The Podcast #4

The Podcast #4
David Baker (right) and DJ Lee at KLAS 98 in 1987 (photo courtesy of DX Archive).

In this special episode #4 of the 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.

The Podcast #4
David (second from right) at the Glasnevin North Community Radio caravan in 1982 (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

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.

The Podcast #4
L-R David Baker, Paula Walsh (Miss Sandymount) and Dermot Lacey in 1986 (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Many thanks to David for sharing his memories with us in this special podcast. 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.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Capitol Radio 226 newspaper advert (courtesy of Alan Russell).

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.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Kathy Doran at Capitol Radio in 1979. She had previously worked on radio in Boston (photo courtesy of Alan Russell).

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.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Alan Russell in Capitol Radio studio in 1980. Published in 2013 book ‘Where The Streets Have 2 Names’ (photo by Patrick Brocklebank, courtesy of Alan Russell).

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.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 1)

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 1)
Kieran Murray in the Radio Carousel studio in Dundalk (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

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.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Capitol Radio compliments slip courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

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.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Ed McDowell at Capital Radio in 1978 (photo courtesy of Alan Russell).

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.

Full recording: Capitol Radio (226)
Rooftop photo above studio at 26 Bachelors Walk, Dublin, May 1978. L-R: Unknown, Fergus Murphy, Alan Russell, Chris Barry, Dave Lee (photo courtesy of Alan Russell).

We thank Ian Biggar for sharing this recording. You can read more about Capitol here.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 2)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 2)
Capitol Radio, one of the stations featured in this episode of ‘The Irish Pirates’ (image courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

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.

Index of Volume 2

00:00 ARD visit 1982
01:52 Jason Maine on Radio 257 in 1980
03:09 Radio 257 jingle Tony Allan
04:20 Radio 257 news
06:00 1980 visit to 257 at Crofton Hotel
08:50 Talking butcher’s shop on Moore Street
10:00 1980 Visit to Radio City
15:25 Interview with Tony Allan
18:25 Capitol Radio
20:45 1981 visit
21:20 Sunshine Radio News
22:10 Ads on Radio City
23:20 BLB
23:40 Radio Nova tests on 846 AM
24:43 Treble TR
24:56 Dún Laoghaire Community Radio
25:15 Radio Leinster
23:40 Southside Radio
26:00 Community Radio Drogheda
26:05 Sonic Weekend Radio
26:18 Radio Dublin telephonist sought
26:55 Big D
27:10 ARD breakfast with Uncle Bren
29:00 Boyneside Radio
29:45 Sunshine car stickers
30:45 Boyneside on FM
32:00 Radio Leinster feature
34:10 Radio Leinster interval signals
36:33 Kennedy’s of Castleross on RTÉ
37:21 Irish Sweepstakes on RTÉ
41:00 1981 visit to Radio City
41:30 John Paul on air
47:45 Dave Charles and Al Dunne on Radio City
51:30 Double R Radio
54:25 Interview with Seán Day of Double R