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HISTORY OF ATLANTIC 252

The concept of Atlantic 252 can be traced back as far as August 1986 when Irish State broadcast RTE announced it was to use their allocated Long Wave channel for a new pop music station.  They teamed up with Radio Luxembourg to form Radio Tara - the trading name of Atlantic 252

Despite protests from farmers and residents, 2 years later RTE built a 1000ft broadcast mast  in Clarkestown, County Meath.  Studios were set up in Mornington House, in the nearby village of Trim. The station cost 6million to set up and broadcast to most of the UK and Ireland (just over 47million people were in the station's catchment area.

On September 1st 1989, Gary King announced on 252 longwave that he was the first voice listeners would hear on Atlantic 252. Click to hear the launch.  He then introduced the presenter lineup, including ex Laser 558 presenters such as Charlie Wolf, MaryEllen O Brien and Andrew Turner.  At the time of launch, there were no national commercial radio stations in the UK.

Initially the station only broadcast till 7pm, with listeners being advised to tune into the sister station Radio Luxembourg after that time.  Eventually, overnight programming was introduced - before the days of automation the station employed "SPINNERS" or Technical Operators whose job it was to play in the songs and adverts but without any presenting.  Spinners remained at the station when automation was introduced with a role to "babysit" the computers playing the automation.

The music format consisted of high rotation mainstream pop and rock music, with influences borrowed heavily from American Radio.  It was an instant hit with audiences used to waffly DJs and at the peak of the station's popularity in the mid nineties, Atlantic 252 pulled in over four million listeners.

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 Radio 1's "new music" format. 

In 1999, new studios were commissioned in the home of CLT UK Radio Sales at 74 Newman Street London.  Built in the basement, there was one on air studio and 2 production suites which were initially used for the Mark Brow breakfast show and to record specialist programming which was then sent over to Trim for playout at a later date. 

After the station was relaunched as The New Atlantic 252 the london studio remained empty for a few months, till Drivetime Presenter Simon Hardwick took up residence in April 2000.  The studios were linked by a 30,000 leased line between London and Ireland. This was a two way line allowing the building to hear the station output since a longwave signal was not receivable in Central London. 

A glimmer of hope emerged at the beginning of 2000 when the station was repositioned to play rhythmic hits under John O Hara's control.  This bought a halt to the decline but only temporarily, as by then the station's fate was sealed.  CLT (now RTL) who owned 80% of Atlantic 252 were pulling out of  the UK Radio market completely, and eventually the station was sold.

Team Talk 252 was the replacement, run by the people who operated the sports news website of the same name, but this was short lived, and after a few months it closed and the frequency handed back to RTE.

This is only a potted history, and there are many more chapters of the story to be added. Can you help? Use our contribution page to add your side of the story, and call back soon as we update this page.







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