Radio Dublin was the most high-profile of the pirates to defy the new broadcasting laws that came into effect on at midnight on 31st December 1988. The station was served with a prohibition notice to cut off its electricity and phones and it left the air suddenly at 9.44am on 19th January 1989, returning within an hour using a generator. However, embarrassingly for the Minister for Communications, the station went to the High Court later that day and got an injunction obliging the authorities to restore services until the end of the month.
This is a recording of Radio Dublin owner Eamonn Cooke on his weekly Station News slot on Sunday 22nd January 1989, where he mentions the injunction and the upcoming High Court challenge to the constitutionality of the broadcasting laws. He says that Radio Dublin is still on AM, FM and shortwave and hopes to continue until April or May despite the uncertainty. Cooke also announces that 15 or 16 pirates are still on air or have returned, including Radio North in Donegal, Erneside Community Radio in Cavan, Radio Star in Monaghan and Zee 103 in Louth. There are some breaks in the recording and it seems to be an edited version. Thanks to John Breslin for the donation.
Radio Dublin continued for many more years, only closing down permanently in 2002 following the conviction of Cooke for sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.
Southside 95 began broadcasting on 94.9 FM from Dún Laoghaire in south Co. Dublin on 7th December 1987 under the direction of Paul Vincent who had worked in various stations previously including Sunshine Radio. Many familiar names in the station’s early days included former KLAS DJs David Baker, Bryan Lambert and Dan O’Sullivan and Peter Madison who had worked with stations such as Sunshine Radio, Radio Nova, Magic 103 and Boyneside Radio. According to the Anoraks UK Weekly Report on 28th February 1988, Southside was facing financial problems and several of the staff had left or were about to do so. In March 1988, the station moved to new premises in the Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre and continued to be mentioned in Anoraks Ireland and Anoraks UK lists.
Following the launch of Chris Cary’s Radio Nova International by satellite from Surrey in England on 1st May 1988, speculation grew that Irish stations would carry all or part of the service. The edition of Weekly Report from 22nd May contained the following: ‘It is thought that many Irish stations may invest in a satellite dish and relay Nova, inserting their own adverts in opt-out advert spaces, and leaving Nova’s national adverts in’.
Southside 95 began relaying Nova in July for substantial periods of the day and by the end of the month had ceased its own programming altogether. The ‘Nova Night Network’ service – overnight programming from the satellite station – was relayed by many Irish pirates in the latter part of 1988, including Coast 103 in Galway, ABC in Waterford and Liberty Radio and Centre Radio in Dublin. The relay was switched off at 1pm on 31st December 1988.
This is a recording of David Baker on Southside 95 on 21st January 1988 from 1345-1421. The style is a mixture of easy listening music and community announcements and there are references to other magazine and specialist programmes. The recording is courtesy of Robin Dee of Golden Radio International.
Liberties Local Community Radio (LLCR) was launched on 4th April 1986 from Weaver’s Square in the heart of the Liberties area of inner-city Dublin. Broadcasting on 1035 kHz AM and originally 96.7 FM, it promised to be a community radio station for the Liberties. This never really happened but the station carved out its own niche and many high-profile broadcasters passed through its doors including Peter Madison, Teena Gates and Tony Allan. The station later broadcast on 104 and 107 FM and was known as Gold 104 for a time. It closed down on 20th December 1988.
LLCR was owned by the late Sammy Prendergast who installed aerials for many of the pirates. The station was situated above a shop at 16 Weaver Square where local kids would often hang out. Security was lax and sometimes DJs didn’t show up or lock the door to the station. One evening, a bunch of kids got into the studio and took to the air for a few minutes until the phone rang and someone told them what was going on. Listen until the very end for the punchline!
The recording is undated but is from the second half of 1988. It is shared with kind permission of Kevin Branigan. Thanks also to Barry Dunne for passing it on to us.
Radio Dublin, one of the longest-running pirates in the world, was the most high-profile station to defy the new broadcasting legislation that came into effect at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1988. Established first in 1966, Radio Dublin embarked on round-the-clock broadcasting in 1977 and set a new standard for pirate radio in Dublin. The great 253 (its announced wavelength, later 1188 kHz) went from strength to strength in the 1980s and launched the careers of many well-known broadcasters.
At the end of 1988, rumours were circulating that Radio Dublin would soldier on despite the new law and the station’s owner Eamonn Cooke announced on Christmas Day that the station would continue into 1989. Radio Dublin switched off its FM transmitter on 105 FM in anticipation of the deadline but kept going on AM and shortwave. Transmissions continued after midnight on 1st January 1989 but taped programming only was heard for the first day. Live shows resumed on 2nd January and FM returned on 101 MHz.
The hammer fell in February with two raids by the authorities in the space of a week and the confiscation of all transmitters and most studio equipment. Electricity and phones were cut off following a court order, forcing Radio Dublin to continue on a generator. The station moved location on several occasions in an attempt to avoid detection and appealed on air for donations of FM transmitters from former pirates. It also tried unsuccessfully to challenge the constitutionality of the 1988 legislation, organising fund-raising events and appealing for donations from listeners towards the considerable costs. There was a third raid in April 1990 but Radio Dublin rose from the ashes again with the help of yet another back-up FM transmitter.
In fact, Radio Dublin defied all odds and continued long beyond the 1989 deadline, only closing down permanently in 2002 following the conviction of Eamonn Cooke for sexually abusing children. It was a grim end to the station that made such a mark on Irish radio history during its 36 years in existence and any discussion of Radio Dublin will always be marred by Cooke’s crimes. From 2003 to 2006, Cooke served three years of a 10-year jail term but was released after the conviction was quashed due to a legal technicality. He was convicted a second time in 2007 for sexual assault of young girls and jailed for 10 years. He died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.
Throughout his time at the helm, Cooke took to the air every Sunday lunchtime with ‘Station News’, a rambling account of what was happening at the station and in the Dublin radio scene. This is a recording of the first ‘Station News’ after Radio Dublin defied the new law, from 8th January 1989. We thank John Breslin for the donation.
Spring 1984 was the height of the RTÉ jamming campaign against super-pirates such as Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio in Dublin and South Coast Radio in Cork. On 26th April 1984, Sunshine boss Robbie Dale (Robinson) attempted to ring RTÉ live on air during his mid-morning programme. RTÉ were jamming Sunshine on 531 kHz at the time from the Radio 2 site in Beaumont, claiming that they were testing on the frequency. Robbie Dale spoke to the RTÉ press office but failed to get through to Assistant Director-General Bobby Gahan.
A few days later on Dublin Community Radio, David Baker was more successful. During a special programme about the radio scene, he managed to speak to Bobby Gahan live on air and ask him about the jamming. According to Peter Mulryan’s book Radio Radio, the Minister for Communications Jim Mitchell requested RTÉ in April 1984 to stop jamming as control of the airwaves was a matter for government and not for the state broadcaster. Such was the audience for pirate radio, it appeared that the government feared the political implications if popular stations couldn’t be heard.
These recordings were broadcast by Gerard Roe on the FRC programme on Radio Annabel on 17th June 1984. Our recording was made from 1035 kHz AM. The photo is of Bobby Gahan in 2015 when he was Lord Mayor of Stepaside in Dublin and is by the Evening Herald.