Colm Hayes

K.E.L.O. RADIO April 15th 1981

From April 15th 1981 this is a recording of Colm Hayes on KELO, the north co Dublin pirate starting at 3.55pm. It was recorded off 1233kHz.

Courtesy of DX Archive

Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts in collaboration with Ian Biggar

Radio Nova

Radio Nova off 819kHz on January 25th 1984. Starting at 7.11am and running through to 1.15pm, this is a straight 6 hours recording featuring the iconic pairing of Declan Meehan & Bob Gallico, then Colm Hayes from 9am, followed by John Clarke from midday.

It is interesting to note that this recording was made in Leeds by Gary Hogg of DX Archive.

Radio Nova

From May 7th 1984 this is programming from Dublin station Radio Nova recorded off 88.2MHz. The four recordings span much of the day from early morning through late evening.

First, from 7am, Bob Gallico is reading the news leading into his shared programme with Declan Meehan.

Following them Colm Hayes is on air from 9am.

Later in the day we catch the last hour and 10 minutes of Greg Gaughran’s afternoon programme.

Then from 7pm the ever-popular Jason Maine takes over for the evening broadcast.

These Radio Nova recordings are courtesy of DX Archive

These recordings were made at a time when RTÉ were engaged in a jamming campaign against the Dublin superpirates Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio. Nova’s studios had been relocated to the transmitter site at Nova Park in Rathfarnham because the microwave links from the previous studio location at Herbert Street were being targetted. To make things more difficult for RTÉ, Radio Nova were also broadcasting on 102.7MHz (in addition to 88.2MHz) and had two MW transmitters in action as well on 729kHz and 819kHz. Nova sister station Kiss FM had been broadcasting on 102.7MHz but it had been closed in January as a result of the jamming.

RADIO NOVA (July 13th 1984)

From July 13th 1984, this is Declan Meehan’s last show for Dublin superpirate Radio Nova before departing for Capital Radio.

Recorded off 738kHz, we join the show at 8.10am. Bob Gallico reads the news and does his usual inserts. And there’s a short snippet of Colm Hayes, who follows at 9am.

RADIO NOVA July 19th 1984

The morning show from Dublin station Radio Nova with Colm Hayes and Bob Gallico on a day that Ireland shook – literally!

Bernadette Jameson:- I was amused to hear my voice in an ad break in that recording, advertising Paul Penders natural hair and skin care. Googled them, found they are still going, so I ordered stuff. Must be the longest reaction to a radio ad ever!

Radio Retro: archiving Irish radio broadcasts in collaboration with DX Archive

RADIO NOVA May 31st 1985

This is a recording of a Radio Nova outside broadcast from the Nutgrove Shopping Centre from May 31st 1985.

It features Greg Gaughran and Colm Hayes and it starts at 3.10pm.

This recording also features Mark Weller reading the news.

This Radio Nova recording is a Radio Retro original

RADIO NOVA (June 6th 1985)

Radio Nova's Funny Bubble Competition
Sunday World – Click to read

This is a recording of Radio Nova the Dublin superpirate, which starts at just before midnight on June 6th 1985.

It features the final of the Funny Bubble Competition (seen here in the Sunday World) live from Nova Park.

A whole host of Nova personalities – Tony Allan, John Clarke, Bob Gallico, Chris Cary & Colm Hayes – are involved as the winners are chosen.

Henry Owens plays the tunes back in the studio and Bernie Jameson reads the news.

This recording was made in the NW of England and conditions are variable for the duration.

This Radio Nova recording / image is with kind courtesy of Gary Hogg / DX Archive

Radio Nova

Christmas Eve morning with Radio Nova’s Zoo Crew from 1985. Colm Hayes, Bob Gallico and assorted guests keep the party flowing from 7.40am.

From one end of the day to the other as John O’Hara plays his last tune before handing over to Jessie Brandon just as the clocks strike midnight for Christmas Day – and All Night Nova.

CAPITAL RADIO July 20th 1989

This is a recording of the launch of Capital Radio, the first licensed independent commercial station in Ireland. The station came on air at 8am on July 20th 1989.

Still on air today as FM104, the Dublin station opened on July 20th 1989 at 8am with a ceremony from the city centre, followed by Colm Kayes on Breakfast.

Colm Hayes on Capital Radio

Launch and Colm Hayes (image)

Scott Williams from 10am

Launch of Capital Radio in July 1989
Launch of Capital Radio in July 1989

The difficult early days of Irish independent radio
IRISH TIMES July 18th 2014

Patsy McGarry: Twenty-five years ago, the State’s first independent radio station, Capital Radio, began broadcasting. I was there. It did not go smoothly

The first song played on independent radio in Ireland was Phil Lynott’s Old Town. I know, I was there, on the roof of St Stephen’s Green shopping centre in Dublin, where Ireland’s first independent station, Capital Radio, began broadcasting 25 years ago on July 20th, 1989.

It was launched at a breakfast at the Berkeley Court Hotel, attended by, among others, then minister for communications, Ray Burke, and Dublin’s lord mayor, Seán Haughey.

Burke’s appointment had been a huge relief to the hundreds involved in pirate radio, as it indicated the stalemate over legal independent radio was at an end. Long suffering had made a stone of many pirate hearts where the 1982-1987 coalition was concerned. Labour wanted independent radio to be under State control, which Fine Gael opposed.

I knew Burke from my days as head of news (1983-1987) at the pirate Sunshine Radio in Portmarnock, Co Dublin, his electoral terrain. I was also on a National Union of Journalists delegation that met him to discuss the introduction of independent radio. By then we at Sunshine’s “news corner” were members of the NUJ, and our news-gathering had for the previous four years been in line with the union’s code of conduct. I was also father of the NUJ chapel (shop steward) at Sunshine and got fired and reinstated three times in disputes over staff wages.

We were so poor. In February 1986, four of us, accompanied by Labour councillor Bernie Malone, met then tánaiste Dick Spring to plead the case for legal independent radio. Afterwards we invited Malone for coffee. We discovered that, between us four pirates, we hadn’t enough money to buy coffee for five. Malone paid, graciously, while we melted into our seats.

The last time I was fired, in 1987, I was reinstated on condition that I accepted voluntary redundancy. I accepted, being sick up and fed, to use a friend’s expression.

Before being head-hunted in 1989 to set up the newsroom at Capital (now FM104), I had freelanced for the Irish Press, the Sunday World and Magill magazine.

With the 1988 Broadcasting Act, Burke established the Independent Radio and Television Commission. All pirates had to be off air by midnight on new year’s eve 1988 or forfeit any chance of getting a licence. It worked.

Baulking at the costs

By February 1989 all independent radio licences had been allocated. That was followed by a pause as new licencees baulked at the costs involved, particularly where news was concerned. The legislation demanded 20 per cent airtime for news and current affairs, almost five hours a day. The pause became a vacuum. Pirates abhor a vacuum, and so they emerged again.

The government was anxious to get new stations on air. An agreement was reached between the IRTC and Capital to allow the station a derogation of one month from fulfilling the 20 per cent news requirement over the 24 hours, but it would meet it between 7am and 7pm. IRTC thinking was “get one station on air and the rest will follow”. It proved correct.

So there we were that bright, blue Thursday morning on the roof of St Stephen’s Green shopping centre, the city below us glittering in the smokeless air as Phil Lynott sang of his broken heart “in the old town”. Bliss was it to be alive.

It passed. There were four of us in the newsroom and two part-timers, mostly ex-Sunshine. We were determined to emphasise Dublin news. But it was July 20th, silly season, with nothing happening. We needed a strong Dublin story to start. There was none. Soon we were desperate.

Then someone spotted the front page of that day’s Irish Independent. It had a report by Brian Dowling about calls for an inquiry into planning corruption in Dublin. Eureka. I was familiar with the story, having reported on it for the Irish Press and Sunday World.

Further problems. Party spokespeople were on holidays. We were at the end of our tether when Eamon Gilmore, Workers’ Party spokesman on the environment, answered the phone. He was in blistering form. It did not escape us that the first politician we put on air on independent radio in Ireland was a member of the only political party that had completely shunned us throughout our pirate days. Needs must. It would have more serious implications.

After the Berkeley Court breakfast, Burke and Capital director Mike Hogan arrived at our Portakabins. Hogan was whey-faced. He took me aside and asked, “What the f*** is going on here?” They had heard the news en route in the ministerial car and, apparently, the minister was not happy about our story regarding planning corruption in Dublin.

But as he greeted colleagues in our news Portakabin, he was charming. He asked for a word with me. We stepped outside, where he announced with heat: “Don’t you know that one of the reasons we are setting up these stations is because of those f***ers?”

I didn’t, but I knew what he was talking about. The disproportionate influence of the Workers’ Party in RTÉ was common knowledge. I had a choice: to drop the Dublin story or allow it a normal news life. It wasn’t really a choice, however: the idea that the first news story on the first news bulletin of the first independent radio station in Ireland would be dropped because it upset a minister was unthinkable. It was a case of continue and be damned. We were.

‘Totally illegal’

Prior to our going on air, there had been much interest in other media about how we would meet the 20 per cent news requirement. In this newspaper on July 12th, I explained we were being allowed a derogation for a month.

Interviewed on RTÉ Radio One after he had left us that morning, Burke was appalled. “It would be totally illegal for the IRTC to give such a derogation,” he said. Consternation once again at Capital.

Our immediate problem was how to fill that requirement for July 20th itself. We did so by three of us sitting around a microphone that night for 2½ hours talking about radio. A few weeks later, at a press conference to launch Century Radio, I interviewed Burke again.

Afterwards he said to me “I was listening to you guys that night,” referring to our marathon chat-in of July 20th. He appeared to be smiling.


Until July 20th, 1989, the only legal radio in Ireland was controlled by RTÉ. However, a plethora of pirate stations came on air in the late 1970s and early 1980s and soon attracted loyal listeners. By the late 1980s there were an estimated 74 of these in the State.

In Dublin they included Radio Galaxy, Radio Dublin, Ard, Big D, Southside Radio, Radio Leinster, Radio City, and TTTR. There was ERI and South Coast Radio in Cork and Radio Carousel in Dundalk. In fact, there was hardly an urban centre in Ireland that didn’t have a pirate station.

The arrival in Dublin in the early 1980s of “super-pirates” Sunshine and Nova brought the issue of independent radio to a head. They had powerful FM transmitters and advertisers liked their “clutter-free” format. They were hugely popular with young people. The demand was evident.

By the end of February 1989, the Independent Radio and Television Commission had awarded 25 local radio licences and one national licence.

Capital Radio station page

Radio Retro: archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002
Capital Radio recordings courtesy of Rodney Neill


The Strawberry Alarm Clock with Colm and Jim-Jim from 6.40am on December 23rd 2004. This recording is off 104.4MHz in Dublin.


The Strawberry Alarm Clock with Colm and Jim-Jim from 6.30am on December 24th 2004. This recording is off 104.4MHz in Dublin.

2FM March 28th 2009

RTÉ’s national pop station from March 28th 2009 in a recording which starts at 9am featuring The Best of Colm & Jim Jim.

If you have any old cassettes or digitised recordings that we can add here, please get in touch – or use wetransfer to the same address.

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