ZODIAC – THE STATION OF THE STARS
Radio Zodiac was a Dublin pirate station which first appeared in June 1984 – at the end of school term. Ran by Ciarán Brannelly, it originally broadcast on medium wave only, believing that not enough people were listening to FM.
Ciarán was inspired to start the station thanks to the existence of Castle K, and the fact that the station owner’s mother did not want Ciarán in the house because he was a punk!
A case of if you can’t join them, emulate them.
Although Brannelly was still of school-going age, the station had a professional sound thanks to professional jingles produced by Nick Ryan, a UK-based voice over artiste.
The studio was based in a concrete shed in the yard of Hillbrook House, Dunsink Lane, Castleknock in north Dublin. They converted the shed into a studio with two turntables, a mixer and one tape deck.
The AM transmitter was about 300 watts and was built by John Murray. The aerial ran up a huge TV mast and across the yard. The station has been recorded on a number of frequencies but was mainly found at 202m MW / 1511kHz AM.
By July 1984 Radio Zodiac had a full schedule of teenage presenters running from 8am to midnight. There was no music policy, DJs could play whatever they were in to, so the station ran an eclectic mix of shows ranging from Rock music, through contemporary pop and Punk / New Wave.
In October 1984 their MW transmitter was upgraded and they also installed a small 50 watt FM transmitter on 105FM.
The phone number given was 213141
In March 1985 it merged with BFBS, and the new station went weekend only.
BFBS lasted a year and closed due to lack of interest.
In June 1986 Radio Zodiac returned as a weekday service located at Ciarán Brannelly’s parents home and BFBS migrated to become Caroline 98, located at the same studio as BFBS.
We never had trouble from the authorities but did from Mr Darragh, the owner of Hillbrook House, thanks to the amount of teenagers coming and going to the station!Ciarán Brannelly
Timeline for these stations with a shared history:-
March 1984: Castle K FM launch
June 1984: Radio Zodiac launch
December 1984: Castle K FM change name to BFBS
March 1985: Radio Zodiac join with BFBS
June 1986: Radio Zodiac relaunch and share time with Caroline 98, a relaunch of BFBS
We are extremely indebted to Ciarán Brannelly for his help with these station histories.