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Melanie Morris: Bring back the soundtrack to my magical eighties

I've never been mad on Dublin's Country Mix 106.8. Not just because I don't like country music, but because the station has never done anything to set itself apart as anything special.

So, to hear it is embarking on a relaunch and rename leaves me a little underwhelmed. Especially as the name it has chosen to embrace is Sunshine Radio.

Hang on, Sunshine Radio? Or rather (sing along now) Sunshine RAY-DEE-OHH ... That's a station name with pedigree -- and boy does it take me back to the 80s.

I'm not sure whether it was the radio stations themselves, or the way we would listen to them that generated so much excitement, but wow, in terms of radio, those were the days. Pirate radio stood for freedom, and freedom was something I didn't have much of as a teenager.

I used to love tuning in at night, under the covers of my boarding school bed, listening through an earpiece that was plugged into my contraband radio.

I and thousands of other young Dubliners would surf up and down the medium wave, tuning in to a feast of international soft rock, angry British punk, breezy pop -- and a host of hungry young Irish bands keen to hop on the coat tails of U2's new successes at the time.

Sunshine, Radio Nova, 'Big D', Radio Dublin, Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD) ... all cool, way before the modern days of Phantom and their 21st-century counterparts.


The shows were usually introduced by DJs with cheesy names and transatlantic drawls - 'Nails' Mahoney, anyone? Dusty Rhodes? Their dulcet tones were punctuated with jingles that would rival Crazy Frog for their infuriating ability to stick in your brain.

For a while, my sister went out with a Radio Dublin 'jock' and I thought she was cooler than Leslie Dowdall -- especially when the same boyfriend drove me back to school in his (very old) Jaguar -- complete with an actual working phone on board. He must have been the Chris Evans of his day.

The glory days of pirate radio went hand in hand with smoke-filled nights in McGonagles, the Baggot Inn and the Television Club.

We'd shop for vinyl at Golden Discs and marvel at the punks outside Freebird Records.

Bands like The Golden Horde, Lookalikes and The Frames would play in the UCD bar. At home, I'd record Top Of The Pops on a cassette recorder, begging my family to shush, so their chatter wouldn't drown out Sheena Easton, Gary Numan and The Police. MT USA kept us entertained on a Sunday and Bono had just grown his first mullet.

And the summers WERE sunnier. I remember this because I spent them sailing, from early June to late August -- my jeans were just reaching the right shade of faded at the very moment that it was time to take them off and get back into my school uniform.

If Dublin's Country Mix 106.8 thinks that by changing name to Sunshine they can give me those days back, I'll tune in in a flash.

But I fear, unlike the relaunch of the Wispa bar, the reappearance of the Rubik's Cube and the revival of oversize, Darina Allen-style spectacles, this is one nod back to the 80s that's unlikely to catch on.

If they want to bring me Sunshine, and back to the days of my youth, they need to try and bring back the naivety and wide-eyed optimism that went with it -- and the memorable soundtrack of my youth.

Yes, we were broke, and true, the last bus went home at 11.30pm.

But we didn't know better or really want for much else ... but good music.