

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingles (update)
Original demo tape box for Big D jingles (courtesy of Kieran Murray).

A few weeks ago, we featured the first Radio Dublin jingle package courtesy of Kieran Murray. Kieran has been researching the background to this package and has sent us the following report.

Radio Dublin was the very first pirate radio station in Ireland to play jingles. I heard these myself at the time. The jingles played on air referred to ‘WDEE – The Big D’. At that time, Radio Dublin used the tag line ‘The Big D’. So, having managed to locate my copy the Radio Dublin Jingles (The Big D) from the early 1970s, I set about trying to locate the original master recordings – the source of these iconic jingles – and also to find out a bit more about their origin and where they came from.

My search took me to jingle expert Norman Barrington. I downloaded his jingle database and set about searching for a radio station that used the call-sign ‘WDEE’ (you can hear this clearly on those jingles used by Radio Dublin in the early 1970s). Within a short time, I identified a set of jingles with just one listing on the jingle database matching ‘WDEE’. It transpires that a jingle company called SPOT Productions (located in Fort Worth, Texas, USA) was one of many jingle companies around that time that used to send out 5″ demo tape reels to various radio stations, touting for (jingle) business.

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingles (update)
Image from Radio Dublin history published in 1972 with Big D tagline (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The reels were generally recorded in mono, as they were only intended as a demo and also because most broadcast stations in the USA at that time were on AM. SPOT may have sent this particular ‘WDEE’ jingle demo to lots of radio stations and it is not even certain that WDEE-AM 1500 (a country music station in Detroit, USA, from 1969 to 1980) ever received a copy of this demo or even ordered a jingle package from SPOT.

Thanks to Bryan Lambert, I can now reveal what happened that 5″ jingle tape reel. He takes up the story:

‘It was Mark T. (Mark Story) who gave that tape reel to me as a present several years ago. The reel travelled to Wexford with me between 1992 and 2001 where I transferred it to cassette. The reel remained in the filing cabinet I used at South East Radio with my carts and some other tapes. I’m sorry to say I left all of these behind me so they were all probably thrown out after I went home to Dublin when my father became ill in 2001’.

So, now you know what happened to that jingle tape reel. However, the mystery continues. How did that 5″ demo tape reel from SPOT Productions, manage to make its way over to Ireland? Who brought this reel over? How come Radio Dublin chose to use this tape as their jingle ID? Plus … how did Mark T. (Mark Story) get possession of this demo tape reel?


Kieran Murray (April 2021)


Photo – SPOT Productions original demo tape box:

Jingle Master Copy, WDEE Jingles Demo:

History of WDEE:

Aircheck of WDEE-AM 1500  (1971, Tom Dean): (you can hear the Big D jingles being used here).

Pirate Pioneers: trouble brews for Dublin pirate radio in 1972

Pirate Pioneers: trouble brews for Dublin pirate radio in 1972
Radio Dublin QSL sent to Carlow in 1974 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Following a brief period as Static Radio on 225 metres in late 1971 or early 1972, Radio Dublin re-established itself as a regular weekend broadcaster. Broadcasts resumed on 253 metres (1183 kHz) with a power of 50 watts fed into a V-antenna. At this point the station was located in Roger Lloyd’s flat in Crumlin. They were very pleased to get a reception report from a listener in Cheshire for a normal Sunday lunchtime broadcast.

Regular broadcasts were made every Sunday from noon until 2pm with Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) and Mark T. (Mark Story) each doing an hour. The station served the young people of Dublin who had a penchant for heavier music. However, in the latter part of 1972 trouble first appeared on the horizon for the Dublin free radio stations. A white Volkswagen tracker car was spotted in the vicinity of Radio Galaxy, with the operator Tony Boylan quickly informing the other pirates in the city. The car, along with another, duly turned up in the area fairly close to Radio Dublin, which was forced to abruptly terminate its broadcasts one Sunday.

As a result, the operators of Radio Dublin decided to suspend transmissions on medium wave, with a plan to move to short wave which attracted less attention from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Reluctantly Radio Dublin made its final broadcast for the time being in October 1972, a wise move considering the raid that followed on Radio Milinda just a few weeks later. We will cover the Milinda story in another post.

This recording, which was supplied by Roger Lloyd, features Prince Terry and Mark T. with their goodbye shows. The American jingle package of WDEE ‘the Big D’ is heard throughout. There is also a taped appearance at the end of the transmission from Ken Edwards (Sheehan), the founder of Radio Dublin. We thank Ian Biggar for the text and for sharing this rare recording.

Pirate Pioneers: trouble brews for Dublin pirate radio in 1972
Radio Dublin QSL sent to Hertfordshire in 1974 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Radio Dublin did make some transmissions on shortwave in 1973 and 1974 as the QSL received by Mike Barraclough in Herfordshire shows, as well as sporadic transmissions on 253 metres as illustrated by the QSL received by John Dowling in Carlow.

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingle package

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingle package
Early Radio Dublin masthead (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

In our ongoing series about the pirate pioneers of the late 1960s and early 1970s, here’s a real piece of radio gold: a jingle package used in the early days of Radio Dublin. In the early 1970s Radio Dublin used the tag line ‘the Big D’, which can be heard in these jingles. The set may be originally from WDEE, a US country music station on air around this time as that callsign can be heard in some of the cuts.

These jingles pre-date the pirate named Big D, which was set up after a split in Radio Dublin in 1978 and went on to be a successful station in its own right. Many thanks to Kieran Murray for his donation of this valuable recording, which was taken from a 5-inch reel tape machine.