Heartbeat Radio was an ’80s pirate, a ’90s pirate, a 00s temporary licensed, and is still online to this day.
Heartbeat Radio launched with test broadcasts to Dublin in November 1986 on 95.5MHz. The ‘Love Songs’ station celebrated by giving away champagne and roses. It officially launched on St Valentine’s Day 1987 with the announcement:- “On 95.5FM, this is Heartbeat at 12 midday “.
Founded by Tony O’Hara Heartbeat was three years in the planning – basically since the station he previously worked for (Radio City) went off the air due to a fire at their studios.
Early presenters included Tony himself, David Baker, Bernard Evans, John Keogh and Seán Ferguson. They were later joined by (amongst others) Mike Williams, Maurice Nevin, Donna Stewart, Tracey Evans, Gerry Clancy, Bobby Howard, Trevor Leonard, Ian Turner and Chris Martin.
In 1987 Laurence John, formerly of Radio Nova and Q102, was hired as the station’s programme controller and made major changes, including a full studio rebuild and a transmitter site upgrade. The station name was also eventually changed to Cara 95 with new jingles announcing “Cara 95 FM – The Heartbeat of Dublin City” and “Cara 95FM – Dublin’s Good Music Station”.
Ironically, the changes proved how popular Heartbeat had become. Listeners and advertisers rejected the new station, which had also introduced a new music schedule and news service, and behind the scenes arguments were affecting staff morale.
After just one month, and heading in to 1988, Cara 95 reverted back to Heartbeat and Laurence John departed.
Heartbeat FM closed at the end of December 1988 due to new legislation and intended to apply for one of the new commercial licences. They were unsuccessful.