K.I.T.S. - MONAGHAN
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K.I.T.S. - Monaghan
837 - 100.9
IRISH PIRATES A / Z
K.I.T.S, usually referred to as the individual letters, K-I-T-S, unlike their arch rivals up the road, KISS FM, always referred to as the word KISS. KITS was a fine signal in Scotland in their day, although at the time still plagued by the cops who used the broadcast band in those days. Imagine telling a youngster that you could listen to the cops on your FM band back then!!!
Station presenter Paul Buckle wrote the following in January 1999
My Background - By Paul Buckle of K.I.T.S
I'd always wanted to work in radio and having spent 6 years listening to Nova, Q102, Energy 103 & Sunshine, I was well and truly hooked by the time I left school in '86. The problem was, there were no pirates "up north" around the Belfast City Area. I lived in Carryduff about 6 miles south of Belfast and was always easily able to listen to the Dublin super pirate's signals. The only stations remotely close were Boyneside and Z103. Having being spoilt by the on-air sound of Nova etc these stations were not quite what I, in my modesty, wanted to work on. Besides, the bus's to and from them were a little expensive, not to mention infrequent. However they were all that were on offer as having just finished my a levels, I couldn't afford to move to Dublin (my idea of radio heaven).
Off I went to university (in case all else failed) and became involved in Hospital Radio and Radio Top Shop, at least the latter paid the student bills. As 1987 progressed and Z103's on air sound grew slightly more professional I sent off a job application. I got no reply, and thought "Aw well, try Downtown". so I did, and received a "come do an audition" letter so off I went. I then got a "We'll call you letter."
By this time it was December '87 and Energy had become Nova again. I thought, "hum give 'em a call, and got a vary wary Dennis Murray who wouldn't tell me anything, and was very unfriendly, and unhelpful. I thought, stuff you lot, I'll try Z103 again. (I didn't realise they were about to lose the right to the Nova name)
I hit the radio tuner to get Z103's phone number, and it stopped at 100.9. A loud punchy "Dublin station sound" came forth. This was a well processed, good quality and very strong signal. This went on for a few days, when suddenly a voice from Z103, Kenny Tosh came through. I'd worked with Kenny in Hospital Radio and instantly thought, again in my youthful modesty, "If he can do it so can I".
At the same time a friend of mine who was working in Armagh, called at the house of the guy who owned the station, to sell him an aerial photograph of his house. One thing led to another and Paul Thomas and I joined the presenters on KITS. As the station was set up to sell the owners processors and transmitters, (K.I.T.S - as in "do it yourself" transmitter kits) obviously it explained the "never heard before in this part of town" punchy sound and signal - also achieved by a "never thought possible at this price range" system, of course! (The transmission towers were old motorway lighting towers!)
The station veered from wedding disco DJ's to the "Me me me on the radio" ego maniac presenters, to the "We want to sound like Nova" presenters, but at least it always sounded "fun". When it was good it was very, very good, when it was bad it was bloody awful - but still a fun station to listen to : and it may well be because of this, KITS was very very popular from day one. It was also great training, as everything from news, commercial production, OB's and playlisting was "up for grabs". If you wanted to do it, you could do it.
When KISS came on it was very weird, Here was a guy I respected as a DJ, and used to listen to years ago on Sunshine and Nova, Tom Hardy, working in the same town in the middle of nowhere on a station that really did sound like Nova. KITS really couldn't compete with the dosh, or to be honest the staff Kiss 103.7 had, although unlike KISS, KITS was quite happy to admit it's roots and chase local rather than "Belfast Only" advertising.
I was also a little worried by Kiss's very obvious "anti-Downtown radio" stance. I knew Downtown were supposed to be planning the as yet unnamed "Cool FM", and didn't want to get tarred with the "trouble maker brush"- KISS while being a breath of fresh air to the FM band seemed, to me and a few others, to be very much a "sour grapes" station beneath the surface. Plus as we all knew the pirate bubble was due to burst at the end of the year - why make enemies of future possible employers? So while KITS 101 went out and out for the "kiddie" market playing non stop Kylie and Jason and running around the country doing "KITS under 18 disco's", making the station owner (and the DJ's) some dosh, it had a fair number of older listeners tuned in as well, who were catered for at a number of Fri/Sat night KITS Roadshows, which popped up all over the transmission area. And so it continued up until December 88, when the plug was pulled. The last of K.I.T.S.
There are a number of "funny stories" and pictures I'll dig out, and there is a video tape (hifi stereo) The best and worst of KITS 101, which anyone can buy if they so wish!!!
The odd thing about the station though in view of it's short life, is the number of people who worked there who then went into full time legal broadcasting.
Gareth O'Conner is a mainline RTE News Presenter and Journalist.
Paul Buckle is Deputy Head of Music at Cool FM and Co-owner of an RSL equipment hire constancy.
Brendan Gillisse works for Northern Sound / Shannonside.
Paul Thomas is a jock on Cool FM.
Carolyn Stewart is a jock on Cool FM.
Mark Wesley is a jock on Cool FM.
David Blevins works for Sky Television News.
Peter Wright has worked on various RSL and legal stations and ran the popular "That's entertainment" magazine in Belfast.
Paul Oar works on Belfast CityBeat.
Mal Reynolds freelances for BBC NI.
8 out of the 10 mainliners all are still on air today!
Paul Buckle - 1999
UPDATE: Sadly the Station owner, Frank McCarthy was accidentally killed while working on a transmission site in 1998, those who've worked for or met him over the years will know his passion for radio and radio "innovations" only too well, they will also know what a great friend and character the radio world has lost. On behalf of those people who know me, those of us to whom Frank "gave the big break", I'd like to say: "Thanks for a kick up the arse when it was required and a pat on the back when it was deserved".
This article is dedicated to the Memory of 444FMC, KITS and a great 1988".
IRISH PIRATES A / Z