The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 – December 30th Evening Closedowns

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

The Friday 6pm close proved a popular option around the country. Perhaps understandably. With people finishing up work on a Friday evening ahead of the New Year’s weekend celebrations, the stations had a captive audience.

There also seemed to be confusion about when the Act became law. Some stations appeared to believe that they had to be off air by the end of December 30th – confusion over the wording which required stations to be gone by midnight on October 31st. When exactly did midnight on December 31st fall? A minute beyond 23:59 on October 30th? Or 24 hours later?

As far as us yellow raincoat wearers are concerned the confusion was anorak heaven. The staggered closedowns allowed for maximum live listening – and recording, of course.

On this page we go on a whistle-stop journey around the country to hear how so many communities had their hearts and souls ripped out…

Kiss FM

Old Cross Sq, Monaghan

First port of call is Monaghan to hear how Kiss FM, the self-styled ‘Ulster’s number 1’, switched off. Widely acclaimed as one of the top stations in the country by the end of 1988, Kiss FM had only been on air for 9 months and – like with so many of the nation’s stations – it was a tragedy that it was cut down in its prime.

Kiss FM Monaghan

It contained a wealth of talent who had cut their teeth with other top stations, such as Radio Nova and Radio Caroline, so it is no surprise that Kiss FM dared to be different.

The like of it – and sorry to reiterate the point – so many other unique stations, were never to grace our airwaves again. In an ideal world we’d be free to choose.

Tom Hardy closing Kiss FM Monaghan
Tom Hardy closing Kiss FM

If you haven’t heard Kiss FM before, prepare yourself; you’re in for a treat. If you have heard it before, you know you’re in for a treat.

Tom Hardy was a near veteran at shutting stations down and rallying the listeners, having been involved in the famous Radio Nova closedown in May 1983.
Here’s how he expertly consigned Kiss FM in Monaghan to the history books.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 5pm.
The whole day’s live broadcast is available in our Radio Retro section and can be heard by tapping here

Independent Radio Longford

Another station closing at 6pm was Independent Radio Longford

Independent Radio Longford

Independent Radio Longford


In Longford, the local station had already said goodbye to their listeners this morning ahead of their 6pm scheduled close – via the front page of today’s Longford Leader.

Independent Radio Longford
Independent Radio Longford

Independent Radio Longford had been on the air for three years and the station’s owner, Gerry Conboy (below right, in studio), intended to apply for a licence.

Gerry Conboy - Independent Radio Longford
Photo: Michael Bermingham

They made the decision to switch off a day early because the station staff wished to spend time with family over the New Year period.
Gerry Conboy was on air from 3pm-4pm and he was followed for the next hour by the station manager, Mike McCartney.
We tune to their signal for the final hour with Phil Farrell presenting the final show…

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 5pm
If you wish to hear a longer version of the station’s final day the last three hours are available in our Radio retro section here

Gerry Conboy’s two year old son was the one to turn the transmitter off for the final time.
The next day Gerry returned to the studio to the deafening sound of silence and as he sat at the desk it sank in that the station was now gone, never to broadcast again. It was the end.

Waterford - 1988 Pirate Closedowns

It seemed that all Waterford stations wanted their business done well ahead of the deadline. With ABC Radio already gone, here’s how WLR signed off….

Waterford - 1988 Pirate Closedowns

Waterford Local Radio

Waterford Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 18:00

WLR staff gathered in the studio for the final show

It’s back down to Waterford where ABC Radio had closed the day before. WLR, or Waterford Local Radio, were another hugely successful commercial pirate. Somehow both had managed to co-exist in the county – along with other stations – but the new licensing regime felt there was room for just one. A situation echoed across the country.
Image: WLR staff gathered in the studio during the final show.

We join WLR an hour before their scheduled 6pm close.
If you’d like to hear a longer version the final 90 minutes can be heard in our Radio Retro section by tapping here

There’s nothing to Smile about as we return to Dublin to bear witness to another station closure…

Smile FM

Ballyfermot, Dublin 10

It’s over to the west Dublin suburb of Ballyfermot to hear how Smile FM said their goodbyes on 94.2MHz. Broadcasting for just two years, Smile FM went under the radar a lot but were always an enjoyable listen.
Station owner Johnny Eccles had somehow been led to believe, through a friend who worked at the Dáil, that they were pretty much guaranteed a local licence early in the New Year provided they had shut down by the 31st.

This is the final 50 minutes leading to their 6pm close.

The most popular station name in use on closedown weekend was Kiss FM. The second such-monikered outfit to close were based in Co Offaly…

Kiss FM

Tullamore, Co Offaly

Listen on Radio Retro

December 30th, 18:00

Broadcasting from above a chip-shop in Tullamore, for Kiss FM’s final hour the station’s presenters were in the studio for a bit of banter and to say their goodbyes. They posed for this photograph.

Back: Barry Flynn, Paul McKenna, Tom Fox, Peter Meskill, Dundee Carroll, Alex Geoghegan
Front: Carthiage Kidney, James Molloy, Kenneth Geoghegan

It fell to Barry Flynn to deliver a final speech for the last link and this was to be followed by playing a vinyl copy of the song ‘Kiss’ by Prince.
Barry: “So the single was loaded on the turntable and cued. Polished emotional link delivered…fader up, and the record starts at the wrong speed!!!”

Fortunately for Barry we do not have a copy of the station’s closedown. However, if you can help complete this history please get in touch.

The first of Cork’s stations to cease broadcasting was Centre Radio…

Centre Radio

Dublin Hill, Cork city Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 18:00

In Cork, Centre Radio on 95.0MHz also ceased transmissions at 6pm. The station had already closed early in 1988 but returned in September.
Station founder Eric Young paid tribute to presenters past and present in his final speech: Tony Carey, Alan Jones, Pat O’Rourke, Pete Asher, Tony Lewis, Tim Desmond, Fergus Hunter, Tracy Bennett, John Andrews, Leon Jackson, Derek Jackson, Ann Harris, Paul Wyse, Bill Davis, Tom Cotter, Con Hannigan, Fergal Barry, Tony Williams, John O’Connor, Dave Gilmore, Jerry O’Connor, Chris Wigley, Chris Black, Steve James, Donal McKeon 

Unfortunately, we do not have a copy of the station’s closedown. If you can help complete this history please get in touch.

Next, we’re back in Limerick…

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 -

December 30th
Q102 / Sunshine 101

December 30th
Evening Closedowns

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 -

In Memoriam:

ABC Radio;
Carlow Local Radio;
Centre Radio;
Independent Radio Longford;
Kiss FM (Monaghan);
Kiss FM (Tullamore);

Liberty 104;
Radio Snowflake;
Raidió Luimní;
Smile FM;
Sunshine 101;

Waterford Local Radio;