I've been listening to pirate radio stations since the spring of 1989. The first one I heard was Radio 48 on a Sunday morning - and I still have the qsl. Ever since that day I have been hooked on our tremendous hobby. I listen to SW most days, but MW captures my interest in a big way, especially the stations from the Netherlands.
It didn't take long before I took the hobby to another level, publishing my thoughts into Pirate Chat magazine, which I issued every month and later every two months. I was studying at the same time, but I kept the magazine going for some years and it was read right across the world. I had readers as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, South America, the USA and Canada. And many Dutch pirate operators subscribed, reading about all the stations I had heard, together with the latest news and features written by myself and pirates in the UK. This was before the time of email, so everything was typed by hand! The first edition was a little rough and ready, but I like to think it got better as time went by.
In 1994 I paid my first visit to the land of the pirates. I was 17 and travelled across the North Sea with my father and stayed in a little hotel in the west of the country. As many people might know, this area of the Netherlands is not famed for its high numbers of illicit broadcasters, so I travelled by train to the east and made my first pirate contact with Radio Delta.
During that first visit to the Netherlands I met various other pirates including Radio Utopia and Radio Barones and I am still good friends with them over 20 years later. For the following few years I returned to the country again and again, on my own and later with Bill Lewis from Live Wire Radio and with the Grolschman, who can still occasionally be heard on 48 metres.
Although I took some years away from the hobby at the start of the 2000s, while I was busy with studies, girlfriends and houses, I would sometimes have a quick check of the pirate bands with the old Racal receiver I had kept from one of my visits to the Netherlands. Even on a small piece of wire I could hear the odd station, and I would especially enjoy listening to Borderhunter and Barones. And it was on one of those occasions that I was having a rare tune around that my real passion for the pirates was reignited.
The year was 2011 and I came across the Baro one evening. I called him to let him know I was tuned in, and I was again hooked on the hobby.