This adventure started for me back in 1994. Kiss 103 FM came on air, and from there my radio journey began. This started lifelong friendships with Ralph McGarry and Sean Power aka Simon Davis. Ralph McGarry had given me an introduction to Garv Rigby who was the Kiss Fm programme director at the time and now Director and co-founder of Christmas FM. Kiss was hot hits, CHR, it was fresh, it was a different kind of radio from the likes of Sunset 106.8, Club 106.4 and Vibe 107.2. These stations played dance and dance only. Kiss FM was based on the super pirates from the 80’s; the likes of Nova, Q102, Sunshine, Kiss & Energy103. Kiss Fm was all about the hot hits and gained a market share quickly. So quickly that Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation (ODTR) had taken note.
No station in the history of pirate radio in Ireland experienced as much Government action as did Kiss 103. The station’s mountain transmitter sites were raided four times in eight months. This is where the main transmission equipment was kept. It’s a high site looking out over the city, from the mountain site if you can see it, you can get your signal to it. While its studio site was raided on two occasions, resulting in losses of expensive broadcasting equipment. The last raid was the most damaging, they raided the studio site and took everything from the old radio Nova mixing desk to the transmission equipment. That was the final straw and it was decided that Kiss FM would close down on 11th of November 1994. To say I was gutted was an understatement. It was like a death; I’ve cried less at the loss of loved ones. I was truly hooked. This was leaving cert year for me, all I wanted to do was be on the radio.
Sean Power and myself had attended the same school and were working together on the school play looking after the lighting and sound. We spent that time planning some sort of return to the radio; saving money, sourcing equipment and making up a game plan.
Sean had headed off to the Canaries for Christmas, and while he was away, I secured our first transmitter from our former boss at Kiss FM, Kevin Brannigan, now the CEO at Radio Nova. Sean had come home from the Canaries to find a letter pushed through his letter box telling him “Call me I got it.”
Things suddenly began to get real.
The sourcing and purchase of equipment, construction of a studio, erecting the antenna system all of this while apparently studying for my leaving certificate. We finally successfully launched on the 6th of March 1994 after a few months of testing and frequency hopping. We decided to go the route of hot hits and chart music, CHR because everybody else in Dublin was playing dance music 24/7.
Everything went well for us for 8 years, our popularity soared and we became a house hold name on the FM band in Dublin. We helped raise a generation during the nineties and noughties until Tuesday 20th May 2003 Black Tuesday. Black Tuesday was the day the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) took control of the air waves in Dublin. Black Tuesday was also the day I had a job interview, see radio was a hobby and past time we still needed income to fund this little hobby and past time. Al Murray had just arrived to start his show, when he had noticed the on-air feed that he listened to go dead. Just as the interview had started my phone started ringing, constantly ringing, thankfully it was on silent but you could still hear the buzzing sound from the Nokia mobile phone. Al was trying to get me frantically along with everyone else in the know.
They had started to raid the mountain sites of all the major players in Dublin with the aid of the electricity companies and local law enforcement. Our site was one of the first hit that day. We hadn’t been given a heads up that the site was to be raided. If so, we would have taken measures to avoid any losses. Unfortunately, they sized our CTE 500-Watt transmitter and exciter and they cut the heliax feed line to our 4 bay PLS1 antenna system which beamed approximately 2000 watts of power across the city of Dublin. Al finally got through to me, it was safe to assume I did not get the job. He started to strip the link transmitter and Orban processing equipment from the transmission racks and left as quick as he could in case ComReg raided the studio site.
We went out on a high, we went out doing what we loved. It was decided not to return to the air as this would result in further action from the authorities. Freedom FM has remained in the hearts and minds of all that had worked with us over the 8 years that we were on air.
Moving forward to 2020 to be exact, lockdown.
In an effort to occupy ourselves it was decided to bring Freedom back to relive the nineties and noughties. As social distancing had to be observed, we decided to become an online station with 25 presenters currently working from home studios and broadcasting to the world on freedomfm.ie.
You can catch me every Wednesday and Thursday from 6 to 9 reliving those 90s and Noughties!
Talk to you then.