Pirate pioneers: Channel 70 from 1971

Pirate pioneers: Channel 70 from 1971
Channel 70 QSL courtesy of Mike Barraclough.

Another pioneer of Dublin pirate broadcasting was Channel 70 which operated, unsurprisingly, from 1970 until 1972. The man behind the station was Jack O’Carroll who previously had operated Radio Jacqueline with Davitt Kelly. Channel 70 started broadcasting in 1970 from Monkstown, Co.  Dublin.

The station broadcast on the crystal-controlled frequency of 1320 khz and with a power of 100 watts into an inverted L, was heard well in Ireland and other European countries. Transmissions normally commenced at 0015 or 0030 early on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings and were popular with DXers. In addition to a DX programme, Channel 70 broadcast music consisting of pop, country and soul, as well as other genres. The station continued into 1972, but had disappeared by the middle of the year.

Pirate pioneers: Channel 70 from 1971
Channel 70 QSL to Swedish DXer (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Our recording consists of a DX programme and is undated. However, it is assumed to be from around June 1971 as there are references to the recent bomb attack on Radio Nordsee International from May that year. Later in the recording the Channel 70 operator can be heard in a QSO conversation with a station in England. The recording was made by Roger Lloyd (Prince Terry). QSL is by kind permission of Mike Barraclough. Our thanks to Ian Biggar for supplying the text, images and recording.

Pirate pioneers: Radio Caroline Dublin from 1970

Pirate pioneers: Radio Caroline Dublin from 1970
Radio Caroline Dublin’s studio (photo courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

The renowned British offshore station’s name was popular with other pirates and several Irish stations called themselves Radio Caroline over the decades. The earliest use of the name was in 1969 when Radio Caroline Dublin started transmissions as Radio Romeo using 300 metres medium wave. By the following year the Caroline Dublin name had been adopted and regular transmissions commenced from Dalkey in south County Dublin to the city and beyond.

Pirate pioneers: Radio Caroline Dublin from 1970
Caroline Dublin QSL from 1970 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The station engineer was Bill Ebrill, who later went on to build transmitters for the likes of Radio Dublin, Big D and Radio Carousel. Caroline Dublin used a VFO controlled transmitter capable of 100 watts and was heard on frequencies between 1320 and 1360 kHz. Regular transmissions were on Friday and Saturday nights at midnight and consisted of pop music and a DX programme. DJs on the station included Mike Walker, Mick Wright and Ronan Collins (now of RTÉ). The station received reception reports from many European countries. In addition to Dalkey, Caroline also broadcast from Shankill, Bray and Terenure depending on the interest of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.

Pirate pioneers: Radio Caroline Dublin from 1970
Radio Caroline Dublin transmitter with scope monitor (photo courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

In late 1972 transmissions became more sporadic due to increased activity from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and the raid on Radio Milinda just before Christmas. Late night broadcasts were suspended but the station did continue on Sunday afternoons. These continued until summer 1973 when Radio Caroline Dublin disappeared from the air.

Pirate pioneers: Radio Caroline Dublin from 1970
Another shot of the Caroline Dublin studio (photo courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

The recording above is undated but is probably from November 1970. It features a professional sounding Mike Walker on a late night transmission followed by the Caroline theme tune before closedown. The studio picture was supplied to the DX Archive by Bill Ebrill and the recording was supplied by Roger Lloyd (Prince Terry). The short recording below is also undated and again features Mike Walker.

Thanks to Ian Biggar and Bill Ebrill for text, images and recordings. You can listen here to an interview with Bill about his pirate memories.

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingle package

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingle package
Early Radio Dublin masthead (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

In our ongoing series about the pirate pioneers of the late 1960s and early 1970s, here’s a real piece of radio gold: a jingle package used in the early days of Radio Dublin. In the early 1970s Radio Dublin used the tag line ‘the Big D’, which can be heard in these jingles. The set may be originally from WDEE, a US country music station on air around this time as that callsign can be heard in some of the cuts.

These jingles pre-date the pirate named Big D, which was set up after a split in Radio Dublin in 1978 and went on to be a successful station in its own right. Many thanks to Kieran Murray for his donation of this valuable recording, which was taken from a 5-inch reel tape machine.

Pirate pioneers: the early days of Radio Dublin

Pirate pioneers: the early days of Radio Dublin
Radio Dublin leaflet from 1972 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Radio Dublin or ‘Radio Baile Átha Cliath’ started as a technical point to point experiment by Ken Sheehan (Kenneth Edwards) in 1966 from his home in Drimnigh in Dublin. At about 10 watts, power was too low to travel further than about a mile but over the next three years, the transmitter was modified and power doubled to 20 watts. A new transmitter was installed in 1969 and regular taped music programmes were broadcast, normally on Sunday afternoons. The above information sheet from 1972 gives a flavour of the early history of the station. It’s interesting to see ‘Big D’ being used, years before the split that led to the breakaway station of that name.

Our first recording above of the early days is undated but may be from 1969. It features Radio Baile Átha Cliath on its early 217 metre wavelength. We’re not certain who the DJ is, nor was Ken Sheehan when he heard the recording. The second recording is of Ken Sheehan himself and although again undated, is probably from 1971. By now Radio Dublin was the station name and the wavelength had changed to the well-known 253 metres. The address given was that of the Brighton Independent Radio Movement in England and was used by most of the Irish pirates of the period. There is a short taped insert from ‘Mark Welby’ who might be Mark T. Storey, later to be very involved in the early pirate scene, and a home-made sung jingle. This is pirate gold at its best!

These unique recordings were supplied by Roger Lloyd (Prince Terry) who was an integral part of the pioneering days of Radio Dublin. Thanks to Ian Biggar for the research and for sharing the recordings with us. You can hear an interview with Ken Sheehan here.

Radio Dublin station news from 1991

Radio Dublin station news from 1991
Radio Dublin car sticker from the mid-1980s (courtesy of DX Archive).

Radio Dublin’s weekly Station News was normally delivered by its owner Eamonn Cooke but on Sunday 17th February 1991, station manager Joe Doyle (Joe Rossa) took to the air unexpectedly following days of back-to-back music on the station. There was speculation that a summons was to be served in connection with a previous raid and Radio Dublin was lying low and had ceased live programming. The rumour mill was in overdrive and Joe Doyle gives listeners a flavour of some of the conspiracy theories circulating but doesn’t explain what exactly is going on. He then attacks teenage DJs Barry Dunne and Gary Cruise (O’Connell) for their claims about low-powered station KHTR, a forerunner to the much bigger 1990s pirate Sunset FM. Other pirates logged that weekend were WABC in Donegal and Dublin stations Dún Laoghaire Weekend Radio, Signal Radio, Rock 103.1 and The Yahoo on 106.2.

Thanks to Barry Dunne for his donation of this recording.