Friday, May 22, 2009

Milton Hardcastle: Singer, Song Writer and Irish Radio DJ

MaryRose and Milton on the cover of his album
The Virginian and Hardcastle
Ireland's Own, Big Tom visits MC at his radio station

another tragedy hits home...

hail to the chief
the good old days

the world mourns its most famous goat...

mc hardcastle in his element

MC Hardhastle and his Country Western Comedic Radio station isn't your typical pirate radio. For starters, his usual friend/confidant on the air isn't a person but rather a goat. This unique combination has enticed listeners to return year after year for good music, thoughtful interviews and all the other, BAAA in between: Listen Live @ 107.9 Tuesdays and Fridays 8:30-10:00PM.

How long you been in the biz?

Since the 80s. I started out in 1984 with my first goat, McCormick on LCR radio which was Noel Cassidy's Radio Station in Ballinamuck at the time. I am also a TV correspondent for several TV stations in the country.

I'm sorry...did you say goat?

Yes and he was my main presenter, his name was McCormick. He lived to be 22 years of age.

You're not serious!

He lived to be double the life span of an average goat's age. His son, Buck Cannon aka the Chief lived to be over 19 years old. They were both very well looked after.

What were the initial reactions of radio listeners?

It was something unique and different...that being said, it's a comedy show so it makes sense. We were and still are the only radio station with a goat presenter...check it yourself, Google it and see!

Ok! How do you come up with his name?

All my goats were named after 60s and 70s TV characters. McCormick's name was inspired by the 1979 TV Series, Hardcastle and McCormick. It was an interesting story; Hardcastle (Brian Keith) was a Supreme Court Judge in the LA Superior Court and McCormick (Daniel Hugh Kelly) was an ex convict who was placed in his care for 12 months...they later became friends and fought crime together. I also had my name legally changed to Hardcastle.

What was it like looking after the most sought after goat?

He had the run of the house. He would climb stairs, wear hats, drive his custom made car...goats are pretty brainy.


He knew the difference between a salt and vinegar crisp to a cheese and onion (crisps are very popular potato chips in the country of Ireland).

So many journalists have written about him!

Yes and his son... featured in The Longford News, The Longford Leader, The Leitrim Post, The Leitrim Guardian, The Anglo Sect (magazine), Irish Vintage Scene (magazine)...

His son?

When McCormick passed away on Saint Patrick's Day in 1995, his only son, Buck Cannon took over the radio show on a different frequency and different name, 107.9 FM, known as Radio Chapparral (MC's pirate radio station). The passing of McCormick and Buck caused a big stir here in Ireland. Joe Finnegan from Shannonside Radio paid McCormick a very fine tribute and shared with me later that meeting him was the high point of his career! I named Buck after Buck Cannon from the Western TV Series, The High Chapparral (Cameron Mitchell). Buck was the only animal ever featured in the magazine, Irish Vintage Scene. Sadly, he passed away just after he was photographed for the article.

How does one go about appearing on your show?

When musicians have new albums out, they come on after contacting me. It's most essential for for us to promote the local entertainers here....

What famous guests have you interviewed for your radio show?

Rose McConnon from Shercock band, Rose and Solid Gold . She wrote a great Christmas song and recorded it here one night. I've also spoke with Big Tom...he's a big-time country western singer here in Ireland. Also, James Drury, the actor from the 70s series, The Virginian (longest running western series, 62-71)


I met him twice during his one and only visit to Ireland.

What did you and Big Tom talk about?

He is a personal friend of mine...I've visited his home in Castleblayney in County Monahan on several occasions. He doesn't do many interviews. We discussed music mostly: how he's been on the road since the 60s, his first release-Gentle Mother to his second-Four Country Roads to his recent hit-You're Going Out the Same Way You Came In. We talked about dance people met years ago, it's not like that now...we talked about his marriage...

That's nice.

Yes but the funny part was when I asked him when he got married he said, "sometime in the 60s." I got a kick out of that. We talked about our common interest in vintage tractors.

Is there a set routine? Are you live?

We are live. I always ask how long the guest has been in the business and their favorite song and then the rest just flows. We may talk about future venues, how the music scene has changed... the no smoking in pubs, stuff like that...

No censoring? That's risky.

I have never had a problem in all my thirty years. I am always careful of what I say and my guests are too. You must be mindful of topics such as laws, specific people, events...anything to do with the general public really...anything controversial or offensive and you're off the air...

You've produced and recored two albums?

Yes, the first, Say You Love Me was recorded in J&J Studios in Lanesboro County Longford in 2000. The album is a collection of well known songs I dedicated to my wife and favorite person...and your amazing godmother, MaryRose! The other, Galway Girl was recorded in my own establishment in 2006.

All original songs?

Mostly cover songs: You're Going Out the Same Way You Came In, Galway Girl, Say You Love Me, Ring of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues, Forty Shades of Green. I have written four songs...

Is writing songs a tedious process?

You have to find a rhythm for writing your songs.

What's your favorite?

Hec's about a hit 70s TV character played by Richard Boone...

What will your audience expect upon your return to radio?

I am still grieving over McCormick son, Buck as are hundreds of listeners young and old. Last February I shared with writer, Leon Duigan of The Longford Leader my plans to bring on a new goat, Marshall Teaspoon Hunter (Anthony Zerbe) named after the character from the TV Series, The Young Riders.

And you've also been interviewed about your love of vintage automobiles.

Andrew Pollock spoke with me about the restoration of my first tractor (1979)'s a Mark 1/65 Massey Ferguson Original.

What was involved in its restoration?

The engine was stripped down and rebuilt top to bottom. There are new brakes, a new clutch, two original mud guards and a complete friend James Sheridan aka JS Technology of Moyne, County Longford and I performed the operation.

Last but definitely not least, your band...

I have been an entertainer since 1973 (as well as a professional dart player and vintage car collector-one car is almost 60) playing in various four and five piece bands and currently I am the singer, keyboard player and accordion for my own band, Harry O (70s show which stars David Jansson as Private Investigator, Harry Orwell). I work closely with Edmund Dolan who assists with equipment, etc

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