Full recording: Radio Nova

Full recording: Radio Nova
Sybil Fennell, Declan Meehan and Bob Gallico when Nova closed down officially in May 1983 (photo courtesy of Joe King).

Radio Nova was renowned for many things including its powerful signal, slick formatting and innovative content. Another aspect which drew attention to the station and boosted its audience were the regular cash prizes which were occasionally very generous. On 30th August 1983, Nova gave away £6,000 in cash, a fortune in the cash-strapped times, to Dolores Carney from Trim in Co. Meath. This recording was made from 1857-1930 that evening and features part of the ‘Dublin Today’ talk programme which of course gives prominence to the giveaway, replaying the moment when Dolores heard that she had won and her subsequent interview with Declan Meehan.

The presenter is Sybil Fennell, one of the best known newsreaders on Nova and interestingly, the recording gives an example of how Nova sometimes split its service between AM and FM in order to maximise its audience. On this occasion, ‘Dublin Today’ was broadcast on 828 kHz AM only, while 88 FM carried a rock music show. It’s hard to believe that this was just five months after Nova was raided and shut down by the authorities but by August 1983, Ireland’s biggest pirate station was back with a vengeance.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)
Crowds at Herbert Street on the day of Radio Nova’s official closedown, 19 May 1983 (photo by Joe King).

In the final instalment of Part 3 of ‘The Irish Pirates’, Leon Tipler returns to Dublin. Volume 8 covers his visits to Sunshine and Radio Nova in September 1983 to get the views of the staff about the raids of the previous May which put both stations off the air temporarily. Tipler interviews Sybil Fennell, Chris Cary and Robbie Robinson and also features the iconic Nova closedown with Tony Allan at 6pm on the 19th of May 1983. He also recounts the horrified political reaction to Cary’s plans for Nova Television. This final episode ends with Tipler’s analysis of the political implications of the raids and changed attitudes to the pirates in their aftermath.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 8)
Equipment removed from Sunshine Radio, 19 May 1983, with RTÉ television crew filming (photo by Joe King).

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England. We will bring you more from this valuable collection over the coming weeks and months.

Index to Volume 8

00:00 Visit to Galway – no pirates on air
00:30 Visit to Sunshine Radio offices
01:15 Visit to Radio Nova
02:00 Interview with Sybil Fennell
04:30 Nova TV
08:10 Chris Cary on Nova in May 1983
09:40 RTÉ coverage of 1983 raid on Nova
10:40 Interview with Chris Cary about raids
15:50 Interview with Robbie Robinson about raids
17:55 Interview with Sybil Fennell about raids
18:20 Continuation of interview with Cary
20:20 Continuation of interview with Robinson
25:00 Sunshine closedown in 1983
27:40 Radio Nova closedown on 19.05.83
33:05 Interview with Sybil Fennell about closedown
33:50 Tony Allen closing Nova
42:00 Continuation of interview with Cary about closedown
46:00 Continuation of interview with Robinson about closedown
51:45 Return of Sunshine
55:00 Changed political response
55:45 Conclusion

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 3)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 3)
Some of the episodes of ‘The Irish Pirates’ as found in the Leon Tipler Collection (photo by Brian Greene).

Volumes 3 and 4 of Leon Tipler’s ‘The Irish Pirates’ make up Part 2 of the documentary. The third recording focuses mostly on Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova, the new superpirates which emerged in Dublin in the early 1980s. Tipler begins by visiting Sunshine Radio in 1981 and interviews its director Robbie Robinson. He tours the Sunshine studios in Portmarnock and hears its professional jingles produced by Alfasound. The documentary covers the controversy caused by politicians appearing on pirate radio and the coverage given by Sunshine to community events in its area. The episode also includes a feature on Community Radio Fingal in north Dublin in 1982. It ends with a visit to the Radio Nova studios at Herbert Street and a long interview with Nova boss Chris Cary.

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

Index of Volume 3

00:00 1981 visit to Sunshine
01.38 Interview with Robbie Robinson
07:06 Sunshine jingles
08:35 Visit to Sunshine studios
11:30 Establishment of Radio Nova
14:52 Irish Association of Independent Broadcasters
15:30 Controversy over politicians on pirate radio
18:15 Sunshine covering community events
24:40 1982 visit to Community Radio Fingal
33:15 Visit to Radio Nova in Herbert Street
34:15 Interview with John Clarke
40:55 KISS FM
43:09 Interview with Chris Cary

Full recording: Energy 103 (Dublin)

Full recording: Energy 103 (Dublin)
Energy 103 logo from Alan MacSimoin collection.

Energy 103 emerged from the ashes of Radio Nova on the 29th of April 1986 and broadcast until the 11th of March 1988, when it closed suddenly. Within hours its frequencies were taken over by Q102. This recording is from 1626-1713 on the 17th of July 1986 and features Gareth O’Callaghan on air. News is read by George Long (Henry O’Donovan) and is followed by the Listeners’ Top 10 at 5. The voice of Sybil Fennell is heard on an advertising promo for Energy. More Energy recordings and images/photos are available on DX Archive.

Full recording: Energy 103 (Dublin)
The Energy 103 offices and studios at 144 Upper Leeson Street are now a hair salon (photo by John Walsh).

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 Nova from 1985

Aircheck: Radio Nova from 1985
Jessie Brandon on offshore pirate Laser 558 in 1984. Courtesy offshoreradio.co.uk and Offshore Echoes magazine.

This is an aircheck of Radio Nova from September 29th 1985, featuring legendary American DJ Jessie Brandon who took up a job with the new offshore pirate Laser 558 in 1984. Jessie moved to Nova in October 1985 and was one of only a handful of female presenters on the commercial pirates of the era. In this recording she plays ‘the JAM song’, a selection of jingles made by JAM Creative Productions in Dallas, Texas whose clients included Radio Nova. There’s an interesting interview with Jessie in Charlie Connelly’s excellent book Last Train to Hilversum.

The recording also includes a promo for the new ‘Zoo Crew’, presented by Colm Hayes and Bob Gallico, a riotous breakfast show which ran from October 7th 1985 to January 24th 1986. Sybil Fennell is also heard on news but a bitter dispute between Nova and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) had resumed by this time and contributed to the demise of the station in March 1986.

According to Nova fan Kevin Branigan, September 1985 was a pivotal month for the station. At the start of the month, Nova was powerful and untouchable, was giving away £10,000 in cash, still running easy listening station Magic 103 and packing out club night Disco Nova. By the end of September Chris Cary had closed Magic 103, fired the journalists, the NUJ was back on strike and big name DJs were departing for other stations such as the rival Q102. Magic 103 transmitters and studio equipment were sold by Cary to Q102, allowing it to surround Nova on the FM Band and with the help of ex-Nova talent, move into the big league. It was the beginning of the end.

We thank Kevin Branigan and Ian Biggar for help with information and analysis.