Full recording: Capitol Radio (Dublin)

Flyer for Capitol from c. 1985. Pic courtesy of Alan MacSimoin (RIP).

There were several stations calling themselves Capital or Capitol Radio in the pirate era, the best-known being the station that was on air from 1983 until the end of 1988. This Capitol became more specialist as time went on, playing first album tracks and then indie and alternative music. On the 1st of July 1986 Nitesky 96 was launched as a sister station from 6pm each evening with its own niche shows. The station was a strong supporter of the lively Dublin band scene of the 1980s, broadcast a weekly listeners’ Alternative Top 10 and held its own ‘Alternative Night’ every week.

This recording is from 96 MHz FM, begins at 9.15am on the 3rd of February 1984 and features the final 45 minutes of the ‘Daybreak’ show presented by George Long (Henry O’Donovan) who went on to work with Radio Nova and Energy 103. George also reads news also 9.15, 9.30 and 10.00 (quite a workload!) before handing over to Conor Brooks. There’s also a promo for a holiday giveaway giving the station’s address in Milltown, Dublin 14. At this time Capitol also broadcast on 1017 kHz but left AM at the end of March 1986 after reportedly selling the transmitter to the new Liberties Local Community Radio. Capitol-Nitesky 96 continued on FM until the 31st of December 1988. It was one of our absolute favourites and is still sorely missed.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: Centre Radio (Clonmel)

Centre Radio was first located over the red building which was then a barber’s shop at 14 Abbey Street, Clonmel. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Ryan.

Centre Radio was an offshoot of CBC Radio which started broadcasting from Clonmel in Co. Tipperary in November 1981. CBC had a strong community ethos but station boss Paul Byrne wanted a more youth-oriented station and so set up Centre Radio in April 1986. The station lasted until 1987 before being renamed as Premier Radio.

This recording is from 7.46pm on the 18th of July 1986 and was recorded from 88 FM. Centre also broadcast on 1251 kHz AM. The presenter is Eoin Ryan, who is now the producer of RTÉ’s Nationwide series. Paul Byrne’s voice is heard on the news intro and on some of the adverts. He recently retired as CEO of Radio Kerry. You can listen to a documentary about CBC here.

We thank Jonathan Ryan for his assistance with background information. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Jingles: Dublin Community Radio

Dublin Community Radio (DCR) was set up as Downtown Community Radio by long-time radio enthusiast Joe King in 1979 in the YMCA hall in Ringsend, Dublin 4. It moved to a shed at the back of his house in Lower Grand Canal Street where it was renamed Dublin Community Radio and later switched to a larger premises in Gardner Street in the city centre. Radiowaves.fm reports that it was the first true community radio station in Dublin. DCR dealt with issues in various communities, recorded programmes around the city and did live broadcasts from community events. According to Joe King, the station had specialist shows including one presented by the Dublin historian Éamonn Mac Thomáis. Some of the early voices included Bernie Jameson and her brother (DJ name Graham Talbot), Paul Caffrey, Paul Doyle (RIP) and Niall McGowan. DCR broadcast on 963 kHz, announcing as 312 metres.

Joe King’s DCR closed in 1982 but a second, unconnected Dublin Community Radio began broadcasting in 1984 and became KISS FM in 1985. Both these stations’ idents feature the voice of Tony Allan. The announcement of 105 FM at the end of the recording is from the second DCR. Tony’s voice was everywhere during these years and the fact that he spans the two separate DCRs is as confusing as it is interesting. This 1982 recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Jingles: Radio Leinster (Dublin)

A flyer advertising Radio Leinster from c. 1983. This was donated by Alan McSimoin (RIP).

Here is a selection of jingles, promos and idents from Radio Leinster in 1983. The sound quality isn’t great as the recording is from AM (738 kHz) but it gives a flavour of the station in its heyday. Radio Leinster was one of the easy listening and talk-based stations serving Dublin in the 1980s. It closed suddenly on the 19th of March 1983 as panic spread among the pirates following raids on the bigger stations. You can hear a recording from that day here.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Aircheck: Radio Carousel (Navan)

Image courtesy of Ian Biggar

This is an aircheck of a full day’s broadcasting on Radio Carousel Navan on the 28th of April 1983. The station was one of four in the Radio Carousel network in Counties Louth and Meath and along the border which by 1982 was claiming to cover 30% of Ireland from Belfast to north Dublin. The recording begins at 8am and includes presenters Kieran Murray (who also does news), Tina Anderson, station boss Hugh Hardy on a relay from Dundalk, Mike Ahern (aka Richard McCullen), Robbie Byrne and Nick Butler. The studio was situated in a glass booth in the middle of Navan shopping centre, showing that the days of pirates hidden in sheds and attics were over.

Carousel began broadcasting from Dundalk on the 19th of May 1978 and gradually expanded throughout the region. A 1982 advertising brochure lists four stations in Dundalk (265 metres), Drogheda (215 metres), Navan (210 metres) and Newry (212 metres). There was also a short-lived station in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan. By April 1988 the Carousel network was being wound up by Hugh Hardy who moved into video production and promotion of live artists. Radio Carousel Navan was the last station on air, closing in June 1988. Hear a panel discussion on the Louth pirates here and the memories of former Carousel broadcaster Ian Biggar here.

Image courtesy of Ian Biggar.

Radio Carousel Navan announced 210 metres but in fact broadcast on 1386 kHz as well as 95.1 FM. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: KISS FM (Dublin 1)

KISS FM compliments slip, courtesy of Ian Biggar.

There were so many pirates called KISS FM that it’s hard to untangle all their stories. We’ve done our homework on this one but as ever we welcome corrections and additional information. The origins of this KISS FM were in Dublin Community Radio which began in 1979. KISS started testing in May 1985 and eventually settled on 1116 kHz AM and 94.8 and 104.1 FM. The station was owned by two German businessmen based in Cavan and located in the impressive sounding ‘Kiss Broadcasting Centre’ in Dublin 1. Well-known Dublin radio presenter David Baker was the manager but remembers how run-down Foley Street was at the time. Over St. Patrick’s weekend 1986, KISS organised a Disco Dance Marathon in the nearby North Star Hotel in aid of the Irish Association for Autistic Children with the help of the Radio West outside broadcast unit. Later that year the station introduced an easy listening format using former presenters from Radio Leinster. On the 3rd of October 1986, KISS was the first pirate to be raided for years when officials from the Department of Communications arrived in Foley Street complaining about interference. There’s a detailed account of the raid in Peter Mulryan’s book Radio Radio (1988). KISS never recovered and is not listed in an Anoraks Ireland report from November 1986.

We visited KISS in Foley Street in 1986 and remember a studio on a mezzanine level with a window in front of the DJ’s console looking down on an empty factory. This recording is from the 24th of June 1985 (6.35-7.20pm) and includes an announcement that KISS had just returned to 105 FM. There are ads and professional jingles and the music sounds great after all those years!

Thanks to David Baker for help with details and to Ian Biggar for the image. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: Radio Leinster (Dublin)

Radio Leinster logo courtesy of DX Archive.

Radio Leinster was one of Dublin’s niche pirates, featuring an easy listening and chat format in contrast with the chart music played on many stations. It began in April or May 1981 from central Dublin before moving to an elevated site in Sandyford overlooking the city. A professional 1 kW transmitter on 738 kHz travelled well by day but was subject to interference at night. Radio Leinster presenters included Gavin Duffy who led the consortium to be awarded the local radio licence for counties Meath and Louth in 1989. Peter Mulryan’s book Radio Radio (1988) reports that in 1982 Duffy announced that he would interview senior Sinn Féin figures including Gerry Adams, in breach of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. The station received a warning from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and Duffy was fired.

This recording is of interest because it is from the last day of Radio Leinster, the 19th of March 1983. Like many other stations, Radio Leinster was spooked by the raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine and closed down suddenly at lunchtime. This recording which begins at 10.20am gives no impression of a crisis, and presenter Mike Moran even announces a competition. The recording is from 93 FM. Radio Leinster was never to return but future stations in the same easy listening vein would be Magic 103, KISS FM (managed by David Baker) and KLAS.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB)

BLB car sticker courtesy of DX Archive.

Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) was a pioneer in Irish community radio and spent almost ten years on air from 1979 to 1988. Based in the north Wicklow town, it focused on local speech content and carried specialist music shows in contrast with other stations broadcasting mostly pop music. You can hear a panel discussion about the history of BLB here or read a newspaper report here.

This recording, made from 657 kHz AM from 6.53pm on 18 May 1983 is significant because of its date, not its content: this was the same day as the infamous raid by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on Dublin super-pirate Radio Nova. Sunshine Radio was raided the follow day, prompting panic among pirates throughout the country. On 19 May many, including BLB, closed down temporarily as a result of the raids and some such as Radio Leinster were never to return.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Jingles: Radio Valleri International (Dublin)

Radio Valleri poster courtesy of DX Archive.

Radio Valleri was one of the long-running Irish shortwave pirates of the 1970s and 1980s. Founded by Mike Anderson and Derek Jones, it began testing in 1972 on 1525 kHz medium wave before moving to short wave. The station became a regular operator on Sunday mornings, one of many such pirates from Ireland in the 49 metre band. There’s a detailed history on the DX Archive pages. One of those involved at the beginning was Arno St Jude (Declan Meehan).

This recording from 1985 is of station jingles, voiced by Brian and Dónal Greene. The frequency announced is 6870 kHz.

Full recording: Magic 103 (Dublin)

Magic 103 car sticker, courtesy of DX Archive

Magic 103 (103.5 FM and 1521 kHz AM) was one of the many short-lived sister stations of Radio Nova, and was on air from Leeson Street in Dublin for a few months in 1985. The station began broadcasting on April 29th and promised ‘easy listening and information for Dublin’. Presenters were journalists, most of whom were in dispute with station owner Chris Cary, and ‘ABC Network News’ was shared between the two stations. Magic 103 was gone by September 22nd, as the Radio Nova empire began to unravel.

This recording is of Mark Weller (Mark Costigan) from 3.25pm on 19 June 1985, featuring a studio discussion about stock car racing, including a forthcoming competition between teams from Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio! There’s also a comedy extract featuring iconic Nova voices such as Bob Gallico, John Clarke and Tony Allan. The 4pm news bulletin shared by both stations features international, Irish and British news. When the simulcast ends there is additional Irish news on Magic 103, evidence that Nova catered to a much larger broadcast area than just Dublin. Mark Costigan went on to work as a journalist for national independent station Radio Ireland/Today FM in the 1990s and 2000s and was eventually appointed Head of Government Information Services.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.