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Australia Lost a Radio Station, but This Pirate DJ Lost a Dream

Dan Morris was illegally broadcasting 24/7 Jamaican reggae to the people of Wollongong. Then they shut him down.

by Greta Levy
02 March 2016, 4:17am

Dan, 35 years old, full-time chef, former pirate radio broadcaster. Photos supplied.

It has been a few months since I wrote this thing on a Jamaican-themed pirate radio station operating out of Wollongong. The guy behind IRIE FM was Dan Morris, but I called him Paul to protect his identity. That doesn't matter now. Dan has been busted for broadcasting without a licence and is now awaiting a sentence that could amount to $26,000 in fines. But for Dan the worst part is saying goodby.

Dan admitted to me that IRIE was about the most important thing in his life. He told me he wasn't afraid of being caught, just of being silenced. I thought I should call to see how he's doing.

VICE: Hey Dan, let's start with the raid. What happened?
Dan Morris: It was such a violating experience. I was driving up the street when I saw all these people with vests walking along the side of my home. I thought maybe it was some sort of electrical company but as I got closer I saw "ACMA" [Australian Communications and Media Authority] written on them. I drove into my driveway and was handed the warrant. It was crazy. There were so many of them around my house and I just wanted to be really cooperative. I even offered to shut off my own transmitter. They were in my home from 9 AM until one in the afternoon. I just wanted them out.

How do you think you were caught?
That's what everyone keeps on asking me. I'm not too sure. I have done my own investigations and observations and I think they may have linked where I was to IRIE FM's Facebook page. I was reposting from my personal account to IRIE's so that's probably how.

The space where the transmitter once sat

Was all your broadcasting equipment confiscated?
Yeah, they look my transmitter but left the antenna and cable behind. I don't know what to do now or where I stand. Like does that mean I can continue broadcasting?

So what are you doing now?
My life has been dead silent for two days. When I drive I try to put listen to other stations but I can't handle it. I just end up turning it off. No one is funny or interesting on those mainstream stations and the music is terrible. I have started taking my laptop with all my IRIE mixes and the playlist that aired and I've been listening in the car.

Does it feel like there's a hole in your life?
Definitely. I can say that with my whole heart there's something missing in my life now. It's just weird that I felt so attached to it. I know that it was a silly little thing that initially no one listened to, but it was a beautiful cultural experience and now all my music goes nowhere. When IRIE was running I had things to do, and something to look forward to. It's quite depressing really.

Are you tempted to bring IRIE back?
Yeah, I'm leaning towards it. The raid was pretty horrible though, so I wouldn't want go through that again. Maybe I would do it from a different location to where I live. I feel like I have to do something to keep it going.

The aerial that used to transmit magic

Would you ever move IRIE online?
I thought about that, but I don't know what to do. I feel if I go online it'll take away from what IRIE was doing. The good thing about it was that it was only regional and anyone with a crappy old car radio would listen. In that sense it was very blue collar.

Do you feel like you've disappointed people?
Yeah I do. I've had some amazing feedback from a whole bunch of people who listened to IRIE. It was accessible 24/7 and that was the great thing about it. It was free to anyone at any time.

What are you going to do next?
I haven't decided yet. It hasn't all sunk in. All I can say is watch this space. Something will come up you can't stop me from doing what I love. I am too stubborn to do anything else.

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Tagged:
illegal
Pirate Radio
Australia/NZ
fine
charged
Broadcast
Vice Blog
licence
IRIE FM
Australian Communications and Media Authority
Dan Morris
ACMA