ERI (Eastside Radio Ireland) became Cork’s biggest pirate in the late 1980s. Beginning in the village of Ballycotton east of Cork City in 1982, it broadcast on 1305 kHz and 102 FM. This jingle package includes several references to 225 metres which corresponds to 1332 kHz, another frequency used for a while. ERI’s dominance in Cork was assured when it installed a powerful 5kW AM transmitter on the outskirts of the city and boosted its FM signal. It closed down at the end of 1988.
Treble TR was Dublin’s country and Irish music station and broadcast from 1981 until the end of 1988 on 945 kHz and 99.5 FM. This recording is from the 30th of December 1988, the station’s final day of broadcast. It begins just after 6pm with Aidan Cooney referring to the fact that Q102 had just gone off the air. The aircheck also includes a recording of Simon Dee of Radio Caroline fame criticising the Dutch & British governments’ approach to pirate radio and Aidan reminiscing about other Dublin stations. Aidan also talks to two people who had been involved in radio in Wicklow. Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) had closed down earlier that week.
There were several stations calling themselves Capital or Capitol Radio at various times during the pirate era but one favourite of ours was Capitol Radio/Nitesky 96 which evolved from playing album tracks to indie and alternative music. Nitesky 96 was launched as a ‘sister station’ to Capitol in April 1986 and initially featured specialist programmes before settling into its own style of niche music drawing on the lively Dublin band scene. Its ‘Alternative Night’ at McGonagle’s nightclub in South Anne Street was highly popular towards the end of the station’s existence in 1988.
Capitol broadcast on 1017 kHz until early 1986 before selling its AM TX to the new Liberties Local Community Radio which took up position on 1035 kHz. For the remainder of its existence Capitol/Nitesky broadcast on 94.1 and 95.8 FM. Capitol’s jingle package was from the station of the same name in South Africa. Here’s a selection of those jingles along with some idents featuring Tony Allan and a Bill Mitchell ident for Nitesky.
Here is Capitol’s news sting. Like many others, Capitol downgraded its news service in later years and read a weather forecast at the top of the hour, using this sting. Other stations using this sting also included CBC in Clonmel and City Centre Radio in Limerick.
You can listen to an aircheck of Capitol here.
On October 2nd 2018, it was announced that a large collection of press clippings and other documents and material from the pirate era would be donated to Dublin City University’s Media History Collection. The donation was announced at a press conference in Dublin, organised by broadcast historian Eddie Bohan and Brian Greene of this website. The press conference featured some well-known radio and media people who cut their teeth in pirate radio: Stuart Clarke of Hot Press, Declan Meehan of East Coast FM and Kevin Branigan of Radio Nova. This recording also includes Dr Mark O’Brien of DCU and Eddie Bohan. It was first broadcast on Wireless on Flirt FM.
In 2018 broadcast historian Eddie Bohan launched his exhibition of Irish pirate radio history. The exhibition is travelling around Ireland during 2018 and 2019 to commemorate the end of the pirate era and the start of licensed radio.
Here’s an interview with Eddie Bohan about the exhibition and the importance of pirate radio history. The exhibition was launched at the South Dublin County Library in Tallaght in May 2018. The interview was first broadcast on Wireless on Flirt FM in April 2018.
Here’s a selection of interviews with some of those who came along to the launch of the exhibition in Tallaght: Jimmy McCabe (Radio Milinda), Dermot Butler (Radio Dublin and KIC FM), Chris Murray (Radio Dublin and now LMFM) and Eric Moore (LLCR and Smile FM and now RTÉ Gold). This report was first broadcast on Wireless on Flirt FM in May 2018.
There’s plenty of Radio Nova material available online already and we don’t intend to compete with that. Here is a selection from our own collection of airchecks of Radio Nova Dublin from 1984 to 1986. We also include two recordings from the Nova satellite service from the UK in 1988 which was relayed on FM in Dublin and used as an overnight service by some stations.
Liberties Local Community Radio (LLCR) began broadcasting in March 1986 from Weaver Square in Dublin 8. It was run by Sammy Prendergast who was well known for installing aerials for pirate stations. LLCR broadcast on 1035 kHz AM using the old Capitol Radio rig which had been on 1017 kHz until shortly before then. It was also heard on 104 FM at a later stage.
In this aircheck from 30.08.88 Teena Gates announces Liberty 104 and reads the news. Teena can still be heard reading news on radio in Dublin today.
You can hear jingles from LLCR here.
Boyneside Radio from Co. Louth was one of the largest and most successful regional stations in Ireland during the 1980s. It broadcast for 10 years from 1978 to 1988 from Drogheda. During that decade Boyneside developed a series of additional transmitters and opt-out services in Navan, Kells, north Dublin and along the border aiming into Northern Ireland. Here’s a selection of airchecks and promos from 1986-1988, including one seeking a new transmission site in Kells.
You can hear a panel discussion on the Louth pirates here and a separate interview with local veteran broadcaster Eddie Caffrey here. We also have a recording of how Boyneside covered the controversy about Radio Tara (to become Atlantic 252) in Co. meath.
KITS was one of the many ‘border blasters’, stations which popped up along the border during the 1980s and beamed their signals north in the search for advertising and listeners. KITS went on air at the era of the pirate era in 1988 and broadcast from Monaghan town on 837 kHz AM and 101 FM.
Although less powerful than its audacious neighbour KISS FM – which aimed unashamedly at the Belfast market – KITS had its own strong local following. Here’s its jingle package.