Tag Archives: Pirate Radio

Pirates playing Chuck

Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

If you’re a fan of rock’n’roll, you no doubt heard the sad news of Chuck Berry’s passing today after 90 years at full throttle.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Hansgen (K8RAT), who notes that a number of pirate stations have been playing Chuck Berry tributes tonight; these will, no doubt, continue into tomorrow night, as well.

Mike’s message prompted me to trigger a spectrum recording, as I’m currently on the road. I’ll pull out a portable tonight and listen live, but it’ll be nice to catch up with Chuck later as I play back my spectrum recordings. (This is why I love SDRs.)

Many thanks to the pirates who are paying tribute to the legend.

Rest in peace, Chuck. A toast to the grandfather of rock’n’roll.

The past, present and future of UK pirate radio

Radio Caroline circa 1960’s.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn who shares this excellent article from Dazed:

The influence of pirate radio has endured despite government crackdowns and the rise of legitimate alternatives – today, it continues to thrive, both legally and otherwise

Drive around some parts of London today and you’re still liable to hear mainstream radio broadcasts drowned out by fleeting bursts of unfamiliar music. Pirate radio stations have been illegally hijacking the FM dial since the 1990s, but while the pirate scene is far smaller than it was in its heyday, the movement is still thriving on a local scale, while a vibrant array of online-only stations are inspired by the energy and spirit of the pirates. To put it simply, pirate radio never left London.

The UK’s pirate radio story starts with Ronan O’Rahilly’s Radio Caroline back in the 1960s, famously avoiding the authorities by broadcasting from international waters, but it was really the 1990s that paved the way for pirate radio in this country. Its evolution loosely follows that of the underground rave scene, which mainstream radio wouldn’t touch in its early days. “It’s the closest thing to mass organised zombie-dom,” BBC Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell said of acid house. “I really don’t think it should go any further.” Needless to say, it wasn’t going anywhere, and between 1988 and 89, pirate radio stations rapidly started to appear to serve a youth hungry for new sounds that weren’t being catered to by mainstream radio. By 1989, there were over 60 pirate radio stations operating in London alone.

While the first pirates – from Sunrise to Centreforce to Fantasy – mostly played music from America and European countries like Belgium, it didn’t take long for the British youth to start doing their own thing. “The UK kids realised people were making music in their bedrooms and they thought ‘I can fucking do that!’” exclaims Uncle Dugs, one of the UK’s leading authorities on pirate radio. Having been involved in radio (both legal and otherwise) for over 20 years, Dugs’ new book Rave Diaries and Tower Block Tales documents life as a young raver turned award-winning DJ after years on the pirate scene. As he explains, by 1991, London’s underground music landscape had become “99% UK producers and DJs,” transforming from acid house to hardcore and then to jungle. As London’s underground grew, so did its pirate presence, with legendary stations like Weekend Rush, Kool FM, Pulse FM, Innocence, and Defection springing up by the end of 1991. “You could flick through the radio and at every .2 on the dial there was a pirate station,” Dugs laughs. “There wasn’t even space on the radio for a new one.”[…]

Click here to read the full article at Dazed.

Chris’ 2016 Pirate Radio Year in Review

Many thanks to Chris Smolinski who has, once again, crunched the numbers to give us a look at HF pirate radio activity in 2016.

[…]To gauge shortwave pirate radio activity in 2016, I analyzed the Shortwave Pirate loggings forum of the HF Underground (http://www.hfunderground.com). A computer script parsed the message thread titles, as well as the timestamps of the messages. This information was used to produce some statistics about the level of pirate radio activity. Of course, as Mark Twain has written: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Still, let’s see what we can learn.

There were 13,860 messages posted to 2,398 unique threads, compared to 13,944 messages posted to 2,183 unique threads in 2015. Activity levels are essentially flat, but still at historically high levels. Back in the 1990s, it was not uncommon for an entire month to go by with only a handful of pirate stations logged. If you want to know when the “golden age” of shortwave pirate radio was, I would say it is right now.[…]

Chris has posted his full analysis on RadioHobbyist.org.

As you can tell from Chris table at the top of this page, January is a very active month for HF pirates. If you’ve never chased pirate radio stations, check out our pirate radio primer. Pirate radio DXing is incredibly fun!

Reminder: Global HF Pirate weekend!

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andy Yoder, who shares the following:

I’m just writing with a reminder about the Global HF Pirate weekend is just starting. This is the revival of an idea from a few years ago: Stations broadcast on high frequencies in an effort to be heard across long distances and in different continents. I’ve heard from a few stations, received a schedule from one, and have heard from a few listeners in countries without many stations. So, I have hope that we’ll all have a good time by the shortwave radios over the next 48 hours or so.

November 5-6, 2016
General frequency ranges:

  • 15010-15100 kHz
  • 21455-21550 kHz

Basic schedule:

  1. European morning, 0800-1200 UTC from Europe to Asia/Japan/Oceania.
  2. European afternoon, 1200-1600 UTC from Europe to North American and vice versa.
  3. European night, 2200-2400 UTC from North America to Asia/Oceania.

Of course, these are general frequency ranges where pirates have broadcast during prior Global HF Pirate weekends. Some stations will surely operate on frequencies and times outside of these ranges. These will be updated on HF Underground and on the Hobby Broadcasting blog (http://hobbybroadcasting.blogspot.com/) as schedules are received from stations.

Chris’ summary of Halloween pirate radio activity

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I had hoped this Halloween weekend would bring out a lot of shortwave pirates and it surely did! At one point Monday evening, I noted no less than five pirate radio stations broadcasting simultaneously between 6910 – 7000 kHz. You can see the four SSB and one AM signal in the spectrum display above.

Chris Smolinski, once again, has posted a Summary of Halloween 2016 Shortwave Pirate Radio Activity in North America where he lists all of the pirates logged on the HF Underground for the full weekend. Check out the post on RadioHobbyist.org.

I was busy with family activities much of the weekend, but fortunately captured a lot of pirate spectrum to review and listen to later!