The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 – December 30th 7-11

The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland
December 30th, pirate station closedowns

Formally known as Soundchannel FM, Power 98 in Limerick were due to close at 7pm…

Power 98

Limerick Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 19:00

Across the country now to Limerick to hear Power 98FM’s scheduled closedown at 7pm. The ‘mid-western power station’ launched in December 1986 as SoundChannel FM. The name-change came about in mid-1988 following extensive research which also saw a switch in output from the station’s ‘general entertainment’ style to a more adult music format.

We join the Power Drive with Steve Phillips at 5.45pm.

And now up to Cavan for a Country music station’s closure…

Erneside Radio

Belturbet, Co Cavan Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 20:00

Erneside Radio was a country music station from the border county of Cavan which had been on the air for just short of four years.
It was owned by Éamon Fitzpatrick who felt that the Irish music industry would suffer badly due to the enforced closure of the pirates.
Erneside was renowned for supporting local artists and were widely credited with bringing Daniel O’Donnell to public prominence.
Éamon accepted that Erneside needed to close and had already submitted interest in running a licensed station. However, he made public his wish that the station should be allowed to continue beyond the deadline until the new station was up and running.
The official closedown was at 8pm and our recording, taken off 97.8MHz, starts at just after 7pm.

This is Erneside’s offical closedown from 7pm.

Brian Gold, having been the first voice on Erneside, was the man chosen to say the final words. However, without explanation, he announced right at the end that Don Allen would be on overnight.
At the exact moment Erneside closed down Don Allen was live on West National Radio 3 in Mullingar, Co Westmeath in the middle of their closedown programme. This wasn’t due to finish until 10pm.
Erneside’s live programming also usually finished at midnight so perhaps they had planned to run pre-recorded programming?
But why? Why have a full-on closedown programme and at the end of it announce that there was more programming to come? Perhaps they were confused by the outcome of Cooke’s court challenge? If that was the case, they weren’t alone…
We’d welcome any input anybody can give on this mystery.

One of the more bizarre incidents occurred in Donegal


As the evening progressed, there were strange developments in Donegal. Radio North had received ‘news’ that Cooke had won his constitutional challenge to stop the closedowns and were openly celebrating on air. Both they and NWCR, another Donegal station, were announcing that they now planned to continue beyond tomorrow night’s deadline.

Meanwhile, WABC had been pinning a lot of hope on Cooke’s court challenge. After their 4pm closedown earlier they had left a loop tape on air. Just after 8pm that loop tape subsequently changed to this…

Unfortunately, though, the stations were still required to close. As mentioned earlier, Cooke had taken his case to the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the new laws outlawing unlicensed stations.

Although the resident Judge agreed that there was a case to answer for certain sections of the Act, he did not believe he had the authority to interfere with the workings of the government and so dismissed the case. In other words, Cooke lost.

The judge did, however, advise that Cooke should take action on those sections of the Act which he deemed might warrant worthy of a challenge as soon as possible. It appeared to be this which caused confusion; obviously, some believed that the Act would be put on hold until the challenge to those sections had taken place.

Strangely, other stations across the country had earlier reported the outcome of the case correctly. Why such confusion in Donegal?

The WABC loop was switched off close to midnight.

For the record Q102 were still transmitting non-stop music without station identification or commercials.

In the midlands two Mullingar-based stations decided to cease this evening…

Midway Radio

Mullingar, Co Westmeath Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 21:00

Midway Radio broadcast from Mullingar in Co Westmeath. 9pm on December 30th was their chosen time for closedown. We have the final 15 minutes, recorded off 999kHz, below.
They had been the subject of a good piece in the Evening Herald earlier in the month.

Midway Radio from Mullingar
Tap to read

This is the station’s final 15 minutes from 8.45pm.

We are indebted to Prince Terry (via DX Archive) for this recording

West National Radio 3

Mullingar, Co Westmeath Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 22:00

In the Westmeath town of Mullingar West National Radio 3, who were previously known as Radio West, were opting for a 10pm closedown on the Friday evening.
On air since 1982, Radio West were very ambitious, as evidenced by the (re)name, and at one point claimed to be audible as far afield as each of Ireland’s coasts, although west to east would probably be most accurate.
Although the station were very popular they never really managed to gain a valuable foothold in Dublin.

The well-known and very popular presenter Don Allen (pictured on the right during his final show) was the man chosen to consign Radio West to history. This is the historic final hour leading to switch off.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 9pm.
An extended 90 minute version of the closedown can be heard in our Radio Retro section by tapping here…

Recording is with thanks to Rodney Neill

Back in Dublin a station on the northside were winding down to a 10pm finish..

North Dublin Community Radio

Coolock, Dublin 17 Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 22:00

In a chaotic studio in Coolock in north Dublin, NDCR (North Dublin Community Radio) were heading for a 10pm closedown.

NDCR had been on air since 1983 so had been around for a while when the axe fell.

Theirs was a true community radio station ethos with open access for the local community and plenty of local-focused programming.

We join the broadcast team with an hour to go.

We are indebted to Dave O’Connor for providing this recording

It’s back up to the border county of Monaghan for the closure of Big M Community Radio…

Big M Community Radio

Castleblayney, Co Monaghan Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 23:00

We pay another visit to Monaghan now for the 11pm closedown of the long-running station Big M Community Radio.
The closedown time seemed to be chosen quite late in the day.

This recording of the final hour of broadcasting features Noel Milsop on air.
A longer 3 hour version of the closedown can be heard in our Radio Retro section here…

After closedown an hour-long continuous music loop tape was left running through to the following night – they appeared to expect developments emanating from Cooke’s challenge.

Recordings with thanks to DX Archive

For the love of Jesus…that was the reason for this station’s existence. The big man couldn’t save them though…


Blarney, Co Cork Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 23:00

Launched in the middle of 1988, religious station KLFJ (Keep Looking For Jesus) broadcast from the Blarney area of West Cork on 88.0MHz FM. We join their closedown broadcast at 10.04pm to hear how they turned listeners on to Jesus and turned their transmitters off.

Next, we go to the midnight hour…

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 -

December 30th
6pm Closedowns

December 30th
Midnight Closedowns

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 -

In Memoriam:

ABC Radio;
Big M;
Carlow Local Radio;
Centre Radio;
Independent Radio Longford;
Kiss FM (Monaghan);
Kiss FM (Tullamore);
Liberty 104;
Midway Radio;

North Dublin Community Radio;
Power 98;
Radio Snowflake;
Raidió Luimní;
Smile FM;
Sunshine Radio;

Waterford Local Radio;
West National Radio 3;