ON THE EIRE
Photos by Simon Hardwick and Richard Moore
Long Wave radio (148.5 to 283 kHz) is unknown in the USA but commonplace throughout Europe.
Here in the UK the BBC occupies a central point on the Long Wave dial first with The Light Programme on 200kHz, and now with BBC Radio 4 on 198kHz . For decades these services provided the only English language voice on that band, with World Service also available on that frequency overnight and audible throughout Western Europe.
|During the 1980s there were rumours that a new and commercial Long Wave music station was planned which would be clearly audible throughout most of the UK and in 1989 that rumour became a reality as Atlantic 252 hit the airwaves from studios at Mornington House, in the otherwise sleepy village of Trim, Co. Meath, and their 500kW transmitter at nearby Summerhill, some 5km away.|
|Atlantic 252 was originally a joint
initiative between RTÉ and the then Radio Luxembourg. The sound of the
station was actually fairly 'piratical' and sounded more like an
offshore station than any of the UK's independent local stations, and
the warm, mellow sound quality of the Long Wave transmissions did much
to encourage that feel.
The station gained a small but devoted listenership, not just in Ireland but particularly in the West and North of England where reception was often better than that of the English AM music stations, e.g. Virgin Radio.
|Above: Mornington House
Left: Mornington House Reception
Atlantic 252's Studio 1 at Mornington House, Trim
Presenter Gary Wilkinson - a.k.a. The Pizzaman
|One of the
presenters who worked at both the Trim and London ends of the Atlantic
252 operation was Simon Hardwick:
"There was one studio in London and two small production areas. The on air studio was linked to Trim via a Cable and Wireless Kilostream line. This came up as a fader in the Trim studio and could also be switched direct to air.
"The studio was built in 1999 originally for the breakfast show during the "real music, real radio" era. When John O Hara came in and relaunched the station he moved programming back to Trim, and then let me move back to England to do my drivetime show from there. The London studio was based in 74 Newman Street just off Oxford Street, and was home of CLT UK Radio Sales, which once sold airtime for Talk Radio, Atlantic 252 and County 1035."
By the late 1990’s, Atlantic 252’s audiences were falling due to vastly increased competition from UK local radio stations with similar formats. A re-launch in February 2000, with a change of format to urban and contemporary music was not successful and Atlantic 252 closed on 2nd January 2002. The station then re-launched on 11th March 2002 as TEAMtalk 252, a short lived commercial sports radio station based in Leeds. It closed on 31st July 2002. From 17th March 2004 the Summerhill transmitter has been used to provide a version of RTÉ Radio 1 to the expatriate community in Britain.
Summerhill mast and Transmitter Hall