Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BROADCASTING 'AS GAEILGE' IN 1939

(AN EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK '1930'S IRISH BROADCASTING AN EVOLUTION NOT A REVOLUTION' BASED ON THE LECTURE OF THE SAME NAME)
In 1970 a group of enthusiastic activists crowded into a small caravan in County Galway and asserted their right to have a dedicated Irish language radio station on the air. Two years after those pioneering pirate broadcasts Radio na Gaeltachta took to the airwaves and has been broadcasting nationally ever since. In recent years other stations have provided programming in the native tongue including Radio Na Life (http://www.raidionalife.ie/old/english/history.htm), Radio Failte and local community stations across the country. These have been augmented in recent years by internet based Irish language radio stations.
In the early days of Irish radio (2RN going on air in January 1926) Irish language supporters believed that the airwaves were not being used properly for the promotion of the native language. Activists initially wanted the state run station to be solely broadcast in Irish and that it should support National ideals and traditions but there was very little support from the political establishment who were unsure how to treat the new medium and were suspicious of the intentions of traditionalists. Over eighty percent of the station’s output was in English, the language of Government and the Irish language did not even make up the entire remainder as French, German and Esperanto all received significant airtime. Less than half of all music played on the new station was Irish traditional and this caused much debate in the newspapers of the day.
The Irish language has always been a hot potato when it comes to broadcasting and the positioning of various lobby groups has often affected the direction of both programming and language revival. In 1989 when the Independent Radio and Television Commission perused proposals for the new commercial national franchise there was derision in the media when former pirate broadcaster Chris Cary (Radio Nova) in his submission advanced his proposal for an Irish language ‘word of the day’. This English born entrepreneur seemed unable grasp the importance of the native tongue on a national stage but fast forward twenty years and the national franchise now Today FM offers a thirty second occasional slot ‘creid é no ná creid é’ not far off Cary’s 1989 thoughts on the subject in 1989.
Radio Eireann in 1939 was the chief provider of Irish language broadcasting but this year would see four different stations in three different countries broadcast ‘as Gaeilge’. Vatican Radio aired Irish programmes at 7.30pm hosted by the Rector of the Irish College in Rome broadcast on short wave for the faithful in Ireland to listen to. In Germany, Nazi state radio began broadcasting in Irish on December 10th 1939. The presenter was Hans Hartmann and their propaganda was anti British and an overt attempt to reinforce Ireland’s position of neutrality during the Second World War and finally the IRA’s Broadcast station that was located in Ashgrove House, Rathgar began all their broadcasts with a speech in the native tongue usually delivered by Seamus Byrne who became a successful playwright after the War. The station was raided and closed at the end of December 1939.
(The first radio programme in Gaelic was not transmitted by Radio Eireann but on 2BD in Aberdeen on October 10th 1923)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

THE PIRATE REVOLUTION OF THE 80s - HERE COMES THE SUNSHINE

LOCAL RADIO IN DROGHEDA COUNTY LOUTH
MY RECEPTION REPORT
HOW TO RECEIVE BETTER SIGNALS ON MEDIUM WAVE (REMEMBER AM?)
FROM 'ANORAKS IRELAND' EDITED BY PAUL DAVIDSON
OVERSEAS PIRATE ANORAKING
SUMMER IS COMING (I HOPE) SO HERE IS SOME SUNSHINE FROM 1983

Monday, May 27, 2013

IRISH PIRATE RADIO PRE - 1988.

With my plans for a TV series commemorating the introduction of the 1988 Wireless Telegraphy Act now in full flow, I was trawling through my 'pirate radio library' and decided to share these with you.
STATION STICKERS
ERI LETTER SIGNED BY MARGARET NELSON NOW WITH FM 104
THE AIRWAVES PIRATE RADIO FAN ZONE
ANORAKS IRELAND LOBBY GROUP
SUNSHINE RADIO REVIEW 1983
CHRIS CARY'S KISS FM - RECOGNISE ANY NAMES?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

'Dublin Pirate Radio' TV history series needs YOU!

Hi All,
In July and August 2013 we will be recording a TV series for the voluntary based Dublin Community Television channel (UPC 802 & AerTV) of 1 to 1 interviews commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the closure of pirate radio in Dublin. This was as a result of the introduction of the 1988 Wireless Telegraphy Act in December of that year that cleared the airwaves for the new legal franchises.
This nostalgic and educational look back at the heady days of Dublin's colourful pirate radio era will be both studio based and shot on location. If you were involved at any stage in pirate radio pre-1988, I want to talk to YOU. It's your story I want to tell. Did you or someone you know broadcast on air, built transmitters, were involved in raids or just answered the telephone?
There were thousands of people involved over the decades and our air time is limited to one series but every story and anecdote counts.
You can contact me Eddie Bohan at rebelradio@dublin.ie and we can have a chat and take it from there.
Thanks
DCTV are also looking for Volunteers who feel they can contribute to the making of their programmes. This is an ideal opportunity to get involved and gain experience in studio operations, camera work, video and sound editing, research, studio management and production design. Contact DCTV with a CV or watch for forthcoming announcements.

Monday, May 6, 2013

PIRATE RADIO DEAD OR ALIVE?

It has been twenty five years since the introduction of the 1988 Wireless Telegraphy Act and the licensing of legal independent radio. The 1988 legislation was designed to wipe pirate radio off the airwaves with stiff penalties and strict enforcement.
Throughout the May Bank Holiday Monday, I listened and visited pirate radio stations across Dublin. These were not stations confined to the internet but broadcasting openly on an already cluttered FM band. Unlike the early 70s when pirate radio stations began to develop and would only broadcast for a couple of hours late or night or a Sunday afternoon for fear of being raided and closed, today’s pirates are broadcasting 12 to 18 hours per day every day despite the possible €10,000 fine that can be imposed.
Across the band listeners could tune into NRG, Ministry, Easy, Play and Tonik, all pirate radio stations but why after a quarter of a century are pirate radio stations still on air?
It is hard to judge how many people are listening to these pirate operations but at one station judging by requests received from callers and texts over a three hour period the numbers listening was well into four figures. But why is a listening demographic between 15 and 25 not being catered for by the plethora of Dublin legal stations?
Having spoken to a number of callers to these stations I was quickly aware of patterns at each of the stations. The above named stations apart from Easy broadcast dance, trance and house music. While Spin 1038 would be the closest in music policy to the pirates they are a commercial operation and programming is driven by ratings and advertising revenue. The two main reactions to the pirate stations were that young listeners felt connected to the music they wanted to hear and that the pirates played music they could not hear on any other radio station.
The following is the list of reasons why listeners were tuned into the pirate stations.
1. They felt a connection with the station.
2. They liked the sound of DJ’s their own age. Some of the DJ’s were only sixteen on the day I visited.
3. The pirate stations played the music they were dancing to in the clubs, especially young dance music orientated venues.
4. The stations played extended dance tracks especially remixes often 10 minutes long something rarely played on licensed radio. The stations often play non commercial tracks.
5. The stations were ‘clutterfree’ or advert free. When I asked how the stations paid their way such as electricity bills, I was told that stations organised ‘event nights’ where they would use the door money to pay the bills. The overheads at pirate stations are low as DJ’s are volunteer and the stations do not pay the legal requirements of PAYE, PRSI, PPI or IMRO.
6. The stations take requests and play them. One listener told me that ‘making a request to FM 104 is like a privilege when it should be a right’.
7. The pirate station is giving a young local DJ to learn the skills of operating a radio studio. The stations are often very locally based despite their signal covering much of the city. There was a strong loyalty to the local station but listeners were able to identify other pirates who broadcast a slightly different music policy i.e one station played house while another specialised in trance.
8. ‘They don’t air the boring news’. Pirate stations by their nature of illegality were not subject to the restriction imposed on licensed stations by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
9. Young listeners liked the irreverence of the DJ’s sometime using bad language but the DJs seemed to be more in tune with the listeners than their legal counterparts.
10. Stations were giving opportunity to DJ’s who were creating music in their bedrooms and garages and providing outlets for small record labels on the fringes of the Irish music scene.
Rules are made to be broken and as long as people feel that they are being ignored by the establishment, pirate radio stations will remain on the air.