In episode #7 of the Pirate.ie podcast, we look at aspects of the history of pirate radio in Northern Ireland. Brian Greene and John Walsh talk to broadcast historian Eddie Bohan about his research into the pirates of Derry and Belfast during the period 1969-1975. At that time, pirate radio was a tool of both nationalist/republican and unionist/loyalist communities during the turbulent early years of the Troubles.
The podcast covers stations such as Radio Free Derry, Radio Free Belfast, Radio Shankill and Radio Orange and describes how they fanned the flames of violence and sectarianism. Pirates on both sides were popular in their communities but were a headache for the British authorities and no-one was ever prosecuted for involvement in them.
We thank Eddie Bohan for sharing his fascinating research with us which will be presented in a book in the near future. See his blog for further updates about his work.
In episode #6 of the Pirate.ie podcast, we analyse the politics and economics of Irish pirate radio from 1978-1988. The pirates emerged because of the political failure to develop diversity in radio and became a thorn in the side of the authorities, especially from the early 1980s with the arrival of high-powered, professional operators.
Many stations practised corporate social responsibility in an effort to appear respectable but once they began to attract advertising revenue away from RTÉ, they were raided or jammed. Political instability and ideological differences stymied the development of legislation to regulate the radio sector, with several failed radio bills in the 1980s.
In this episode, listen to Brian Greene and John Walsh explore the politics and economics of the era with the help of extracts from our archive including news programmes, interviews, commercial breaks and advertising promos. This discussion is based on our article published in 2020 in the Journal of Radio and Audio Media.
In episode #5 of the Pirate.ie podcast, it’s a great pleasure to bring you an interview with Simon Maher, a leading light in the 1990s pirate scene and in subsequent licensed stations. Despite new broadcasting laws that were supposed to silence the pirates, Simon and many others cut their teeth in the lively and diverse world of free radio in Dublin throughout the decade.
In this interview with Brian Greene and John Walsh, Simon looks back over twenty years of radio ranging from garden sheds to multi-million euro professional operations and back to alternative online radio. He describes the humble origins of Coast FM (1991-1996) in bedrooms and garden sheds and the growth of his indie/alternative pirates Spectrum FM (1996-1997) and Phantom FM (1997-2003). After applying three times, Phantom eventually got a full-time alternative rock licence and broadcast to Dublin from 2006-2014 until financial problems forced a corporate takeover and rebranding. Simon discusses the success and failure of the licensed Phantom and tells us why he thinks specialist radio needs to return to its roots. He currently runs 8Radio.com, an alternative online station that has been on multi-city FM under temporary licences.
This interview gives a fascinating insight into the similarities and differences between the 1980s and 1990s pirates and is also a lesson in how radio needs to reinvent itself to survive.
In this special episode #4 of the Pirate.ie podcast, we’re delighted to bring you an interview with one of the most familiar voices on Dublin pirate radio in the 1980s, David Baker. David worked in a long list of stations ranging from Radio City, Big D and ARD to KISS FM, Radio Leinster, Heartbeat and KLAS 98. He was also heavily involved in the temporary stations set up by the Community Broadcasting Co-operative and the original Christmas station, Radio Snowflake.
In this interview with John Walsh and Brian Greene, David looks back on his pirate days in Ireland and recalls the many stations where he worked from the late 1970s until 1988. Based in the UK for many years, he also gives his views on the radio scene today and talks about his latest project Chelmer Radio.
Many thanks to David for sharing his memories with us in this special podcast.
Pirate.ie would like to thank all of our followers and contributors for their support in 2020. We will you all a very happy Christmas and hope for a better 2021 for everyone.
We’re delighted to announce episode #3 of the Pirate.ie podcast which explores themes covered in our growing archive of Irish pirate radio.
The 1980s can be described as the decade that Ireland changed from black and white to colour and pirate radio was very much part of that social change. While many pushed for liberalisation, conservative forces opposed moves towards opening up Irish society and pirate radio reflected such tensions. Larger commercial stations were dominated by men’s voices while women and minority groups were better represented in specialist and community radio. Community radio itself developed a more inclusive model of participation and access and even large commercial stations practised corporate social responsibility from time to time. Religion also played a key role, with several pirates representing Catholic values which were still powerful in Irish society.
In episode #3, John Walsh and Brian Greene explore the social influence of pirate radio during its heyday.