A special debt of gratitude is owed To Fiona Sweeney, who suffered me and my various projects for so long. A 'thank you' seems hardly enough so I'll try 'sorry'. Without a shadow of a doubt the most influential person behind this book is Prof. T.J. Wheeler (Tim to his friends!). Even though Tim moved house and college, his commitment and interest in this project never wavered. For his personal kindness, his micro, his time and friendship and his lessons in how to liberate white A4 from other people's photocopiers, I will be eternally grateful! Finally I'd like to thank all at Borderline for their enthusiasm and commitment to this book.
Author's Preface 1988
Radio Radio is the result of six years research into unlicensed radio in Ireland. It takes the subject from the very birth of the Irish Republic in 1916, right up to the present day. Pirate stations by their very nature tend to be secretive. Like the outlaws of the wild west, station operators see themselves engaged in a battle for survival against the powers that be. These latter-day cowboys are individuals who distrust bureaucracy and conformity and indeed anything or anyone who threatens their freewheeling and therefore glamorous lifestyle.
In such a covert industry records are rarely kept, and anything documented by stations tends to be grossly biased. Facts cease to exist and are replaced by opinions. Getting to the truth then was like making a huge jigsaw puzzle on a trampoline.
In boiling down the mountain of material I have accumulated over the years, I have tried to keep the text as accessible as possible. I have avoided in-jokes, buzz words, lists of people and boring details about technical equipment. This book is aimed at anyone who listens to the radio or has had their curiosity aroused by the pirate stations.
Writing is selective and what is recorded becomes fact - whatever the reality. Memory fades, the written word doesn't. The official story of Irish broadcasting revolves around RTE. It records the organisation's successes and failures and presents them in isolation as the truth. As Orwell's Winston Smith found, "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Pirate radio and the influence it has had on Irish society have been ignored. Contrary to the official story, unlicensed radio has been a lot more than an irritation on the backside of State monopoly broadcasting.