Pirate.ie in three minutes – transnational radio

Pirate.ie in three minutes - transnational radio
Boyneside Radio North AM mast just on the border (courtesy of Eddie Caffrey).

This three-minute clip includes highlights related to the transnational nature of Irish pirate radio in the late 1970s and 1980s. By accident or design, stations were heard beyond the borders of the Irish state on FM and especially on AM and there were also part-time shortwave operators aimed at international DXers.

Pirate.ie in three minutes - transnational radio
Constitution Hill in Aberystwyth where Leon Tipler recorded Irish radio (photo by John Walsh).

The first segment is of Arklow Community Radio as heard by the late British radio enthusiast Leon Tipler on FM in Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast on 13th August 1983. This is followed by a night-time recording of Radio Nova playing a request for Leon at his home in Kidderminster in the English midlands on 17th September 1982.

Pirate.ie in three minutes - transnational radio
Radio Nova sticker from the 50 kW days (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The third segment is the iconic top-of-the-hour ident of Radio Nova recorded on 17th July 1984. This is voiced by station boss Chris Cary who stresses that Nova broadcasts from and not to Dublin on 738 kHz. The AM transmitter was using 50 kW at the time in order to reach the British market.

Pirate.ie in three minutes - transnational radio
KISS FM sticker (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The fourth segment is of KISS FM, a high-powered FM and AM station based in Monaghan on the border and aiming its signal at the lucrative Belfast market. This was recorded in Scotland on 13th June 1988. The firth extract is an advert on the Louth station Boyneside Radio promoting a céilí in an Irish centre in Lankashire. Although recorded in Ireland, it is evidence that Boyneside had listeners across the Irish Sea. The final extract is from August 1985 and features one of the many Irish shortwave stations that aimed at international audiences. Radio Rainbow International broadcast on 6240 kHz but this is a studio recording.

Pirate.ie in three minutes - transnational radio
Radio Rainbow letter from 1986 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

These recordings are from our various collections and are discussed in more detail in our podcast focusing on the transnational nature of Irish pirate radio.

The Pirate.ie Podcast #6

The Pirate.ie Podcast #6

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.

The Pirate.ie Podcast #6
Sunshine Review 1985 (DX Archive). Sunshine raised a lot of money for the Central Remedial Clinic in Dublin.

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.

The Pirate.ie Podcast #6
Political influence in high places: Mike Hogan in the Q102 helicopter over Dublin in 1986 (pic Irish Times).

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.

Bandscan: Irish radio as heard in Wales in 1983

Bandscan: Irish radio as heard in Wales in 1983
A winter shot from Aberystwyth promenade with Constitution Hill in the background (photo by John Walsh).

‘Hello Again’, Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary series The Irish Pirates was based on a return visit to Dublin in September 1983. The episode features an AM and FM bandscan from Aberystwyth on the west Wales coast, recorded by Tipler in August 1983. Having climbed Constitution Hill to the north of the town, Tipler gave himself the best chance of picking up radio signals from Ireland a mere 150km away.

This is the original, unedited bandscan as recorded by Tipler on both AM and FM from his perch overlooking the Irish Sea on a sunny Saturday afternoon, 13th August 1983. The pirates heard include Arklow Community Radio, Kilkenny Community Radio, Sunshine Radio and Radio Dublin. RTÉ Radio 1, Radio 2 and Raidió na Gaeltachta are all received loud and clear on FM. There are snippets of unidentified UK stations as well as occasional breakthrough from police communication, possibly due to harmonics.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 5)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 5)
Just some of the hundreds of cassettes in the Leon Tipler Collection (photo by Brian Greene)

Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’ is entitled ‘Hello Again’, and features a return visit to Ireland in September 1983. In this episode, Volume 5 of the 8-part series, Tipler begins with a bandscan of Irish AM and FM from Aberystwyth on the west-Wales coast in August 1983. Returning to Dublin a month later, he comments on the improved sound of Treble TR before boarding a train to Kilkenny and Waterford. Kilkenny Community Radio and Suirside Radio are featured in depth and as usual there are several interesting bandscans.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Index to Volume 5

00:00 Irish bandscan from Aberystwyth August 1983
00:30 1983 raids
01:23 ERI
02:00 Radio West
04:10 South Coast Radio
06:00 FM DXing from Aberystwyth
07:00 Arklow Community Radio
08:31 Radio West
09:05 Kilkenny Community Radio
11:00 September 1983 visit
12:00 Treble TR
15:50 Radio Carlow
16:30 Visit to Kilkenny
17:15 Kilkenny Community Radio
27:45 Visit to KCR – community radio ethos
41:00 Visit to Waterford
42:05 WLR
42:50 Suirside Radio
43:25 ABC Tramore
46:00 Suirside Radio
48:30 Visit to Suirside Radio