We bring you an interview with Jimmy St. Ledger (Jimmy Howlett) of Premier Radio International, a long-running shortwave pirate station from Ireland. Premier began broadcasting on medium wave in 1976 and went on shortwave soon after. Jimmy’s first transmitter was used to broadcast Radio Cill Dara from Naas. He was also involved with Radio Dublin before the splits of the late 1970s. The interviewer is Eolann Aitken.
Premier continued on and off over the years and was among a small number to return to the air following the closedowns of 1988. It continues to broadcast today on shortwave as a hobby station. Further information is available on its website.
In this interview, Dave Reddy recalls his involvement in ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin) and Radio 257 at the end of the 1970s. Dave would go to to establish what would today be called ‘pop-up’ community stations, starting with Radio Sandymount in 1984.
Radio Sandymount went on air as part of a community festival in that area and Dave Reddy explains that the model was soon to be requested by community groups elsewhere, leading to similar short-term stations in Ringsend, Donnybrook and Wicklow. Dave was also founder of the first Christmas station Radio Snowflake, which is now run by David Baker who himself broadcast on the 1980s pop-up stations and many other pirates.
The interviewer is Eolann Aitken. You can listen to a recording of Radio Donnybrook here.
Despite its proximity to Dublin, Kildare had its own pirate stations down the years, including Radio Cill Dara (Naas) and KLB Community Radio (Newbridge). In this interview, Liam Kett and Anthony McAllister recall their involvement in both stations as well as a stint spent at Radio Dublin.
Radio Cill Dara broadcast from 1978-1983 on AM only (270m/1107 kHz). KLB was on air from 1983-1988 and broadcast on both AM (1224 kHz) and FM.
Liam and Anthony recall in the early years that there were fall-back transmitters and premises across the county in the case of raids. They also tell us that high-profile current RTÉ broadcasters Ray D’Arcy and Ronan Collins both cut their teeth in the Kildare stations. Liam Kett is now a presenter on the local Kildare station KFM. The interviewer is Eolann Aitken.
We met one of Ireland’s most experienced broadcasters Declan Meehan recently to discuss his significant contribution to Irish pirate radio history and Irish radio in general over the past 50 years.
In the first part of a long interview, Declan discusses the early years of his involvement in the Dublin pirate scene spanning small stations such as Radio Vanessa and Radio Milinda and larger, more professional operations like ARD. He describes his unhappy move to the new RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979 and how he went on to work for the first of the superpirates, Sunshine Radio, where he met Chris Cary.
The interview includes references to many of the best-known names in Irish radio over the past half-century.
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.
Dusty’s Trail was a popular programme on Radio Dublin presented by Gerry Jones aimed at teenage listeners. Trailers, as they were called, wrote into the programme requesting music and even met up at organised gatherings every weekend at the band stand at Stephens Green (it wouldnt be allowed nowadays with GDPR and all the regulations of safety). In this extract from 1985, a listener sends in a copy of a response she received from Minister of State for Broadcasting Ted Nealon to her letter expressing concern that stations such as Radio Dublin would be shut down. Audio quality was never great on Radio Dublin but is worse on this recording due to a loud heterodyne.
Centre Radio in Bayside was one of the last stations to close at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Rumours abounded that Radio Dublin was going to defy the new legislation and continue broadcasting so early on the morning of the 31st of December 1988 Bobby Gibbson (Brian Greene) decided to call Radio Dublin live on air. In this recording, he speaks to breakfast presenter Robbie Prior who says that all presenters have been told that this is their final day. However he adds that station owner Eamonn Cooke could well have something up his sleeve. The recording includes poor quality live audio from Radio Dublin’s AM broadcast on 1188 kHz.
Radio Dublin was the longest running pirate station in Ireland, on air in various guises from 1966 until 2003. It was raided on numerous occasions and was one of a handful of stations to defy the deadline of New Year’s Eve 1988. In its earliest incarnation, it broadcast as Raidió Bhaile Átha Cliath every Sunday afternoon from the home of Ken Sheehan. In this interview from 1985, Mike Anderson of shortwave pirate Radio Valleri interviews Ken Sheehan about his involvement in the establishment of Radio Dublin, his views of the station in 1985 and of the pirate radio scene in general at that time.