Prior to Centre Radio, the station founder Eric Young had run Leeside Radio, on 101.5MHz FM, a station which had emerged at the end of 1985. In the middle of 1986 it was decided to close Leeside Radio and in its place launch a new station which would be run on a more commercial basis. So, in July 1986, Leeside closed, and some days later Cork’s Centre Radio appeared, also on 101.5 FM, though was later to move frequency slightly to 101.0 FM.
Centre’s studio was initially located at 110 Shandon Street, but later moved not far to another premises, 120 Shandon Street. The station’s phone number whilst in Shandon Street was 021 397980.
Centre Radio had a 250 watt transmitter, but this was always located at the studio building (rather than a dedicated high site) which limited coverage in the outlying areas. This was Centre’s main weakness.
The format was usually a chart music and oldies fare, but it was also noted for having many specialist programmes such as ‘Leon Jackson’s Rambling Country show’ on Saturdays, and ‘Big Band Swing’ with Tom Cotter on Sunday mornings.
The station had well produced ads, and used jingles, which were those which had been used by the ill-fated ILR station Centre Radio in Leicester, England. Some station promos described the programme mix as “CENTERtainment”!
Early in 1988 Centre Radio closed down, but it re-emerged from the ashes several months later in September (and on a new frequency 95.0 FM), broadcasting from a premises at Dublin Hill on the northern edge of Cork city, and had a successful time broadcasting until the station closed for the last time, along with the vast majority of pirate radios station in Ireland, at the end of 1988.
Cork’s Centre Radio closed at 6PM on 30th of December 1988. The founder of Centre Radio, Kevin Cussen (alias ‘Eric Young’), unsuccessfully applied for a local radio licence in 1989, being up against the might of the high profile consortium which was successful in being licensed to run Radio South (which later became 96FM).
Centre Radio’s presenters (as announced by Eric Young, DJ and station founder, in tribute, on-air during the station’s closing down programme): Tony Carey, Alan Jones, Pat O’Rourke, Pete Asher, Tony Lewis, Tim Desmond, Fergus Hunter, Tracy Bennett, John Andrews, Leon Jackson, Derek Jackson, Ann Harris, Paul Wyse, Bill Davis, Tom Cotter, Con Hannigan, Fergal Barry, Tony Williams, John O’Connor, Dave Gilmore, Jerry O’Connor, Chris Wigley, Chris Black, Steve James, Donal McKeon
Part-time presenters (and production personel) included: Alan O’Donovan, Pete Simmons, Paul Sweeney, Kevin Barry, Steve Newman, Jim Stevens, Mike Kenny.
After the 1988 closure of the pirates, some of the Centre presenters appeared on new ‘legal’ radio stations.
Tony Magnier (who was ‘Tony Carey’ on Centre) presented a nightly chart music show on Radio South during 1989 and 1990 which was very popular with younger listeners.
One Centre DJ (and newsreader) who became a well known figure outside Cork was Jerry O’Connor, who in 1989 went on to work for 98FM’s newsroom in Dublin, before becoming a nationally known voice on INN (Independent Network News, the news service to local stations) for many years. Also 2FM presenter Michael Cahill had done a brief stint on Centre as a young DJ. For some reason several former presenters on Centre resurfaced on the airwaves on Cork’s hospital radio station (now known as CUH FM) during the 1990s.
Information Resources:- Written and compiled by M. Long with the help of tape recordings, personal recollections, and recollections of others.
© radiowaves 2003