Northeast series: Radio Rainbow International (1987-1988)

Northeast series: Radio Rainbow International (1987-1988)
The Radio Rainbow International transmitter (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

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!

Northeast series: Radio Rainbow International (1987-1988)
The Radio Rainbow ‘antenna system’ attached to a power line (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

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.

Northeast series: Radio Rainbow International (1985-1986)

Northeast series: Radio Rainbow International (1985-1986)
Eddie Caffrey with the Radio Rainbow International transmitter (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

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.

Northeast series: Radio Rainbow International (1985-1986)
Radio Rainbow logo as seen on a QSL from 1986 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

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.

Northeast series: Boyneside Radio jingle compilation

As part of our northeast series, we’re delighted to share a video of Boyneside Radio jingles and photos of the station over the years. This was compiled by Kieran Murray who spent many years working on stations in the northeast, including Boyneside. Kieran’s website of pirate memories was sorely missed when it went offline but is now hosted here on Pirate.ie.

For more recordings featuring Kieran, including our extended interview with him, click here.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 3)

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 3)
Kieran Murray at RTÉ’s Millennium Radio reception in the GPO Arcade in Dublin (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

In the third and final part of our extended interview with Kieran Murray about his radio career, Kieran describes his transition from the pirates to the new licensed stations in 1989. He began at RTÉ’s local radio service for Dublin, Millennium Radio, where he worked as a ‘general assistant’. He then moved to sports news and presentation on the country’s first independent local licensed station, Capital Radio, which became FM104. After more than a decade using his real name, it was during this time that he started calling himself ‘Stereo Steve’ on air.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 3)
Kieran reporting for Capital Radio from the 1990 World Cup in Italy (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

Kieran then considers the significance of the pirate stations where he spent ten years of his career and concludes by reflecting on the state of radio today. The interviewer is Brian Greene.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 2)

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 2)
Kieran Murray in the Boyneside Radio Kells studio (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

In this second part of the interview, Kieran Murray tells Brian Greene about his move from Radio Carousel to its biggest rival, Boyneside Radio, in 1983. Like Carousel, Boyneside had become a regional network and Kieran took over management of its satellite station in Kells, Co. Meath, which had its own opt-out programming.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 2)
A rate card for Boyneside Radio Kells (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Kieran also describes his involvement with Radio Rainbow International, a hobby station set up by Boyneside co-owner Eddie Caffrey. Rainbow could be heard far and wide due to its powerful shortwave signal and Kieran presented a weekly FRC programme which attracted correspondence from across Europe. Part 2 ends with Kieran’s memories of returning to Dublin to work for Liberty 104 at the end of the pirate era in 1987-88.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 2)
A QSL for Radio Rainbow International signed by Kieran (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

There’s an interview with Eddie Caffrey about Radio Rainbow International here. We’ll bring you recordings of Rainbow at a later stage in our series about the pirates of the northeast.