Energy 103 was an extremely popular ’80s Dublin superpirate which first appeared in April 1986 and closed in March 1988.
Energy 103 was one of the ’80s superpirates, on air for two years from April 28th 1986 until March 11th 1988. Originally seen as basically a replacement service for Radio Nova, which had closed to little fanfare on March 19th, Energy established itself as one of Dublin’s best ever stations in its own right. It had the slick style of its cousin, Radio Nova, but also had its own identity and was very sorely missed after it closed.
It effectively started life as Zoom 103, which arrived on air immediately following Radio Nova’s closedown. Zoom lasted just a few days but it took a number of weeks before Energy launched.
On April 27th 1986 both 103.1MHz and 738kHz sprang to life with unidentified music tests. Later that day the FM tests had shifted slightly to 103.0MHz.
The name has been a source of many a debate – even to the present day – and even amongst those who worked there! Promotional material and on-air identification by the presenters always gave the name as ‘Energy’ 103. Despite newspaper reports referring to NRG 103 when it launched, the name was Energy 103 from day one
However, in the early months, newsreaders very pronouncedly called the news service ‘N R G News’ and the most popular reason given is that the letters stood for Nova ReGenerated. As can be seen from the logo above the building, the letters N, R and G are highlighted.
Eventually, they uniformly settled on the full spelling of Energy but even then it went through a few stages. Energy Power 103FM was introduced at the end of the summer in 1987 and the new red on black logo was released.
Above images by very kind courtesy of Mike Mahon and Seán McCarthy
144 UPPER LEESON STREET
Above images by very kind courtesy of Mike Mahon
Energy was famously located at 144 Upper Leeson Street, which had also been used previously for Chris Cary’s Radio Nova easy-listening spin-off Magic 103. The four storey building was very impressive looking with the Energy facade.
The reception area was located on the ground floor, as was a production studio – which could be seen from the outside. The second floor housed the offices. The station manager, Sybil Fennell, had her office on this floor as did the sales team. Floor 3 housed the newsroom and the record library and Floor 4 is where the main on-air studio and newsreading room were located.
MORE OR LESS
They used the slogan ‘Less Talk – More Music’ in their promotional material – and slagged off Q102 for directly stealing it!
A merger with Chris Cary’s two week old ‘all new’ Radio Nova from November 25th 1987 saw the station change name to Nova Power 103FM but this was very short-lived. Then, after a few days of identifying as (just) Power 103FM, Energy was restored to the station’s name.
The timeline for this was around three weeks and was possibly the worst timing as at that stage it had its strongest line up (right) which was – seemingly unnecessarily – shaken up to accommodate the change and the station was never really the same. And, the confusion over the station’s name alienated listeners.
The reasons for the merger were straightforward. An announcement on licensing was imminent (it still took quite a few months!) and Energy / Nova joined forces to give themselves a better chance of attaining one. To most observers, however, Energy might have stood a much better chance without attaching the station name to Cary. Very few people believed that the establishment would ever grant Chris Cary a licence to broadcast in Ireland. Although Energy had managed to shake off the tag of just being Nova under another name, the ghosts of Nova itself were still very much alive.
As it happened, Energy closed, without announcement or warning, on March 11th 1988 at approx 7.10pm, selling everything to Q102, who overnight took over Energy’s frequencies.
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