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Atlantic 252 What happened?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 387 ✭✭animalinside


    I actually had no idea it was Irish until a few years ago when I looked it up online and was shocked. They never mentioned it that I heard. You also wouldn't really associate something novel and modern like a 24 hour popular music station with "attitude" broadcasting over the whole of Ireland and UK with Ireland.

    The whole thing was absurd - music on longwave radio - I can only imagine what audio snobs must have thought of it, but it also kind of worked. There was no youtube and endless music tv channels back then, you had to take what you got.



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,522 ✭✭✭ford fiesta




  • Registered Users Posts: 633 ✭✭✭TheBMG


    Even in 1989 it was a risk. The IBA were beginning to let their heritage stations do AM/FM splits so 252 was always on borrowed time. UK radio system was finally opening up and once the Brits had some decent choice on FM it was game over for 252. They were a great station and had a great run.


    would it work today? Think the Capitals, Hits, and Spins still do it tbh. Just not on LW and with less M People.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,060 ✭✭✭Declan A Walsh


    This topic of the relevance of long wave for a music station has been covered many times in relation to Atlantic 252 on other threads. Long Wave was still very much available at the time, including, crucially, car radios.

    Likewise the fact that it was Irish based. It was in fact half-owned by RTE and half-owned by the owner of Radio Luxembourg. Their main target audience was indeed the UK, with a mixture of British, Irish and American presenters.



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,414 ✭✭✭Tork


    I was 13 in 1989 so Atlantic 252 was a breath of fresh air. I didn't care about the sound quality because it was still much better than anything else that was on offer at the time. The pirates had gone, leaving just 2FM if you wanted pop music. That was a very mixed bag at the time, because they still had Alan Corcoran playing Declan Nerney records on Saturday evenings and Gerry Ryan talking sh**e for 3 hours every morning. I'm sure both ticked boxes somewhere but neither would be of interest to a young person. It's worth remembering that your average teenager didn't have access to particularly good audio equipment either. Unless your folks had a nice stereo system, you were listening to your music on crappy radios, on cassettes or on primitive car radios. It was a station that could be picked up anywhere and you knew you'd be listening to your Top 40 favourites. I don't know how popular it was in the UK but it must've had some sort of audience. It's a radio station that was very much of its time but it was great when it was needed.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 633 ✭✭✭TheBMG


    plus lots of people still had LW/MW radios. Wasn’t there a luxury tax on FM car radios in Ireland at the time? Lot of cars over here used to have ‘paddy spec’ meaning absolutely no extras 😂

    I got my first FM car radio in 1994 and was so relieved that I didn’t have to put up with 2FM anymore.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,060 ✭✭✭Declan A Walsh


    It is true that most of the pirates had closed down at the end of 1988, and that, in Dublin, RTE's Millennium Radio was gone by the end of May 1989. However, there were still a handful of pirates around the country in early 1989. In Dublin, Radio Dublin had not closed down and one or two others popped up during the year. I have to admit that I was blissfully unaware of the newer pirates at the time. I think I might have heard a station called CAU in late 1989. Also, in Dublin, Capital Radio had launched in July - the first of the new licensed commercial stations anywhere in Ireland. Atlantic 252 did manage to launch days before Century Radio, Ireland's first licenced national commercial station. Dublin's second licensed station 98FM arrived in November.

    Having said all that, it was true that Atlantic 252 was a breath of fresh air at the time and that there was not much choice for pop music fans, especially outside Dublin, and, of course, it had the advantage at the time of being on long wave which could be picked up easily on radios around much of Ireland. Reception of Century Radio, which seemed to be aimed at an older audience, was variable around the country, and particularly if you were relying on Medium Wave.



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,414 ✭✭✭Tork


    There certainly were no pirates where I was living, and Century's reception was dire. I remember my mum trying to tune in on day 1 and getting a very crackly signal. When the local radio station started up, it was aimed at older people and you ran a high risk of hearing céilí or country & Irish if you tuned in. If you wanted your pop fix on FM you'd have to move the dial, repeatedly. Atlantic 252 was consistent in what it was offering.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,060 ✭✭✭Declan A Walsh


    I alluded to much of what you said in my previous post. Outside of Dublin and much of Ireland, the choice was very limited for pop fans during that period for the reasons you mentioned, and it was perfect timing for Atlantic 252. Of course, during the nineties, the landscape changed somewhat with more licensed stations coming on board (again, some were not aimed at the younger market), pirates on the increase again in at least some parts of Ireland, the arrival of community stations (albeit with mixed programming and the risk of C & W in some quarters!), increased access to FM and decreased access to long wave and, by the late nineties, the arrival of Century's successor Radio Ireland/Today FM with much better reception. Atlantic 252 certainly filled a gaping hole for its first year or two.



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,414 ✭✭✭Tork


    Ironically, if Atlantic 252 came back as a nationwide FM station now but still locked in its 90's timewarp, it might have an audience. Its original listeners are now in their forties and fifties and are poorly catered for by music radio outside of Dublin.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,120 ✭✭✭squonk


    @Tork is spot on. I was a teenager during tge period of 1987-199: when things started to move in Irish radio. While a fair amount of cars had FM at that stage it wasn’t a given. I grew up on a farm and if there was a radio in a tractor it was a MW/LW unit with one crappy speaker. Until 1988 or so in rural areas you had 2FM and that was literally it. I don’t remember suddenly discovering A252 one day. It kind of seeped in to my listening repertoire. I’d forgotten that century started out with limited reception and it ton a while to fill in the blanks. 1989 bright local radio but out local station catered for everybody so there was side safe pop and not much else. Later in the mid 90s they did get one it tweet excellent DJs on board with very eclectic tastes but that wasn’t there yet.

    For me, A252 came into its own arrived 1990-92. Doing farm work, you were’t always going to be best placed to pick up FM but LW came through loud and clear. The music choice was great too. They dipped into the US charts a big if I remember rightly so you were hearing stuff you wouldn’t hear on regular radio here. It seemed novel and exciting. Hard to imagine now with how connected the works has become but, apart from the big acts like Madonna, Michael Jackson etc, it could take months for music to be released over here that was shady doing well in the states.

    After 1992 headed off to college in Dublin and listened to much less A252 as there was lots of choice in the Dublin market and pirates to listen to also. My tastes started to change too.



  • Registered Users Posts: 122 ✭✭nonetheless


    "They dipped into the US charts a big if I remember rightly so you were hearing stuff you wouldn’t hear on regular radio here. It seemed novel and exciting"

    "it could take months for music to be released over here that was shady doing well in the states"

    And that's why it worked both in Ireland and the UK, irrespective of sound quality. It's initial format offered something unique, fresh and new to both territories albeit in Dublin folks would have been familiar with that type of approach to CHR having experienced The Red Hot Sound Of Sunshine 101 and Super-Q102.

    Programmers in Ireland started to tweak and adjust that format to accommodate a more AC style sound mainly due to the success of 98FM in Dublin. That being said, Atlantic 252 had huge listenership figures in the UK under its AC leaning period post 1991.

    Still today and it is with great sadness that I state that Dublin and Ireland is in badly need of a genuine, aggressive American style HotAC format with a CHR element.

    Unfortunately today most of the programmers on our Irish radio stations wouldn't have a clue what I am talking about.

    Post edited by nonetheless on


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,120 ✭✭✭squonk


    I’ll add also that after U2 broke the US in the mid to late 80s there was a huge upsurge in domestic groups like the Saw Doctors, Aslan, Something Happens, Cry Before Dawn etc. it was a very exciting time to be a music radio listener but our own commercial stations did the local content to death. They were/are all great bands and I love them but there’s only so many times you can hear them beside it got old and they were everywhere. A252 swept all that away. You heard pop top 40 and it was great. Just a bit of a break from the homegrown music revolution!



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,522 ✭✭✭ford fiesta


    Aslan and The Sawdoctors got occasional plays on 252 !!



  • Registered Users Posts: 122 ✭✭nonetheless




  • Registered Users Posts: 6,060 ✭✭✭Declan A Walsh


    I never knew (or maybe I forgot!) that Aslan and The Sawdoctors were played on A252. In fact, during the first few years, when I would have heard A252 the most, I cannot recall much, if any, Irish music on the station. it must have played some U2 as they were in the charts quite a bit during that period. Of course it's target audience was in the UK.



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,414 ✭✭✭Tork


    I remember Achtung Baby era U2 getting plenty of airplay at the time. Can't remember Aslan or the Sawdoctors being played but maybe the Irish DJs snuck some songs in.



  • Registered Users Posts: 122 ✭✭nonetheless


    Response to Declan A Walsh:

    A252's initial 'HotHits' format was predominantly focused on US/UK current 'Power' plays mixed with recurrents. To make the playlist, the track would have had to satisfy a criteria. At that time and just taking U2 as an example, they had achieved two Billboard Hot 100 No 1 singles - With Or Without You and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, not to mention their chart success in the UK. Along with Where The Streets Have No Name, those tracks would have been played on rotation as recurrents on local CHR stations across the US. The same would apply to tracks released to CHR from Rattle and Hum. A252's 'HotHits' format was quite stringent and reflective of this.



  • Registered Users Posts: 122 ✭✭nonetheless




  • Registered Users Posts: 6,060 ✭✭✭Declan A Walsh


    One of the outliers in the music selection in its first year was Classic Rock Sunday, where a few presenters played classic rock. This was quite unique at that point in time on Irish radio.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 9 Tribalcamp


    There is a recording online of Al Dunne doing a 4-7pm Saturday afternoon show and he played the hothouse flowers.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,060 ✭✭✭Declan A Walsh




  • Registered Users Posts: 9 Tribalcamp


    Yep



  • Registered Users Posts: 122 ✭✭nonetheless


    The Hothouse Flowers' Don't Go made no 7 on the US modern rock charts and no 11 on the UK top 40.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,760 ✭✭✭Bobson Dugnutt


    Don’t get the nostalgia for this at all. It had terrible sound quality, played generic chart music, and had a cast of very mediocre DJs who did links in that peculiar mid-Atlantic twang that was in vogue at the time. I was a teenager in the 90’s and it was seen as a very “naff” station. Real Smashie and Nicey vibes.



  • Registered Users Posts: 9,120 ✭✭✭squonk


    Yeah I kind of mentally left out u2 and Hothiuse Flowers as they had international hits. Irish domestic radio though was simply full of indigenous bands who, largely, didn’t make it internationally. They received a lot of AirPlay from the locals and the likes of 2FM so A252 was a breath of fresh air as the US content was very fresh. It’s worth mentioning that, besides our homegrown bands, late 80s/very early 90s radio featured a lot of Stock Aiken and Waterman. Focusing more on the big Brian hits gave a much fresher sound compared to all this. I listened to both formats but while travelling A252 was definitely a good listen.

    Post edited by squonk on


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,414 ✭✭✭Tork


    Haven't you read the thread? What sort of exotic and ultra-cool radio utopia were you living in at the time?



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,060 ✭✭✭Declan A Walsh


    As discussed in previous posts, when A252 launched in September 1989, most of the locals had not started at that stage, so there was not much radio outlets for indigenous bands at that time. Neither of the two local Dublin stations, which did launch in 1989, played much of that kind of Irish music (Capital Radio, from July, and 98FM, from November). The national station Century Radio, which launched just after A252, probably played a little bit more with its specialist programmes. However, your point could well be relevant re local stations from 1990 on, when most came on board.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,760 ✭✭✭Bobson Dugnutt


    I tend not to read threads, no. I’ll read the topic, maybe skim down the last few posts. My point still stands though, 252 wasn’t a good station. It’s like getting nostalgic for badly insulated houses, VCR, and Upwardly Mobile.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 122 ✭✭nonetheless


    Although A252 did not play Rockwell's 1984 hit Somebody's Watching Me iirc. The song does feel like quite relevant to me now.



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