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.
Capitol Radio began broadcasting on the 2nd of August 1975, from Rathmines on the southside of Dublin. In its first incarnation, the station operated at weekends only on low power. It played chart music but also featured album tracks and other styles, as well as interviews with singers and musicians. Capitol was raided by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on the 21st December 1975 and went off the air for more than two years with the exception of sporadic test transmissions. Capitol Radio returned to the air with full programming in February 1978 from studios on Bachelor’s Walk in Dublin city centre, continuing until 1981.
The recording above was made shortly before the raid on the 14th of December 1975 and features Alan Russell on air interviewing the singer/songwriter Chris de Burgh. The multilingual ident used by the ship-based Capital Radio, which operated from international waters off the coast of the Netherlands in 1970, is heard at the end.
The recording below is from 9th February 1979 and features part of a show presented by Ed McDowell, one of the founders of Capitol. It contains jingles and links as recorded off air, but the original music played has been replaced with studio versions of the same tracks, starting with ‘Thunder Child’ from the album Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds. The fully instrumental version was used as the intro for Capitol’s ‘Night Flight’ programming from 9pm, featuring various specialist & contemporary rock and new wave programmes.
A longer, original version of this broadcast is available here. Thanks to Alan Russell for information and for donating both recordings. A tribute site to Capitol is available here.
As part of our ongoing series about the pirate radio of the northeast, we’re delighted to bring you a three-part interview with one of the best known broadcasters on various stations in the region, Kieran Murray. Born in Dublin in 1958, Kieran began his radio career with Radio Dublin before moving on to Big D. The owner of Radio Carousel, Hugh Hardy, arrived at Big D in search of presenters for the new Dundalk station and Kieran Murray was one of those who took up the offer. He was in fact the first voice to be heard on Radio Carousel when it began broadcasting on May 20th 1978. In 1981, Kieran moved to Navan to establish a satellite station of Radio Carousel there and managed the Co. Meath station for some time.
In part 1 of the interview, Kieran describes his early interest in radio and his involvement with Dublin stations before moving to Co. Louth. He pays tribute to Hugh Hardy and shares many memories of the early years of Carousel ranging from the station’s local success to raids by the government and by paramilitaries. The interview also contains technical information about transmission and how the Radio Carousel network operated. The interviewer is Brian Greene.
** Since doing the interview, we can confirm that Kieran in fact first took to the airwaves in 1975 on Capitol Radio in Dublin. He presented a 60-minute programme on a Sunday afternoon, using the name Kenneth Murphy. His brother also presented a programme under the name John Edwards. The transmitter was owned by Chris Barry who lived in Rathmines at the time, not far from Kieran’s home. Kieran remembers that coincidentally, the building next door would become the RTÉ Museum.
The first edition of the FRC newsletter which Kieran produced printed the schedule and information on Capitol. Thanks to Alan Russell for this information and for the copy of the magazine.
The first Dublin pirate station named Capitol Radio came to the air on August the 2nd 1975, from a location near Portobello Bridge in Rathmines. The station operated on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons on 220 metres medium wave using a 30-watt transmitter into a half-wave end fed aerial. Presenters included C.B. (Chris Barry), Ed McDowell (ex Radio Empathy), Alan Russell and Kenneth Murphy. In addition to playing popular album and chart music, interviews with bands and singers were also a regular feature. The station was raided by inspectors from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on the 21st December 1975. While no transmitter was found, they seized a power supply unit which effectively disabled the transmitter.
After a two-year hiatus following a raid by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, Capitol Radio returned to the air on a full-time basis (18 hours a day) in February 1978 from studios on Bachelor’s Walk in Dublin city centre. Initially the station operated on 220 metres again and was using a 300 watt transmitter into a half-wave dipole aerial which gave it coverage into Europe (DX reports were received from places such as Lancashire and Norway). However, Radio Moscow was transmitting on an adjoining frequency and as autumn/winter approached, the Capitol signal was being overwhelmed so the station changed to 226 metres in October/November 1978.
This recording is from 1450-1525 on Saturday afternoon the 3rd of February 1979 with Ed McDowell and eventually Chris Barry who is late for his show. Capitol was broadcasting on 1332 kHz at this time (announcing 226 metres). The multilingual ident of the pirate Capital Radio, which operated from international waters off the coast of the Netherlands in 1970, is also heard.
We thank Ian Biggar for sharing this recording. You can read more about Capitol here.
We bring you the second instalment in Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’, focusing on the period 1979-1982. In this edition Tipler discusses his visits to Dublin in 1981 and 1982 and features recordings of the pirates as well as interviews with those involved. Stations featured include ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin), Radio 257, Radio City, Capitol Radio and Double R Radio. The distinctive sound of Radio Leinster is commented upon and Tipler also interviews Tony Allan, whose voice was heard increasingly on the Irish pirates. While the focus in this episode is on the smaller stations, there is no escaping the fact that the Irish radio landscape is facing a major upheaval following the arrival of Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova. Below, you can also hear the original recording made by Tipler of the talking butcher’s shop in Moore Street as he walks to the Radio City studios in Capel Street.
These recordings are from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.