The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 – December 31st Midnight Strikes

The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland
The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland

These are the stations who went right to the wire, squeezing every last minute from their quasi-legal status. Midnight approached and would mark the start of a new year and also a new era for Irish radio.
Leading up to midnight there were still a few familiar names to be found.
Again, where available, we have the final hour from each station…

We head down to the gloomy south-east for Wexford’s only station left on the air on deadline day…

Community Radio Wexford


Wexford Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 23:46


Community Radio Wexford was the only station left on air from Wexford for the final few days of 1988.
According to Brian Cleary, a former presenter with CRW, there was a station operating in the psychiatric hospital in Enniscorthy that had broadcast on and off during the year but it seemed to be gone before the final week.
Having been around for six years, CRW made the strange decision to spend most of their final hour broadcasting Mass.

Leading into the Mass broadcast, station manager John O’Connor had this to say from 11.04pm…

Following Mass, at 11.41pm station owner Dominic Kiernan, who was a local Councillor and many times Mayor, brought the station to a close…

Recordings and information with huge thanks to Brian Cleary

We take a trip to Roscommon where two stations were heading for a midnight close…

Roscommon Radio


Elphin, Co Roscommon Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Amazingly, the town of Elphin in Roscommon supported two radio stations in 1988. Alan Hanley presents the final few minutes of Roscommon Radio’s time on-air leading up to their midnight shutdown.

Recording kindly supplied by Michael Bermingham

Roscommon Community Radio


Elphin, Co Roscommon Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Meanwhile over on Roscommon Community Radio, the other Elphin-based station, Michael Bermingham hosted a six hour final programme. RCR also opted to go right to the bitter end with a deadline closedown of midnight.

We join Michael with an hour left before the transmitters would fall silent.


Galway’s main stations all decided to close at midnight…

County Sound


Prospect Hill, Galway Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


County Sound’s station manager Benen Tierney and Tommy Kelly, along with an assortment of guests, say goodbye to their Galway listeners in their own unique manner. On air since Patrick’s Day 1987, the station had built up a decent audience with their adult-oriented format.

We join the night’s wind down with an hour to go…
if you’d prefer a longer version we have the final 90 minutes in our Radio Retro section here


KFM Galway County Radio


Galway Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Shane Keating was the man tasked with closing KFM, also in Galway.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 11pm.
If you’d prefer a longer version we have the final 90 minutes in our Radio Retro section here


Coast 103


Galway Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


This is the last 60 minutes from Coast 103 from Galway which gives a flavour of how they signed off as the New Year, and the new law, were about to become reality.

Note: if you’d prefer a longer version we have the final 80 minutes in our Radio Retro section here

We head back into the capital with just a handful of stations making it to the end

Capitol Radio


Dublin Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Back now to the capital to hear how Capitol shut off its transmitters. On air for 5+ years, ‘Dublin’s Real Alternative’ were a station genuinely offering something different to the city, with active promotion of Irish bands and Indie club nights, not to mention music on the radio that wasn’t played elsewhere.

We join their final night’s broadcasting with an hour to go to their midnight closedown.
If you’d prefer a longer version we have the final 85 minutes in our Radio Retro section here


Centre Radio


Bayside, Dublin 13 Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Centre Radio was on air for just two years when forced to close. Based on Dublin’s Northside, Centre was a small, but fun, station run by two of the people previously responsible for Big Beat Radio.
There was plenty of beer imbibed for today’s final broadcast and just about everyone who was ever involved dropped into the studio over the course of the day. They also boasted being the only Dublin station left on air doing news, although it’s very doubtful that any of it was gathered.
They submitted an expression of interest in a local licence for the north-east of Dublin.

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

Zike FM


Dublin Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Zike FM was another hobbyist station. Their closedown was at midnight with Garvan Rigby one of the guest presenters. Sponsored by Coca Cola, the last record was ironically enough “First Time” by Robin Beck.

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

Over we go again to the other side of the country

Independent Radio Mayo


Castlebar, Co Mayo Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Independent Radio Mayo hadn’t been on air too long when the new Act was introduced but they did hope to get a licence in the New Year.

They also opted for a deadline closedown of midnight and this is Andrew Ryan to take us there in a recording which starts at just before 11pm.

Note: if you’d prefer a longer version we have the final 85 minutes in our Radio Retro section here

They were having fun and games on the South Coast…

South Coast Radio


Vicars Road, Cork Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Based in the Togher Industrial Estate on Vicars Road in the city, South Coast Radio had changed their name from WBEN in the belief that it might give them a greater chance of being awarded a licence. They weren’t as ‘big’ as their on-air rivals but they had a more homely feel and listeners really connected with them.
We join their countdown to closure with station owner Romano Macari on air taking calls from listeners.

Community Radio Youghal


Youghal, Co Cork Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Community Radio Youghal was another station with a strong community ethos. They had been broadcasting since July 1979, inspired by a week-long RTÉ mobile station in the town.
For their final moments, one of the station founders Noel Cronin, and station manager Séamus Murphy spent time reminiscing, surrounded by a studio full of tearful people. After thanking the local people for their support and contributions Séamus said goodbye and as the clock struck midnight the station was no more.

We have just a very short snippet of the final moments…

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

Into the midlands for a county which was making the news thanks to the new franchises …

Laois Community Radio


Mountrath, Co Laois Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Laois Community Radio had been around for most of the 80s. There was a lot of complaints from local politicians when the licensed franchise areas were drawn up as Laois would have to share a local radio service with two other counties – and there would be no local presence. The feeling was that LCR had proven that the county could very easily support its own local station.
We tune in at 11.45pm to hear how they vacated the airwaves.

Donegal had a few stations that went to the deadline …

Radio North


Carndonagh, Co Donegal Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Another station to close just as the new year began was Radio North, broadcasting from Carndonagh in Co Donegal. On air since November 1986, North’s history was a short, but eventful, one.


We join their countdown to closedown at 11.04pm on 97.9MHz with Mickey Henry on air.


Radio Nova


Fahan, Co Donegal Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Radio Nova first appeared in mid 1986 as City Sound Radio, then as Radio Nova 2 before dropping the 2 from the name. They were unfortunate in that there was a lot of downtime in their time on air and right up until the deadline they remained secretive about their future plans.

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

North West Community Radio


Buncrana, Co Donegal Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


The longest-established station in Donegal also opted to go right to the deadline with an open day for their listeners. We tune in on 1116kHz with just 15 minutes to go to switch off with Mary Gallagher on air.

To Kilkenny for another midnight closedown…

AMS


Kilkenny Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Kilkenny station A.M.S. was founded in 1988 by Séamus Brophy and, as such, was one of the stations closing which had a short lifespan. Unusual for the time, it was an FM only station broadcasting on 98.6MHz.


Scheduled to close at midnight, we join ‘The Power Sound of the South-East’ with minutes to go at 11.50pm.


It’s a long way and Tipperary’s main stations all went to the deadline…

Premier County Radio


Clonmel, Co Tipperary Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Due to switch off at midnight, this is the final 30 minutes on air from Premier County Radio, who had spent just over a year broadcasting to Co Tipperary.

Tipperary Community Radio


Co Tipperary Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


Throughout the day Tipperary Community Radio presented a grand finale of all of its popular announcers and personalities down the years. The last record played was “Don’t Go” by The Hothouse Flowers and the station went to silence just as midnight struck.

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


CBC Radio

Clonmel, Co Tipperary Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


On air for seven years, CBC Radio had a special visitor to their West Gate studio for the final day of broadcast. Clonmel’s Mayor Tommy Norris appeared on ‘Saturday Scene’ with Ruarí Walsh and thanked the station for their service to the local area.
The station were inundated with calls of appreciation from listeners and members of the Corporation and the County Council also visited the studio and emphasised how important it had been to have a local station.
Timmy Cooney and Noreen Butler presented the final broadcast in which they had lots of guests from the station’s past and present.


This is the final hour…


CBC recording is by very kind courtesy of Jonathan Ryan

It’s time to pay a visit to Kerry…

South West Radio


Killarney, Co Kerry Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


South West Radio, based in Castle Heights Hotel, had an open day for their listeners on the final day of broadcasting.
Station co-owner Pat Moriarty is on air as we join the closedown countdown. Pat and his two brothers, who also owned the station, claimed 60% listenership and planned to apply for a radio licence on their own and were confident of getting it.
SWR employed 10 people full- and part-time.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 11pm.
A longer version of this closedown is available in our Radio Retro section here


The last station left in Waterford was NCR Radio…

Waterford - NCR Radio

NCR Radio


The Quays, Waterford Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 24:00


The last of Waterford’s long-running stations went to the midnight deadline. NCR was named after the station owners Paddy Nolan and Kathy Cahill.

NCR Radio

Broadcasting since 1985 as Crystal City Sound (although the personnel involved were also responsible for Suirside Radio) NCR was a result of a split in January 1988.

Based along the quays, NCR had been entertaining Waterford with a music mix particularly of easy listening oldies but fell silent as the New Year’s festivities were coming to a close.

They had no intention of applying for a licence. The costs were prohibitive and they felt that a commercial station would struggle to survive in Waterford.

The closedown was emotional. Paddy Nolan introduced all the station’s presenters as they said goodbye one by one. Paddy’s was the last voice heard on the station as it succumbed to the new legislation.

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

If you can add anything to this story, or have a recording to donate, you can contribute via a dedicated thread here.

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 - Radiowaves.fm

The Final Evening – December 31st

December 31st Round Up

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 - Radiowaves.fm

In Memoriam:

3CR;
ABC Radio;
AMS;
Big M;
Boyneside Radio;
Boyneside Radio Navan;
Boyneside Radio North;
Bray Local Broadcasting;
Breffni Regional Radio;
Capitol Radio;
Carlow Community Radio;
Carlow Local Radio;
Cavan Community Radio;
CBC Radio;
Centre Radio (Cork);
Centre Radio (Dublin);
Class Radio;
Coast 103;
Community Radio Fingal;
County Sound;
Donegal Community Radio;
ERI;
Erneside Radio;
Galtee Radio;
Heartbeat FM;
Hometown Radio;
Hope FM;
ICBS;
Independent Radio Limerick;
Independent Radio Longford;
Independent Radio Mayo;
Kilkenny Community Radio;
KFM County Galway Radio;
Kiss FM (Monaghan);
Kiss FM (Tullamore);

Kiss 106;
KITS;

KLFJ;

KTOK Radio;
Laois Community Radio;
Liberty 104;
Midway Radio;
NCR Radio;
North Cork Community Radio;
North Dublin Community Radio;
North West Community Radio;
Power 98;
Premier County Radio;
Pulsar 98;
RadioFax (relay);
Radio Munster;
Radio North;
Radio Nova;
Radio Nova (relay);
Radio Snowflake;
Radio Vera;
Rainbow Radio;
Raidió Luimní;
Roscommon Radio;
Roscommon Community Radio;
Signal 106;
South Coast Radio;
South West Radio;
Tallaght Community Radio;
Telstar Community Radio;
Tipperary Community Radio;
Treble TR;
Twin County Radio;
WABC;
Waterford Local Radio;
West Coast Radio
West National Radio 3;
Westside Radio International;
WKLR;
Zee 103;
Zike FM;