Radio Dublin launched in October 1966, known then as Radio Baile Átha Cliath.
When it eventually closed the station took its place in the pantheon of radio broadcasting with a colourful and controversial history that could only be matched by a handful of worldwide stations, ever.
Run-ins with the authorities; arson; sabotage; rancorous splits; station coups; numerous location and frequency changes; a second channel; spin-off stations; on-air thinly-veiled threats against other stations; defiance in the face of new legislation; court cases; intimidation; accusations of murder; pedophilia; changes in format. Radio Dublin had all of these – and more. It was the longest running continuous pirate station in Ireland … and the world.
Some of its unfortunate history has sullied the name but it should never, ever be forgotten as a training ground for some of the best presenters that have graced Ireland’s airwaves. Everybody who’s anybody spent time at Radio Dublin.
It was founded in 1966 by Ken Sheehan as Radio Blácliath and broadcast from his home in Mourne Road. The transmissions were of a very low power, modifications helping the station reaching 20watts by 1969.
A new transmitter was put in place in 1969 and Sunday afternoon broadcasts of taped programming became a regular feature.
In 1971 the station changed location and under the stewardship of Prince Terry briefly changed name to Static Radio.
The station’s associated frequency is almost as famous as the station’s name. 253m became synonymous with Radio Dublin but it did not use this frequency until Don Moore – or Doctor Don – became involved in 1975.
The station’s fortunes were to change forever when a transmitter broke down and a tv repairman by the name of Eamon Cooke was hired to fix it. He quickly became involved and was instrumental in a change of format to playing pop music.
Following a couple of raids, and a publicity stunt in which Dr Don threatened to set fire to his petrol-soaked body, the station went off air for a long period in September 1976. When it returned at the end of May 1977 it was now broadcasting from Cooke’s home in Ballyfermot and Dr Don was prevented from going on air. This led to Don setting up his own station on 254m which he named Old Radio Dublin but he eventually joined forces with the men behind ARD.
Radio Dublin moved to seven day a week broadcasting for the Christmas period in 1977. This proved to be a success so broadcast hours were extended to 8am-7pm on weekdays and non-stop at weekends.
In April 1978, a bitter and infamous split amidst allegations of child abuse and transmitter sabotage, led to all the staff defecting to a new station – Big D – whilst Cooke was away on holiday.
Radio Dublin outlived Big D, which was destroyed by a fire at its studios in January 1979.
Radio Dublin Channel 2, broadcasting on FM, was launched at the start of the new decade, which also saw the arrival of a new breed of superpirates in Ireland which would sound the death-knell for many of the nation’s less professional stations. Radio Dublin marched on, however.
- 253m / 1188kHz – June 1981
- 253m / 1188kHz – September 1978