Quality pirates have always broken their asses to bring shows to eager listeners. From the 1960’s on, pirate radio stations operated in calm seas, filling in the gaps left by the dismal national broadcaster, with regular shows, presenters, even public contact info. Some of the most notable were very commercial, like Sunshine Radio, which had the highest Dublin ratings of its time. Radio Dublin, which started in 1966 was the first to broadcast for 24 hours. There was huge marches against state action against Radio Nova. Then with the rave explosion in the 1990’s there was another resurgence, with stations like Sunset FM and Power FM filling up chest drawers with cassette tape recordings of tunes imported by vinyl junkie DJ’s. Thanks to pressure from the RTE, the Broadcasting Authority cracked down in 2003. Garda and ESB enforcers stripped the band of virtually every Dublin pirate station in what is known as “Black Tuesday”. However, this spirit of DIY radio lives on in community radio stations and podcasting online. Closing off the spectrum for mobile phones may have killed Irish pirate radio, but there’s still a few crackling, hidden on the dial like Tonik FM and Play Fm. Here’s a selection of shows worth locking into and getting acquainted with.
Plastic Attack Friday’s at 9pm on RTE 2xm.
After a 14 year jaunt through Dublin’s underground pirates, this show recently land itself a slot on 2xm. Long time host Eric Moore told rabble that he’s on a mission to “play the music that spawned hip hop in the first place.” That surprisingly broad template means everything from Black Sabbath to Lyn Collins and Kraftwerk. The b-boy banter is relentless and the breaks come fast from a team “that were there back in ‘83 when hip hop first hit our shores.” Now, where’s me boombox?
Rosco & Stacks Wednesdays from 9pm-12am on www.powerfm.org
Power FM gave Don Rosco & Stacks “a jungle show in ‘94 when no-one else would give us the time of day.” They’ve been keeping the show fresh each and every weeks since “by buying a lot of new music,” , some of which might include psyche, prog and Eastern sounds. With 18 years in the game, they’ve seen a lot, citing 94/95 jungle as a pinnacle in quality dance. On modern bass music: “it’s the unpredictability that we love, I think. It’s all about hearing a new tune do something unexpected and brilliant.”
Executive Steve Wednesdays at 9pm on Radio Na Life 106.4 fm. The longest-running dedicated drum ‘n’ bass/jungle radio show on Irish airwaves, hosted by the inimitable Executive Steve, with regular appearances from his Ancient Ways cohort Bonz, and occasional special guest slots from up-and-comers and established names. Fresh sounds from across the full spectrum of d’n’b, with the odd sprinkling of dubstep; lots of atmospheric styles, from thoroughbred classics to freshly squeezed rollers, punctuated, as Papa Steve himself puts it, “by mystical growls in mellifluously broken Irish”.
Ear to the Globe Mondays from 10pm on Dublin City 103.2 fm
Nigel Woods showcases world-music from all corners of the globe. Expect anything from Eastern European gypsy-funk to deep cumbia and chanchona from Central America. He keeps things fresh by focusing on a different cultural or physical area, and spinning the beats and rhythms it’s creating today. The show also features interviews with artists who are touring Ireland, and have included the likes of Youssou N’Dour and Amparanoia. It’s a welcome change on the airwaves.
Ska Patrol Mondays from 8-10pm on nearfm.ie
On the air weekly since 1999, Near FM’s Ska Patrol is a must listen to for anyone into ska, rocksteady or early reggae music. Dubliners Jero and JB take over the station every Monday at 8pm for a full two hours to play the very best 1st wave (1960s), 2nd wave (late 1970s) and 3rd wave (present) ska tunes. Taking its name from a song by the Swedish band The Skalatones, Ska Patrol is also the name of a print fanzine that the two boys print. Widely respected both nationally and internationally, the show received a radio award in the category of ‘Specialist Music’ from CRAOL (the Community Radio Forum Of Ireland) in 2007. Reggae and particularly ska has always been massively popular within Dublin’s working class, this radio shows keeps that flame burning!