The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 – December 30th Q102 & Sunshine 101

The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland
Pirate radio closedowns for December 30th 1988
6pm, 1988 pirate radio closedowns

The station closures were about to start in earnest – a few had chosen Friday 6pm, including two of the biggest in the country

Q102 / Sunshine 101


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


In Dublin, the two main ‘superpirates’ – (Super) Q102 and Sunshine 101 – both opted for a Friday, 6pm closedown.

Both of these stations had switched to Bill Cunningham’s ‘Hot Hits’ format, Q102 mirroring Sunshine’s format change, and – whether deliberate or coincidental – they mirrored each other right to the end with their chosen time for closure.

Sunshine Radio, Dublin pirate radio station

Sunshine Radio was the first of the recognised superpirates in the capital, launching in 1980 with a definite plan to establish itself as Dublin’s number 1.

By the time Q102 arrived in January 1985, Sunshine Radio – thanks to the troubles at Radio Nova – arguably reigned supreme.

At launch-time, Q102 chose an easy-listening format which proved very popular with Dubliners, and, with a host of familiar names on board from the aforementioned Radio Nova, in particular, Q102 quickly established itself as one of Dublin’s top stations.

Sunshine Radio switched to Bill Cunningham’s Hot Hits format and by 1988 – and with Radio Nova now consigned to the nostalgia frequency of listeners’ minds, and Nova’s replacement service, Energy 103, off the air by March – Sunshine was the runaway number one station in Dublin.

Q102, Dublin pirate radio station

Q102 couldn’t beat Sunshine’s Hot Hits format, so in the summer of 1988 they joined them. There then followed some quite entertaining on-air bitching between the two stations.

Thankfully, the Hot Hits format was dropped in time to allow both station’s presenters a chance to say a proper goodbye – something that’s quite difficult to do in a 15 second link.

Q102’s owners had already indicated that they would not be applying for any of the new licences so theirs was to be a definitive final goodbye.

Sunshine, on the other hand, were extremely confident that they’d be back.

As expected both stations produced a day’s broadcast full of nostalgia with the right mix of fun and melancholy.

Q102 had a different presenter on for each hour from the start of the day. However, as the day progressed more and more people invaded the studio to reminisce.

This is the final hour from Q102, recorded off 102.3MHz.
In our Radio Retro section, you can listen to the full day’s programming from Q102, starting at 8.45am, by tapping here


As Pierre Doyle had announced, Q102 continued beyond its 6pm scheduled close with non-stop music. On some frequencies, a U2 song faded in as the closedown song faded out. On others, it faded to silence but returned towards the end of the U2 record.


Robbie Robinson - Sunshine 101
An extremely emotional Robbie Robinson pictured in Sunshine’s studio for the station’s final broadcast

So how were Sunshine Radio saying goodbye to their listeners? They were running a special ‘Final Show’ which had started at 9am. Starting from their launch year of 1980, hour by hour they moved forward, playing music from each year as well as covering the history of the station. It was a slick, well-produced and brilliantly-orchestrated closedown.

This is Sunshine Radio’s final hour, as broadcast from their portakabin at the Sands Hotel in Portmarnock.
In our Radio Retro section you can listen to the whole of the ‘Final Show’ from Sunshine, starting at 9am, by tapping here


The tears at the end of Sunshine...

In a later edition of the Evening Herald, this appeared on the front page…

Day the music died

Next, we visit the other stations who closed at 6pm…


The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 - Radiowaves.fm

December 30th
Evening Newspapers

December 30th
6pm Closedowns

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 - Radiowaves.fm

In memoriam:
ABC Radio;
Carlow Local Radio;
Liberty 104;
Q102;
Radio Snowflake;
Raidió Luimní;
Sunshine 101;
WABC;