Updated June 5th 2003
radio cannot die. James Joyce never did!
to listen to The Anorak Hour on Phantom FM Dublin last Sunday. They
did a fabulous audio "collage" on the history of free radio
from Caroline in the 60's on a ship off the UK resulting in the creation
of Radio Luxembourg, Capitol London, and BBC Radio One in the 70's,
much audio of the Radio Nova closedown in the early 80's, which resulted
in stations like 98FM Dublin, FM104 Dublin etc. in that region.
interests me is that, despite continuous closedowns of "pirate"
radio, and continuous openings of "legal radio", there are
still illegal radio stations opening and operating in the face of the
law. Why is this? Is it because they (the broadcasting authorities)
never get it right? Or is it because too much is never enough?
I have lived in a few different countries. Places like Israel, North
Africa, and Australia. Being a radio enthusiast I have monitored radio
(and sometimes worked in radio) in all these places. But, I have never
seen the determination shown to have free radio anywhere in the world,
than that which has been shown in Ireland. Is this a uniquely Irish
thing? The mind boggles.
As I write, I'm listening to Phantom FM's Manager Pete Reed talking
to Anorak Hour Presenter Gerard Roe on their last day of broadcasting
on their second transmitter (as they took their main one off in case
the authorities confiscated it). This is a feed from the radiowaves.fm
website from last Sunday. It's immediately obvious that Pete and the
lads know what they're doing. There are still many pirate radio stations
in Dublin today, but Phantom FM comes across to me as a kind of "radio
Nova" of today, in that they seem to go out of their way not to
be a station that will move around the city and hide from the authorities.
Of course, PhantomFM is different in that they are targeting a specific
audience. They will close down and fight for that elusive licence to
broadcast a healthy diet of Indie music to a dedicated, and already
secure audience of both young and old people who don't want to listen
to the "hamburger" style radio dished out by COMREG (The State
body that controls who gets to broadcast in Ireland).
However, I digress. I'm trying to explore a
broader view of why Ireland persists with pirate radio when most other
countries just put up with what they have on their radio dials. If I'm
to believe what Phantom FM's Manager Pete Reed says, I guess it's simply
because COMREG has failed, as have their predecessors, to supply radio
content for their demanding and ever-changing audience of enthusiastic
As an Irish person living in a forign land, I am constantly reminded
that the Irish have never stood still when they wanted any kind of justice.
History will prove that without doubt.
Irish are famed for being martyrs for what they want. They are also
world renowned for their writing. Passionate, earth-shattering literature,
such as that from William Butler Yeats, and of course James Joyce, who
almost created a new language with his book Ulysses. Maybe the Irish
people of today cannot have "legislation" controlling their
media, and filling it with rules. Perhaps that's what's separating them
from the radio listeners of the rest of the world. Perhaps authority
does not sit well within their conciousness. I do find
it interesting that in the USA radio is just about free for all, with
little restriction. Now, let me think, where did many of those Americans
originally come from?...
I rest my case.
views expressed on this site are not necessarily those of it's owners.
These views are expressly my own.