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Sunderland’s pirate radio


July 23, 2021
From Tyneside Anarchist (UK)
409 views


Here is a small section of a chapter in ‘Anarchism in North East England 1882-1992‘ (available now)

One of our favorite bits …. its early 1983 and……….

The state in its efforts to dominate and influence every aspect of our daily lives would also make moves for more of a control of the airwaves. How dare we listen to what we wish? Spring 1983, and “New legislation on pirate radios is about to be introduced. Soon illegal transmission could mean a £1000 fine as well as prison sentences. During the last couple of weeks the cops have made raids on several radio stations, including ‘Our Radio’ (London) which has an anarchist hour.”[i]

Some from the Bunker collective in Sunderland would host Persons Unknown radio, and a participant gives a fascinating insight;

“The idea started in spring 1983, M from Community Arts in Hendon spoke to the Bunker committee about us having a station to promote the local music scene and the Bunker, M had helped us from the beginning with the Sunderland Musicians Collective and the Bunker, he had connections with some pirates, so arranged a trip to a pirate radio conference in Sheffield, you had to be invited to these things, as you just couldn’t turn up, what they were doing was highly illegal. We were given our introduction and attended workshops over the weekend, only then could we purchase the equipment we needed. We decided not to do live broadcast as this was too risky, so we pre-recorded the programme in the studio at Community Arts. We agreed on our broadcast frequency should be as close to Radio One as we could 89mg-htz, Radio One was 90mg-htz, this would block out their top 30 chart show anywhere where we would broadcast from. Our first test run was from Tunstall Hills in Sunderland just outside the town. The equipment was a car battery, transmitter, tape deck and aerials, the tape recorder was started and we left the scene, keeping a watch with binoculars from the next hill, the rest of us got in a car and drove with a radio on to see how far we were transmitting, fuck, it was miles. No one came to stop us. So from then on we started broadcasting from summer 1983, we never broadcast from the same place twice, the GPO, the Radio Licensing authorities and Police would be hunting us down, we broadcast the show from the top of tower blocks to friend’s attic flats. We had a P O box so people could contact us, send us tapes and requests, the show built up a following in Sunderland, we let other people who came to the Bunker to pre record their own shows and the Radio station went to 2 broadcasts a week, Thursday and our slot on a Sunday, this would be a 90 minute show, with one of us having to go back to the transmitter to turn the tape over. This went on for over a year until late summer 1984 when a group of younger punks decided to broadcast from the same position for maybe 3 or 4 weeks. Of course they were caught, with the confiscation of all our equipment and the lad’s record collection from where they broadcast from, we held a benefit gig at the Bunker to pay the fines, but we had succeeded in blocking out the charts for over a year, with our brand of music and political sedition.”[ii]


[i] Black Flag News Bulletin. Vol VII.  No 2b. March 1983.

[ii] A participant.

‘Anarchism in North East England 1882-1992’ (available now) at Active Distribution, PM Press, AK Press, & Amorphous Pieces – All links in other posts on this site.




Source: Tynesideanarchistarchive.wordpress.com
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