On January 29th 2019 we were honoured to take part in a special edition of the Radio Survivor podcast dedicated to this archive. You can listen back here to an hour of discussion with Brian Greene and John Walsh about the story of Irish pirate radio, the aims behind the archive and the plans for the future.
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.
Capitol Radio/Nitesky 96 specialised in indie and alternative music and was one of the last stations in Dublin on air on New Year’s Eve 1988, broadcasting live from Side’s nightclub. This recording is from the 30th December 1988 and features Conor Brooks promoting the listeners’ all-time Alternative Top 30 that was to be broadcast the following day, the final day. The suggested bands and songs give a good indication of Capitol’s unique musical style. The Alternative Top 10 based on listeners’ votes was a popular weekly feature on the station.
On October 20th 2018 over 100 radio anoraks gathered in the Ballsbridge Hotel Dublin. The purpose was to meet and record oral history of the pirate radio era. Ken O’Sullivan worked at pirates in Cork (WKLR) and Dublin (Capitol-Nitesky) in the 1980s and is still working in radio today with LMFM. Here is his story.
Broadcasts of Dublin station Q102 were disrupted in July 1986 by a mysterious ‘phantom’ who managed to break into the VHF link to the AM transmitter and disrupt normal programming on 819 kHz. Anoraks UK reported receiving anonymous calls from Dublin to say that the ‘ghost’ of Radio Nova was to return and later that day, Radio Nova jingles were broadcast on Q102’s AM frequency (Radio Nova had closed in March 1986). A person on a bicycle with a rucksack and home-made dipole was spotted near Q’s transmitter site but escaped before engineers could catch up with him. The ‘Phantom’ also called Radio West’s Sunday Anoraks’ Hour to threaten further disruption. This mysterious recording includes references to that programme and also cheekily edits a Capitol Radio jingle, changing it from ‘Move over to Capitol’ to ‘Move over Capitol’. This was apparent hint that Capitol would be the next target!