There were several stations calling themselves Capital or Capitol Radio in the pirate era, the best-known being the station that was on air from 1983 until the end of 1988. This Capitol became more specialist as time went on, playing first album tracks and then indie and alternative music. On the 1st of July 1986 Nitesky 96 was launched as a sister station from 6pm each evening with its own niche shows. The station was a strong supporter of the lively Dublin band scene of the 1980s, broadcast a weekly listeners’ Alternative Top 10 and held its own ‘Alternative Night’ every week.
This recording is from 96 MHz FM, begins at 9.15am on the 3rd of February 1984 and features the final 45 minutes of the ‘Daybreak’ show presented by George Long (Henry O’Donovan) who went on to work with Radio Nova and Energy 103. George also reads news also 9.15, 9.30 and 10.00 (quite a workload!) before handing over to Conor Brooks. There’s also a promo for a holiday giveaway giving the station’s address in Milltown, Dublin 14. At this time Capitol also broadcast on 1017 kHz but left AM at the end of March 1986 after reportedly selling the transmitter to the new Liberties Local Community Radio. Capitol-Nitesky 96 continued on FM until the 31st of December 1988. It was one of our absolute favourites and is still sorely missed.
This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.
On January 29th 2019 we were honoured to take part in a special edition of the Radio Survivor podcast dedicated to this archive. You can listen back here to an hour of discussion with Brian Greene and John Walsh about the story of Irish pirate radio, the aims behind the archive and the plans for the future.
There were several stations calling themselves Capital or Capitol Radio at various times during the pirate era but one favourite of ours was Capitol Radio/Nitesky 96 which evolved from playing album tracks to indie and alternative music. Nitesky 96 was launched as a ‘sister station’ to Capitol on July 1 1986 and initially featured specialist programmes before settling into its own style of niche music drawing on the lively Dublin band scene. Its ‘Alternative Night’ at McGonagle’s nightclub in South Anne Street was highly popular towards the end of the station’s existence in 1988.
Capitol broadcast on 1017 kHz until early 1986 before selling its AM TX to the new Liberties Local Community Radio which took up position on 1035 kHz. For the remainder of its existence Capitol/Nitesky broadcast on 94.1 and 95.8 FM. Capitol’s jingle package was from the station of the same name in South Africa. Here’s a selection of those jingles along with some idents featuring Tony Allan and a Bill Mitchell ident for Nitesky.
Here is Capitol’s news sting. Like many others, Capitol downgraded its news service in later years and read a weather forecast at the top of the hour, using this sting. Other stations using this sting also included CBC in Clonmel and City Centre Radio in Limerick.
Capitol Radio/Nitesky 96 specialised in indie and alternative music and was one of the last stations in Dublin on air on New Year’s Eve 1988, broadcasting live from Side’s nightclub. This recording is from the 30th December 1988 and features Conor Brooks promoting the listeners’ all-time Alternative Top 30 that was to be broadcast the following day, the final day. The suggested bands and songs give a good indication of Capitol’s unique musical style. The Alternative Top 10 based on listeners’ votes was a popular weekly feature on the station.
On October 20th 2018 over 100 radio anoraks gathered in the Ballsbridge Hotel Dublin. The purpose was to meet and record oral history of the pirate radio era. Ken O’Sullivan worked at pirates in Cork (WKLR) and Dublin (Capitol-Nitesky) in the 1980s and is still working in radio today with LMFM. Here is his story.