Interview with Ian Dempsey

Interview with Ian Dempsey
Ian Dempsey in the ARD/Radio 257 studios at the Crofton (photo courtesy of Noel Hiney).

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.

Interview with Ian Dempsey
ARD broadcasters, L-R: Gerry Lenihan, unknown, Dave Kelly, unknown, Gareth O’Callaghan, Debbie Moore, Jim Kenny (RIP) (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

This interview was conducted by Dave Daly in 2017. We thank Dave for his donation to the archive.

Launch of Radio 257 as covered by Radio Rainbow International

Launch of Radio 257 as covered by Radio Rainbow International
Ian Dempsey at the Crofton Airport Hotel (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Radio 257 was the new name for Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD), a pioneering station of the late 1970s that itself had broken away from Radio Dublin. Radio 257 was launched on 4th January 1980 and based at the Crofton Hotel near Dublin Airport, but reverted to the former ARD name at a later stage. Household names of the future were among the early ARD/Radio 257 crew, including John Clarke, Mike Moran, Tony Allan (RIP), Paul Vincent and Ian Dempsey. The station closed in 1982, a casualty of super-pirates Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio, which had come to dominate the Dublin radio market.

Launch of Radio 257 as covered by Radio Rainbow International
Tony Allan (RIP) in ARD before the relaunch as Radio 257 (photo courtesy of DX Archive).

This recording is of edition #47 of the Free Radio Campaign show on Radio Rainbow International, presented by Kieran Murray on 5th April 1987. It begins with a 5-minute jingle sweep, followed by a recording of the launch of Radio 257 at 12 noon on 4th January 1980. Dave C is in the chair and the launch includes an interview with new breakfast DJ Ian Dempsey and the iconic Tony Allan 257 jingles. The show ends with a weekly round-up of free radio news from Ireland and abroad.

Launch of Radio 257 as covered by Radio Rainbow International
Radio 257 sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

Radio Rainbow International was a hobby station set up by Boyneside Radio engineer Eddie Caffrey from his home in Co. Louth. It broadcast every Sunday on shortwave, AM and FM for three years from 1985 to the end of 1988. As well as the weekly FRC show, Radio Rainbow also leased airtime to British pirate stations at risk of being raided. We thank Eddie Caffrey for sharing this recording.