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The Pirate Closedowns of 1988



Broadcast from Mount St, Dublin City & Portmarnock, Co Dublin || Scheduled close 6pm

In Dublin, the two main ‘superpirates’ – (Super) Q102 and Sunshine 101 – both opted for a 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 was the first of the superpirates, 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.

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 1 station in Dublin.

Q102 couldn’t beat Sunshine’s Hot Hits format, so 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.

Q102’s final afternoon of broadcast and reminiscing is off 102.3MHz and we join them at 2.22pm.

As Pierre Doyle had announced, it looked like Q102 was to continue beyond its 6pm scheduled close with non-stop music.

So how were Sunshine Radio saying goodbye to their listeners? With a very short jump down the FM band to tune in to 101.0MHz, we join their ‘Final Show’ from 3pm.

Right: an extremely emotional Robbie Robinson pictured in Sunshine’s studio for the station’s final broadcast.

EVENING HERALD December 30th

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


The Friday 6pm close proved a very 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 on 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 the next page we go on a whistle-stop journey around the country to hear how so many communities had their hearts and souls ripped out…and we start with the widely-acclaimed Monaghan station Kiss FM.