Dublin

EAST COAST RADIO January 30th 1979

This is a recording of Jimmy Swaines on the Dublin pirate station East Coast Radio off 1149kHz. It was made on January 30th 1979 at 8pm.
Personnel behind this station went on to form Downtown Radio, which was the forerunner of Radio City.

Adrian Horsman:
My very first radio show was on East Coast Radio (260m) in mid-February 1979. From 4am to 5am on Sunday mornings — but it was the break I needed!!
The studio was in an abandoned office in a carpet factory somewhere in west/south-west Dublin. I was there for a few weeks into March 1979 — but it moved on after Easter that year.
Later in the year I joined what was now Radio City in Capel Street (I think Tuesday and Friday nights 10pm- midnight) and then an 8am news bulletin as well — first time ever reading the news; another important break.
At about the same time I joined Capitol on Bachelor’s Walk doing their 1pm & 6pm news bulletins. Radio City dropped me when they found out I was doing the double. But at least Capitol paid my expenses…!
The Radio City 260m MW signal was very “dirty” compared to most other stations of the day. You could pick up City on all sorts of frequencies right into Long Wave within a mile or two of the Capel Street transmitter — in other words, most of Dublin city centre.

East Coast Radio station page


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


BIG D July 29th 1979

From July 29th 1979 this is a Sunday morning on Big D, the Dublin pirate radio station.

On air for the early shift is Michael Oliver.

Big D Radio from Dublin

Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


RADIO DUBLIN July 29th 1979

From July 29th 1979 this is a Sunday morning on the pirate station Radio Dublin.


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


CAPITOL RADIO July 29th 1979

This is a recording of Chris Barry on the Dublin station Capitol Radio from July 29th 1979.


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


ARD July 29th 1979

From July 29th 1979 this is a Sunday afternoon on the Dublin pirate radio station ARD.

First up is Stephen Rhodes with his weekly chart countdown.
He is followed by Ian Dempsey.


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


RADIO DUBLIN January 7th 1980

From January 7th 1980 this is a recording of Radio Dublin with DJ Lee on the air from 10am.


Radio Retro: archiving Irish radio broadcasts in collaboration with Ian Biggar


SOUTHSIDE RADIO May 11th 1980

This is a recording of Southside Radio from Dublin on 999kHz, dated May 11th 1980. Mark Boland is on air starting at 2.50pm.


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


SOUTHSIDE RADIO July 23rd 1980

This is a recording of Southside Radio from Dublin on 999kHz, dated July 23rd 1980. Mark Boland is on air starting at 7.21pm.


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


RADIO 257 March 25th 1981

This is a recording of Radio 257 from March 25th 1981 with Tony King on the air from 6pm.


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


RADIO 257 March 26th 1981

From March 26th 1981 this is David Lyons on air for Radio 257 from 3pm.


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


RADIO NOVA July 30th 1981

An early recording of Radio Nova, Dublin’s best-known station. Mike Edgar is on air on July 30th 1981 from 3.30pm with Peter Madison reading the news.

RADIO NOVA August 13th 1981

Radio Nova from August 1981 with Jason Maine on air and Peter Madison reading the news. This recording, off 88.2MHz, starts at 5.38pm.

RADIO NOVA (July 14th 1984)

Lawrence John on the early Saturday morning shift for Radio Nova. The date for this 6am recording is July 14th 1984.

DUBLIN’S AM NUMBER 1 January 27th 1985

This is a short clip of the city-centre-based station Dublin’s AM Number 1 from the afternoon of January 27th 1985. It is recorded off 963kHz and although the quality isn’t great, it’s worth a listen. Brian Kelly is the presenter.


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


ECHO COMMUNITY RADIO July 2nd 1985

Echo Community Radio

This is Tony Lewis on ‘The Workers’ Playtime’, the mid-morning show on Echo Community Radio, the west Dublin-based station, in July 1985.


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002
This recording has been added to our archive with thanks to Ciarán Brannelly


MAGIC 103 July 22nd 1985

Featuring a pair of mid-morning presenters conjuring up some very enjoyable radio, this is a recording of the Radio Nova spin-off station Magic 103 with the indisputable and much-missed talents of Peter Madison and Bob Gallico. The date is July 22nd 1985 and the tape started rolling at 10am.

Magic 103

Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


MAGIC 103 July 31st 1985

From July 31st 1985 this is a recording of Sybil Fennell on the Dublin station Magic 103, from the Chris Cary stable.

Magic 103, easy listening for Dublin

The recording off 103.5MHz starts from the end of the 6pm News. Then, following an hour of easy listening music, the main News with Dave Johnson and Mark Weller is at 7pm before Sybil launches ‘The Classical Hour’.

Magic 103 station page


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts in collaboration with Gary Hogg


ENERGY 103 May 6th 1986

This is a recording of Tony McKenzie on Dublin’s Energy 103 from May 6th 1986 at 6.40pm.


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002
Photo credit Mike Mahon


Q102 July 21st 1986

This is Dublin pirate Q102 from July 21st 1986. Al Dunne is on air from 2.31pm.

Q102 station page


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


ENERGY 103 July 21st 1986

This is a recording of Gareth O’Callaghan with The Energy Cruise on Energy 103 from July 21st 1986.

Energy 103 station page


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


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.

FLYING THE JOLLY ROGERPIRATES OF THE AIRWAVES 

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


CAPITAL RADIO July 22nd 1989

This is a recording of John O’Hara from 6pm on day three on air for Capital Radio, the first licensed independent commercial station in Ireland.

Still on air today as FM104, the Dublin station opened on July 20th 1989.

Capital Radio station page


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


CAPITAL RADIO July 23rd 1989

This is a recording of Jason Maine from 11pm on day four on air for Capital Radio, the first licensed independent commercial station in Ireland.

Still on air today as FM104, the Dublin station opened on July 20th 1989.

Capital Radio station page


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


CAPITAL RADIO July 25th 1989

Capital Radio Dublin

This is a recording of Gerry Stevens from 10.13pm on day six on the air for Capital Radio in Dublin, the first licensed independent commercial station in Ireland.

Still on air today as FM104, the Dublin station opened on July 20th 1989.

Capital Radio station page


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


CAPITAL RADIO July 29th 1989

Capital Radio Dublin

This is a recording of Weekend Breakfast with Ross Allen from 7.32am on day ten on the air for Capital Radio in Dublin, the first licensed independent commercial station in Ireland.

Still on air today as FM104, the Dublin station opened on July 20th 1989.

Capital Radio station page


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


CAPITAL RADIO July 30th 1989

Capital Radio Dublin

This is a recording of Scott Williams on Bee Bop Sunday on day eleven on the air for Capital Radio in Dublin, the first licensed independent commercial station in Ireland.

Still on air today as FM104, the Dublin station opened on July 20th 1989.

Capital Radio station page


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


CAPITAL RADIO August 1st 1989

Capital Radio Dublin

This is a recording of Liam Coburn in the early hours of day thirteen on the air for Capital Radio in Dublin, the first licensed independent commercial station in Ireland.

Still on air today as FM104, the Dublin station opened on July 20th 1989.

Capital Radio station page


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


COAST FM July 24th 1994

This is a recording of Dublin station Coast FM from July 24th 1994.
Taken off 105.3MHz, Pete Reed is on the air with some Classic Gold hits from 10.40pm

ABC 94FM July 8th 2000

Steve Conway presents ‘North Sea Gold’ for the Dublin pirate in July 2000. The recording starts at 10.15pm.

Premier FM

The full day’s live programming from the last day of Premier FM’s first temporary licence run on 94.9MHz in Dublin. The classic oldies station went live at 8am and signed off at midnight on December 19th 2004.

Derek Jones on air from 8am

Mike Doyle on air from 11am

Stereo Steve, with Avril Keogh, on air from 2pm

Mike Eastwood on air from 5pm

Steven Davitt on air from 7pm

Greg Townsend on air with The Punk Show from 8pm

Ray O’Hara on air with The Rock Show from 9pm

Greg Townsend, with all of the presenters, on air with the final show from 10pm

KISS 103 July 27th 1994

This is a recording of Dublin station Kiss 103 from the afternoon of July 27th 1994.


Radio Retro – archiving Irish Radio broadcasts since 2002


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

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