That’s Pirate Radio Part 6 – Sunshine Radio

June 11, 2007 at 10:51 pm 9 comments

The unstoppable second wave of Irish pirate radio began in 1980, the year that Radio Caroline literally sank off the coast of Southend. Two former Caroline DJs had become aware of Ireland’s airwave anarchy. Undeterred by the prospect of a £50 fine, or even repeated £50 fines, these two ambitious gate-crashers were about to reshape the future of Irish radio. >>>

Cary Steps In

Thirty-four-year old Chris Cary, once a bleach-haired young DJ called Spangles Muldoon, had since made a fortune in the emerging markets of video games and computers. He and former Caroline director Phil Solomon founded Ireland’s first super-pirate, Sunshine Radio, in the Sands Hotel at Portmarnock.

Cary Steps Out Again

Cary and Solomon quickly backed out, less than impressed with the traditional Irish welcome of other pirates cutting down their aerial overnight. Their station manager and minority partner shrewdly bought out their shares.

He was forty-year-old Robbie ‘Admiral Dale’ Robinson, who had previously been an antiques dealer, press agent, salesman, bellboy, DJ and office-cleaning company manager. His approach to radio was to focus on building relationships with the local community.

Cary Steps In Again

Chris Cary regained his nerve as listeners—and advertisers, and money, which is of course what listeners actually are—flocked to Sunshine. But Robbie Dale refused to sell him back his shares. A fuming Cary retaliated by starting a rival super-pirate, Radio Nova, in 1981.

Another great battle to be Ireland’s top pirate had begun, but Chris ‘Spangles’ Cary versus Robbie ‘Dale’ Robinson would take place on a far grander financial scale than ‘Doctor’ Don Moore versus ‘Captain’ Eamon Cooke.

Next Post in Series: Radio Nova
Previous Post in Series: Radio 2 Cominatcha!
First Post in Series: Radio Dublin 253

Entry filed under: Culture, Most Viewed.

That’s Pirate Radio Part 5 – Radio 2 Cominatcha! The First Time I Met Bertie Ahern

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ScaryGirl  |  June 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Sunshine Raydeeeooo fiiiiiive threeeee niiiiiiiiiine

  • 2. Twenty Major  |  June 12, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    People really got split, didn’t they? You were either Sunshine or Nova.

  • 3. Michael Nugent  |  June 13, 2007 at 2:57 am

    Yeah, using the FM signal really moved everything up to a new level. Professional pirate radio suddenly became an obsession with a big section of the public. And, as you say, everyone took sides. I remember someone at the time theorising that Nova fans would probably prefer Lennon to McCartney, and Sunshine fans would probably prefer McCartney to Lennon.

  • 4. Twenty Major  |  June 13, 2007 at 11:18 am

    I remember someone at the time theorising that Nova fans would probably prefer Lennon to McCartney, and Sunshine fans would probably prefer McCartney to Lennon.

    haha, that’s perfect.

  • 5. Michael Nugent  |  June 13, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Scarygirl, the funny thing about that jingle is that they were actually a little bit down the dial from 539, but they called it 539 because nine rhymed with Sunshine.

  • 6. ScaryGirl  |  June 13, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    That’s funny about the wavelength. As for their jingles, I have them irreversibly lodged in my brain – anyone remember the one that started “Bee trendeee / in a Sunshine radio t-shirt you will dance your time away” ? Why can I remember this a quarter of a century later, when I can’t remember my pin number?

  • 7. craig wilson  |  May 24, 2008 at 11:39 am

    does anyone remember them playing sunshine reggae 4 ages when the goverment tried 2 shut them down

  • 8. Chris Thompson  |  December 2, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I bought one of the Sunshine Radio “Bootie shirts” I think they were called, from their office on Baggot Street. It was a strange grey colour with a slit rather than a V neck cut.

  • 9. Robbie “Admiral” Dale-Robinson  |  March 22, 2015 at 11:45 am

    You guys remember so much about Sunshine Radio, The Red Hot Sound of Sunshine 101. Thanks for bringing back sweet memories to this ageing hippy living in the sunshine.


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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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