ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin), was famous for broadcasting on 257 metres medium wave although it first appeared in July 1976 on 217metres (1380kHz). It was the result of a Radio Dublin split, hence the name.
It was Mark Storey who had fallen out with Eamon Cooke, and along with Declan Meehan and Davitt Kelly they formed ARD.
In 1977, following another Radio Dublin parting of the ways, Dr Don – who’d fallen out with Cooke and had been broadcasting ‘Old’ Radio Dublin’ whilst Cooke was running Radio Dublin from his house in Inchicore – offered them the use of his house in Cabra, to which the station relocated from a shed in Drimnagh. This also seen them move to the 257metres frequency, deliberately chosen as it was ‘next door to Radio Dublin’.
The station’s fortunes were to change immeasurably with the involvement of an investor – Bernard Llewellyn – from September 1977. He was running a shop and had been approached by Dr Don to see if he was interested in advertising on the station. This piqued his interest and he in turn approached Dr Don with some ideas of his own. This led to the first time that a station in Ireland received commercial backing, with a 50% investment. It also led to yet another split in the camp as Dr Don had not received permission from the other three to sell shares in the station – which were shared equally between the four.
With a further cash injection, in January 1978 the station moved location again, this time to a plush new location in Belvedere House and was officially relaunched on January 23rd. This was to lead to a new professionalism in Irish pirate radio, with the station being run as a business rather than a hobby. Specialist speech programming was also introduced. However, the economic reality of running such programming hit hard and the station quicky reverted to a mainly music output.
Disillusioned with the direction the station had taken, the three original founders left in February 1978.
It closed on New Year’s Day in 1980, explained on air by owner Bernard Llewellyn as being necessary as they intended to apply for a licence and felt that they would stand a chance if they weren’t on air.
However, everyone formerly involved with ARD – bar Llewellyn – reopened shortly afterwards as Radio 257, but this time from the Crofton Airport Hotel on the Swords Rd in north Dublin.
By September, they were once again calling themselves ARD. At this point they were also broadcasting on 99.0MHz.
There was a stuttering finish but by September 1982 they were no more.