The Friday 6pm close proved a 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 by the end of 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 this page we go on a whistle-stop journey around the country to hear how so many communities had their hearts and souls ripped out…
First port of call is Monaghan to hear how Kiss FM, the self-styled ‘Ulster’s number 1’, switched off. Widely acclaimed as one of the top stations in the country by the end of 1988, Kiss FM had only been on air for 9 months and – like with so many of the nation’s stations – it was a tragedy that it was cut down in its prime.
It contained a wealth of talent who had cut their teeth with other top stations, such as Radio Nova and Radio Caroline, so it is no surprise that Kiss FM dared to be different.
The like of it – and sorry to reiterate the point – so many other unique stations, were never to grace our airwaves again. In an ideal world we’d be free to choose.
If you haven’t heard Kiss FM before, prepare yourself; you’re in for a treat. If you have heard it before, you know you’re in for a treat.
Tom Hardy was a near veteran at shutting stations down and rallying the listeners, having been involved in the famous Radio Nova closedown in May 1983.
Here’s how he expertly consigned Kiss FM in Monaghan to the history books.
Independent Radio Longford
Independent Radio Longford had been on the air for three years and the station’s owner, Gerry Conboy (below right, in studio), intended to apply for a licence.
They made the decision to switch off a day early because the station staff wished to spend time with family over the New Year period.
Gerry Conboy was on air from 3pm-4pm and he was followed for the next hour by the station manager, Mike McCartney.
We tune to their signal for the final hour with Phil Farrell presenting the final show…
Gerry Conboy’s two year old son was the one to turn the transmitter off for the final time.
The next day Gerry returned to the studio to the deafening sound of silence and as he sat at the desk it sank in that the station was now gone, never to broadcast again. It was the end.
Waterford Local Radio
Waterford Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 18:00
It’s back down to Waterford where ABC Radio had closed the day before. WLR, or Waterford Local Radio, were another hugely successful commercial pirate. Somehow both had managed to co-exist in the county – along with other stations – but the new licensing regime felt there was room for just one. A situation echoed across the country.
Image: WLR staff gathered in the studio during the final show.
It’s over to the west Dublin suburb of Ballyfermot to hear how Smile FM said their goodbyes on 94.2MHz. Broadcasting for just two years, Smile FM went under the radar a lot but were always an enjoyable listen.
Station owner Johnny Eccles had somehow been led to believe, through a friend who worked at the Dáil, that they were pretty much guaranteed a local licence early in the New Year provided they had shut down by the 31st.
Broadcasting from above a chip-shop in Tullamore, for Kiss FM’s final hour the station’s presenters were in the studio for a bit of banter and to say their goodbyes. They posed for this photograph.
Back: Barry Flynn, Paul McKenna, Tom Fox, Peter Meskill, Dundee Carroll, Alex Geoghegan
Front: Carthiage Kidney, James Molloy, Kenneth Geoghegan
It fell to Barry Flynn to deliver a final speech for the last link and this was to be followed by playing a vinyl copy of the song ‘Kiss’ by Prince.
Barry: “So the single was loaded on the turntable and cued. Polished emotional link delivered…fader up, and the record starts at the wrong speed!!!”
Fortunately for Barry we do not have a copy of the station’s closedown. However, if you can help complete this history please get in touch.
Dublin Hill, Cork city Listen on Radio Retro December 30th, 18:00
In Cork, Centre Radio on 95.0MHz also ceased transmissions at 6pm. The station had already closed early in 1988 but returned in September.
Station founder Eric Young paid tribute to presenters past and present in his final speech: 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
Unfortunately, we do not have a copy of the station’s closedown. If you can help complete this history please get in touch.
Next, we’re back in Limerick…