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25 years on and in this section we have trawled through the old dusty boxes of cassettes and reel-reels (many of which have not survived intact) to try and piece together a collection of recordings related to the May 1983 raids in Dublin. The extracts form the story in chronological order, to give an idea of the upheavel and uncertainty which shrouded the development of commercial radio during those few days in May 1983. Included are the actual raids themselves, showing how listeners first heard about the sudden closedowns. Also there are news bulletins from both RTE and fellow free radio stations, as well as related extracts from other stations. Recordings we still have from other stations around this time are also included, and finally, there is the re-opening of Sunshine Radio several weeks later.


Saturday 14th May 1983

We actually start these audio archives by looking back at the weekend before the raids. Several stations raised money for charity at times during the year. Saturday 14th May was the day which Radio Nova ran its Operation NovaCare 1983 appeal. Have a listen to what the station sounded like that day in these lengthy extracts, including an outside broadcast from the Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre.

Sadly, Sunshine Radio never got chance to raise any money on their 'Auction of the Air' the following weekend, as they were raided and closed on the Thursday.

Wednesday 18th May 1983

As a listener to Radio Nova, the morning of Wednesday 18th May 1983 began no different to any other. However as Declan Meehan approached the end of his breakfast show, listeners heard urgent announcements asking for station owner Chris Cary to come to Herbert Street, the location of the Radio Nova studio. 


Here you can listen to Declan asking for Chris Cary, followed by announcements that the station may have to leave the air at any moment. In fact the authorities had arrived at the Herbert Street studios, requesting keys for Nova Park where all the transmission equipment was located
. Declan was joined by Bob, and they carried on until the authorities arrived at the Nova Park site in Rathfarnham and eventually switched off the transmitter mid-record at around 10:40am. It was a memorable 40 minutes, packed with jingles and included Bob singing his well known 'Busy Line' live on air.

After closing Nova, the authorities then continued up the hill to Three Rock Mountain, where Nova sister station, KISS FM had it's transmitter. This was switched off some time after Nova. Unfortunately we have no recording of this in our collection.

News reports of the raid were heard throughout the day on many stations, and included the following which were all recorded in Blackpool. The South Coast Radio is poor quality as it was recorded some 300 miles away from the 10kW transmitter.


Recorded in Cork from the South Coast Radio FM outlet on 104MHz, their 7pm news contained the first indication that Nova would be back the following day.

Sunshine Radio played on, and the 11:30am news headlines carried the news of the raid on Nova. Listen to the programmes of Sunshine Radio through lunchtime on the link below.

11:02am to 12:33pm (531kHz recorded in Blackpool)
12:33pm to 1:20pm (531kHz recorded in Blackpool)
1:25pm to 2:10pm (531kHz recorded in Blackpool)
2:15pm to 3:50pm (531kHz recorded in Blackpool)

Thursday 19th May 1983

The South Coast Radio news bulletin was accurate, and with a borrowed AM transmitter and low power FM signal, Radio Nova had returned by breakfast time the following morning, Thursday 19th May 1983. The signal was surprisingly good, but seemed to be off channel on around 818kHz causing a 1kHz whistle. This first extract was recorded in Leeds, Yorkshire, hence the whistle on the signal, approaching 7am and features Declan Meehan after the news commenting to Bob Gallico about being back.

As with Radio Nova the previous morning, the David Lyons breakfast show on Sunshine Radio passed without incident until shortly after 9am on Thursday 19th May 1983. Following the news and after an initial announcement on his show, Robbie Dale then came on to announce the station was being raided. These recordings of the David Lyons breakfast show and Robbie Dale up to closedown were made in Leeds, Yorkshire, and suffered from some interference from a German station.

Unlike Nova (whose transmitter was suddenly switched off), Sunshine were allowed to close with emotional announcements from the station owner, Robbie asking for support.

The news was quick to reach Radio Nova, and across on 819kHz, here are several clips starting a few minutes after Sunshine Radio left the air. Firstly, Declan Meehan gives out a cryptic message about the sun going out in Portmarnock.

He then plays a request for Robbie and Stella at 09:45, followed by the 10am news where the raid is reported for the first time. Both recorded in Leeds from 819kHz.

The main 1pm news on Radio Nova had further news of the raid on Sunshine Radio.

A quick tune down the band to Radio Leinster on 738kHz shortly after 1pm, found them announcing they were leaving the air. Initially this was thought to be as a precaution against a raid, but sadly it actually turned out to be their final broadcast. Interesting on these recordings is that Anna Craig ends the 1pm news announcing the next news as at 3pm. Minutes later, Radio Leinster' owner was suddenly announcing a closedown.

Airchecks of Radio Leinster's final minutes were recorded from 738kHz in Blackpool.

The full final 35 minutes of this Radio Leinster recording with Al Dunne and Anna Craig on news can be heard here, but suffers from a lot of local electrical interference.

Tuning back up the band to 819kHz following the sudden closure of Radio Leinster, at around 1:25pm, Tom Hardy made the first announcement that the decision had been taken to close down Radio Nova at 6pm. Listen to the day on Radio Nova as it unfolded on the following full extracts. The recordings were made in various mainland UK locations, and apologies are given for whistles and the static from local electrical storms.

06:57am - 08:05am Declan Meehan (819kHz recorded in Leeds until 07:20 then in Blackpool)
07:55pm - 09:30pm Declan Meehan (819kHz recorded in Leeds)
09:30pm - 11:03pm Declan Meehan (819kHz recorded in Leeds)
11:50pm - 12:35pm Tom Hardy (819kHz recorded in Blackpool)
12:45pm - 1:30pm (819kHz recorded in Blackpool)
2:10pm - 2:58pm (819kHz recorded in Southport)
2:58pm - 4:38pm (819kHz recorded in Southport)
4:38pm - 6pm closedown (819kHz recorded in Southport)
Listen to airchecks in better quality from the final hour of Radio Nova taken from the 88.2MHz outlet (which was on low power and covering the city centre only) as many deejays and other station staff say their final goodbyes.

The Radio Nova closedown also includes Robbie Dale, who's Sunshine Radio was raided early in the day thanking everyone for their support, and the final pre-recorded close by Chris Cary at 6pm.

In Cork City, shortly after the raid on Sunshine Radio, both Radio ERI and South Coast Radio decided it was in their best interests to close voluntarily , if only temporarily.

This extract is of the the sudden closure of South Coast Radio and was recorded in Cork from their FM outlet.

Along with many other stations around the country, Radio West in Mullingar also decided to close, as announced on their evening news bulletins.

Radio West had more to lose than most, as they had an expensive 10kW transmitter. As well as covering a large part of the Irish Midlands, their signal travelled into the UK, and at night into Europe as well. This gave European listeners a chance to hear what had been happening on the the Irish radio scene.

This final two hours was recorded in Blackpool from 702kHz between 10pm and midnight. 

With all other staff in the studio, and with much reluctancy, station owner Sean Coyne makes the closedown at midnight.

Friday 20th May 1983

On Friday 20th May 1983, and with the two biggest stations raided, everyone turned to support Radio Dublin as it was expected to be hit next.    These recordings of Radio Dublin which were made in Blackpool from 1188kHz / 253m, are between 9:30am and 1:40pm. They feature the end of the Mike Baron breakfast show and then Chris Jackson, with Tracy Evans starting at mid-day. Listening to this, you can hear plenty of listener support for the proposed radio march, on the phone line. Also at lunchtime, the station was visited by some Nova jocks as well as staff from other stations. Unfortunately the recording quality is not good, especially during some of the telephone calls which were very low level, and was not helped by some adjacent channel interference from the stronger Telstar Community Radio near Dundalk who were on 1197kHz.  Boyneside Radio were one of the oldest and probably the largest station by coverage area at the time.  Here is a promotion heard on Friday 20th May for all their transmitter powers, locations and coverage areas.

Radio DUblin 11:15am - 12:45pm (1188kHz recorded in Blackpool)

Sunday 22nd May 1983

After two days off the air, Radio Nova transmitters were again active on Saturday night 21st May, and programming was underway by Sunday morning, 22nd May,although the news service was still absent. Here are some recordings from Rado Nova, along with some other stations heard that day. The Southside Radio heard on that day was thought to be South County Radio under a slightly different name. Sandymount Community Radio was one of the local community stations which operated at festival times from various areas of Dublin during the year. On Radio Dublin, Captain Eamonn Cooke did an expected marathon broadcast.

Southside Radio 3:20pm - 4:15pm (963kHz recorded in Dublin)

Monday 23rd May 1983

Programmes on Radio Nova were almost back to normal by Monday 23rd May 1983. Some of the day's output can be heard in the following downloads. The recordings were made in Blackpool whilst the station was still on a temporary low power transmitter and suffer from some interference. The recommencement of broadcasts from Nova, also brought most other stations who had closed, back on the air. Sadly, Radio Leinster was not one of them.

Radio Nova 819kHz 10:50am - 11:58am - Tom Hardy

Boyneside Radio North 1233kHz / 244m 1:45pm to 2:15pm
End of local Carrickcarnon programming and the start of the Heddy Eddie syndicated "Afternoon Delight" show from the Drogheda studios.

A march in support of free radio stations was organised for Friday 27th May.

This Tony Allan promotion was broadcast by many radio stations.


Friday 27th May 1983

Friday 27th May saw the day of the Free Radio March. Listen to some Radio Nova programmes for the day from the selection below. The build for the march at 2pm can be heard after 1pm. These were all again recorded from medium wave in Blackpool, and the latter parts suffer from local TV interference.

Tuesday 31st May 1983

We were surprised on 31st May to find that 819kHz was silent. However Radio Nova could now be heard on 828kHz. We wondered why the frequency had been changed, but found that under the European frequency allocations, 828kHz was already allocated to Ireland for use up to 1kW. So the change may have been made in preperation for any future license application. There was further evidence for this more local approach as the 'on the hour' announcements also changed from 'Broadcasting from Dublin on 819kHz', to ' Broadcasting to Dublin on 828kHz'. Whilst the channel was nice and clear in Dublin, many listeners in the North of UK now found it impossible to receive, due to Radio Aire on this channel. Radio Nova stayed on this frequency until sometime at the end of September. The recordings below were made in Blackpool, showing that even on the coast, Radio Aire from Leeds could be heard clearly underneath.

Wednesday 1st June 1983

Recordings from the second morning that Radio Nova was on 828kHz. The signal seemed lower on this day, as the local UK stations could be heard clearer during quiet periods. Recorded near Blackpool.

Friday 3rd June 1983

A report from the Evening Herald regarding the future of 'pirate radio' is read out during the afternoon on Radio Nova.

Wednesday 8th June 1983

A debate on local radio was held in the Irish Parliament on 8th June. Amongst other stations, Radio Nova advertised this heavily.

Sunday 12th June 1983

Sunshine Radio made an official re-opening on Sunday 12th June 1983. Whilst the AM transmitter on 531kHz gave a stronger signal than the ones taken during the raid, the modulation was initially somewhat distorted, and the transmitter was eventually switched off during the week. The station remained on FM however until a replacement MW transmitter was installed.

  Brief airchecks of the Sunshine Radio official re-opening with Robbie Dale on Sunday 12th June 1983 from 531kHz.

Here are some complete recordings of the return of Sunshine Radio. They were made in Leeds from 531kHz, and feature the test announcements up to mid-day and then shows until around 4:40pm that Sunday, as well as the breakfast show the following morning with David Lyons.

  Sunday 11:45 to 13:20 (531kHz recorded in Leeds)
  Sunday 13:20 to 14:55 (531kHz recorded in Leeds)
  Sunday 14:55 to 16:40 (531kHz recorded in Leeds)
  Monday 07:40 to 09:00 (531kHz recorded in Leeds)



raids_radio_west_closedown_190593_airchex.mp3 ?(Actually last 20m or so)
raids_sunshine_closedown_190583.mp3 (Duplicate file but 5m longer that other file)