Radiowaves Special Feature: The Radio 4U Story


Chapter Eighteen

On the afternoon of April the 27th, 1988 Paul, Krissi – his wife and business partner – and I finalised our deal.
They made a good buy, I think. Not only did WABC expand its service area with the strongest FM signal in Derry, but also because they bought this complicated aerial construction and the knowledge behind this system. After all, this was German engineering made by Willy, actually it was so solid that it was the only antenna mast in the area which survived those two strong storms in autumn / winter 1987 / 88.

I went back and did the Radio 4U evening news service without mentioning anything on the air about the sale. Paul picked me up from the studio, we went down to Lenamore, retuned the receiver and redirected the reception aerial.

From this point on WABC was blasting 1300 watts (ERP) from Lenamore.

The tapes which had already been produced for the next day were played on the small 97.6 FM until 10 o’clock the next morning when I replaced them with a loop tape announcing that Radio 4U had ceased broadcasting and advised listeners to retune to WABC on 100.8 FM. This tape was played for another 48 hours, when I officially hit the button for the last time. Then I took a deep breath…
After almost one year of hard work I wanted to sit down in a rocking chair doing absolutely nothing. After three days I started rocking… (very slowly)

I went back and did the Radio 4U evening news service without mentioning anything on the air about the sale.

Well this might have been a little bit exaggerated but I stayed in Burnfoot for another six weeks and enjoyed a well deserved holiday. One evening I met Paul and JP in a pub in the City. We started talking about Frances and John’s earlier proposal to buy Radio 4U. There was still a chance to revive the Little Radio 4U, namely the 97.6 FM.

I had done fairly well with it alone for three months and the lads thought that they could do the same: Paul and JP had another meeting with Frances and John and they planned to get the Poly-Student Union involved too.

Eventually this idea died when Frances’s mother entered an argument which I had with her daughter about Frances’s dog chasing the Radio 4U cat.

The previous December, when he was still a tiny kitten, the cat had been dumped in the freezing cold. To escape the snow the cat sought refuge under a harvester which was parked nearby the studio.

During those cold days Frances and some other DJs used to feed the cat secretly on one side of the harvester, because they thought that I would not allow a cat in the house, but I too was feeding him on the other side of the harvester!

After a few days I became suspicious because no cat in its right mind would hide under a harvester in this weather. I decided to get to the bottom of this mystery. I grabbed him by his tail and forced him to come out. Only then I realised that he was a starved and half frozen kitten who needed urgent first aid in front of a warm fire.

After I sold up, I occasionally hosted some programmes on WABC. I really enjoyed it because the daily pressure to work was now gone. I was free to choose whether to be, or not to be, on radio. On top of that, WABC was a new challenge, a partly new audience, had much bigger coverage and also this non-stop music policy was new to me.