Full recording: Capitol Radio (Dublin)

Full recording: Capitol Radio (Dublin)
Advert for Capitol Radio, Hot Press, Christmas 1984 (Alan MacSimoin collection).

As discussed here before Dublin had many pirates calling themselves Capital or Capitol Radio. This recording from 1983 is from the early days of the final incarnation, the Capitol Radio which started the evening service Nitesky 96 in 1986 and ended up specialising in indie and alternative music.

In July 1983, the Anoraks UK Weekly Report announced that ABC Radio had left 1017 kHz, paving the way for Capitol to take over that frequency. DJ Martin Cullinane (aka Bob Conway) announces 1017 kHz (297 metres) and 96.1 FM and makes several references to Capitol being a new station. Capitol didn’t specialise in the hits, experimenting with ‘album music’ before moving into the indie realm, but the choice here is a little confused with three in a row from Wham mixed in with early U2 and other more alternative sounds. The recording was made from 1855-1940 on the 27th of August 1983 and although taken from FM, sound quality is poor in places. You can hear other recordings of Capitol 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: Capitol Radio (Dublin)

Aircheck: Capitol Radio (Dublin)
Capitol/Niteksy ad in the Sunday World, April 1986 from Alan MacSimoin collection.

Here’s a short aircheck of Capitol Radio from sometime in 1988. Capitol was a strong supporter of the alternative Irish music scene and the bands A-House and Cypress Mine are featured in this recording. The weather sting doesn’t fire at 3pm so the presenter carries on and reads the forecast. The request for ‘Brian and Pat listening in the Centre in Bayside’ is a reference to Centre Radio, the station ran by Brian Greene from Dublin 13 in 1988. Brian and fellow Centre presenter Pat Kenny phoned in the request – one station listening to another!

Full recording: Nitesky 96 (Dublin)

Full recording: Nitesky 96 (Dublin)
Nitesky advert in the Sunday World, April 1986 (courtesy Alan MacSimoin collection).

On the 1st of July 1986 Dublin’s Capitol Radio launched a night-time service from 6.00pm called Nitesky 96 which aimed to offer more specialist music shows and talk programmes. For some years previous to this Capitol had specialised in album tracks rather than the latest hits and it moved more and more into the alternative/indie realm with the launch of Nitesky 96. In its later years Capitol/Nitesky ran a popular ‘Alternative Night’ every week at McGonagle’s nightclub in Dublin and it was known for supporting the lively Irish rock and indie scene throughout the 1980s.

This recording from 1755-1840 on the 16th of July 1986 features the switchover from Capitol to Nitesky with Dave Carney (aka Alan Cantwell who would go on to work in licensed local radio and TV3). News at 6.00pm is followed by the evening Magazine Show presented by the station owners Conor Brooks and Stephen Ryan. The music is more MOR rock than indie but Nitesky had plenty of programming showcasing the less mainstream material. The recording was made from 95.8 FM and the audio is distinctive because it lacks processing or compression and gives the full dynamic range of sound including crackle on vinyl records. You can hear Capitol/Nitesky jingles here.

Full recording: Nitesky 96 (Dublin)
Capitol Radio sticker from when the station was still on AM before 1986. Courtesy Alan MacSimoin collection.

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: Capitol Radio (Dublin)

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.

Feature: Pirate.ie discussed on Radio Survivor

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.