Tony Christie on Radio Dublin

Tony Christie on Radio Dublin
Radio Dublin car sticker from the mid-1980s (courtesy of DX Archive).

Tony Christie was a familiar voice on many pirates in the 1980s including Liberty 104, Radio Dublin and KISS FM in Co. Offaly to where he moved in 1987. Here he is on Radio Dublin from 105 FM on Sunday 24th August 1986 from 1512-1600 with a show sponsored by the No Name Fashion Depot in Walkinstown. Along with regular live promos for No Name, the voices of Robbie Robinson and Tony Allan can be heard on ads. Tony Christie is now a broadcaster on Midlands 103.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International was a shortwave station broadcasting from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Peter Madison and Tony Allan on Sunshine Radio

Peter Madison and Tony Allan on Sunshine Radio
Early Sunshine sticker (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Sunshine Radio was the first Dublin station to earn the label of ‘super-pirate’ when it launched in September 1980. With massive investment, professional equipment and a powerful transmitter, it shook up the Dublin radio market and the pirate scene would never be the same again.

Peter Madison and Tony Allan on Sunshine Radio
Peter Madison on Radio Nova (photo courtesy of DX Archive).

Peter Madison (RIP) was another talented broadcaster who joined Sunshine in the early days and would later broadcast on other pirates such as Boyneside Radio and Radio Nova. He is heard here at the end of his shift from 1442-1500 on Sunday 19th October 1980 and is then followed by another broadcasting giant, Tony Allan (RIP) from 1500-1525.

Peter Madison and Tony Allan on Sunshine Radio
The original Sunshine studio in 1981 (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The short recording below is of Peter Madison a few days earlier, 16th October 1980, from 1206-1227. Quality is poor due to electrical interference but Peter can be heard telling listeners that he has cycled 10 miles to the studio in Portmarnock!

These recordings from 531 kHz AM were made in Ayrshire, Scotland by Ken Baird. We thank Ian Biggar for sharing them with us.

Tony Allan in the early days of Sunshine Radio

Tony Allan in the early days of Sunshine Radio
Tony Allan at Radio Nova’s official closedown in May 1983 (photo courtesy of Joe King).

Tony Allan (1949-2004) was one of the best-known voices of Irish pirate radio in the decade from 1978-1988 and among the finest broadcasters of his generation. Heard originally on British offshore stations such as Radio Caroline in the 1970s, he did voice-overs, jingles and presentation on many Irish pirates. Tony was among those who joined Sunshine Radio when it went on the air in September 1980 and stayed with the station for the first few months doing commercials and presenting programmes. He left in January 1981 and would later be heard regularly on Sunshine’s great rival, Radio Nova.

Tony Allan in the early days of Sunshine Radio
The original Sunshine studio at the Sands Hotel, Portmarnock in 1981 (photo courtesy of Ian Biggar).

This is a recording of Tony on Sunshine on Saturday 18th October 1980, as heard on 531 kHz AM in Ayrshire in Scotland by Ken Baird. It runs from 1501-1608 and again from 1647-1704. Although there is co-channel interference due to the time of year and the Swiss station underneath, it is quite listenable and Tony’s unique style shines through the ether. The voice of Sunshine boss Robbie Robinson (Dale) can be heard on some of the ads.

We thank Ian Biggar for sharing this valuable recording with us.

Full recording: Radio West (Mullingar)

Full recording: Radio West (Mullingar)
Radio West compliments slip, courtesy of DX Archive.

Radio West was one of the large regional stations of the pirate era and even renamed itself ‘West National Radio 3’ in 1988 as it claimed to be broadcasting nationwide. Its 10kW transmitter on 765 kHz (later 702) gave it good coverage over a wide area and an infill AM on 711 kW was added for Galway in 1988. Radio West also had a chain of low-powered FM relays from Dublin to Galway but it was stretching the imagination to claim national coverage.

This recording is of the end of the Mike Young breakfast show from 0918-1003 on 2nd February 1984, recorded from 765 kHz in Dublin. There is some electrical interference with audio dropout from time to time and there seems to be some drift off channel by the end of the recording. Ads are heard from across the midland counties, some of which feature the voice of station owner Shaun Coyne. Idents are voiced by Tony Allan and interestingly the 10.00 news is a relay of Bob Gallico on Radio Nova in Dublin. We don’t know if there was ever a formal agreement with Nova to rebroadcast its news or if this is an example of piracy by one pirate from another – smaller stations were known to relay news from bigger stations and Radio Dublin infamously rebroadcast bulletins from RTÉ for a time.

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