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CAPITOL RADIO


CAPITOL RADIO

Capitol Radio was a 1970s Dublin station broadcasting first on 220m MW and later on 226m. Around four weeks of test transmissions commenced in July 1975 with the station’s launch taking place on August 2nd at midday from a studio near Portobello, Rathmines on Dublin’s southside.

1975

The first voice on air was Chris Barry (known as C.B.) who announced: “this is Capitol Radio on 220 metres medium wave and this is the Ed McDowell Show”.

The station broadcast for three hours on Sundays and Fridays and quickly built up a decent audience proving extremely popular with listeners of all ages. However, not with the authorities, because, during the C.B. Show on December 21st 1975 at 1pm, the station was raided by the Dept of Posts and Telegraphs.

The following account of the raid as related by Chris Barry is provided courtesy of the FRC Newsletter:
“The Post Office did not get what they were looking for. It took them three hours to find our studio location and another 35 minutes to break our studio door down. All that was left for them then was our studio equipment.
During the raid I was asked by the P.O. ‘Where is it?’
I replied ‘What?’
P.O. ‘The transmitter’.
I said: ‘What transmitter?’
Then the P.O. said: ‘We’re not leaving until we find it.’
I said, ‘Fine, I’m having a cup of coffee!!!’ The P.O. left without the transmitter… “

With all equipment returned, Capitol were back on the air a week later, on the 28th, to explain the sudden disappearance to their listeners and to say goodbye.

1976

Capitol then went missing for a lengthy period before making a return with a test transmission on May 16th 1976 at just after 12.30pm. Ed MacDowell announced they were testing “….on 220 metres on the medium wave band, broadcasting to Dublin city, this is the return of Capitol Radio, a free, local, independent station.” He went on to state that they were testing their equipment for a planned return the following week.

Unfortunately, they didn’t return until they were one year old – in August. Then they were back again briefly to see in the New Year.

1978

Capitol Radio commenced daily broadcasting in February 1978 from their studios on the top floor at 26 Bachelors Walk in the city centre. The renowned Basement X specialist record store was located in the same building, which helped greatly improve the Capitol’s record library.

The station were live for 18 hours each day and presenters included Barry Lang, Ian Dempsey, Chris Barry, Ed McDowell, Alan Russell, Kathy Doran, Philip Jackson & Adrian Horseman on News.
After 9pm programmes formed part of the station’s Night Flight section, which included contemporary & New Wave rock with Frank Matthews & Nicky Moss. Other specialist programmes included Ken Stuart’s Jazz Hour, Stompin’ George with his Rockabilly Hour & Traditional Irish music.

In November of that year they changed frequency to 226m to improve reception locally, despite the fact that 220m was a clearer channel for overseas reception.

Prior to the frequency change, Capitol Radio used a quarter-wave dipole aerial, which ran from the Bachelor Inn rooftop to the far side of Litton Lane. During that time many reception reports were received from overseas listeners in Norway, Sweden & the U.K. 

The station’s format album-oriented tracks and specialist music programmes differentiated it from other stations on the band, giving it a niche but loyal audience.

1981

In 1981, Capitol moved to Eccles street but ceased broadcasting in March following a threatened injunction from a neighbouring business.

Capitol Radio station staff on the rooftop at their studio in May 1978
Photo: Ed McDowell
Alan Russell
Photo credit: Where the Streets Have 2 Names
An Hibernia magazine advert announcing the 1978 frequency change.
Fanzine ad from 1979
Fanzine ad from 1979

Newspaper Coverage (use arrows to scroll through)


Magazine Coverage (click on a page to read)

Capitol Radio feature in Radio World January 1980
Capitol Radio feature in Radio World January 1980

Radio World – January 1980 (UK trade magazine)
by kind courtesy of Al Russell (https://capitolradiodublin.wordpress.com/)


Anorak Facts

Programme Guide for this station as published by the Free Radio Campaign Newsletter in April 1976:

Sundays
Midday Ed McDowell
12.40 CB Show
1.20 Alan Russell
2 Kenneth Murphy
3pm Close

Fridays
Midnight: Ed McDowell
12.30 CB Show
1 Alan Russell
1.30 Close


Capitol Radio recordings on Radio Retro

December 7th 1975 – The Al Russell Show

December 14th 1975 – The Al Russell Show

December 16th 1978 – The Al Russell Show


Capitol Radio on YouTube



  • Capitol received many reception reports from abroad – this is one of them, from Norway
With thanks to Al Russell

We thank Al Russell for his invaluable help with our Capitol Radio station page.


Other sites of interest

Capitol Radio webpage by Al Russell. https://capitolradiodublin.wordpress.com

Capitol Radio page at DX Archive

Capitol Radio tribute page at Facebook


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