Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) was one of the pioneers of community radio in Ireland, broadcasting for almost a decade from 1979 until the end of 1988. It was a leading member of the National Association of Community Broadcasters (NACB) which at its height involved eleven stations around the country all committed to a community model of radio inspired by AMARC principles.
BLB broadcast on 837 and then 828 kHz in its early days but the arrival of Radio Nova on high power in that part of the band in 1981 caused it to move down to 657 kHz. In later years the FM signal on 97.8 MHz got good coverage into Dublin from its high site in Bray. However, in March 1988 Breffni Regional Radio in Co. Cavan moved onto 657 kHz, prompting a complaint from BLB. Such was the world of unregulated pirate radio where competition for suitable frequencies was fierce.
This is an airchecked recording of part of the East Coast Top 40 from BLB in May 1988. The presenter is Timmy Hannigan and the show is produced by Elaine Keogh. Despite the co-channel interference from Breffni Radio underneath, there’s a tight and punchy feel to the programme and it is a good example of how professional BLB could sound. Among the voices heard on ads and promos are BLB manager Adrian Kennedy and afternoon presenter Daphne Mitchell who worked on other stations such as Radio Leinster. There’s also a promo for the ‘new look BLB’ giving a flavour of the variety of programming heard on this innovative station.
The East Coast Top 40 was compiled from record sales in shops from Dundalk to Wicklow and aired every Saturday from 1-4pm on BLB. Timmy Hannigan became a leading name in Irish DJ and electronic music culture using the name Mr Spring. Elaine Keogh went on to work in licensed local radio and is now a freelance journalist. Many of those involved in BLB worked in the short-lived licensed station Horizon Radio in Bray from 1989. By 1992, Horizon had merged with the south Wicklow station Easy 103. The station eventually became East Coast FM which holds the country licence today.
We thank Barry Dunne for his donation of this recording.
Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) was one of the pioneers in local community broadcasting during the pirate era and was a leading member of the National Association of Community Broadcasters (NACB) which lobbied for licensed community radio. It began broadcasting in 1979 and continued until the closedowns at the end of 1988, making it one of the country’s longest-running pirate stations.
As a community station, BLB prided itself on catering for minority groups and audiences served poorly by mainstream radio, including Irish speakers in its catchment area of north Wicklow and south Dublin. Irish was marginal on pirate radio, particularly among commercial stations, but community radio across the country regularly broadcast programmes in Irish. There were also Irish language pirate stations such as Saor-Raidió Chonamara in the Connemara Gaeltacht in 1970 (which led to the establishment of Raidió na Gaeltachta) and Raidió an Phobail in Dublin in 1979.
Mar stáisiún pobail, chuir BLB roimhe freastal ar ghrúpaí mionlaigh agus daoine nach raibh freastal mar is ceart á dhéanamh orthu ag na stáisiúin mhóra raidió, ina measc cainteoirí Gaeilge i dtuaisceart Chill Mhantáin agus deisceart Bhaile Átha Cliath. Bhí an Ghaeilge imeallach ar an raidió bradach, go háirithe ar na stáisiúin tráchtála, ach craoladh cláracha Gaeilge ar stáisiúin raidió pobail ar fud na tíre. Bhí stáisiúin bhradacha Ghaeilge ann chomh maith, ina measc Saor-Raidió Chonamara i nGaeltacht Chonamara in 1970 (a thug ann do Raidió na Gaeltachta) agus Raidió an Phobail i mBaile Átha Cliath in 1979.
This is an extract from the final half hour (2030-2100) of one of BLB’s Irish language programmes Timchuairt Bhré (a trip around Bray), presented by Rónán Ó Dubhthaigh on 9th November 1983. Rónán went on to present Irish language programmes on the successor licensed station to BLB, Horizon Radio. John Walsh of Pirate.ie also worked on those programmes. The recording features Irish traditional and folk music and is followed by the station closedown at 2100.
Seo í an leathuair an chloig deireanach (2030-2100) de cheann de chláracha Gaeilge BLB, Timchuairt Bhré, á chur i láthair ag Rónán Ó Dubhthaigh ar 9 Samhain 1983. Lean Rónán air ag cur cláracha Gaeilge i láthair ar Horizon Radio, an stáisiún ceadúnaithe a tháinig i gcomharbacht ar BLB. D’oibrigh John Walsh ó Pirate.ie ar na cláracha sin chomh maith. Ar an taifeadadh seo, cloistear ceol Gaelach agus traidisiúnta agus ina dhiaidh sin dúntar an stáisiún ar 2100.
This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.