Pirate Radio – Excerpt from forthcoming DBHQ Book.

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Just an exclusive quick excerpt from the forthcoming book from DBHQ due for release in 2016, working title “Drum and Bass Connections”. We would love to know what you think so please leave your comments below and enjoy.


Chapter 5 Pirate Radio

Since the very beginnings of Jungle and Drum & Bass music pirate radio has been extremely important to the scene for many reasons. The pirates are free from the constraints of commercial radio executives imposing pre-selected playlists that are played a certain number of times per day. Indeed, pirates can pretty much do, say or play anything they want within reason.

The pirate radio stations are widely known for playing the freshest, newest most innovative music and bringing through new talented MC’s. But more than just the music, pirate radio has always played an important part in keeping the warehouses and clubs full with party people through adverts and announcements informing ravers or the next big party whether it be legal or illegal.

Some early Jungle pirates were Weekend Rush, Defection, Pulse FM, Hart FM, Centreforce, Sunrise, Don FM, Eruption and of course Kool FM which was then also affectionately known as “The Information Centre”. Many of these stations came from the Nightingale Estate in Hackney, London as regional stations started set up around the UK such as Direction FM in Reading, Fresh in Leicester, Real FM in Nottingham, Kool FM Midlands, and Passion FM in Bristol where Roni Size, Krust and DJ Die played.

Running a pirate radio station could never be described as an easy career choice. Many listeners are blissfully unaware of the dangers that come with setting up and managing a station. Firstly, before a station can transmit, someone has to set various transmitting equipment usually from various tower blocks without safety equipment. Rain sleet or snow they will be up there to bring the people their music. Second, there is the power sources to locate for the equipment, the lift shafts and not forgetting the small fact that pirate radio remains illegal. This means avoiding the DTI (now known as Ofcom) as well as the Police, council and any nosey neighbour who happens to get suspicious. Perhaps  the most dangerous part of the pirate radio game is those most dishonourable rig thieves which once created the need for weapon wielding “rig protectors” to keep vigil.pirate radio

Of all stations, the one that stood out for most in all areas of London and eventually the world was Kool FM which was set up by Eastman and Smurf in 1991 and had the likes of DJ Ron, The Ragga Twins, DJ SL, Younghead and The legendary duo of Brockie & Det. At one point Kool FM actually shared a studio with Weekend Rush.

Important stations continued to flourished the late 90’s such as 1992 formed Rude FM which eventually split to form the Ruud Awakening in the late 90’s. Another important station that was the first to play Drum and bass 24/7 was Origin FM which remains to this day now known as Origin UK and broadcast its first ever show on 31st Dec 1999.

Authorities implied that pirate radio stations bosses had formed some kind of underground criminal network intent on corrupt operations which involved large amount of money changing hands and also stated that “no one would ever go to the extremes the pirates go to just for the love of music”. How wrong they were, some people will go to any lengths for the love of music. In the 90’s, housing authorities, the police and the DTI had been known to make use of helicopters to locate and remove transmitters from the tops of tower blocks.

The radio investigation service claimed that pirate radio interfered with emergency service frequencies although this has never been substantiated with evidence. The service was more likely set up to hunt for pirates due to commercial radio stations loosing advertising revenue that was going to the pirate station

When the scene really took off, a number of legal stations recruited former pirate DJ’s and MC’s to take the sounds national and eventually international. DJ’s such as Grooverider, Fabio has their show on BBC Radio 1, MC Navigator presented on the BBC Radio 1 Friday night show created by Brian Belle-Fortune “1 in the Jungle” which featured many guests such as Goldie, DJ Rap, Andy C, Mampi Swift, Brockie, MC GQ, MC Moose, Roni Size, Nicky Blackmarket with Stevie Hyper D and a Guy Called Gerald. As well as the BBC, DJ Hype continues to host his weekly show on Kiss FM to this day.

Later, DJ’s such as Friction, Crissy Criss, Bailey and Intabeats along with MC’s such as Harry Shotta, Eksman, Funsta appear on BBC Radio and 1Xtra which has a much more underground feel.

In this digital age of internet radio, DAB and the download the pirates still remain as underground as ever showcasing the beats and bass of the true innovators without constraints or boundaries to hold them back.

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