Saturday, June 27, 2015

Big guns out in force

The weekend got off to a flyer on SW with some great conditions and some cracking signals. On Friday evening Borderhunter got the ball rolling on 6282 kHz, and when he closed down the Black Bandit - with one of his million pseudonyms- hit the airwaves on 6210 kHz.

And a little while ago on this Saturday evening Mustang was booming in on 6750 kHz, a frequency he has been using quite often just recently. There was great reception of other stations, including England's Radio Blackbeard, on 6305 last night, and Magic AM from Amsterdam on 6321.

These recordings give an idea of how the big guns were being received here in England:

Another one bites the dust - for now

The German authorities were active today when removing powerhouse FM Dutch pirate Kort Maar Krachtig (Short But Powerful) from the air. The station has been broadcasting on 94.50.

The removal operation was not necessarily straightforward as these images from the transmission site show:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Remembering Atlanta Radio

You might have read my recent post about Mark Stafford, who used to run the fine station Atlanta Radio up until 1990. Well I came across a tape last week with a documentary about the station from when it began in 1979 through until 1989. I had a nostalgic time listening to it, and converted it to mp3 format at the same time so I could share it with you. 

I hope it brings back some memories for you as it did for me. Don't forget you can hit the download button on the player below and save it to your computer, phone or iPad.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The longest day

So we've reached the longest day of the year. This morning the sun rose at 0445 and did not set until around 2135 this evening. It was also Father's Day here in England, so I've been busy being spoilt for most of the day!

I've just popped into the radio room for a few minutes though, and I'm happy to say there is a fairly good signal coming through on 1647. Of course, it's a Sunday night, so it has to be Witte Tornado and the Lady. It's especially good to hear them on air today as I'll be visiting them in a couple of weeks when I have a small holiday in the Netherlands. I'm going across the North Sea for the Summer Meeting and staying on for a few extra days to visit some more pirates. It will be great to catch up with some old friends and also make some new ones.

Now the days gradually begin to get shorter, propagation conditions for receiving the Dutch pirates on MW over here should begin to improve. I haven't been keeping a record of the stations I've heard recently as it hasn't really been worth it as reception has been so hit and miss. Last Sunday was interesting though because, despite conditions being poor, I was able to hear Soerabaya on 1622 kHz with a clear ID even though he was using less than 100 watts. That's pretty impressive given the propagation.

Nice to hear Marrianne during the week on 1635, and Wadloper was doing well one evening. I'm looking forward to catching up with him very soon, and watching him down bottle after bottle of beer as though it is water!

Looking back at my logs from last year, I reckon reception should improve a lot during the next few weeks, so hopefully I'll soon be telling you what I've been listening to rather than what I haven't been able to hear!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Still going strong

On Sunday night I was driving through North London and when I got caught in some traffic I thought it might be a good time to have a quick scan of the FM band for pirate activity. These days with internet radio and so many way to communicate, together with big fines when caught illegally transmitting on FM, you might expect the number of pirate stations to be right down. But I was happy to be proved wrong.

In just five minutes I counted 31 stations operating between 87.50 and 108 MHz, and not all playing the usual types of music. On 102.50 I came across a station called Galaxy playing plenty of old soul tunes, including Ben E King's version's of Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree, a track I can safely say I have never before heard on an FM pirate! 

An FM dipole high above the city, typical of the type used by FM pirates

One of the strongest stations I heard was Crystal on 104.30, which was audible for a good few miles as I travelled away from London. The RDS most of these stations uses is very handy for ID purposes as hardly any of them seem to identify themselves very often.

I even heard one station playing some retro dance tunes from the 90s, which made a nice change from the reggae, drum n bass, house etc that seems so popular.

It's good to see the scene in the capital still flourishing, and long may it continue. 

You can have a look here at a website with some handy listings. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Blast from the past

It was back in 1989 when I first found AM pirates. I had been given a shortwave radio for Christmas and four months later, in April, I came across Radio 48 with a very professional sound. Soon I was hooked on the hobby and enjoyed spending as much time as possible listening to these illicit broadcasters, many of whom would pop up on a Sunday morning. 

Only a year later though, some of these pirates were silenced by the 1990 Broadcasting Act. One of the stations to bite the dust was Atlanta Radio, perhaps the most slick-sounding of the lot at that time, and a station I used to really enjoy listening to. The man behind the operation was Mark Stafford, and I noticed some years ago that his voice can still be heard once a week on Radio Caroline. I kept meaning to tune in to hear him but always forgot. However, I was at the computer last Tuesday and noticed his show was airing on Caroline Flashback, which has recently been launched.

I tuned in and in an instant I was taken back in time by over 25 years. The voice was instantly recognisable and just as I had remembered. For several hours I stayed tune to Stafford's World, enjoying the music, the talking and thinking back to the days when pirates wondered around the countryside on a Sunday morning with car batteries and tape players.

If you get a moment, especially while conditions on AM are not particularly favourable, do tune in to Mark's show on either Radio Caroline or Caroline Flashback, or on any of the other stations he can be heard on. Take a look at his website for more details.