Atlantic 252

Atlantic 252

Infobox Radio station

airdate= September 1, 1989
closure= January, 2002
frequency=252 kHz (initially 254 kHz) with 500 Kw (100kw nighttime) power
area= Republic of Ireland (official) Britain and Ireland (de facto)
format =Contemporary
owner =Radio Tara Ltd (RTÉ/RTL)

Atlantic 252 was a long wave radio station broadcasting to Ireland and Britain on 252 kHz (1190.4 metres), which provided service from 1989 until 2002.

The frequency was re-subsumed by RTÉ in 2002 to provide a version of RTÉ Radio 1 to the expatriate community in Britain.

Early history

The concept of Atlantic 252 can be traced back as far as August 1986 when Irish state broadcaster RTÉ announced it was to use their allocated longwave channel for a new pop music station. They teamed up with Radio Luxembourg to form Radio Tara - the trading name of "Atlantic 252", which being long wave would enable reception in Britain as well as Ireland. This was following Chris Cary's test transmissions from Clogher Head, County Louth in the mid 1980s with 254 kHz Longwave as "Radio Exidy"

In 1987 RTÉ commenced building a giant 3-sided 248 metre broadcast mast in Clarkestown, County Meath using a specially built pair of both air and water cooled 300 kilowatt solid state transmitters (which could be combined to give double power) built by Varian Associates, Texas despite protests from local residents. Studios were set up in Mornington House, in the nearby town of Trim. The station cost £6m to set up. Just over 47m people were in the station's broadcast area.

At 8am on September 1 1989, Gary King announced on Atlantic 252, "Mine is the first voice you will ever hear on Atlantic 252." This was followed by a specially produced pre-recorded introduction tape which introduced everybody employed by the radio station on its launch day from engineers, administration, management like Travis Baxter and John Catlett and the station's personality music presenter lineup including ex-Laser 558 presenter Charlie Wolf, MaryEllen O'Brien, Andrew Turner, Nicky Schiller, Henry Owens, Al Dunne, Tony West, Jeff Graham, and even an appearance was made by Rosalyn Reilly - who was to remain the station's cleaning lady for its entire twelve year history. The first record ever played on Atlantic 252's test transmission was "Ain't Nobody" by Rufus and Chaka Khan ('89 Remix) and the station's official "first record ever played" was "Sowing The Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears shortly after 08:00 local time on 1 September, 1989. The second record played was "Monkey" by George Michael [] .

Although the transmitter was in the Republic of Ireland, the signal's reach meant that it was often considered to be a "UK" national station - the signal had even been received in Brazil at night-time, with other reception reports from such locations as Berlin, Finland, Ibiza, and Moscow. The Scottish musician Mylo has claimed it was the only station with listenable reception on the Isle of Skye. At launch there were no UK-wide commercial stations (the first being "Classic FM" in 1992), and the lack of a UK broadcast licence attracted the attention of the IBA. Although the transmitters were theoretically capable of being combiled to operate at 600 Kilowatts output power International agreements limited the stations power to a maximum daytime output of 500 kW or 100 kW at night.

Mid-1990s peak

Initially, the station transmitted only from 06:00 until 19:00, outside of which listeners were invited to tune to Radio Luxembourg. In 1990 the station began broadcasting until 02:00, and eventually by September 1991, a 24 hour service with the overnight automated slot called "The Big Mattress". The music format consisted of high-rotation mainstream pop and rock music, with influences borrowed heavily from American radio, and through to 1993, the station was known to play much of the music mostly from the top part of the US charts.The station mixed the best songs from the last few years along with the best songs from the top 40 - this was called "Today's Best Music Variety" and you got it every time you hit the LW or Longwave button on your radio and tuned to 252. Commercial Radio and the BBC initially objected to the station, seeing it as a commercial pirate. However, as UK commercial radio developed and deregulation saw many more stations launching, formats similar to Atlantic's began to appear on FM offering superior audio quality. Atlantic 252's audience began the inevitable decline. Attempts at repositioning followed, including "Real Music, Real Radio", when the station attempted to tackle BBC Radio 1's "new music" format. At the peak of its popularity in the mid-1990s, Atlantic 252 had in excess of four million listeners, but vastly increased competition from local radio stations with similar formats and superior FM audio quality, as well as the renaissance of BBC Radio 1 and the repositioning of BBC Radio 2, saw this take a dive below one million by 2000.

Decline in popularity

During the 1980s and 1990s Long wave suffered a gradual decline in listenership, partially because of the reduction of signal quality and also due to more choice on higher quality platforms.

Relaunch attempts

In late 1998 under the direction of David Dunne the station responded to dropping audiences by shifting its format to concentrate on indie and dance music, but it continued to lose listeners. Though money was spent on advertising and a high profile breakfast show was attempted fronted by Mark Brow, in 1999 the station suffered its lowest Rajar ratings since it first came on the air with the audience falling to just under 1 million listeners in Q.4. '99.

Then in November 1999 with the arrival of John O'Hara as the new Managing Director the station found a new focus and re-launched in February 2000 as "The New Atlantic 252" The format was Rhythmic CHR and the station was repositioned as "Nonstop Rhythm and Dance" The station played 12 songs in a row and featured Tony and Becky at Brekkie plus a brand new website at There was over £1million pounds spent on rebranding and marketing the station to a new audience and media buyers. However, although the station did see a rise in audience again back to around 2 million listeners during 2000 and 2001, the writing was on the wall when the sale of the station was announced in early 2001 by its owners RTÉ and CLT.

Last broadcast

The very last show on Atlantic was presented by Enda Caldwell on Thursday December 20 2001, This was followed by a Tribute show produced by Enda Caldwell and Eric Murphy celebrating the station's 12 year history of broadcasting and featuring classic airchecks of each year of Atlantic 252's history then the station went into automation and continued broadcasting music without continuity and just commercials that had been booked for the month of January 2002 for about two to three weeks afterwards until the carrier fell dead and the music stopped playing.


It was briefly replaced by a sports station, TeamTalk 252, which opened in the early days of January 2002. This faced competition from BBC Radio 5 Live and talkSPORT, and was itself closed in the summer of 2002, just a few months after its launch. The frequency is now used by RTÉ Radio 1. DRM tests have been heard on this 252 kHz frequency since 2007. Mornington House is now regional offices for Meath County Council.


The presenters that worked at Atlantic 252 were what made the station so popular and different. The funny names idea originated in the USA at stations like WHTZ FM Z100. Many of the original presenter line-up came from Laser 558/UK Commercial Radio and BBC Radio One.The Irish presenters on the air came from Dublin Superpirates like Sunshine 101 and SuperQ 102.

On-air identity

Station straplines included:

"The Best Music"

"Today's Best Music Variety"

"Today's Best Music Mix"

"The Big Mix Of Today's Hits"

"Today's Hits Nonstop"

"Real Music, Real Radio"

"Nonstop Rhythm and Dance"

Other frequently used phrases on the station were:

"we've got another Long Wave of nonstop hits on the way"

"this is the radio station with a wavelength all of its own"

The station had a sung jingle package called "Euro-Power".

The last station jingle package was a re-sing of the WKTU New York 1997 package.

A couple of jingles for the station featured the voice of Mike Judge as Butthead, from his famous show Beavis and Butthead. These were around the mid-nineties time.

Station voices included: Larry Thompson (first station imaging voice), Gary Gears, Bumper Morgan, Henry Owens, Merkle, Bill Cunningham (aka Wild Bill), Olga Kinsman (Whisper), Paul Bacon, David Kaye, Eddie Temple-Morris, Claire Sturgess (who was produced by Cameron Prudames & Eric Murphy) and Clara Lane (last station imaging voice).

External links

* [ Unofficial tribute site] .
* [ Official Tribute Site] .

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