RADIO NOVA - LONG WAVE TESTS
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Nova - Dublin (1981
AM - 254 - 846 - 891 - 819 - 828 - 738 - 729 - 88.2 - 102.7 - 6207
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NOVA - LONG WAVE - 254kHz (January 1986)
Over 3 years before Atlantic 252 began test transmissions on Long Wave 254kHz (now 252kHz following international frequency changes), the pioneering Radio Nova had already beaten them to it. During December 1985 and January 1986, Radio Nova attempted its final high powered medium from Dublin. In the years previous, Radio Nova had broadcast on Medium Wave, FM and Short Wave, as well as successfully testing television for a short period in 1983. By the Summer of 1985 it had become clear that although Radio Nova was putting in a good signal to North West England with their 50kW transmitter, the expected advertising revenue had not materialised. Despite reception being good along the coast, in the larger cities such as Liverpool and especially Manchester, the signal was not of saleable quality. Here, on a 'normal' radio, 738kHz was weaker, and especially during the winter months suffered from foreign intereference. By December 1985, the 50kW RCA transmitter had been replaced by the standby 10kW CSI for 738kHz.
When the original idea of transmitting to England was discussed about at Radio Nova in the early 1980's, Long Wave was to be the preferred band. This was due to the large areas that can be covered on Long Wave. A location at Mosney, on the East coast just North of Dublin was said to have been chosen as a suitable site. However, this fell through and Long Wave was dropped in favour of MW from Nova Park, Rathfarnham (formerly the Greenacres Country Club). The raids of May 1983 (ironically, which were probably caused by the threat of this new station) delayed the start of this high powered service until 1984. In fact, split programmes for England only lasted several hours in the form of XIDY 738kHz in May 1984. Breakthrough onto the 819kHz Dublin service was the reason for the cessation of the second service. Radio Nova itself began to make use of the 50kW transmitter and programming was altered slightly to aim at both the English and Irish audiences. The disappointing results of 738kHz, and lack of any other suitable frequency on medium wave may well have been the reason for the resumption of the Long Wave idea in late 1985.
The first report of Radio Nova being on 254kHz Long Wave was on Radio Nederland's 'Media Network' programme of 12th December 1985. At this point the channel carried a relay of the 738kHz service, and the signals were variable and intermittent. Only short tests were monitored until the middle of January. The signal level and audio quality of these short tests gradually improved during the first two weeks of January 1986. There were still no reports of seperate programmes, and the relay of Radio Nova never mentioned any tests on Longwave. As a result, very few local listeners in Dublin probably knew what was going on. A further report on 'Media Network' 23rd January edition reported an increase in signal strength and it was also around this time that the transmitter was left on permanently. The first split tests were heard on Tuesday 28th January 1986. Normal Radio Nova programmes were relayed until after 2pm, when Chris Barry then began announcing test transmissions on 254kHz and requesting reception reports. He continued with mainly country music until 6pm, when normal Radio Nova programmes were once again relayed. A similar schedule operated on both Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th January. Thursday was to be the final transmission, as at around 2215, owner Chris Cary had the transmitter switched off. The reason for the sudden termination of the tests is unknown, but 6 weeks later Radio Nova was forced to closedown altogether. Power at the time of the LW switch off was thought to be in the region of 15kW.
Unfortunately we have no photographs of the Long Wave studio or aerial system (which needed to be vast for this frequency) due to the short time the station was on the air. Any help on this would be much appreciated.
Seven months after the Radio Nova tests on 254kHz, a report on Media Network of 21st August 1986 gave the first indication of a proposed RTE / Radio Luxembourg venture on the same frequency. According to the interview, the station was to be called Radio Tara, but when it eventually arrived on the air in 1989, it was known as Atlantic 252. The initial frequency was actually 254kHz, but following International frequency changes, it moved to the announced 252kHz.
OFF AIR RECORDINGS FROM 254kHz
|1986_01_09_thu_nova_254lw_1450-1620_georgetalbot_738relay.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz with Clutter Free Hour then George Talbot. Recorded in Blackpool.||43,623k|
|1986_01_10_fri_nova_254lw_1352-1450_tonymckenzie_738relay-scotland.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz with Tony McKenzie and Sybil Fennell on news. Recorded in West Scotland. Weak signal with a lot of European interference.||32,211k|
|1986_01_10_fri_nova_254lw_1540-1640_paulkavanagh_738relay-scotland.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz with Paul Kavanagh and Sybil Fennell on news. Recorded in West Scotland. Slighly better reception than above recording.||29,038k|
|1986_01_24_fri_nova_254lw_1413-1515_tonymckenzie_738relay-scotland.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz with Tony McKenzie and Sybil Fennell on news. Recorded in West Scotland. Much better signal than previous Friday.||31,196k|
|1986_01_26_sun_nova_254lw_0145-0325_richard_jackson_738relay.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz. Recorded in Blackpool.||47,766k|
|1986_01_26_sun_nova_254lw_0325-0455_richard_jackson_738relay.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz. Recorded in Blackpool.||43,254k|
|1986_01_28_tue_nova_254lw_chrisbarry_airchecks.mp3||Airchecks of Chris Barry announcing the Long Wave tests on 254kHz. Recorded in Bradford.||1,386k|
|1986_01_28_tue_nova_254lw_1500-1545_chrisbarry.mp3||Split 254kHz test transmission with Chris Barry. Recorded in Blackpool.||21,883k|
|1986_01_28_tue_nova_254lw_1500-1800_chrisbarry.mp3||A combination of recordings from 28th January, starting in Bradford (received in a concrete building) and then Blackpool with the better signal. Chris Barry again on tests, before merging back with the main Nova service at 6pm.||65,577k|
|1986_01_29_wed_nova_254lw_chrisbarry_airchecks.mp3||Airchecks of Chris Barry announcing the Long Wave tests on 254kHz. Recorded in Blackpool.||945k|
|1986_01_29_wed_nova_254lw_0740-0910_johnohara_738relay.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz on 254kHz with John O'Hara until 9am then Tony McKenzie. Recorded in Leeds.||42,503k|
|1986_01_29_wed_nova_254lw_0910-1200_tonymckenzie_738relay.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz on 254kHz with Tony McKenzie. Recorded in Leeds.||82,963k|
|1986_01_29_wed_nova_254lw_1200-1405_tonymckenzie_colmhayes_738relay.mp3||Relay of Radio Nova 738kHz on 254kHz with Tony McKenzie then Colm Hayes at 1pm. Recorded in Leeds.||58,190k|
|1986_01_29_wed_nova_254lw_1430-1615_chrisbarry.mp3||Split 254kHz test transmission with Chris Barry. Edited from tapes received in Bradford (weak signal) and Blackpool.||48,123k|
|1986_01_30_thu_nova_254lw_1355-1530_colmhayes_738relay_then_chrisbarry.mp3||Relay of 738kHz with Dave Johnson on news and Colm Hayes until about 1425, then a split to Chris Barry and a separate Radio Nova Longwave test. Recorded in Bradford, inside a concrete building hence some electrical interference.||43,115k|
|1986_01_30_thu_nova_254lw_1538-1640_chrisbarry-EM144.mp3 New JAN 2021||Chris Barry with separate Radio Nova Longwave test, includes Dave Johnson with news at 4pm and headlines at 4:30pm. Recorded in Liverpool. Many thanks to Eric Monaghan for this one. There are one or two transmission issues in this recording, which could have bee due to storm conditions. The test went back to relaying the main Nova service at 6pm, and the longwave transmissions were switched off shortly after 11pm never to return.||58M|
The only press coverage we have of the Radio Nova Long Wave experiment was the one above from 'Broadcast' Magazine of 14th February 1986, some two weeks after the tests had ceased.