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Death of a Radio Legend:

In July the radio world learned of the sad death of one of offshore radio, and indeed Irish commercial radio’s legendary broadcasters. Tony Allan began his career as a 17 year old on Radio Scotland in the 1960s, worked on RNI, Caroline, Seagull, Voice of Peace, and in 1979 moved to Eire where he lived for many years. His first appearance was on ARD, and later Sunshine, Nova, Big D, Liberties, Coast in Galway, to name a few. Tony made more appearances on voice overs and commercials, and at one time even became the Guinness voice. His checkered career even included ILR Edinburgh.

Personally, I never knew Tony. I had many friends in the broadcasting industry who worked with and knew Tony well, but I only once met him years ago in Dublin. He would not have known me from Adam. But his death shook me somewhat, and I felt as though I had known him most of my life, even though he was "only" a voice on the radio. It was a strange feeling. His death though a sad loss, inspired my recent innovations in the radio hobby. Amongst other jobs, I have been digging a lot of manky old tapes out and digitally archiving them, and I found my way back to my old favourite Transatlantic MW DX. As I stated in an e mail to one of Tony's old shipmates Roger Day, Tony is still helping us even now, by the inspiration gained from him both in life and death.

Some of Tony’s former work mates organized a memorial party in Dublin. I attended this on Halloween, ie 31st October 04, with another radio enthusiast. I met up with some folks I hadn't seen in many many years. Some of the people in attendance were: Chris Cary, Tom Hardy, Martin Fisher, Dave Foster, Bob Galico, Declan Meehan, Steve Marshal, Keith York, Gerard Roe, Miles Johnston, Dennis Murray and a whole host of others.

The day and a half I spent in Dublin felt more like 3 days, the amount that was squeezed in. Gerard Roe, ex Radio Dublin and the like had been involved for many years in Phantom FM, and applying for a license. The license was finally granted in the weeks following the party.

We had found a dos house in Garden St, or maybe Gardener St, in the city centre, which was as OK as it could have been. The first room we were shown looked as though the two little beds still had someone in them!! On closer inspection, the room was a shambles from the previous occupants and hadn't even been ventilated/ window still sealed shut! I opened the window, and my side kick went to the receptionist to organise another room!! On reflection, I feel we could have had a night at a nice little guest house for the same kind of cash. Prices seem much more expensive since the introduction of the Euro. On checking the radio bands, the anonymous AM station which has been heard around Europe on 1593 was producing the first real programme I had heard. It was normally pumping out only non stop music. The station ID was ENERGY POWER AM. Check 1593 on a Saturday or Sunday. The freq was good, and later on at night at that time, only VOA Kuwait causes grief! There is a contact address at last.

At the party, I was speaking to Gerard about 1593, and was informed that one of the folks involved was present. We got on the chat. The next day, after a city tour on the open top bus, bloody cold on the first day of November, we met our friend, who gave us such a grand tour around the area of past radio interest in the city. We were shown the 1593 transmitter site, although the owner was at work, so we only saw the antenna. There is another transmitter in Dublin which comes on 846/ 828, with a relay of the 1593 service. This is the operation called Island Radio on SW. We were shown this site, as well as the transmitter. I must say I was very impressed with the set up. An FM aerial does not really do too much for me, but a mast and wire aerials for old fashioned AM and valve apparatus really makes a photo opportunity. I am not including photos of the set up here, because they are still on going projects.

The group photos below were sent to me, and thus the higher res image is nor really that great.

A group taken at the stairs up to the function room in Scruffy Murphy's.
Decklan Meehan, Chris Cary, Bob Galico. Don't know what happened with Cary's specs.

Tony Allan - ARD Dublin, 1979
Tony Allan - ARD Dublin, 1979

Radio Nova:
Our new friend also took us to the former site of the Nova Park Hotel, formerly called Greenacres Country Club. This was where Radio Nova Dublin used to have their transmitters. It was a very nostalgic visit to a site which is somewhat in the middle of a large scale development. Where once there were “GREENACRES” there is now houses. Some 4 years ago, I had my first look at the location since 1981, and what a sorry site. There was a new motorway being built mid way up the lane which took you at one time to the station. In 2000, we crossed the half made motorway and walked to the site, where sadly the hotel where I had once sat with a pint, had been demolished. There was evidence of the station, when one of the lads found a piece of thick coax cable sticking out the concrete base where one of the transmitters once stood. A band of gypsy/ travelers shouted across at us, to see what we were doing taking photos in “their” territory. "There used to be a radio station here, we used to work here", someone lied.

In 2004 there was no available access, as whatever work is being done at the hotel site itself was mid way through. The motorway was finished, and in use. The surrounding area is so built up now, with new houses, streets and streets of them. In years gone by, the NOVA BOOGIE BUS would have picked up folks at Dublin’s Trinity College bus stop, going to “The Place Where The Happy People Go, NOVA PARK”, and driven down the overgrown little lane we were walking. The former entrance off Stocking Lane, Rathfarnam had loads of rubble and dirt in front to stop anyone parking down the narrow driveway. It was a very meaningful walk, as we rambled down the little forgotten lane. The old railings which once fenced off the track from the countryside, now had a sprawling housing estate on the other side of them. Even the railings were overgrown with briars and thorns growing everywhere. I gazed at the houses and wondered if the new residents had any idea what had gone on here at the foot of their garden, and reflected the times some 20 years previous, when I myself was somewhat younger, and the Nova DJs, engineers, customers for the hotel, and folks who are now household names from RTE, once traveled down this very road.

Old entrance to NOVA PARK
NOVA BOOGIE BUS - once a regular

From here, Radio Nova once powered out 50KW on MW 738, as well as FM, and at one time briefly on SW, 6207. LW 254 was used from this location long before Atlantic 252 was thought of, and at one stage Radio Nova TV was on air. It was perhaps sad to think that this location was once the focal point of Irish commercial radio.

Click here to see RADIO NOVA entrance in it's heyday during the raids in 1983. Photo of the entrance is at the bottom of the page.

2004 This material may be freely reproduced and redistributed for hobby radio enthusiasts, so long as the text is neither altered nor edited in such a way as to distract from the original context of the writing.