The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 – The Afternoon of December 31st

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

And so, back to the business of radio stations closing down. Lots of stations went to the very last day – quite a few to the very last minute – before the new legislation went live.
A mixture of emotions could be heard via radio sets tuned to the pirates all over Ireland on December 31st 1988.
Some were heart-breaking; some were celebratory; some were sad; some were happy.
Here, in chronological order according to transmitter switch-off, are the stations whose lives were snuffed out. Where possible, we have the last hour of broadcast for each station. Each and every station, no matter how big or small, no matter how old or young, meant something to somebody, whether it be the owner, the presenters or the listeners.
Each station has a story to tell…

The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland

As the clocks struck midday Telstar Community Radio in Dundalk were entering their final hour of broadcast.
So too were Westside Radio International, the shortwave station based in Dublin. At least, that was the plan!

There was a lot of confusion over what the SW pirates would do. As they usually only came on once a week for a few hours many thought they might not shut down altogether. The new law would make this difficult though.

Radio Nova International


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


The long-running Dublin FM relay for Radio Nova International, the English-based satellite service ran by Chris Cary, was switched off at 1pm. And so ended Dublin’s long association with Nova and Chris Cary. Chris did intend applying for the new national licence…

Telstar Community Radio


Dundalk, Co Louth


First station closure on the final day was Telstar Community Radio from Dundalk, a large town in Co Louth close to the Northern Irish border. Broadcasting since 1981, Telstar was a long time in the making and a short time in the killing.

Scheduled for a 1pm shut down, we join the broadcast at midday leading up to the moment it fell to station owner Damien Keenan to say the final few words to the listeners.

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



Telstar Community Radio the final day
Image courtesy of Don Green

Westside Radio International


Ireland Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 13:50


Westside Radio International was the longest-running station to close at the end of 1988. On air since the mid-’70s, Prince Terry broadcast on Sundays on the shortwave band.

He had already been on all week with special programming and we join the final day’s broadcast as the station goes live at midday (it had been on since earlier in the morning broadcasting relays).
Prince Terry and Gary Lewis guided international and local listeners through the station’s final minutes.

Westside Radio International

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 12.50pm.
If you’d prefer a longer version we have the final 110 minutes in our Radio Retro section here


The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland

The next station scheduled to close were the curiously-named K.I.T.S. who were based in the border county of Monaghan…

The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland

K.I.T.S.


Market St, Monaghan


K.I.T.S., a Monaghan-based station, were a late addition to the world of radio and were a fun station to listen to.

KITS Monaghan

They also had great craic on air on the final day and weren’t going to let the small matter of a new law stop that.

We tune to 100.9MHz FM just as the station enters its final hour of their ‘Final Fling’ which had been on the go since 8am. Their scheduled close time was 2pm.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 1pm.
If you’d prefer a longer version we have the final six hours in our Radio Retro section here


The 1988 Pirate Radio Closedowns in Ireland

The Saturday afternoon closedown was proving extremely popular around the north-east and border areas. Two more stations scheduled to close this afternoon were Rainbow Radio and Cavan Community Radio.

Rainbow Radio


Carrickcarnon, Co Louth Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 15:05


Rainbow Radio was based in the border area of Carrickcarnon in Co Louth so had a big audience in Northern Ireland.

Scheduled to close at 3pm, Fiddlin’ Tom Cameron took to the air at midday to present the station’s last show, and his last ‘Country Jamboree’.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 2pm.
If you’d prefer a longer version we have the final 90 minutes in our Radio Retro section here


Gerry Byrne commented via our social media channels:
A great memory what a real shame… and to see all the stations who were closed down.

Comment on Rainbow Radio’s closedown here

Cavan Community Radio


Cavan Town, Co Cavan Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 15:00


Cavan Community Radio were another station that opted for a 3pm closedown. ‘The Big One’ had been on air since 1983 and their country and pop music mix had proven very popular.

We join their final show, with much reminiscing, with just over an hour left before switch off.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 2pm.
If you’d prefer a longer version we have the final 90 minutes in our Radio Retro section here


The poor sound quality is unfortunate but this is invaluable. If you can provide a better quality recording please get in touch.

Boyneside’s network of stations were also scheduled to close at 3pm. Boyneside had opt-out services for ‘The North’ and Navan, as well as the mother station in Drogheda. which was one of the longest-serving services forced to shut down at the end of 1988.

Boyneside Radio


Drogheda, Co Louth Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 15:00


We join the coverage on the Drogheda service at 2pm for the last hour of ‘Boyneside Radio Saying Goodbye’, a two-hour programme charting the history of the station. The programme had been preceded by Heady Eddie’s last ‘Green Scene’ for Boyneside Radio.
As well as on FM and AM, this programme was relayed all over Europe on the SW band using the ‘Radiofax’ transmitter on 6205kHz and another direct relay on 6231kHz.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 2pm.
If you’d like to hear more we have the full programme, and ‘Green Scene’, in our Radio Retro section here


Boyneside Radio Navan


Navan, Co Meath Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 15:00


On Boyneside Radio Navan, Tina Anderson presented her own final two-hour programme. She was a very familiar voice in the area having been with both Boyneside and Carousel’s dedicated Navan services.
This final half hour was recorded in Blackpool and is unfortunately of very poor quality due to co-channel interference from an East German station.

This is the station’s final 30 minutes of broadcast from 2.30pm.


This recording is with huge thanks to Gary Hogg at DX Archive

Boyneside Radio North


Carrickcarnon, Co Louth Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 16:00


Boyneside Radio (North) broadcast from Carrickcarnon in Co Louth, right on the border. Broadcasting since the early ’80s, the service was very popular in Northern Ireland.
Scheduled to close at 3pm we actually join their final show at 3pm! Because of the response from listeners calling in to the station, they extended their broadcast for an hour.

This is the station’s final hour of broadcast from 3pm.
If you’d like to hear more the final 150 minutes can be heard in our Radio Retro section here


Heading for the 4pm hour and 3CR Community Radio in Clondalkin in west Dublin were closing down.
As were KTOK Radio in Donegal.

3CR Community Radio


Clondalkin, Dublin Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 16:00


3CR closed at 4pm and the last presenter on air was John Travers after a four hour stint…

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

KTOK Radio


Donegal Listen on Radio Retro December 31st, 16:00


KTOK Radio went for a 4pm closedown. Here’s their final 15 minutes on air with station owner Russ Padmore.

With thanks to Prince Terry (via DX Archive)

Next, we take a look at the evening newspapers which were hitting the shops around now


The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 - Radiowaves.fm

The Morning Newspapers for December 31st

The Evening Newspapers for December 31st

The Pirate Closedowns of 1988 - Radiowaves.fm

In Memoriam:

3CR;
ABC Radio;
Big M;
Boyneside Radio;
Boyneside Radio Navan;
Boyneside Radio North;
Bray Local Broadcasting;
Breffni Regional Radio;
Carlow Local Radio;
Cavan Community 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;
KITS;

KLFJ;
KTOK Radio;

Liberty 104;
Midway Radio;
North Dublin Community Radio;
Power 98;
Pulsar 98;
RadioFax;
Radio Nova;
Radio Snowflake;
Rainbow Radio;
Raidió Luimní;
Signal 106;
Tallaght Community Radio;
Telstar Community Radio;
Treble TR;
WABC;
Waterford Local Radio;
West Coast Radio
West National Radio 3;
Westside Radio International;
WKLR;
Zee 103;