Tributes paid to radio engineer Peter Gibney

Tributes have made to RadioToday following the passing of well known Irish radio engineer Peter Gibney.

Gibbo passed away on Saturday morning April 4th at his home in Greystones, Co. Wicklow. He was in his early fifties.

Peter started as a radio transmission engineer for the pirate station KELO in Swords in the late 70s. Shortly after KELO in his long career he provided engineering support to stations like Big D the renowned Dublin Pirate of the late 70s.

Later he was the chief transmission engineer at The Red Hot Sound of Sunshine 101 / 539MW based in Portmarnock until its closure on December 30th 1988. Peter made some custom changes to Sunshine’s airchain in its later years giving it a winning sound to match it’s relaunched “Hot Hits” format which was number one in Dublin during 1986 to 1988.

During the ’83 P&T and Garda raids Peter was responsible for getting Sunshine Radio back on the air on both AM and FM for Robbie Robinson and the team at Sunshine. When the P&T raided Sunshine’s equipment in 1983 he managed to save one transmitter from being confiscated by telling the farmer at Sunshine’s Howth Head site to turn off the FM transmitter to prevent its detection by P&T Detectives.

Peter later worked as part of a team of dedicated studio engineers at Long wave Radio Atlantic 252 in Trim. In tandem during this time Peter was Chief Engineer at Denis O’Brien’s newly launched Classic Hits 98FM.

He built Dublin’s Country Mix 106.8 FM (Now Dublin’s New Sunshine 106.8) while under contract to BTS with Joe King in this short period he also built Spin 103.8 and Cork’s 104-106 Red FM for the late Henry Owens.

He will be best known for his attention to detail in his work and his ability to fix most pieces of equipment rather than replacing them with new ones.

Many people have expressed their sadness at his most untimely passing and said what a genius he was as a radio engineer.

Tributes have poured in to RadioToday from former friends and colleagues of Peter’s including from Eddie Caffrey who is Chief Engineer at LMFM in Drogheda who said: “Just to say he was a pure genius I met Peter first in 1979 at Boyneside Radio in Donaghy’s Mill, Drogheda when a group of BIG D staff came to pay us a visit at Boyneside – he was about 18 back then.”

Joe King, CEO of BTS in Dublin spoke to RadioToday about Peter’s passing: “To say that I am in absolute shock and totally stunned is a massive understatement, I just could not believe the news when I received it. I have known Peter or “Gibbo” as we called him, since the early 80s when he was engineering for Sunshine in the Sands Hotel in Portmarnock on the North side and I was working alongside Paul Cotter in Radio Nova and later when I engineered at Q102 on the South side.

“In 1989 I was engineering the setup for Capital Radio (now FM104) and Peter was engineering the setting up 98FM, it seemed we always were engineering for competitor radio stations, however in 1998 I persuaded Peter to join with me in BTS and we worked side by side for a number of years building many radio stations until the stress of business came between us. I had not seen or been speaking with Peter for some time as we drifted down different paths in life, but my respect for his engineering ability and pure genius never diminished, Peter was a larger than life character whose radio broadcasting engineering expertise in AM and FM transmissions were second to none. I am immensely saddened at the very sad news of the sudden passing a lifelong engineering college. Peter Gibney is a true legend in Irish Radio Broadcasting.

“I can’t express my shock at Peter’s sudden passing at such a young age; I send my sincere and deepest heartfelt sincere condolences to Peter’s wife Bridget and his family. Gibbo, you are an engineering legend who will never be forgotten, gather up a few 813s up there in the sky and build a mega rig for the big Man up there…. RIP Peter.”

Robbie Robinson former boss of Sunshine 101 spoke from his family home in Lanzarote on the loss of Peter who was a dear friend to he and his wife Stella and son Elliot: “Sunshine Radio spread a lot of joy across Dublin, Peter Gibney was one of our brightest stars”

Tony West who worked with Peter at Atlantic 252 from its launch until 1993 said: “Very sad news. A sudden departure, Peter will be remembered I’m sure, by all of us who owe him the gratitude for his extensive work on the transmitter and his help with the demanding requirements by the presentation staff at Atlantic 252.”

Nails Mahoney of Q107 Toronto who worked with Peter at Sunshine, Atlantic 252 and 98FM said: “Peter was a quiet, interesting, unique, once off radio genius who built radio stations from scratch and by his own design. More importantly he was an honourable man blessed with a strong humility and gentle strength.”

Barry Dunne 98FM’s Weekday 12-4pm host said of Peter: “He was a force of nature as well as being a technical genius”.

Denis O’Brien Head of Communicorp spoke to RadioToday as well. He said; “Peter was a phenomenal human being. I was lucky to meet him in 1988 when we won the licence (for Classic Hits 98FM as Radio 2000 Ltd.) He built our entire operation at Mount St. From scratch and later too he did the same for us at our Prague Operation in Czechoslovakia in the early 90s.

“Peter was one of those guys who was a genius with his hands but not with just that with his mind too. He could do everything from RF engineering to studio engineering. He was just a genius. He was a great human being and one of those people that everybody loved having around the radio station. He had a wonderful sense of humour.”

Andy Green a joint Director of Total Broadcast and Total Wireless had these words to say about Peter: “Myself and Andy Linton worked with Peter building the new Classic Hits 98 FM in the original Q102 studios at 8 Upper Mount St. In Dublin. Always the professional, he always liked to do things right.”

David Dennehy who worked with Peter at Sunshine 101 said: “One time at Sunshine Peter was doing a switching system in Sunshine between two studios and the mic was open in one of the studios and it accidentally became live – during which time some expletives were used he said “Oh Jesus Christ” which later Robbie referred to as the first religious broadcast on Sunshine.

“Another story Dave tells is when Peter was building Dublin’s Country 106.8FM in late 2001 amid a mass of wires he was designing a map for the entire station’s matrix of studio wiring. He said “this is the bible – holding up a map, in five or six years time you’ll thank me for this”.

“Dublin’s Country later became Dublin’s Country Mix 106.8 FM and did indeed move five or six years later to Bray Co. Wicklow to The Radio Centre. He was a wonderful human being the great one.”

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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  1. Paul Shepherd says

    Really sad news especially given his relatively young age. I first met Peter when we were setting up ABC Radio in 1981. He built our first transmitter with twenty 807’s. Looked a fright but got the job done and carried us through to the end. We were frequently calling on him for favours as money was tight in those days. If it could be built from scrap and spares Peter was your man. Although I hadn’t seen him in recent years I often recall some of our adventures involving him.
    My thoughts are with his family at this time.

  2. Ronan Kelly says

    I worked as a newsreader in KELO in 1982. It was during the H-Blocks hunger strikes. I came in one Saturday morning. Peter was asleep on a couch upstairs outside the studio – he had been working on the transmitter all night. (At that time, we were ‘under threat’ from H-block protestors who were breaking into stations and rival radio stations whose ‘marketing techniques’ involved cutting down masts and throwing water on transmitters.)

    Anyway, I woke Peter up and asked him to do a live insert for me from the North. “For the latest we go to our correspondent, Peter Gibney, outside the Maze Prison. Peter…” Bad ethics but great teamwork. Lovely, obliging man. RIP.

    Ronan Kelly, RTE Radio.

  3. jack says

    jack delaney from st itas hospital raido i never met peter gibney but what i am reading peter was a great engineer and would try his hand at anything and i would say peter would have a good cv of the stations he worked on i never met peter but some told that peter gibney could build a transmitter for 30 pounds i got a bit of a shock to he peter had passed away he will be missed r.i.p. peter

  4. Elaine Geraghty says

    I was shocked and saddened to learn about Peter’s death. I worked with Peter from 1989 at the start of Classic Hits 98FM. To echo what everyone else has said..he was indeed the brightest of the bright, a ‘genius’. But I will remember him most for being a warm, caring, funny and wonderful human being. He ‘minded’ me on all of our World Cup OB adventures overseas. How he managed to pull off some of those broadcasts, I’ll never know. You knew you were in good hands once Peter was around. My condolences to his wife Bridget, his brother Desmond amd all the family. Your radio family will miss you Gibbo. RIP

  5. David Smyth says

    Peter will be sorely missed. I have lots of good memories working all my life in legal and illegal broadcast engineering throughout the colourful history that is Irish Radio:

  6. Robbie Dale Robinson says

    Peter Gibney made everything work at Sunshine Radio during the 1980’s in Jimmy White’s hand he became a dedicated broadcast engineer. Peter was the brilliant back room boy responsible for installing and maintaining the high tec machines and transmitters that make the whole radio show work. Some say DJ’s and the songs they play make great music radio.To my mind the likes of Peter Gibney are of equal or greater importance to a radio station. I’m sure you agree with this sentiment. R.I.P Peter and other absent friends. Robbie Dale Robinson.

  7. JOE JONES says

    I worked with Peter at K.E .L.O. in Swords. A gent. We had lots of socials in the old Harp in Swords. R.I.P.

  8. Patsy McGarry says

    I shared a house with Peter in Portmarnock when we were both working at Sunshine in the1980s. He was such a talented, gentle colleague and great housemate. Wed just got on so well, he sorting out the technical side of things, me at the more news/political end. I h

  9. Patsy McGarry says

    ..contd. I had no idea about technical matters and he wasn’t especially bothered about news/politics. But what always impressed me was his sensitivity.
    He was an aware, gentle man of some considerable genius. At his funeral today a memory came back to me again and again. It was late night in the portakabin at Portmarnock. We were standing at its door. He was smoking and I was chatting, the huge aerial mast before us outside beside the Sands Hotel. And we concurred in our affection for the place and, above all, the gang we worked with.
    We hadn’t met for years before he died. It didn’t matter. That night at the door of the portakabin I encountered the true, gentle soul of Peter Gibney. Lovely man, colleague, housemate. Gone too soon. I wish we had met in recent years.

  10. JMC says

    Just ended up here by complete chance. And very very sad to hear the news.

    I happened upon a web page about KELO and there was a photo of Peter Gibney on it. I was wondering whatever happened to him , did a search, and found out here. Very sad.

    The fact that more than 30 years after I last met him that I still remembered him, and still remembered vividly the technical discussions we had about exactly what he had build in the transmitter shed behind the studio in Swords, speaks volumes about what an exceptional engineer he was. I’ve spent the last 30 years working for high tech companies in Silicon Valley in California and Peter is still one of the most brilliant naturally talented electrical / electronic engineers I’ve ever met. And I’ve worked with quite a few exceptional engineers over the years. The kind of guys who built the MX missiles and large chunks of deep space satellites for NASA, as well as all the usual Silicon Valley hardware.

    Peter was one of a kind.

    Even when I knew him in ’81 to say he was larger than life was an understatement. I remember one particularly entertaining 41 bus journey into the City Center when we went to the finer details of exactly how the KELO transmitter worked, just how powerful it could be if ramped up to its full potential ( a really scarey number), and just how bloody dangerous it could be to anyone in close proximity. I can still see those big block sheet glass capacitors he build for the main transmitter..

    An absolutely unique engineer. A real loss.

    1. dave browne says

      i knew peter from kelo in swords also as i had a car we did a lot of driving around checking the earths as peter used to say. peoples eyes lit up when he was around one of the smartest people i have known and a good friend. when we were out on the razz peter would say im just going to check the earths when he needed to use the bathroom hilarious. he will be sorely missed and his family are in my thoughts RIP buddy.

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