Radio Nova: Part 2 – Chapter 06

I’ve never made any secret about how much I enjoyed the partnership with Pat C. I know the one with Dekkie stands out in most people’s minds, and rightfully so, but I find it hard to separate the two as to my own creativity. I will always be grateful to both of them for bringing out the best in me.

Bob Gallico

The greatest compliment that anyone could have given to Energy (Power) 103FM is that a point came when comparisons to its predecessor had ceased. The ghost of Nova had hung heavily over the station for months, and no matter how good any station could be it could naturally never live up to comparisons with the Mighty 890.

By mid 1987 Energy had become a radio station living on its own reputation rather than piggybacking on another.

It sounded tight, extremely professional, had forged its own identity and had a presenter line up that compares favourably to any lineup any station has ever had on this island.

The music that the station played captured the era perfectly and despite Sunshine’s Ipod on shuffle Hot Hits format wowing a certain audience, and Q102’s professionalism catering for a more mature audience, Energy carved out a niche and usually came in second or third in any listenership survey.

Like Nova, Energy had benefitted from right place right time in terms of their presenters, who complemented each other perfectly.

The station’s flagship ‘Breakfast Club’ programme is, to this day, remembered with a reverence and fondness usually only reserved for Declan Meehan’s breakfast double handers on Nova with Bob Gallico. It is no coincidence that Bob was also one of the Energy triumvirate who had Dubliners guffawing every morning.

Main presenter Pat Courtenay’s quick-wittedness on air, and talent for script-writing off air, worked perfectly with Bob Gallico’s talent for script-writing off-air and quick-wittedness on air. Between them they were responsible for a wealth of characters and sketches which still make great listening today. Stuck in the middle of the madness was Lisa Moore, better known as Fionnuala Sweeney, who did her best to present the news and traffic inserts without breaking into uncontrolled laughter. She fitted in perfectly and the show would not have been the same without her.

The dream team – Lisa, Bob and Pat

Pat Courtenay, presently working on Radio Nova, the rock music service which has no connections with the 1980s super pirate, remembers his days on Energy 103 with great fondness, calling his partnership with Bob and Fionnuala as being great fun – on and off air.

Gareth O’Callaghan made an all too brief return to the station in the summer of 1987 but his afternoon show from that period is, in this reviewer’s opinion, the best that this supremely talented presenter has ever put out.

It constantly faced, not entirely unfairly, accusations of being a direct rip off of BBC Radio 1’s Steve Wright in the Afternoon of the same period, but if you’re going to imitate then you need to do it exceptionally well and Gareth was not only capable of it, he lived it.

Gareth’s range of characters would ‘phone in to’ the show at various periods and more often than not, would produce some comic gold.

Another great addition to the station at this time was Cassidy Jones, a natural on air and also a comic genius – he apparently was/is most recently involved in writing sitcoms, which would come as no surprise to anybody who ever heard him on Energy 103.

Making up the numbers were Tony McKenzie, who had migrated across from the last days of Radio Nova, and – how can one put this delicately – the wonderful Schools’ Out with John O’Hara, whose natural charm served him well when chatting up the myriad of girls (it always seemed to be girls) who would phone the show and ended up live on air. It was all great fun and done without ever exceeding the boundaries of bad taste but somehow it’s difficult to imagine a show like that making it to air in this age of the terminally offended – listeners who are so desperate to be offended that they will roam up and down, and across, the airwaves until they find something that will give them reason to be offended.

No radio station is complete without a decent news service and Energy 103’s was reminiscent of Radio Nova’s, not least because Sybil Fennell and Bob Gallico were part of the team.

With the station having shaken off the Nova comparisons what happened next was ironic and ultimately was the start of the end for the station.

Interlude – The News

This is some of the station’s Newsteam…from top: Bob Gallico; Gary Hamill; Lisa Moore; George Long; Michael Mahon; Dave Johnson; Sybil Fennell and Tony Allan in the Newsroom.

Photos courtesy of Mike Mahon (Bob, Fionnuala, Michael, Tony); Brian McEvoy Walsh (Seán); Kevin Branigan (George); DX Archive (Dave, Sybil)

The Great Pretenders

Part 2 Chapter 05: The Great Pretenders

Radio Nova returns

Part 2 Chapter 07: Here Comes the SuperNova