Radio Nova: Part 3 – Chapter 02

On April 29th 1988, the third incarnation of Radio Nova appeared as a test broadcast on Intelsat VA F11. The station, whose beating heart for so long resided in Dublin, was now based in England and available all over Europe. Unfortunately, the only way Dubliners could hear it was via a huge dish that not only cost the earth but was similar in size.

Chris Cary’s was the first voice to be heard on Radio Nova International and a familiar name to Dublin listeners, Tim Kelly, hosted the first show. Other familiar names which would appear over the following days were Liam Quigley, Declan Meehan, Cassidy Jones.

Nova launched, as planned, on May 1st and then was officially launched on May 4th by Timothy Renton MP, the Minister of State for Broadcasting. This time around it was totally legit, operating under the auspices of the Cable Authority.

Advertisers are notoriously nervous of anything new and were slow to react to the new method of delivery, despite the familiarity of it being a CHR station. Plans began to be put in place to increase the station’s visibility to potential audiences. On May 26th a new nighttime sustaining service was announced.
Using the name ‘The Nova Night Network’, the new service would be made available between 7pm and 6am to radio stations operating on FM, allowing them to offer programming in what would normally be their downtime. A few stations signed up straight away and at 9pm on July 1st, for the first time in Britain, a satellite radio station broadcast terrestrially via a local independent radio station. The station in question, Northsound Radio, was based in Aberdeen in Scotland and it carried the Nova Night Network six nights a week. In Ireland, Coast Hot Hits in Galway were already carrying the service, along with ABC Radio in Waterford and Sound Channel in Limerick.

By July, Radio Nova International was being relayed full time via one of Liberty 104’s frequencies in Dublin. Local news and advertisements were inserted by Liberty at various times.

It was also being relayed full time on 94.9MHz by Paul Vincent, whose Southside Radio had just closed. This was as a result of a financial agreement with Chris Cary, who realised that a full-time relay in Dublin would bring in much-needed advertising revenue…

…and keep it in the public eye. In June, the government had finally managed to get their Broadcasting Bill through all stages to become law. At the end of the year all pirates would be required to vacate the airwaves, and at the start of 1989 a process would begin to start licensing new local services across the country, along with one national station to cover the country.

On December 31st the Radio Nova relay was switched off in Dublin as Chris Cary and Sybil Fennell were preparing a presentation to apply for the national licence, which would be heard – along with three other applicants – by the newly formed Independent Radio & Television Commission on January 12th.

July – August 1988

Nova Media Services, the company which ran Radio Nova in Dublin, owes the taxman £252,000 according to a High Court decision The figure is disputed by Chris Cary who says that they owed £40,000 when the company was put into liquidation.

Radio Nova International makes history by being the first satellite service to be broadcast terrestrially in Britain. Northsound Radio in Aberdeen, Scotland are the history-makers.

Liberty 104 are now relaying Radio Nova International to a Dublin audience full-time on their 103.5MHz transmitter and at times (usually when Liberty have no presenter on-air) on their other outlets, including their medium wave transmitter. They are inserting their own local News and advertisements.
This recording from August 1st of Radio Nova’s satellite-delivered incarnation starts at 3.15pm with Cassidy Jones on air leading to the 4pm news which featured Teena Gates on an insert for the Dublin relay initiated by Liberty 104 on 104.3MHz.
Tap here to listen

The service is also being relayed by Southside 95 around the clock on 94.9MHz in Dublin following an approach to Paul Vincent by Chris Cary.

Community Radio Fingal have also been heard relaying Nova.

A few stations in Ireland carry the ‘Nova Night Network’ sustaining service, amongst them is ABC Radio in Waterford and Sound Channel in Limerick.

Pat Courtenay has joined Radio Nova International from Class Radio in Dublin.
Here, he follows Paul Burnett on August 19th…
Tap to listen

Radio Nova International can also be heard at any time by dialing an 0898 telephone number.

September – November 1988

Some classic satellite Nova with the Night Network from just after midnight on September 7th 1988. Pat Courtenay is on the air in this recording which was taken from Westsound Ayr on 96.7MHz.
Tap to listen

December 1988

Radio Nova is confirmed as one of four companies who have expressed an interest in appying for the new national service, Hearings will take place in January.
Chris Cary says he will uproot Radio Nova from Camberley, Surrey back to Ireland should he be successful.

The NUJ waste no time in stating their opposition to Cary, saying it would be an “affront” if his application was successful.

With new legislation introducing tough new fines and the threat of imprisonment for anyone engaged in unlicensed broadcasting set to become law by the start of 1989, the full-time Radio Nova relay on 94.9MHz in Dublin is switched off at 1pm on December 31st.

I remember coming across Radio Nova International and loving the fact that the broadcast was via satellite and re-transmitted on FM.
The tx site (Charlie Kelly’s) had a limited view of Dublin and would have struggled to cover Dublin West. Was this to be the permanent tx site, or just to get a presence in Dublin quickly.
The receiving satellite dish would have cost thousands. It was nearly bigger than the house.

Gary O’Connell

I remember asking Paul Vincent about the 94.9 relay and he mentioned that Cary wanted to keep a low pirate profile when launching Nova satellite but later discovered that he needed Dublin revenue so approached Southside at a time that suited them financially!

DLR went on to use that site briefly followed by Coast FM. Definitely not a good site west but very good for South East (Southside’s target area).

Simon Maher

It was a concept ahead of its time. it was an era with the start of meaningful satellite broadcasting.
The summer of 88 was something of a frenzy – Sunshine and Super Q as it then was fighting to be #1. I remember Sunshine’s Big Kahuna competition, and all the while the clock kept ticking down to the end of the year, with endless gossip about different business consortiums looking at licences … Ray Burke sitting back in his office and smiling…

Ronan Segrave
Leeson Street Mainly

Part 3 Chapter 01: Starship Troopers

Feeling the Energy

Part 3 Chapter 03: Radio’s Brightest Star is Finally Extinguished