Radio pulsars are rotating neutron stars that emit beams of radiowaves from regions above their magnetic poles. Popular theories of the emission mechanism require continuous electron-positron pair production, with the potential responsible for accelerating the particles being inversely related to the spin period. Pair production will stop when the potential drops below a threshold, so the models predict that radio emission will cease when the period exceeds a value that depends on the magnetic field strength and configuration. Here we show that the pulsar J2144-3933, previously thought to have a period of 2.84s, actually has a period of 8.51s, which is by far the longest of any known radio pulsar. Moreover, under the usual model assumptions, based on the neutron-star equations of state, this slowly rotating pulsar should not be emitting a radio beam. Therefore either the model assumptions are wrong, or current theories of radio emission must be revised.