Pirate radio still making waves

Pirate radio still making waves

Veteran broadcaster Aidan Cooney worked on many pirate stations in Dublin from the late 1970s including Radio Dublin, ARD, Treble TR, Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova. Since 1989 he has been a presenter on commercial radio and television and is currently heard on Q102 in Dublin.

On the Q102 breakfast show on 24th November 2020, Aidan was brought down memory lane about his pirate days with Irish Sun entertainment editor Ken Sweeney.

Full recording: Westside Radio International

Full recording: Westside Radio International
Prince Terry on air in Westside Radio International c1987
Full recording: Westside Radio International
An early QSL from Westside Radio issued in 1977 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Westside Radio International was one of the longest-running shortwave stations from Dublin in the pirate era. Westside was originally operated by Dr. Don (Don Moore) in 1975 and 1976 at a time when he and Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) were also involved with Radio Dublin on medium wave. Westside returned to the air on 25th September 1977 on 6210 kHz, this time operated by Prince Terry. It moved to 6280 kHz where it was a permanent feature on Sunday mornings until the end of 1988 when the new radio legislation came into force.

Full recording: Westside Radio International
A leaflet outlining the early history of Westside Radio International (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Our recording was made on Sunday 21st July 1985 from 1140-1225 and features part of Prince Terry’s FRC programme with his trademark rock music and news about the free radio scene. The programme gives a great sense of pirate radio on both sides of the Irish Sea at the time, delivered through the unique audio experience of shortwave. A panel discussion involving both Prince Terry and Dr. Don can be heard here.

Full recording: Westside Radio International
Westside QSL on its last day of operation in 1988 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

For more information about the shortwave pirates see the DX Archive and Pirate Memories websites. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.  

Bandscan: Irish radio as heard in Wales in 1983

Bandscan: Irish radio as heard in Wales in 1983
A winter shot from Aberystwyth promenade with Constitution Hill in the background (photo by John Walsh).

‘Hello Again’, Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary series The Irish Pirates was based on a return visit to Dublin in September 1983. The episode features an AM and FM bandscan from Aberystwyth on the west Wales coast, recorded by Tipler in August 1983. Having climbed Constitution Hill to the north of the town, Tipler gave himself the best chance of picking up radio signals from Ireland a mere 150km away.

This is the original, unedited bandscan as recorded by Tipler on both AM and FM from his perch overlooking the Irish Sea on a sunny Saturday afternoon, 13th August 1983. The pirates heard include Arklow Community Radio, Kilkenny Community Radio, Sunshine Radio and Radio Dublin. RTÉ Radio 1, Radio 2 and Raidió na Gaeltachta are all received loud and clear on FM. There are snippets of unidentified UK stations as well as occasional breakthrough from police communication, possibly due to harmonics.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 1)

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 1)
Kieran Murray in the Radio Carousel studio in Dundalk (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

As part of our ongoing series about the pirate radio of the northeast, we’re delighted to bring you a three-part interview with one of the best known broadcasters on various stations in the region, Kieran Murray. Born in Dublin in 1958, Kieran began his radio career with Radio Dublin before moving on to Big D. The owner of Radio Carousel, Hugh Hardy, arrived at Big D in search of presenters for the new Dundalk station and Kieran Murray was one of those who took up the offer. He was in fact the first voice to be heard on Radio Carousel when it began broadcasting on May 20th 1978. In 1981, Kieran moved to Navan to establish a satellite station of Radio Carousel there and managed the Co. Meath station for some time.

In part 1 of the interview, Kieran describes his early interest in radio and his involvement with Dublin stations before moving to Co. Louth. He pays tribute to Hugh Hardy and shares many memories of the early years of Carousel ranging from the station’s local success to raids by the government and by paramilitaries. The interview also contains technical information about transmission and how the Radio Carousel network operated. The interviewer is Brian Greene.

** Since doing the interview, we can confirm that Kieran in fact first took to the airwaves in 1975 on Capitol Radio in Dublin. He presented a 60-minute programme on a Sunday afternoon, using the name Kenneth Murphy. His brother also presented a programme under the name John Edwards. The transmitter was owned by Chris Barry who lived in Rathmines at the time, not far from Kieran’s home. Kieran remembers that coincidentally, the building next door would become the RTÉ Museum.

The first edition of the FRC newsletter which Kieran produced printed the schedule and information on Capitol. Thanks to Alan Russell for this information and for the copy of the magazine.

Aircheck: Radio Dublin

Aircheck: Radio Dublin
Radio Dublin badge courtesy of Brian Greene.

Here is some vintage Radio Dublin from the days when 7-day a week broadcasting was still a dream. This is part of their 36-hour marathon over the 17th and 18th of September 1977 with DJs John Paul, Jimmy St Ledger, DJ Sylvie and Johnny Day. It gives a fascinating insight into a key period in the development of the Irish pirates.

Transmission quality left a little to be desired at times, but there’s no doubt this was the biggest station in Dublin at the time. This recording is courtesy of Kieran Murray and was donated to us by Ian Biggar.