Today we bring you more recordings from Radio Rainbow International, Eddie Caffrey’s high-powered shortwave pirate which broadcast from the Drogheda area on Sunday mornings from 1985-1988. Radio Rainbow could also be heard on 1521 kHz AM and on FM locally. There was no mast at the house, so the antenna cable was extended by attaching a stone to it and throwing it up over a power line at the bottom of the garden. Sometimes the transmission arrangements of the pirates were not for the faint-hearted!
One of those involved in Radio Rainbow was Kieran Murray who also worked in Boyneside Radio along with Eddie and had been with Radio Carousel previously. Kieran presented a weekly FRC show on Rainbow with news and information about the exciting world of pirate radio in Ireland and abroad. The recording above is an extract from one such programme in April 1987. The second recording below is from January 1988 and features a relay of John Dean (aka Colin Strong) presenting his own free radio show on the Scottish pirate WLR (no connection with the Waterford station).
In its later years, Radio Rainbow regularly relayed UK pirate stations which were facing harassment by the authorities. We thank Eddie Caffrey for sharing these recordings.
Radio Rainbow International was a high-powered shortwave pirate operated by Boyneside Radio DJ and engineer Eddie Caffrey from the summer of 1985 until the end of 1988. It was first logged by Anoraks UK in the west midlands on 21st July 1985 on 6240 kHz with a strong signal and continued to be heard regularly on Sunday mornings from 1000-1300 for the next three and a half years. In contrast with other shortwave pirates from Ireland operating on low power, Radio Rainbow International put on a transmitter of more than 1 kW with plenty of compression and modulation. Reception reports were received from all over Europe and from as far away as Russia. As well as Eddie Caffrey, other Boyneside DJs Jim Agnew and Kieran Murray were also involved, with Kieran presenting a popular weekly FRC show giving the latest news about the Irish radio scene. In an interview with Pirate.ie, Kieran described Radio Rainbow as the ‘Radio Nova of shortwave’, such was its large coverage area.
As well as shortwave, Radio Rainbow broadcast on 1521 kHz AM with up to 1 kW output and there were also local FM broadcasts. From 1987 onwards, the station relayed the output of other pirates such as WLR in Scotland and Radio Sovereign in London. In 1988, Eddie Caffrey also relayed another UK station, Radio Fax, on 6220 kHz by day and 1611 kHz by night from another transmitter in the Drogheda area. You can hear an interview with Eddie about his involvement with shortwave stations here.
The recording above is part of Kieran Murray’s FRC show from 6th April 1986. Below is a recording of Jim Agnew from August 1985 reading out a reception report from West Berlin.
The second clip below is of a Radio Rainbow jingle and multilingual station idents in French and German.
We thank Eddie Caffrey for sharing these recordings.
Michael Gerrard was a well-known voice on late-night Boyneside Radio in the station’s later years and gained a large following on his Radio Romance and Night-Time Music slots. Like so many pirate presenters, Michael joined Boyneside when just a teenager and in this interview with John Walsh, he shares his memories of the station with us. After 1989, he went on to work with the local licensed station LMFM.
We also thank Michael for sharing with us two of his final recordings in the run-up to the closedown of Boyneside on 31th December 1988. The first is an aircheck of the final Night-Time Music show on 23rd December.
The second features the final half-hour of Michael’s programme on Friday 30th December 1988, the penultimate day of broadcasting. Some of this has been airchecked.
Both recordings include a farewell message for Boyneside listeners voiced by Eddie Caffrey.
After the merger things ran pretty smoothly for Boyneside Radio. The advertising log was healthy and the station was really establishing itself as one of the leading regional radio stations in Ireland. However, like a bolt from the blue all that changed. On the afternoon of Monday 13th April 1987 an official from the Department of Communications, along with three Gardaí, entered the station premises on Mill Lane. The staff were told to close all transmitters, cease broadcasting at once and never return to the air. The official said that interference was being caused, but refused to elaborate further.
The only transmitter that was thought might have caused the alleged interference was the FM link on 99.1 MHz, as this was the only transmitter located in a built-up area. This was taken out of service and replaced with a known and tested clean transmitter. In the meantime, unofficial contact had been made between a station representative and a head official in the Department. It was arranged that the official would check on the morning of Wednesday 15th if there was still interference. However, on that day at 1407 the raiding party arrived consisting of six Gardaí, one detective, and two Department officials. During the raid a local newspaper photographer had his camera snatched by a Department official. This was covered in the next issue of the paper (see above).
The officials then proceeded to remove all equipment from the studios as well as the FM transmitter and compressor. They used cutters rather than disconnecting the equipment. The station was instructed to switch off all transmitters and never return or another raid would take place.
The officials left and headed back to Dublin. Meantime Boyneside Radio was back on the air by 1730 from a secret location. Programmes were pretty much as normal, although initially some technical breaks were experienced. By the end of April 1987 the station was back in the usual studios on Mill Lane and things returned to normal.
The recording above is of an interview with Eddie Caffrey about the incident on the Radio West Anorak Hour on the following Sunday, 19th April 1987. The recording below is of Boyneside shortly after the raid on 23rd April 1987, featuring automatic music from 0620-0700 and Mike Ahern (Richard McCullen) on the breakfast show from 0700-0936. It was made in Blackpool by Gary Hogg and the station’s output sounds perfectly normal. Of interest to DXers is the skywave propagation in the first hour when ERI in Cork, also on 1305 kHz, can be heard clearly at times. Many thanks to Ian Biggar for these recordings and for the research.
Boyneside Radio continued to provide a service to the people of the north east until finally closing at just after 3pm on Saturday 31st December 1988.
The traditional Irish music show the Green Scene is the longest-running programme on commercial radio in Ireland and dates from the Boyneside Radio era. Presented by Eddie Caffrey, it was popular across the northeast of Ireland and further afield. This recording is from 1020-1105 on Saturday 27th September 1986 and features a huge number of requests from Louth, Meath, Armagh, Down, Dublin and even Blackpool. There’s also an ad for a céilí in Rochdale, Lancashire, evidence of how well the Boyneside signal travelled on AM across the Irish Sea. The show also includes the regular radio bingo slot with Dermot Finglas and news is read by Gerry Malone.
The Green Scene is still presented every Saturday by Eddie Caffrey on LMFM. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.