The Free Radio Show that survived a raid but was never broadcast

The Free Radio Show that survived a raid but was never broadcast
The Radio Rainbow International transmitter (courtesy of Kieran Murray).

Kieran Murray was a well-known voice on the pirates from the late 1970s and had a deep knowledge of the Irish scene, presenting Free Radio Shows on various stations. Here, he shares a fascinating story about one programme that was never broadcast due to a raid by the authorities but survived nonetheless.

When I left Radio Carousel (Navan) to join Boyneside Radio in early 1985, Eddie Caffrey told me about the shortwave station he had been running called Radio Rainbow International. The station broadcast each Sunday morning, 09:00 to about 13:00, on 6240 kHz (in the 48-meter band) and with a powerful signal, using about 500 watts, it reached most of Europe and beyond.

The Free Radio Show that survived a raid but was never broadcast
Radio Rainbow International logo (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The format was oldies, requests and relays for other pirate radio stations (mostly from those in other European countries that risked being raided in their own countries if they broadcast). The listeners loved it and the reception reports came flooding in – from Europe and beyond. We even received a reception report from the United States!

So, Eddie invited me to present a weekly 60-minute show, which we called ‘The Free Radio Show’. Each show was given a number, rather than a date, because I just was never sure what date that show would be broadcast on and because the shows were not date specific, it left the option open to repeat a programme if we needed. As it turned out, we never had to do this!

So, we began with Free Radio Show #1. Each show was recorded by me, over the course of a week, in the spare studio of Boyneside Radio, in Donaghy’s Mill, Drogheda, Co. Louth. I used a C120 cassette (single use only, as the recording tape was so thin, so I never re-used them). The show consisted of segments; the intro, listeners’ letters, 5 minutes of jingles, radio station feature and finally free radio news from the past week. The theme tune I used was a track called ‘Man Of Action’ by the Les Reed Orchestra, an old pirate favourite tune, as this had previously been used as the theme for the offshore radio station Radio Northsea International in the 1970s.

The Free Radio Show that survived a raid but was never broadcast
Eddie Caffrey of Radio Rainbow International and Boyneside Radio (courtesy of Kieran Murray).

So, each show got recorded, numbered and completed by Friday and was ready for broadcast that Sunday. Meanwhile, Eddie (who was the engineer and part-owner of Boyneside Radio) added an AM transmitter (1 KW AM on 1521 kHz) and then added an FM stereo transmitter, completing the output of Radio Rainbow International – on AM, FM and short wave.

The shows continued each week, until we got to Show #49, which was due for broadcast on Sunday 19th April 1987. I did the intro, listeners’ letters, 5 minutes of jingles and the radio station feature – and that is where the recording stops. The last bit was for the free radio news but I never got to complete this. When Boyneside Radio was raided on Wednesday 15th April 1987, I was ready to record the free radio news when the Gardaí and Department of Communications officials arrived and took everything: cassette decks, records, mixers, turntables, microphones, tapes – anything that wasn’t nailed down! Among the cassettes they took was the C120 cassette that had my part-finished Show #49.

So we had no Free Radio Show for the following two Sundays, 19th and 26th April 1987, but we came back for a special show on 3rd May and featured an interview with Eddie that discussed the raid on Boyneside Radio. The studio recording attached here was never actually broadcast, because I had to do an entirely new show featuring details of the raid and the interview with Eddie Caffrey about what happened. After each show was broadcast, I used to receive requests for copies of each show from various listeners, so the C120 cassette of the previous week would be posted out to someone who requested this. As a result, I do not have any studio copies of the Free Radio Show except for this one, the ‘unfinished’ Free Radio Show #49. The only reason we have this original recording is because all the equipment was returned after the raid, including that famous C120 cassette. So, in a roundabout way, the Gardaí did us a favour in helping to preserve a studio copy of this show!

Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday 1978

Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday 1978
Early Radio Dublin badge (Alan MacSiomoin collection).

Kieran Murray presented FRC (Free Radio Campaign) programmes on various pirates down the years, including in the early days of Radio Dublin as a full-time station. Here’s a recording of part of the FRC show presented by Kieran on Radio Dublin on Easter Sunday, 26th March 1978. This was just before the split that led to the breakaway station Big D. An ad is heard for FRC Ireland and its magazine Sounds Alternative, and new stations in Kildare and Galway are mentioned. There are also long lists of requests, reflecting the strong listenership enjoyed by Radio Dublin at the time.

The recording was made by Eddie Caffrey in Co. Louth, and there is some interference. Thanks to Eddie and Ian Biggar for sharing it with us.

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingles (update)

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingles (update)
Original demo tape box for Big D jingles (courtesy of Kieran Murray).

A few weeks ago, we featured the first Radio Dublin jingle package courtesy of Kieran Murray. Kieran has been researching the background to this package and has sent us the following report.

Radio Dublin was the very first pirate radio station in Ireland to play jingles. I heard these myself at the time. The jingles played on air referred to ‘WDEE – The Big D’. At that time, Radio Dublin used the tag line ‘The Big D’. So, having managed to locate my copy the Radio Dublin Jingles (The Big D) from the early 1970s, I set about trying to locate the original master recordings – the source of these iconic jingles – and also to find out a bit more about their origin and where they came from.

My search took me to jingle expert Norman Barrington. I downloaded his jingle database and set about searching for a radio station that used the call-sign ‘WDEE’ (you can hear this clearly on those jingles used by Radio Dublin in the early 1970s). Within a short time, I identified a set of jingles with just one listing on the jingle database matching ‘WDEE’. It transpires that a jingle company called SPOT Productions (located in Fort Worth, Texas, USA) was one of many jingle companies around that time that used to send out 5″ demo tape reels to various radio stations, touting for (jingle) business.

Pirate Pioneers: early Radio Dublin jingles (update)
Image from Radio Dublin history published in 1972 with Big D tagline (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The reels were generally recorded in mono, as they were only intended as a demo and also because most broadcast stations in the USA at that time were on AM. SPOT may have sent this particular ‘WDEE’ jingle demo to lots of radio stations and it is not even certain that WDEE-AM 1500 (a country music station in Detroit, USA, from 1969 to 1980) ever received a copy of this demo or even ordered a jingle package from SPOT.

Thanks to Bryan Lambert, I can now reveal what happened that 5″ jingle tape reel. He takes up the story:

‘It was Mark T. (Mark Story) who gave that tape reel to me as a present several years ago. The reel travelled to Wexford with me between 1992 and 2001 where I transferred it to cassette. The reel remained in the filing cabinet I used at South East Radio with my carts and some other tapes. I’m sorry to say I left all of these behind me so they were all probably thrown out after I went home to Dublin when my father became ill in 2001’.

So, now you know what happened to that jingle tape reel. However, the mystery continues. How did that 5″ demo tape reel from SPOT Productions, manage to make its way over to Ireland? Who brought this reel over? How come Radio Dublin chose to use this tape as their jingle ID? Plus … how did Mark T. (Mark Story) get possession of this demo tape reel?


Kieran Murray (April 2021)


Photo – SPOT Productions original demo tape box:

Jingle Master Copy, WDEE Jingles Demo:

History of WDEE:

Aircheck of WDEE-AM 1500  (1971, Tom Dean): (you can hear the Big D jingles being used here).

Liberty 104 jingles

Thanks to Kieran Murray who has edited jingles from Liberties Local Community Radio (LLCR) on along with images of the station into a video on his YouTube channel. LLCR broadcast from the Liberties area of Dublin from April 1986 until the end of the 1988 and went through several incarnations and name changes. It was known variously as Liberty Radio, Liberty 104 and Gold 104. This jingle sweep contains many well-known voices such as Tony Allan and Gerry Moore.

Kieran worked at Liberty in 1987 and you can hear his memories here. For more recordings of this station in our archive, click here.

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.