Radiowaves Special Feature: The Radio 4U Story


Chapter Nineteen

By mid-June I loaded the remaining equipment, everything which I did not want to sell, eg the records and most of the dismantled studio in my VW, and together with the cat, I set off for Germany where we met Willy and Heiko and all four of us went to France. The proposition looked great but I did not want to make the same mistakes which I did in Ireland. I knew that the French project was two sizes bigger than Radio 4U and I knew that I did not want to run another radio station on a shoestring budget. In short, I predicted that I would need another £10,000 which I did not have.

So I went back to London where I got a government grant and spent the next two years inventing a Fully Automated Radio or Television Programme Selection System (See epilogue).

I kept in touch with Damian, one of the Radio 4U presenters. He told me that WABC came back on the air some months after the closedowns in December 1988. Damian passed me WABC’s new telephone number. By the end of 1990 I got in touch with Paul and he invited me back to Donegal where I stayed until February 1991 working for WABC.

The situation there had undergone some changes since the general close down of unlicensed Irish radio back on December 31st, 1988. All stations bar Radio North closed down at the time. Actually, Radio North moved from Carndonagh to Muff and the new owner bought the old 35 watts Radio 4U transmitter unit from Paul and used it for his studio link.

A new station in Letterkenny got the official licence for the north west. Funnily enough, this was also the first Donegal radio station which got temporarily closed down by the Department of Communication. The reason: their transmitter interfered with the real pirates.

NWCR counted its profits and the local Nova probably counted its debts.

At about the same time as WABC came back on the air, Riverside 101 was established. The station manager Frankie realised a lot of ideas which I’d had three years before. Unfortunately, a lot of them remained a dream for me.

Riverside too provides a crystal-clear strong stereo FM signal with a very professional station. Riverside 101 has a sales office in Derry’s City Centre and even the studio is in the North. Nevertheless the whole operation is perfectly legal as the transmitter sits exactly on the border in no man’s land. Electricity comes from both sides, the North and South. Only the main relay can be called a pirate.

Besides the new technology, such as IRN News via satellite, Frankie has the great advantage that he and his family know every businessman in Derry. So, Riverside 101 became a big power station, and I would assume that Frankie has a little licence to print money. Besides, AM radio is finally outdated now.

WABC and Riverside agreed that neither entered the other’s service area. Therefore, WABC had to keep out of Derry. Instead, Paul opened a second station – WABC Gold, a special oldies channel.

For family reasons Paul and Krissi had to close WABC and left Ireland in Spring 1991.

Radio North got another country music competitor, Atlantic North. Both managers / owners hate each other and it appears that Atlantic North was only set up to destroy Radio North. Both stations fight a desperate price war but one thing remains the same – you still have to be braindead to listen to certain radio stations…

Photo: Wilfried & Heiko adjusting the studio aerial

With great thanks to all Radio 4U staff and everybody who helped to make Radio 4U possible