One of Ireland’s best-known broadcasters, Ian Dempsey, began his radio career in the pirates. In this interview, Ian recalls his first pirate station Capitol Radio in 1978 and his involvement with ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin) from 1979. He was among many DJs at ARD/Radio 257 who would go on to greater fame in the media industry.
Like so many other former pirates, Ian joined RTÉ Radio 2 in its early days. He stayed with the state broadcaster until 1998 when he joined the relaunched national commercial station Today FM and has presented the breakfast show since then.
This interview was conducted by Dave Daly in 2017. We thank Dave for his donation to the archive.
Capitol Radio broadcast to Dublin on weekends only for the second half of 1975 and returned on a full-time basis in 1978 from studios on Bachelor’s Walk in the city centre. At first it used its original wavelength of 220 metres but due to night-time interference from Radio Moscow it moved to 226 metres in October/November 1978. Capitol had an eclectic output of music and talk and continued to broadcast until 1981.
One of the station’s founders Alan Russell recalls: ‘In the early days we had a basic studio setup which gradually progressed over the months. Later we had a top of the range Citronic twin deck, built in mixer with LEDS & tape-deck, the only problem was when we modified our transmitter and increased power, the RF feedback made the Citronic decks reverse & generally go crazy. A few filters or carbon rings eventually solved the problem’.
Here’s a selection of Capitol jingles and idents from 1978 including ones for Chris Barry and Ed McDowell, the other station founders. This was before the station adapted and modified the Capital Radio London IDs in 1979. We thank Alan Russell for the information and donation of the recording.
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.