ABC Radio Dublin (The Alternative Broadcasting Channel) went to air with test transmissions at 9am on November 1st 1981. Broadcasting on 217metres (1385kHz), the studio was located in The Ivy Rooms in Dublin’s city centre.
The station was launched by a group of four former Radio Dublin Channel 2 presenters who had grown disillusioned with the second channel’s status in relation to the main channel and who had departed from Radio Dublin in June 1981.
Involved in the launch of the station were Bernie Carroll, Mike Doyle, Vincent Hughes & Ray Jackson.
The first studio consisted of a set of disco decks, a tape deck and microphone. The transmitter was situated in the cellar of the hotel with the aerial running up the front of the building, suspended at fifteen feet above the roof and running near 100 feet down the block.
Graham Talbot and Richie Dee joined the station at launch and programming ran from 7.30pm – 11pm weekdays and 3pm – 11pm at weekends.
In early 1982 ABC moved to 1359khz due to interference from another station – they continued to announce the original frequency.
At this stage broadcasting hours had been extended to 3pm – 11pm weekdays and midday to 11pm at weekends.
With the improvement in reception further interference problems arose with Manx Radio which operated on 1368kHz. The station had moved to new improved studios in the hotel by this time.
At the end of April 1982, ABC moved frequency again, this time to 963kHz (312m). Interference problems were no more and the studio was once again revamped with new record decks and other equipment was installed.
In July 1982 broadcasting hours were once again extended, this time to 9am – 11pm daily. Mark Ryan became the station manager and further modifications were made to the transmitter which gave increased coverage.
At the end of November, an act of sabotage caused major damage to the transmitter causing the station to be off the air for ten days. Further problems were caused by a station on the southside who decided to put a carrier on 963kHz forcing ABC to move again, this time to 981kHz, although they continued to announce 963kHz.
In 1983 a new studio was built within the old one with a new 8 channel mixer, 3 record decks, 2 tape decks, 1 reel to reel (who remembers them?!) and live phone-in facilities.
At this point Mark Ryan departed and was replaced by John Dunne.
In May 1983 a culture of fear enveloped the country’s unlicensed stations when Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio were raided. ABC Radio were one of the very few stations to remain on air in Dublin through the uncertain times. Within a week or so most stations had returned and ABC ran smoothly until July when there was a split in the camp.
Some of the station’s staff played a part in the formation of Radio Annabel, which came from the same location.
ABC itself relocated to the disused State Cinema in Phibsboro leading to a further change of frequency to 1251khz. Live programming was dropped in favour of full automation using a multi cassette player, which allowed for 20 hours of music at a time.
This ran until April 1984 when renovations commenced in the building causing constant interruptions to power. By the end of May it was decided that a change in premises was necessary and ABC switched off at midnight on June 1st. This turned out to be the final broadcast from the station. A fruitless six month search for new premises led to station management finally calling it a day.
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