One of the earliest closedowns of the bigger, more professional outfits, occurred in Waterford before the New Year’s weekend had even started.
The station was launched by a group of UK radio enthusiasts who, quite literally, turned up in Tramore in 1982 and made it their home as they built a radio station in a caravan from scratch. The station is still widely regarded as one of the best Ireland has had and with good reason.
With the vast majority of stations opting for a 30th or 31st shutdown, ABC Radio decided on December 29th at 3pm. Andy Green says that they decided to close then to get maximum listenership for the closedown. “We figured most people wouldn’t be listening to the radio on New Year’s Eve.”
Clive Derek mentions other considerations too:- “Closing all our transmitter sites was also a significant factor. I think we had 2 AM and 7 FM sites by that time so it was a day of driving to get to all of them. They were spread between North Wexford, near Rosslare, Wexford Town, County Kilkenny, Tramore, Waterford City and West Waterford – some in fairly inaccessible locations.” Andy:- I remember doing that the next day. Pretty depressing.
We decided to be different and finished at 3 o’clock that afternoon. We’d been talking about it on air for weeks, and running snippets of old programmes so when it finally arrived it became quite emotional. For our last programme we were all in the station together in our studio in Barronstrand Street above Egan’s – wives, girlfriends and such. We just wanted to be on air together as we went off it. Extremely emotional. Then we all went downstairs and got pissed!
The day’s programming started with Dara Corcoran on Breakfast. Then Kevin McCarthy took over to see the station up to the final minutes. Dave Hunt also did a piece introducing listeners to the various departments involved in running the station which led into the final hour…
This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 2pm. If you’d like to hear more we have the last four hours in our Radio Retro section here
By 3pm, their frequencies had fallen silent. ABC Radio was no more. A carrier reappeared a few minutes later and went off again on the 30th.
Everybody then went downstairs to Egan’s Pub and sat around in a state of melancholic shock. Oh and then we got very drunk! As sad as it was we knew all who had contributed to ABC’s success while on air had a lot to be proud of. The station was widely held to be a professional operation, from day one a music format and on-air policy had been applied, and we had achieved at least two of our early ambitions: to have paid adverts from Coca Cola, and own an Optimod- even if I was nearly arrested for it!
I was very upset when it closed. Everyone knew it was like the end of an era. We had been one big happy family and it was most certainly the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had. Of course we were looking to secure a licence but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. We had some great times.
The work continued on a licence application for the new Waterford franchise. For listeners, the loss was felt deeply but how about those who worked there? Andy Green says he felt a sense of real loss. “This had been my life for almost 8 years and now, nothing.” With the stations all gone from January 1st, Andy mainly spent his time listening to tapes:- “I also recorded a few of my favourite albums through our Optimod / XT2 and stereo enhancer to listen to in the car after ABC closed down.”
For further reading on ABC Waterford, and the pirate scene in Waterford in general, we recommend ‘Radio Blaa Blaa’ by Brian Kennedy. It is available here
At 3pm, Dublin’s Sunshine Radio held a special ceremony in the city centre…
At 3pm, at Sunshine Radio’s head office in Baggot Street, Dublin, the countdown to closedown commenced with the release of 8,000 balloons, each one, according to Robbie Robinson, representing a little bit of fun that everyone had had since the station’s launch eight years ago.
Thousands of listeners assembled at the event and Robbie gave a short speech, inviting everyone to Portmarnock for the final day’s broadcasting tomorrow, with a very special ‘Last Programme’ starting at 9am and running until they switched off at 6pm.
This is the ceremony as broadcast from 2.51pm. If you’d like to hear more we have an extended version in our Radio Retro section here