THE IRISH PIRATES 1982
|Irish Era - Offshore - Landbased - Official Stations - Downloads - Press - Other|
REVISITED APRIL 1982
|Radio Carousel Dundalk||Gallery|
|Boyneside Radio and Television||1982 Gallery|
|Radio Carousel Navan||Gallery|
|Southside Radio||Gallery (same as 1981)|
|Westside Radio International||Gallery|
|Suirside Radio||Gallery (same as 1981)|
|Community Radio Drogheda||Gallery (same as 1981)|
I feel I must begin this story by saying that this 1982 mission was nowhere near so thorough as the previous 1981 trip, because of the fact I was there with a non radio person.
Secondly, I have resisted the history part as we go along, and held back any details for the A-Z of Irish pirates I am trying to compile. This has not been easy, and help has been sparse to say the least.
Our pioneering trip in 1981 was well and truly over, and with Dave Anderson/ Ian now working full time on Boyneside Radio in Eire, another trip would fit in a visit to an old friend, whom no one had heard from since he left Scotland in September 81. The bug had caught again for pirate radio Irish style, and a hastily organized trip, which really was an obvious semi radio holiday was about to happen. Documentation of this and the 1983 trip may be more difficult, but there is still a good storyline and photographs. I think had it not been for my old logs and tapes, there would be more gaps than there actually is.
Two drinking buddies from the local pub were going to accompany me on a mini tour of the Irish pirates, as had been done in the previous year. While a radio tour did not really interest most 'normal' people, I was surprised at the enthusiasm. Had it not been for these two non radio people, I may not have met Heddy Eddie, as well as the characters at ABC and Suirside, and have a chance to socialise with so many former SW pirate operators.
Big Davie was a local CBer, and often helped on site at a hobby SW pirate. Sam, well, it was hard to put the finger on exactly what 'Bultaco Sam' was. The three of us had been involved in the very local station, Radio Nova on a "most nights of the week" basis. These broadcasts were usually after the pub closed, which was around 11pm in those days, 1030 on Sundays. The three of us, and very occasionally one other chap who owned a local pub, broadcast on 218 metres, 1400 kHz. We used to tell everyone to listen 'down near Luxembourg'. The distance covered by the small 20 watt transmitter was in the region of 2 miles, on a good night!!! I was Jeff Stuart. Anyone familiar with SW around 1980 will remember Radio Impact's Jeff whose name and jingles were ripped off. Big Davie was Steve Collins, and used ripped off ABC England jingles. Sam, a simple country chap, called himself simply Sam The Record Man, which was taken off a T shirt lying around the studio from a record shop in Halifax, Nova Scotia with that name. Gordon from the pub was Dave Anderson, as the real Dave was in Ireland, there were a few redundant jingles. This was a saga in itself....
Some of the highlights of this very local innovation included the night Davie had to be wheeled home in a wheelbarrow with a squeaky wheel. Apart from wakening the locals with the continuos creak creak creaking, we were also stopped by the police to ask what we were doing.
"He's shit faced", I said, or more likely the equivalent phrase of the time.
During only a few short months, we set a toaster on fire, fell asleep on air, had the top blown off the top of one of the car batteries which powered the rig. Davie in his ultimate wisdom decided to connect a metal file across the top of the battery, to see if there was much of a spark!!!
Big Davie, known to his CB chums as The Virginian was often around when there was any sign of short wave transmissions and really had a bit more than just a passing interest. He was an obvious candidate for the character of the year award, although there's no saying what a full case study might have brought to light. Dave's dubious stories were thought to sometimes be somewhat economical with the truth, but were always guaranteed a laugh in a busy pub over a few beers. He was the only guy I ever knew, who never even turned up for his own stag night. Mind you, he did make the wedding.
Big Davie was one of the laziest guys I knew, and would take his car into the pub, if it had fitted through the door.
Anyway a trip to the republic of Free Radio was planned and so long as Sam's dog Linda never had the expected litter of pups in the days before, things would have been ok. The pups did arrive early, so Sam was left behind, leaving Davie and myself to take the second trip to the pirate capital. This was still OK, just a little more expensive on the ferry.
Prince Terry at Westside Radio in Dublin on 6280 kHz was called up the previous Sunday on SW to see if it was OK to come around, which of course it was. Anyone knowing Prince Terry will know him as a real gentleman, and would do anything to help you. Anyway unknown to myself there was an unexpected listener to the QSO. A day or so later the phone rang, and the real Dave Anderson from Ireland rang.
"I heard you talking to Terry, saying you're coming over. Could you nip up to my sisters and pick up a box of records for me?" Contact had been made. The only thing other than this for some 7 months was a tape of the Boyneside Radios night tape recorded by Tony Donolon, from what became Anoraks Ireland. The accompanying letter also said Ian was fond of a few jars. (Tony was tea total, and this could have meant a pint on the way home from work, but I knew Ian better than this.) Anyway directions were given and soon it was time to leave.
After Davie had a pint or two in the pub, it was time to head off to catch the am sailing from Stranraer, and with a few bottles of pineapple juice for myself, off we set. I had the impression Davie could have well stayed on in the busy little pub that Friday night, as I think he was a little unsure what sort of anoraking I was about to become involved in. The vehicle was an old mini van with a Community Radio Drogheda sticker on the back window, and as I think back, it was rather old. At Stranraer, the security guy looked in the back.
radio lads", he said.
Saturday 27th March 1982
We landed in Larne, Northern Ireland about 6 or 7 am, and headed south towards the border. This was the first time I had driven through Belfast, and I was a little wary. In fact it was my first time in the North. It may have been that we took a wrong turning, or maybe the main motorway through the city was just short of completion, but we had to drive through part of the city, about which I was at best cagey. My fear was not helped by the heavy presence of army and police, in their armoured vehicles, the first time I had seen so much military force on a city street. I also remember the cemetery at the south of the city which freaked us a little, and the sign pointing towards the Falls Road area of the City, so well documented on the television news bulletins. Yes, I was scared. Now of course, I have passed through, and even spent time in Belfast City on many occasions, and have no worries travelling through. As an insecure 18 year old though, things looked very different.
As we passed through the border town of Newrey, I filled up with petrol, which at the time was very expensive in the South compared to the North. There were two young British army soldiers pacing up and down the street close to the garage, with the biggest guns I had ever seen. As soldier one walked down the street, soldier two behind watched his back, and then they turned around and the exact opposite happened. After the garage, the border crossing was equally unpleasant, with the military presence, and the "no cameras" signs. I must confess to being the type of chap now, who would sneak the camera out and take a photo of such signs. At the actual geographic border, there was only a sign, and shortly after, the customs post, where there was no one to be seen. There were a few long distance lorries parked up around the area, probably waiting to declare their wares, but we just sailed on through. That was the last we saw of anything like a gun, or military, until it was time to return home again back through the North.
By the time we crossed the border, Dundalk was only a few minutes down the road, and Radio Carousel from the shopping centre opened up transmissions at 8am. We would just be in time.
Radio Carousel - Dundalk
Click for Gallery
I drove into the car park at the Dundalk Shopping Centre around 7.45am. This was indeed in time to hear Radio Carousel open up for the morning at 8am. There were already carriers on 1125 AM as well as 96.3FM when we arrived, presumably either having being left on all night, or on a timer. No one was around at first, but the office was there (an old caravan that looked as though if anyone had tried to move it, the wheels would have fallen off), and the mobile unit (an old Volkswagen microbus, like the VW microbus in Alice's Restaurant except in this case it was blue not red). This was not the Radio Carousel I had pictured in my mind. But then what was the same as I had imagined???
admired the mast on top of the shopping centre, although my thoughts
were with any poor television dealer in the centre who may receive nothing
but interference on his demonstration models, as it was here the 1134
or 1125 kHz transmitter was placed. The freq varied depends on the mood
of the engineers, or for whatever reason.
I had hoped to record the theme tune they played every morning, 'Don't Stop the Carousel'. I set the tape running, and taped the first minute or so of the theme tune. Some seconds later there was an audio breakdown in the station, and the theme was not repeated. My first chance to record an FM quality recording of the Radio Carousel theme, and there was a problem!!!
After sitting for the sake of recording a few air checks, we set sail for a more southerly venue... Drogheda, Co Louth. On the way, Telstar Radio from Black Rock, Dundalk was heard on the FM frequency of 88.5, as well as the well heard 1197 kHz. This began to fade out on the limited car radio, as Boyneside Radio and CRD started to fade in. The in van entertainment was only the Grundig Satellit 3400, on it's second holiday to Ireland inside the van, and a small cheap cassette recorder. At this stage I was not so well prepared for recording whilst mobile. In fact in 1997, I am not much better off.
I knew the way to the studios of
Boyneside Radio straight away. I recognised the cross at the traffic
lights at Trinity Street, and what I would call the Dundalk Road
from our trip the previous year. I knocked the door of the station
in Mill Lane, sometime before 9 am. A lad there told me where
Stewart Scott, alias Big Ian lived. "In fact", he said "if you
give me a lift up the road, I can show you exactly". This we did,
and about 9 am we knocked on the door of the old place Eric Vaughan
and Ian shared, at the Dundalk side of Drogheda. A spiky haired
bewildered Ian answered the door with a face that almost spoke,
perhaps something like "What the fuck are you doing here at this
time in the morning..?"
It was during morning tea at The
Kings Cafe in Drogheda, that things were a little friendlier.
I had brought "the Double C tape", a tape made by a mutual friend in Cambridge, Chris Cortez. This tape included lots of bits 'n' pieces, included a recording of our old friend Barry Lancaster on board the Delmare ship the Aegeir, in 1979. He spoke into a microphone, with the roar of the ship's genny in the background, moaning about the conditions on the ship, and the fact that as a transmitter engineer, Johan would not allow him near the transmitter!!
Anyhow, also on the tape were jingles from Radio Deeside, a temporary ILR station operated for some reason in 1980 on 1431 kHz, correctly announced as 210m. Radio Carousel on the other hand announced 210 metres (1428.5kHz) but as mentioned above used 1386 kHz, 216.4m!! Ian hastily made up some jingles in the living room of the well lived in little house, on an old battered radio cassette, successfully ripping off Radio Deeside's 210 jingles with amazing professionalism and accuracy (accuracy in ripping off, not the 2-1-0 part!!)
For that very reason, I personally have never used metres, except perhaps in my early dxing career when I used an old radiogram with no dial!! Right at the start of my dxing I was caught out by hearing Radio Caroline on 962 kHz, announced as 319 metres. It had been reported in Sweden calling DXers as having moved from 953, to 962 kHz, but I thought they must have made a mistake and wrote a note suggesting they were on 940 kHz, the announced 319m!! Luckily I was not the only beginner, as 2 others joined me for that report on SCDX. Obviously I had not been the only person with that type of problem. I wonder if the other two red faced DXers are still around the radio scene to this day to tell the tale.
Anoraks Ireland were also caught
out years ago. They used to produce some rather inaccurate medium
wave lists, always insisting BIG D Radio was on 1098 kHz. It never
was here, but again the announced 273 metres worked out to just
that. The other list at the time was made by the FRC Ireland,
and was virtually guesswork working out what the station's frequencies
actually were. They were all in metres. Sunshine Radio on 539m
(556.5kHz) was actually 531 kHz. It was good to hear the likes
of Radio Nova never announce metres, even when it was thought
trendy to do so. Even during 1995 when ILR Ayr arranged an RSL
for Killie football club, they announced 1602 metres, even though
these oversized yards had been dated for at least 14 years. Radio
North 846 had always been good at announcing 846 metres mw.
Anyway, Eric Vaughan was still at Boyneside Radio, and he took us to the station to show us around. Boyneside had a television station going at the time, and although the signal was fairly poor at Ian's house, it was on the air. Tony Davis was the man behind the VHS quality station, and there were a good number of the old piano key type JVC/ FERGUSON VCRs kicking around. They had part of the building converted into a television station, with a jazzy curtain hanging down. Big Davie actually appeared in one issue of Free Radio Roundup, posing with Boyneside's Television cameras. I had the pleasure of watching a young lad read a local news bulletin, which for a pirate was good, but in professional terms, the newsreader was very easily distracted. It was easy to see why mind you, with all the movement in the studio.
It seemed that while the tv station had local news and the like at certain times of the day, a lot of the time the video signal carried the DJ sitting in the radio studio, along with the radio soundtrack. I am glad I had no part in that. I can think back to some of the FM broadcasts I have been involved in, and even late night SW transmissions come to think of it, and the physical condition of some of the presenters, myself included, because of the abuse of alcohol and the like. Had that been television, we'd be all locked up yet!!!!
An older gentleman at the station whose name escapes me, (if I even knew it) seemed to be going down a different line of questions than I was used to. He seemed interested if I was going to attend the up and coming Papal visit to Scotland that summer. I could not understand the interest at the time, when we were really only interested in the radio and tv station. Now of course I realise the fellow was really indirectly asking me my religion, which as an 18 year old, I had none. Now, older and allegedly wiser, I have somewhat less than none!!
We headed back to the house to pick Ian up, and take him to Navan. His first programme was to begin at 5pm, so we set off a little before this. It seemed a long road to one not knowing the way, with many twists and narrow turns and bumps. Like many of my local roads, anyone not knowing the road well could well be fooled into believing he or she is never getting to their destination. Ian had of course been to the station, and warned me about the set up.
Kieran Murray was in charge of the Navan station, though full ownership of the Carousel network belonged to a Mr Hugh Hardy. Hugh was the subject of many stories, and was infamous along the East coast of Ireland for his Country Call programme on Radio Carousel. As owner, his programme had to be broadcast on the whole network. His favourite television programme was Dallas, and though I had never met the man, various photographs sometimes showed him with his Stetson, like ol' JR. (Check the photo gallery for Carousel Dundalk to see ol' HH!!).
Coincidentally, some 12 years later I was to meet an Irish journalist in my local pub who had actually worked for Hardy in the early days, and knew of Heddy Eddie and the like.!! Her name was Bride McBride. I had heard the Irish accent, and got on the chat. It is amazing who you bump into in such a small world!
The signs on buses etc for Navan actually read "An' Uaimh", which was confusing. To me this looked nothing like Navan, although it was native Irish, which seemed to be used for some towns more than others. Navan was one of them. Dublin incidentally is "Baile Atha Cliath".
When we trundled into the shopping centre at "An' Uaimh", the studio was "totally way out man", as far as I was concerned. Instead of being like the other pirates, hiding away in huts, caravans, old lorry containers, or even plush office suites, Radio Carousel Navan was in a glass room, right in the middle of the shopping centre. The DJ was being watched by shoppers passing by, as the sound of the station echoed around the mall. For a confident professional DJ, this may have been a boost to the ego, but at that stage I did not fancy school kids watching me through the window, and pulling faces, while trying to concentrate on the programme in question. The thought that everyone could see your greasy hairdo and holes in your shirts to me was off putting. Not only that, but they were being just a little blatant about their location, despite their lack of a licence. I often wonder what has happened to the little glass dome, if it houses some other business, or if it has been simply dismantled.
in and meet Keiran", said Ian, a little shaken by the bumpy ride in
the back of the mini van.
was floating around as we went up to the door. He looked a little wild,
with hair on end, perhaps as though he had driven in on a motorcycle.
In fact the next April, I took my 1982 photographs with me, and Prince
Terry passed comment.
Radio Carousel had quite a limited coverage on the 1386 kHz frequency, yet surprisingly the late Daffy Don Allen was included in the roll of honour who worked for the station. This was not to last too long, as Don and some others went off to start up the other station in Navan, Royal County Radio, which used the old Irish AM channel of 846 kHz. One thing I think Ian is particularly proud of is the fact that he worked alongside Daffy Don for a few months, before both moved on to bigger and perhaps even better things.
As we drove out of Navan, heading towards Dublin, 1386 kHz was lost to static and engine noise. The Dublin stations were beginning to fade in, and soon we were driving through the outskirts of Dublin itself, listening to Radio City, and ABC Dublin, which was a newcomer to the airwaves, from The O'Briens Hotel, in Parnell Street.
When we reached Dublin, it was dark and virtually impossible to read any street signs. We seemed to be trailing around aimlessly in circles. Part of the plan was to find Prince Terry's, but this proved thankless in the dark. I wondered if we would have been better trying to find the Hotel Victor, where Southside Radio came from. Davie did not like the idea of being lost in Dublin, trying to find Dunlaoire, in fact come to think of it, neither did I. It wasn't as if we were going to someone's house. When we arrived at the Victor, there was no one at the station I knew. Mark Bolland, the guy I really did want to meet up with at the time, was not there. All the well known Caroline and UK pirate guys had moved on to bigger and better stations. Quite why I was heading for the Victor is anybodys guess.
We duly arrived at the Hotel, and went into the old washouse below the hotel, where the studio had been the previous summer. This time it was seriously different however. Some of the walls had been knocked down. I got the feeling the station was perhaps on it's last legs, and had been overtaken by bigger and better things. On a date unknown in May, only a few weeks after my visit, Southside Radio closed down, and was never heard again. The presenter on air at the time was only a big lump of a young fellow who seemed to be doing a very plain programme. When I was at the station in August 1981, there were loads of people floating around, but this time there was only this one chap. Mind you it was a Saturday night, and the staff, if they had any sense, would have been out on the town, unlike us, who were dressed like hawkers, and ready to sleep in a van! The DJ was as interested in us as we were in him, and the decision was made to go to the bar.
At the time the price of a pint was about 75 or 80p. We had a couple of pints in the Victor, and were charged £1.18 a pint. This was though to be excessive. Not only that, but an expensive bar such as this still had the riff raff, as one drunk reckoned "he was gonna tear someone to pieces", before he was huckled out.....
I asked a couple of people the whereabouts of Paul Nicholas, alias Andrew Coffee, and it turned out he was at a function through the back. I did not fancy annoying the SSR station manager this late on a Saturday night, to ask silly questions about the station, so we eventually left the comfortable lounge, and headed into the van. Big Davie slept in the back, and I slept across the front seats, very uncomfortably I may add. This was our sleeping arrangement for the night, parked in the car park of the Victor, in a bloody Mini van!! Davie I reckoned by this stage, could have grabbed the first ferry to Scotland, and admittedly, I was not far behind him.
As we awoke from our uncomfortable night, things looked better, as we set sail to the house of Prince Terry, and hopefully help him do a programme on the usual 6280 frequency.
28th March 1982
At last we managed to find the way to Prince Terry's, who was pleased to see us. He was in the middle of his programme when we arrived and Mrs Terry showed us in, before she was away making tea and coffee and the likes. We had been listening a short distance from the studio on the SW receiver in the van. Myself and Davie were guided up into the studio by way of an amazingly shaky home made ladder.
I had always been into Terrys programmes of hard rock, like Rainbow, Black Sabbath, AC/DC etc. In the secret studio, you had to be careful where you stood, as there were LPs everywhere. The place was nothing like I had imagined, and the transmitter smaller than the expected beast. The signals in Scotland were always very good, in fact exceptional. I wondered just how close the the expected 80W the transmitter was actually running, after all there was only one valve in the PA stage. The txer was up on end a bit, but just sat there on a table in a warm atmosphere. My own equipment at the time, and still to this day is usually kept in damp old sheds, where there are often dampness problems, especially on the high voltage parts!!
There was no mixer as such at the time, but more a home made sort of connection from mic to decks etc. The two old turntables were original Radio Dublin decks from the 60s, which the Prince proudly told me, were survivors of a raid at one stage. The mic was home made, out of an old speaker on a piece of stick, which Prince Terry carried around whilst on air, while wearing his home made headphones. These consisted of a pair of council earmuffs, with old telephone earpieces in them. The audio was fed to them not via a connection, but via off air rf. This was picked up by using the old diode detector circuit from the basic wireless design! All in all I was amazed how it all worked. Dave and I shared the programme with the prince, although my tape did not record properly, and was lost. I never ever managed to find anyone with a recording of our guest programme on Westside Radio, which turned out to be my only one. Any other time in the future, I was to only visit the studio, as it was not during the normal Sunday morning broadcast times.
After the programme, we went downstairs to have a chat, and coffee with Paul Davidson of Anoraks Ireland who had since appeared. Prince Terry had a nice looking Radio West poster, which I took a photo of. I asked him of the dog he used to refer on the air as the guard dog, which was supposed to be a big Alsatian that would "tear you to pieces". The only dog around was a small "Jack Russell" type, which was nothing to be scared of. The Prince laughed quietly, and said little.
We had to nip to Paul's at Collins Ave West. I could not work out why all the MW stations were so poor at his place, with interference all over the band. I discovered RTE2 from the nearby 1278 transmitter was the cause, although the FM band was fine. I still owed Paul a tape, as he proceeded to show me a copy of his last letter to me, sent some months before hand. My own filing system at the time was nowhere near so efficient, and in fact still isn't.
it was time we left, and made for a more southerly location again. As
we motored from Dublin's northside, towards Waterford, I had the tape
machine running, recording whatever I could. Southside Radio was still
playing away on 999 kHz, and I recorded some of that on the way through.
The DJ on air was Mark Jackson who we had met at ARD the previous August.
Around the 6pm mark, SSR faded out and Wicklow Local Radio began to
fade in. They broadcast from Ferrybank, near Arklow in Co Wicklow. This
station was on 1359 kHz, although had began it's relatively short life
on 1111 kHz. This was not to be confused with a Wicklow Ragata Radio
1512, a festival week station, which developed into the full time Wicklow
Community Radio, again on 1512, before moving to 1602. That one was
from Wicklow town.
One thing struck us, was the amount of hitch hikers en route somewhere or other, including so many young women. I don't know if this is a trademark of Ireland to this day or not.
The Way to Waterford
I was supposed to be taking a 120w MW transmitter to the lads at Suirside. The rig was to be the Radio Woodstock transmitter, which was heard so well throughout Europe, and with such nice audio usually on 7315 kHz SW. The GPO took the transmitter from Luis Nieto, the operator, during a raid on 9th November 1980, although the apparatus was returned following a court case. I happened to mention during one of our chats, that Luis had the transmitter for sale, and I reckoned I had talked him into going with us with us to Ireland. The price which I don't remember, was basically fixed on the Short Wave Echo Charlie band, during regular QSOs. (Around 6630 kHz) As it turned out, Luis backed out of the trip, and did not seem too keen to give me the rig to take by myself. Luckily as it turned out as Mick Daily, the station owner did not seem to be around with any cash for Luis!! That would have been me involved in something else which was nothing to do with me!!
When we arrived in Waterford, it was dark. At the station I was sent straight across the road, and along a little, to the house the SW lads I knew lived in. They were in a bigger house this time around, which was very close by the station HQ at 7 The Mall. Richard Staines, Dave Hunt, and Roddy Cleer lived in the spacious house.
Roddy was at Suirside at the time, but we had met him in 1981 at Kilkenny, and by the following year he had joined WLR, where he still is. Roddy was in a fortunate position that he had a day job, and did not rely on the radio station as his main income, and seemed keen perhaps to keep out of any of the internal politics we were about to witness.
Richard Staines began life on SW pirates like ABC International, as well as local station Kent North Radio, which would possibly have been in the Romford area in or around 1979. He was currently on the air at Suirside and later became a member of the ABC team,. as well as Caroline, and a host of ILR stations. Dave Hunt was familiar to many SW pirate fans as a presenter on the well known Radio Zodiac International.
"Did you bring the rig?", I was asked. We went in the house and had a chat, before booking into a guest house, and going for a pint.
During the next couple of days, we all sat in the pub and in the house, studio, or wherever swapping stories and generally having a good old chat. Big Davie seemed to be more settled in Waterford amongst some of the more normal people in pirate radio. We all got on so well because of the SW background, that I did not really fancy taking Davie off on tour again, of the stations farther around the country, which was my original intention. Davie was taken as what he was, a real character. He certainly entertained the lads in Waterford. I remember him sitting trying to be technical once, when telling Richard and Dave Hunt about the MW signal following the river, which in fact it did. The lads had the same effect with their MW signals, which were stronger, close by the river...
Richard and Dave used to go around saying everybody was a "SPACER" that year. We invented the saying "a bit of a spacer" back home, much to the amusement of some of the locals in my local pub. The next year, the saying of the month was "WAH!!!" In return the lads were bemused by some of our sayings… Big Davie and I always described either any of us drunk, as "a bit under pressure", or a fucked piece of apparatus on say a car or a radio transmitter could also be described as such. Thus if I said an 807 was a bit under pressure, it was obviously clapped! Davie also retaliated by saying "Ooo ya cunt ye" in the roughest Rab C Nesbit, or perhaps "trainspotting" type voice. Everyone though this was hilarious.
Richard and I were in the house one day while I was recording the station from FM. I think it may have been the well known "Foreigner" record, "Waiting for a girl like you", which came on Suirside. He appeared to be particularly proud of the compression, which to be honest I could not really notice due to not really knowing what I was trying to look for. Of course now, even playing back the old recordings made then, I can hear there was compression, as the low level intro to that particular tune was louder than playing the record on a record player.
the time we had bummed around for 2 days, money was going to run short
unless we calmed down. We were kindly invited to spend the last night
in the house, after 2 nights in the ?? View guest house. We decided
to make the Tuesday night our last, before heading back up the road
towards Drogheda, and Big Ian's again.
In fact, by the next April Robin Ross had shown his photos of the Ross Revenge in Spain, proving a Radio Caroline ship really did exist! We walked up into town, to buy some food for the dinner, and I was pointed in the direction of a local record shop for a couple of LPs. Bagatelle the one with Summer in Dublin, and Freddie White, the one with tenderness on the block. Both tunes had been well played on the Irish pirates…
Kevin Turner it seemed had fallen out with the other lads at ABC. He seemed to be in a sticky situation. His car was in the garage, due mainly to old age, and he really desperately wanted to just go off back to England. I was asked for a lift from Waterford to Tramore, for the sake of picking up some records and the like. He asked myself and Big Davie to stand there looking menacing. I was not really that keen, and while everything was cool giving an old SW buddy a lift, to become involved meant taking sides against some other old SW buddies. In the end there were no problems, at least for me. Kevin dug through the boxes picking out records from his own collection, before I gave him a lift to a local garage to pick up his old car, an Austin Morris 1100. It had been giving some problems, and had seen some miles.
Kevin was still friendly with Richard at Suirside, and was hanging around the station while we were there. Just for the anorak value, Kevin read the news on Suirside as Abie Nathan, incase Mick Dailey was listening. Kevin had had a falling out with him before he went on to the Voice of Peace, which was where the plans for ABC had come from. Dave Hunt incidentally, the next day or so went to ABC with Davie and myself, and read the news on ABC as Ronan O’Rahailly, again incase Mick was listenIng to ABC and heard him.
As a footnote, in my early days of involvement in pirate radio, be it only as a hobby on my part, I used to believe if you had news on a pirate you were better than the next station. Perhaps it was only a way to show off newsreading skills, which is much more difficult than simply playing music, and the usual "that was" and "this is" type presentation. I now believe it makes stations sound awful, and news is certainly a "tune out factor" on a music station. The long winded 1970's style IRN news is a prime example. There are plenty of news orientated broadcasts around for anyone interested in the latest happenings, and much more up to the minute that reading the days paper, to make up a bulletin!!
Other DJs at Suirside at this time were Roddy Cleer, Eddie Codey, who was an Elvis impersonator, and Paul Power, who is at WLR to this day. The well heard JJ was also there, and a few others. We were told Mick Dailey would stay on the air to spite WLR, and vice versa, although a few years down the track, Suirside fell by the wayside, making way for the much more powerful and efficient ABC.
I was given an amusing recording taken off RTE of an interview with Thin Lizzy. The lads had substituted the RTE announcer for one of their own, to make it sound like they were inside Suirside being interviewed. This was to be used on 1st April, and it was hoped there would be a few people turn up at 7 The Mall to try and see the band!! On the day, apparently a few people turned up, although less than hoped.
was meeting some of the old SW pirate operators for the first time,
and was a little surprised by Bruce Wayne/ Andy Ellis, and Stuart Clarke.
Both had rather long hair at the time, and not the picture I had in
my mind at all. By no means am I or was I against long hair, in fact
I have a fair growth on my own head at the minute myself. They were
just different from the mental picture. Mind you, who ever is the same?
I often wonder what kind of mental picture people have of me, after
hearing me on the radio. I remember once a fellow SW operator from the
mid 80s, from Radio Apollo said he was coming to visit me.
Also at the station at this early stage, was Kate Davis who was on news, Clive Derek, and a big fellow called Chris, who I think was only an associate, and nothing to do with the running of the station. I actually met Kate again at a party in Blackpool at AUK in early 1983, not long before she joined up with Radio Jackie.
ABC were broadcasting out of the old caravan high on the hill at the carpet warehouse, in Tramore. It was of the mobile home type, so there may have been a shortage of space, but it wasn't quite so bad as it could have been had it been the typical small van you see on the roads during the summer months. The old WABC New York jingles were cut, and used liberally, with the "W" cut out obviously. The transmissions had only been going for about 3 weeks, and as yet, I had never heard the signals in Scotland. That was to change when high power used in the shape of a second hand 1kw transmitter from the USA. Because ABC was in it's infancy, they still used a tandy type mixer at this stage. I took a photograph of the first studio, with the very small mixer, like my own, as seen in the gallery. Simon Parry in "Free Radio Waves" was caught out in the mid 80s, when he printed a photo of the 1st ABC studio. I supplied a photo of the real first ABC studio to another publication for a laugh, which looked rather more basic than the Free Radio Waves version!!
The AM rig was in what would have been the old toilet, which was totally covered in tin foil. The frequency for this was 729 kHz, and at the time it was announced as such. This was good for 1982, as most stations spoke of wavelength in metres, and indeed many were wildly out. Come to think of it, many were wildly out when they announced kHz! The AM signal barely made it into Waterford, a mere 5 miles or so away, at least not strong enough to sell advertising in the city. Money was tight, and there was some obvious animosity between the old former SW pals back at Suirside.
ABC started like a landbased pirate in the UK, running full time. That would be the easy way to describe the output. Everyone was still very anoraky really, with Andy Ellis playing Pilot of the airwaves, and WOLD in a row. There had even been rumours of a QSO late at night between ABC and Suirside, as well as Stuart Clark spelling the address in phonetical code!! Neither were confirmed.
The station was obviously struggling at this stage, with an English staff in a foreign land, trying to make the locals beleive that this type of radio was the way to go. In fact it was an uphill battle ABC eventually won, and as time went past, ABC was to become one of the most professional broadcasters in Ireland.
For me, I was getting carried away with the fact that here were the operators of some of the SW stations which were closing down as our own station was in it's infancy. I never ever managed to grasp the idea that radio might just be a good industry to try and get into full time. I always thought about the risks of being stuck in places like Waterford, Drogheda, Navan etc with no money. Perhaps now it is too late to turn back the clock, but I often wonder if I would change things if the chance came around again?? I am the only one of my original school chums who could really be described as being caught in a time warp, and dreams of so called Free Radio. For years I always thought bigger and better things were maybe just around the corner, and the world revolved around SW pirates. I seemed to bury my head in the sand for just too long, and watch for example the lads here at ABC fight with the world. Perhaps on reflection it is I who is struggling. I sometimes think of my old classmates "struggling" to buy their new cars every year, bigger houses, more kids, another 2.7 cats etc. I often struggle to come through the weekend down the boozer!!
Perhaps what brings it home how time has past by since those early trips to Ireland, is one of the early commercials on ABC for Billy Murray's television repairs, in Church Road Tramore. He offered convergence and purity adjustments, grey scale and tube boosting for only £8. Convergence and purity are basically a thing of the past with the fixed scan coils on modern tubes, and the rest of it. I would think an £8 charge is also a thing of the past, £35 being more the normal minimum rate nowadays.
CBC was a new station on me. The year before Radio Carrick was on the air, broadcasting to Carrick-Upon-Suir, but that had gone. The lads in Waterford advised me the new station broadcast on both the old Carrick channel of 1512, as well as 828 kHz to the Clonmel area. 2 FM channels were on the air, 104.1, and 98.7. It seemed the new CBC had started transmissions on 14th November 1981.
station studios were in the middle of town in Clonmel, just at the archway.
The station was upstairs, and as we were invited into the premises,
the lighting in the on air studio impressed me. There were coloured
spotlights pointing into the centre of the studio, and the comfortable
lighting gave you a certain feel of the station. The turntables were
ex BBC type, and very professionally set up I thought, compared to so
many other stations we had seen. As we chatted to the presenter, I realised
he was the chap I had met at Radio Carrick, Pat O'Reagan.
were shown the CBC record library, which looked massive to me.
Thursday April 1st 1982
Community Radio Drogheda
Gallery (same as 1981)
The powerful 1305 transmitter for years, even up until the end had strange characteristics. Verified by AUK, the signal although very strong in the Drogheda area, the audio was a little sharp/ ropey. In Dublin it sounded fairly good, but from the UK it sounded nice!!
The frequency of the FM in the Drogheda area was obviously no mistake. Situated on 98.6, right between Boyneside Radio link, which was very strong in Drogheda, 99.2, and the main 98.1 up on the hill on the Dundalk Road.
The station was located at 15 Fair Street, on Moneymore in Drogheda. I knocked at the door, where Heddy Eddie answered. He was proud to show us around, and took us into the studio to meet Richard Kenny, who was at the time in the middle of his programme. There was no trouble with Eddie about seeing the home made transmitters. The 1233 kHz CRD was on the premises, with an amazing low piece of wire ties to a tree out in the garden. The 1305 was out of town, and Eddie kindly showed us to the Rossnaree Hotel, on the Dublin Road, just outside Drogheda. This for me was the very first time I had seen a 4 by 4 transmitter with 813s, and the modulation transformer singing loudly. The heat inside the little shed at the bottom of the very tall mast was that which hit you when you walked in the door. There was the smell you always have beside a warm transmitter, like cooking components, although not overcooking. This impressed me.
Surprisingly, Heddy Eddie had seen the van going through Drogheda the few days earlier with the CRD sticker. He himself drove a yellow escort van. He had been everywhere in the van, and at one stage sold a transmitter to a guy in Donegal and took a shortcut through the north. I was a little surprised at this, with the customs etc, although now, I fully understand the situation at the check points. (No one really gives a toss!!).
On departure from CRD, thoughts of how the public could tell the difference between the two stations, both on 225 metres. A few weeks after I had left, an announcement was heard from the dx shack back in Scotland...
"Have you heard the news yet? An amalgamation between Boyneside Radio, and Community Radio Drogheda has just been announced. The station will now be called Boyneside Community Radio, and as well as broadcasting on its existing 225 metres, we'll also broadcast on 98 and 99 FM. Boyneside Radio/ CRD, we're back together again".
telephone number was also given for potential advertisers. In reality
with the one station, instead of two, there was quite a surplus of MW
transmitters. There was a point just after the amalgamation when BCR
was broadcasting on 1305, 1314, 1323, and 1332!!! One listening on a
normal radio in the area must have heard some amazing bandwidth being
taken up. As could be expected the BCR name never lasted any length
of time, and soon the station reverted back to Boyneside Radio, and
kept a relatively stable situation in the area till the end in 1988.
The final shows from Boyneside Radio were also on SW in parallel 6231
It was time to head towards Larne and the boat home, but not before Ian was given another lift to Navan to Radio Carousel. I did not find out for a couple of months, when Ian returned to Scotland briefly, before heading to Cork, that he felt completely ill after the run in the back of the mini van. Ian was dumped at the Navan Shopping Centre, while I switched on the tape machine to record his show. By the time 4pm came, Davie and I were heading up the Monaghan road, listening to Radio Carousel Dundalk. When we eventually came to the customs post, there was only a small sandwich board in the middle of the road. There may have been a guy, maybe two, inside a small shed just waving us through. That was the security. We had somehow managed to find ourselves on a minor road, which I did not feel too good about, around the border areas. At length however, we drove into Larne, ready to take the ferry back to Scotland. As it turned out, the first ferry available was a lorry drivers boat, which was a little short on the basics. Davey suggested the ship was a bit of a tug. We managed a light snack, and found a little lounge type place, which had a television playing Smokey And The Bandit!!
radio trip with a difference had come to an end.