In the third and final part of our extended interview with Kieran Murray about his radio career, Kieran describes his transition from the pirates to the new licensed stations in 1989. He began at RTÉ’s local radio service for Dublin, Millennium Radio, where he worked as a ‘general assistant’. He then moved to sports news and presentation on the country’s first independent local licensed station, Capital Radio, which became FM104. After more than a decade using his real name, it was during this time that he started calling himself ‘Stereo Steve’ on air.
Kieran then considers the significance of the pirate stations where he spent ten years of his career and concludes by reflecting on the state of radio today. The interviewer is Brian Greene.
In this second part of the interview, Kieran Murray tells Brian Greene about his move from Radio Carousel to its biggest rival, Boyneside Radio, in 1983. Like Carousel, Boyneside had become a regional network and Kieran took over management of its satellite station in Kells, Co. Meath, which had its own opt-out programming.
Kieran also describes his involvement with Radio Rainbow International, a hobby station set up by Boyneside co-owner Eddie Caffrey. Rainbow could be heard far and wide due to its powerful shortwave signal and Kieran presented a weekly FRC programme which attracted correspondence from across Europe. Part 2 ends with Kieran’s memories of returning to Dublin to work for Liberty 104 at the end of the pirate era in 1987-88.
There’s an interview with Eddie Caffrey about Radio Rainbow International here. We’ll bring you recordings of Rainbow at a later stage in our series about the pirates of the northeast.
As part of our ongoing series about the pirate radio of the northeast, we’re delighted to bring you a three-part interview with one of the best known broadcasters on various stations in the region, Kieran Murray. Born in Dublin in 1958, Kieran began his radio career with Radio Dublin before moving on to Big D. The owner of Radio Carousel, Hugh Hardy, arrived at Big D in search of presenters for the new Dundalk station and Kieran Murray was one of those who took up the offer. He was in fact the first voice to be heard on Radio Carousel when it began broadcasting on May 20th 1978. In 1981, Kieran moved to Navan to establish a satellite station of Radio Carousel there and managed the Co. Meath station for some time.
In part 1 of the interview, Kieran describes his early interest in radio and his involvement with Dublin stations before moving to Co. Louth. He pays tribute to Hugh Hardy and shares many memories of the early years of Carousel ranging from the station’s local success to raids by the government and by paramilitaries. The interview also contains technical information about transmission and how the Radio Carousel network operated. The interviewer is Brian Greene.
** Since doing the interview, we can confirm that Kieran in fact first took to the airwaves in 1975 on Capitol Radio in Dublin. He presented a 60-minute programme on a Sunday afternoon, using the name Kenneth Murphy. His brother also presented a programme under the name John Edwards. The transmitter was owned by Chris Barry who lived in Rathmines at the time, not far from Kieran’s home. Kieran remembers that coincidentally, the building next door would become the RTÉ Museum.
The first edition of the FRC newsletter which Kieran produced printed the schedule and information on Capitol. Thanks to Alan Russell for this information and for the copy of the magazine.
Northern Radio broadcast from 1980 to 1982 from Omeath, just a few kilometres south of the border. We bring you a synopsis of the station’s history written by Ian Biggar.
Northern Radio was set up to serve listeners in the northeast border counties and attract advertisers from those areas. Most of the advertising seemed to come from Newry and Rostrevor. The man behind the station was Marty Donnan, who later went on to work for Downtown Radio and BBC Radio Ulster. Disc jockeys included Andrew Gold and Davy Hamill, both of whom subsequently worked for other stations around this part of the border.
The first note we have of the station is from January 1980 when it was announced as operating on 1278 kHz or 230 metres. However, any logs I have seen of the station have given the actual frequency as 1296 or 1298 kHz. The transmitter was built by Bill Ebrill from Dublin and would give around 300 watts output. The station was located in what was described as a ‘ramshackle caravan’ beside the Park Hotel in Omeath, a location that according to some was not the best for getting a signal out.
In the early days Northern Radio seemed to have quite a full schedule, including a country and western programme. The schedule became more erratic with the passage of time, if and when someone turned up to do a programme. Anoraks Ireland visited the station in February 1982, only to find it deserted with a pre-recorded tape running. Northern Radio may have been off the air for a period as in the July 1982 edition of Short Wave News, Paul Davidson notes the station on 1314 kHz and asks: ‘is it back on air?’
On a further visit in August 1982, Paul Davidson was told that programmes were live whenever transport was laid on for the DJs to come from Rostrevor, otherwise it was tapes from 0800-1800. This August visit was probably towards the end of the station’s life because in the October edition of Short Wave News, Paul Davidson reported that Northern Radio had closed. Marty Donnan and other staff joined Boyneside Radio’s new border station which started broadcasting on 1233 kHz in early autumn 1982.
The recording above is an aircheck of Andrew Gold’s show on 30th January 1980 from 1410-1615. It features ads from Newry and Warrenpoint and Andrew with plenty of chatter, birthday requests, horoscopes and even references to dogs and cattle in and around the studio. As darkness falls, co-channel interference from an overseas station is heard. The shorter recording below is an aircheck from 2nd February 1980 and features Hugh Farrell with news, Des Carson’s country music show and Andrew Gold with music and sports results.
North East Radio (NER) was a short-lived station in 1979 and 1980 set up directly in competition with the new Radio Carousel in Dundalk. Based in the Imperial Hotel in the town centre, NER had a hopeful start with a fresh style, professional presenters and plenty of advertising. However, disagreements over pay, interference and transmitter problems brought it down by the end of August 1980.
This recording is from the end of NER’s run, 31st July 1980, and features Phil Llewelyn on air from 1350-1450. It was recorded from 1197 kHz (announced as 257 metres) and, we suspect, at a distance from the transmitter so quality is fair at best and there is plenty of electrical interference. Phil mentions a gig by British band Dexy’s Midnight Runners in the Imperial Hotel that night. There seem to be audio problems as the presenter’s links are low and there is some variation in levels in the music. Advertisements have dropped off also although evidence of the core listening area is provided by an ad for a nightclub in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan, 30km from Dundalk. We thank Gary Hogg for sharing this recording which was made originally by Dave Small.