The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 – December 30th Midnight

The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland
Midnight, December 30th 1988, Ireland's pirate radio stations close down
Midnight, December 30th 1988, Ireland's pirate radio stations close down

So, on what day does midnight fall? There was certainly a lot of confusion in December 1988 which led to some of the stations that closed on the 30th definitively stating that the new legislation would become law on the 31st -which seems very arbitrary. The first day of a new year makes so much more sense.
In this section we cover a whole host of stations who were scheduled to close at midnight on the 30th. Or was it the 31st….

We go back to the capital where a number of stations were planning to cease broadcasting at midnight…

Hope FM


Dublin Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 24:00


Staying with religious output, it’s back to Dublin to listen to some Music Magic Mystery from Hope FM, who demonstrate that there’s more than one way to get your message across. Unfortunately, the deadline is only just over 24 hours away and there’s no hope of the stations getting a last minute reprieve.
On air only since the previous July, this is the last programming from Hope FM on 104.4MHz as they prepare to leave the airwaves by midnight.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 11pm.
There is a 104 minute version of this recording off 104.4MHz available in our Radio Retro section which can be heard by tapping here


ICBS


Chapelizod, Dublin


ICBS (Irish Christian Broadcasting Service) was yet another religious station, and another from Dublin – Chapelizod to the west to be precise. The station also closed at midnight.

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

Treble TR


Dublin Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 24:00


Treble TR was one of the longest-running stations affected by the new bill. Broadcasting since 1981 they were firmly established on the dial as the place to find country & Irish music.
By the way, the three Ts? They stood for Tallaght, Terenure and Templeogue – three areas of Dublin.

Scheduled to close at midnight, this recording starts at 11.20pm.


Signal 106


Rathfarnham, Dublin Listen on Radio Retro December 30th


Signal launched in summer 1987. It closed at Christmas and returned for the school holidays in summer 1988.
Set up by Mike Ormonde and Kevin Branigan, some of the names that passed through or did stuff for the station include Seán Ashmore, Garvan Rigby and Andrew Mangan.

The Evening Herald reported their return on December 21st. Tap to read…

Signal launched in summer 1987. It closed at Christmas and returned for the school holidays in summer 1988. 
Set up by Mike Ormonde and Kevin Branigan, some of the names that passed through or did stuff for the station include Seán Ashmore, Garvan Rigby and Andrew Mangan.

This is the station’s final 15 minutes of broadcast from 11.45pm.
There is a 65 minute version of this recording available in our Radio Retro section which can be heard by tapping here


Community Radio Fingal / Pulsar 98


Fingal, Co Dublin Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 24:00


Two sister stations who became one at the end. CRF/Pulsar closed at midnight in north Co Dublin.

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

It time to revisit the province of Ulster to hear how Breffni Regional Radio shut off their transmitters…

Breffni Regional Radio


Kilnaleck, Co Cavan Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 24:00


Broadcasting from Kilnaleck, Breffni had been on air since December 1984 with some trials and tribulations to overcome. Their staple country and Irish output proved extremely popular with listeners to 95.6MHz and 657kHz.
Their chosen switch off time was midnight.

Scheduled for a midnight close, this recording starts at 11.05pm.
A longer version of this broadcast is available in our Radio Retro section by tapping here


We return to Limerick for the shutdown of Galtee Regional Radio…

Galtee Regional Radio


Limerick Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 24:00


In Limerick, country & Irish music station Galtee Regional Radio shut down at midnight. Galtee were a sister station of Cavan’s Breffni Radio which had first appeared in June 1988. Just like their sister station, they decided to be off the air by the time December 31st was a new day.

We have just a short snippet of their farewell…


We are seeking a longer recording of this station’s closedown. If you can help please contact us.

We head back up to the border areas once again for Zee 103’s final moments on the air…

Zee 103


Omeath, Co Louth Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 24:00


Zee 103 was on air for just two years when the axe fell. Based in Omeath, Co Louth, very close to the border, it unashamedly intended its broadcasts for Northern Ireland.
Uniquely at the time, it had no AM frequency, but did give out their very precise FM frequency of 103.25MHz on air. Most stations would’ve rounded up, down, or around.

Scheduled to close at midnight, we join Noel McStay from 11pm.
There is a longer 150 minute recording of this station’s closedown that can be heard in our Radio Retro section by tapping here


Recording with thanks to Rodney Neill

To the west of the country into Mayo for Mid West Radio’s closedown party…

Mid West Radio


Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 24:00


Across to Ballyhaunis in Co Mayo for Midwest Radio’s final broadcast. The last show was from the Midas Club in the town with Declan Nerney and his band.

Earlier the final studio programme had featured an interview with a lung transplant survivor whose operation had been funded by the station’s listeners.

Mid West Radio announced a few weeks before Christmas that they’d be closing on December 30th. What followed was an outpouring of grief from a listenership for whom their radio station was a friend and a companion. And more besides. There are tales of the presenters popping around to listener’s houses to help with painting or to give them a much-needed lift to somewhere or other.

There would be a number of transmitters to switch off after the midnight close down…

On that final day a steady stream of listeners started turning up at the Midas Nightclub from early in the morning. The town of Ballyhaunis became so overrun with people and cars that the Gardaí actually asked the station to appeal to listeners to stop coming.

For Mid West Radio’s final hour we can offer something different. This is a video version of their closedown party.

This is the station’s final hour as it went out on air from The Midas Nightclub.
There is a selection of programming from across the day available in our Radio Retro section by tapping here


Magic and Madness is the fascinating story of Mid West Radio and it can be ordered here

Video by very kind courtesy of Seán Browne

And here’s a selection of stations who intended to close at midnight but overran…starting in Cork

Radio ERI


Cork Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 00:05


It’s about time we paid Cork another visit, home to so many top stations through the years. 1988 was no exception. One of the county’s biggest was ERI Radio. They were scheduled to close at midnight.

ERI were another of the country’s success stories. It had been on air since 1982 as Cork Eastside Radio (CER) because of its location in Ballycotton, east Cork.

There was eternal confusion over what the initials in their later name stood for. The answer is: more than one thing! It started as Cork Eastside Radio, then became Enterprise Radio Ireland, Eastside Recording Ireland, followed by Eastside Radio Ireland. In time they just used the initials, or, at times, Radio ERI.

The station exuded professionalism and it was no surprise that they were number 1 in Cork by the end of 1988. They went off the air with the intention of applying for a licence.

This is how they said goodbye to their listeners…
The final three hours of broadcast is available to listen to in our Radio Retro section here


Recording is with thanks to Rodney Neill

We’re back in Dublin for one of the younger stations to close down; and also for a station that listeners loved…

Kiss 106


Dublin Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 00:10


Kiss 106 was another hobby station ran by Dublin’s youth for Dublin’s youth. Kevin Branigan set it up and it fell to him to close it down.
When asked why they closed 24 hours ahead of the deadline, Kevin says: “That’s the date everyone else closed down so we did as well.”

This is the station’s final minutes of broadcast from 11.50pm.


This recording is by very kind courtesy of Eddie Bohan / Irish Broadcast Hall of Fame

Heartbeat FM


Dublin City


Tony O’Hara

Back now to Dublin to catch the last broadcast from the love songs station, Heartbeat Radio. Another of Dublin’s success stories, Heartbeat, as a ballads station, proved very popular with, well, anyone who’s ever been in love at a guess!

They hoped to attain a specialist licence in the new year and had no intention of changing their format. They also planned to seek an exemption from the 20% news and current affairs requirement.
They were scheduled to close at midnight but vastly overran.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast off 95.5MHz from 11.20pm.
A longer 90 minute version is available in our Radio Retro section and can be listened to by tapping here

The Heartbeat studio during the final broadcast

If you’re going to overrun do it in style. WKLR in Cork were scheduled for midnight…

WKLR


West Cork Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 01:30


Staying in Cork for the last orders from Bandon-based station WKLR. On air since 1984, West Cork Local Radio, as the name suggests, served the West Cork area but by closedown in 1988 were covering the whole county.

We join them just as a marathon 30 hour series of outside broadcasts was coming to an end. Although scheduled for a midnight close, bear in mind that they allowed themselves 24 hours to overrun…

! warning, this file contains instances of adults, sometimes without warning, breaking into an activity that they describe as singing !

We join the station for their final hour.
The last three hours of WKLR’s final transmission is available in our Radio Retro section and can be heard by tapping here


This recording is courtesy of DX Archive


Other stations who had closed by, or at, midnight on December 30th include:-…

Bray Local Broadcasting


Bray, Co Wicklow Listen on Radio Retro December 30th


Bray Local Broadcasting was a long-running station based in Wicklow. They were long-held up as a model of the type of community radio station preferred whenever licences became available.

We do not have a recording of this station’s closedown. If you can help please contact us

Donegal Community Radio


Letterkenny, Co Donegal Listen on Radio Retro December 30th


Donegal Community Radio also closed on December 30th

We do not have a recording of this station’s closedown. If you can help please contact us

Tallaght Community Radio


Tallaght, Dublin 22 Listen on Radio Retro December 30th


Earlier known as Wonderland Radio, Tallaght Community Radio was another station with a good community ethos.

We do not have a recording of this station’s closedown. If you can help please contact us.

West Coast Radio


Ennis, Co Clare Listen on Radio Retro December 30th


Clare-based West Coast Radio was another long-serving radio station forced to close.

We do not have a recording of this station’s closedown. If you can help please contact us

Unfortunately, we do not have recordings for the above four stations. If you can help please get in touch at recordings@radiowaves.fm.

What stations are left in Dublin?

Centre Radio from Dublin’s Northside are still on air and are live overnight. They are scheduled to close at midnight tomorrow night but at 1.30am tonight they gave a list of what stations were still broadcasting in Dublin…

Used with very kind permission of radio.ie

Finally for December 30th (ish) this is the unique, experimental relayed station RadioFax

RadioFax


Relayed from Louth Listen on Radio Retro December 31st


Radiofax broadcast their ‘Final Programme’ on Friday on 6205kHz. The programme, which first aired on the 28th, was repeated throughout the day, and then as normal in the evening it was switched to 1611kHz where it was heard for the final time into the early hours of Saturday morning, 31st.

Launched earlier in 1988, Radio Fax was a UK-based information station desperately seeking a British licence and who took advantage of the situation in Ireland to use MW and SW transmitters from Drogheda in Co Louth to beam their programming into the UK.

The former Rainbow Radio transmitters were then used later on in the day to relay Boyneside Radio’s final few hours.

Here we join the ‘Final Broadcast’ around halfway into the programme.
Below is a running order for the full programme.


Radiofax Final Broadcast

Presented by Maggie Stephenson, Holly Robson and Trevor Brook
* – Radiofax 6205 morning switch on 
* – Brief tune-away to BBC World Service 6195
* – HCJB 6205 mid sentence switch off leaving Radiofax in the clear 
* Music: Perfect World by Huey Lewis & The News 
* AM Synch Ad 
* Music: Is This Love by Alison Moyet 
* Music: Sign Your Name by Terence Trent D’Arby 
* Recording of 4th April 1988 closedown – said we would come back in the summer – promise we kept 
* A few things we did: visited BBC RDS press launch – visited Radio Nova satellite – microwave TV in Ireland – visited International Broadcasting Convention in Brighton – interviewed Graham Symonds, Sunshine Radio Ludlow: everything there was to say about the local radio situation in Britain – visited Motor Show in Birmingham – Wireless Telegraphy Act from Dublin – Broadcasting In The 90s white paper – reviewed Saisho/Sangean/Tatung/Matsui SW radio – Digital Audio Tape – first automated station, Loughborough Campus Radio – Ireland’s Independent Television and Radio Commission – visited BBC Radio Show at Earls Court – Stereo TV sound recording at BBC Scotland 
* Music: Night Nurse by Gregory Isaacs 
* Listener in every parliamentary constituency – two large box files full of letters – thanks to those who let us know you have written to your MP or Home Office 
* Letter from Robert Foot, Gosport, Hampshire – thank you – extremely sorry – honestly say something of interest every single time I listened – no other source – very wide range – no way I could read or know of such variety – enjoyed and appreciated every moment – unique – one of a kind – very much missed – Happy New Year
* Music: Mr Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra 
* Radiofax will close shortly – 100 letters each week – very enthusiastic blind listeners – your letters make project worthwhile – ages 17 to 70 most unusual – most listened programme per transmitter Watt – use of short wave fallen – good use for 9kHz spectrum – view to the future – you know rubbish to claim no frequencies are available – more letters than Radio 4 Any Answers receive – any station would be proud 
* Music: Uptown Girl by Billy Joel 
* Even letters from under 17s – youngest declared age 14 – university lecturers – vicars – senior civil servants – journalists – magistrate in the UK and attorney in Canada – BBC people – IBA people – broadcasting organisations and PTTs abroad – DTI people who said we couldn’t say who they were – all thought what we were doing something worthwhile and should be legalised 
* Music: Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton 
* Vote of thanks 
* Holly Robson – have a lie in – no more technical words! – looking for a job – delight to meet listeners from your letters – once lived in Dublin 
* Music: Accidents Never Happen by Blondie 
* Where have we been heard from Drogheda, Ireland? – 6205: Holland – Belgium – France – Denmark – Switzerland – Austria – Luxembourg – Spain – Italy – Norway – Sweden – Finland – Poland – Czechoslovakia – Hungary – East & West Germany – Canada – east and west coast USA – New Zealand – 1611 directional to east: furthest are Finland & Italy 
* Music: Madness by Elton John
* – We join here 
* 1 minute audio compilation of some items we covered over four months – independent programme makers – Chalford LBC merger – TVS immortality advert – commercial offshore Harmony FM – RTÉ shed 200 staff – independent radio bill 
* Maggie Stephenson – is there life after Radiofax? 
* Introduction 
* Music: Drive by The Cars 
* Several Irish stations not closing down – penalty £Irish1000 = £870 
* Music: So Emotional by Whitney Houston 
* Music: China In Your Hand by T‘Pau 
* Station ID – on the air 4 months – thanks to all who helped 
* Music: Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship 
* Music: You Win Again by Bee Gees 
* Station ID – transmitter and audio processor – 3000 hours faultlessly – mains going off – tape player worn out – antenna open wire twin feeder twisted and shorted – BBC person knows Maggie Stephenson 
* Music: Candle In The Wind by Elton John 
* Music: A Little Respect by Erasure 
* Box of letters – Listener in every parliamentary constituency – thanks to those who let us know you have written to your MP or Home Office 
* Music: Crush On U by The Jets 
* Music: We Don’t Need Another Hero by Tina Turner 
* Letter from Laura Cliens, Wishaw, Lanarkshire, Scotland – long list of supporters – white paper – short wave – disgrace – should have licence – where else can we hear? – hope you get some kind of licence sometime – announcers speak clearly and sound friendly!? 
* Music: I Don’t Want To Be A Hero by Johnny Hates Jazz 
* – Radiofax 1611 morning switch off and back to 6205 

Next, we move into the final day, the last few hours of vibrant free radio in Ireland…


The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 - Radiowaves.fm

December 30th
Evening Closedowns

December 31st
Morning Newspapers

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 - Radiowaves.fm

In Memoriam:

ABC Radio;
Big M;
Bray Local Broadcasting;
Breffni Regional Radio;
Carlow Local Radio;
Centre Radio;
Community Radio Fingal;
Donegal Community Radio;
ERI;
Galtee Radio;
Heartbeat FM;
Hope FM;
ICBS;
Independent Radio Longford;

Kiss FM (Monaghan);
Kiss FM (Tullamore);
Kiss 106;

KLFJ;
Liberty 104;

Midway Radio;
Mid West Radio;
North Dublin Community Radio;
Power 98;
Pulsar 98;

Q102;
RadioFax
;
Radio Snowflake;
Raidió Luimní;
Signal 106;

Smile FM;
Sunshine 101;
Tallaght Community Radio;
Treble TR;
WABC;
Waterford Local Radio;
West Coast Radio
West National Radio 3;
WKLR;
Zee 103;