This is a second edition of a pamphlet which we brought out first in 1992. The first edition was concise and contained all the relevant information needed to get you interested in starting your own free radio station. The first edition was not an original idea. A magazine distributed through the anarchist press with the same name "Radio is my bomb" has been very popular with those interested in setting up radio stations.
Our first edition did fairly well . Many thanks goes to those at "Catharsis" zine for standing in the photo-copying shop for hours on end to bring out the first edition.
Some critics of the last edition said it was too technical and didn't explain itself very well. ?? This was true for those without a good knowledge of basic electric's. For this edition I have tried to broaden out the issues involved and also give insight into each subject and the technical detail This book will also look at new areas such as the history of free radio and the history of politics in radio specially focusing on propaganda during the cold war and world wars. The technical area won't have many new features. It covers basics such as equipment; studios; transmitters; aerials and relevant accessories. It will have the usual hints and tips picked up by stations in the past learning from our mistakes so you have the privilege of not doing the same.
This book has been written with no intention of profit or financial gain. Although there is no copyright it would be hoped that any one reprinting this publication should not intend to profit from it. It is also hoped that stations using the information herein do so with the intention of setting up a free radio station. Those who see radio as a means to sell commercial products (which most of us can't afford or don't need) are not doing free radio justice. Now there's not much we can do to enforce this but we do hope your commercial station and all its tacky DJs gets raided on its first day on air. Also a severe WARNING going out to any fascist groups interested in setting up a radio station . Its not hard to track down a signal and don't be surprised if a few free radio activists come around, and sort you out. Also covered in this book are details on how to track down unwanted stations; how to effectively jam these stations and how to listen to the police in times of raids.
This book will hopefully give the relevant information to those interested in setting up a free radio station and the chance to put radio back in to the hands of the people.
So read on and enjoy this book. Learn from it and put the ideas and your own ideas into practice. If it does not interest you, pass it on to someone who might use it. Information is power
RADIO IS OUR BOMB
At the time of starting this book radio is one hundred years old to the day 9-6-1894 to 9-6-1994 . At a time of industrial change with massive moves forward in agriculture and science, radio experimentation began. Most of the work was attributed to an Irish-Italian scientist called Gugliemo Marconi. His mother was Irish and his father was Italian. Many of his early experiments were very basic but they were revolutionary in the world of communications. The early experiments consisted of large plate-like capacitors, with a voltage being created on one plate and the electricity sparking over onto a plate of the same size about one centimetre away. This was obviously not a great distance and had been noticed by other spark created on the first two plates could be received on this plate with very poor signal.
This would be similar to the effect that a hair drier has on a television when it is turned on in close proximity. Before radio the only way to send messages over long distances at the time was by wire using languages similar to Morse code. This wasn't too much trouble for communications between cities over land, but it did become a problem over sea. The need for radio became greater.
In the next ten years many advances had taken place, by 1901 Marconi picked up a Morse signal sent from Canada to Cornwall, thus proving long distance radio communications to be practical. At this stage things changed and this is what history books don't tell you. Radio up until then had been struggling as a viable scientific experiment. It would be similar, to the amount of funding available to science now, such as teletransportation because nobody believes in it. But as soon as Marconi proved it was viable, the military and governments showed amazing interest in radio, and the power it would give them in wars communicating with there own troops and brainwashing the working class with patriotism.
Radio didn't have a chance, Instantly the ruling class had control over its use and even up until the late seventies members of the public had to have a licence to own their own radio receiver. During war times amateur radio operators had to hand in any equipment that could be of use to spies , some were even fined or sent to prison for not complying with this.
Post world war one, a boom time industry just couldn't cope with the demand, consumer luxury goods was what people wanted and radio receivers went into mass production, they became cheaper and more accessible throughout the thirties and forties and the wireless became a standard piece of furniture for every household.
This was a major plus to any society whether capitalist or communist, they had control of the most common means of entertainment and the audience had to buy the receivers from their factories and the pay a licence fee to use it. They had no alternative to state radio, their news, politics and documentaries were censored by the state and most of the time the music and entertainment was censored too. The state also had a medium that could promote its values and morals, to an audience that didn't have to be literate all that was needed was to listen and believe, because there was no alternative.
The only alternative to state radio was services from other state radio stations . This wasn't a problem if the neighbouring state had political agenda which was very similar to the one in which you were living . But this did become a problem if a foreign station had an opposing view or political agenda . The politics and ideologies of the Soviet Union was seen as a threat by western powers, and western politics and ideologies was seen as a threat by the Soviet Union . So both sides spent many years trying to jam out each others services, the British and Americans called the Soviets jammer the "Russian Woodpecker" because of the sound it made , it was similar to listening to a strong Morse code signal interfering with the broadcast you wanted to listen to.
I don't know if there is any statistics available to prove if listening to radio Moscow could make an impact on a persons political views. But I spent many of my childhood years sifting up and down the short-wave bands, occasionally listening to radio Moscow and radio Sofia and yes I turned out to be a Socialist, but many of my comrades never even heard of radio Moscow so maybe there's no link at all.
This jamming also occurred during world war two , Nazi Germany and the allies both produced propaganda for audiences at home and abroad. They in turn jammed each others broadcasts in a propaganda war. One famous but not so popular Irishman William Joyce made many broadcasts for Nazi Germany on Nazi controlled radio Luxembourg 208m MW. To my knowledge he was shot for treason or something like that, but as I explained earlier in the introduction this is what happens to fascists when they go on radio.
In 1964 things hadn't change very much in radio. The sixties was a time of teenage revolution . But this life style was not represented very well on national radio like the BBC . There was a bit of tokenism to the music of the time , and one or two Beatles songs a day seemed to be enough to keep everyone happy . Radio Luxembourg had been liberated from the nazi's after the war, and it had programmes which were more orientated to the youth .
This was great and had a broadcast area of most of Western Europe . The record companies EMI , DECCA and PYE had a monopoly on all the music played on the station, and this annoyed Irishman Ronan O' Rathaly when he approached them with a recording of a band he was managing at the time . They wouldn't give him any airplay so he decided to bring the recording to the BBC .The BBC said that British radio wasn't ready for this type of band, because they were black. Annoyed at this pure racism Ronan said that he was going to set up his own radio station . Everyone at the BBC laughed at this stupid Irishman who thought he could set up his own radio station .
Ronan with the help of some friends in America, bought an old ship the MV Mi Amigo and it sailed into Greenore harbour in Co. Louth, to be fitted out with transmitters, studios and aerial mast . Just before Easter 1964 it sailed out into the Irish sea, and on Easter Sunday morning radio Caroline was born. Broadcasting legally from International waters radio Caroline could not be closed down. The station got its name because Caroline was the most popular British girls name at the time .
The stations popularity grew very fast reaching a peak audience of twenty six million listeners in Britain which was close to half the population. And with having no governing laws the station could advertise commercial products and make a lot of money. This was possible because there was no legal station allowed to advertise by law. The government lashed back with a law, the maritime radio bill $ this prohibited any British citizen to work for or supply food, fuel and programming to an offshore radio station .
This did hamper the station a bit because they had to go to Holland to get fuel and food. The station got regular visits from free radio enthusiasts who tripped out in small boats to get a tour of the ships. The DJs on the station called these guys Anoraks because of the clothes they wore and the term Anorak is still used today to describe a free radio enthusiast. With the success of radio Caroline many other stations arrived on air operating from ships and disused forts and oil rigs in International waters. Radio London and Scotland and others did cut into Carolines audience but this was a good thing more stations, more choice meant more freedom. Even Screaming Lord Such of the Monster raving loony party had his own station on a disused fort in the Thames estuary .
Most of these stations fizzled out when legal independent stations became popular in the early seventies. But Radio Caroline survived through the good and bad times and is still broadcasting today on short-wave from Ireland and is supported by money raised from sales of T-shirts, books and tapes, its still an interesting listen, you can find it most weekends at around 6.2 MHz short-wave .
Britain still has a free radio movement most cities are served by one or more stations which broadcast at sporadic times from locations like tower blocks, evading the DTI who are very determined to rid the airwaves of these pirate stations .
Ireland has a very strong history of free radio. The first station known to broadcast illegally was in 1916 belive it or not . The station was set up by James Connolly and the Irish Citzen Army during the easter rising , when Ireland declared independance from the British empire . It wasn't the same as radio as we know it today. But with the resorses available at the time it was very effective, the British had laid seige on Dublin The capital city which the rebels had taken over. So all the news that could reach the outside world was controled by the ocupying British forces, leaving the rebels open to total massacare and the world wouldn't have learned of any thing untill it was all over. On easter monday when the rising took place , one of the first objectives was to take control of the school of wireless telegraphy at the corner of O'Connell street and lower Abbey street , where there was a ships transmitter that had been put out of action at the begining of the war . the transmitter was got into working order and an aerial was erected on the roof , but this had to be done under sniper fire from the british, and the operation took some time .
On tuesday the station began transmitting communiques over the names of Connolly ,Pearse and plunkett , with news that the Irish Republic had been proclaimed in Dublin and that its forces had captured the center of the city . The station went on sending out its bulitins in morse code and the message got to America . The Hearst's New York American had the headline REVOLUTION IN IRELAND , SAYS CHIPER CABLE , and the sun had REVOLT IN IRELAND .This was a considerable time before the official news came through from London .
On Wednesday transmissions became impossible and the transmitter was caried across the road in an upturned table under heavy fire from British troops , to the G.P.O where it must of perished in the fire when the G.P.O burnt down when the rising was crushed. The main leaders of the rising including James Connolly were executed by the British , except for Devalera because he was an American citizen , and he went on to form the Irish free state some years later . Due to the fact that James Connolly had been executed, many of his ideas were lost and the citezens army were dispanded so the future of Irish politics became more republican than socialist . And because of this Ireland through the next 50 years became a state dominated by the catholic church , so we got rid of the british rule and replaced it with Rome.
Throughout the fourties and fifthies Tony Boylan operated many small medium wave stations from his parents home and then his own home , at the start of the seventies he ran a radio campaign against Irelands entry into the European community .
In 1964 Radio Baile Atha Clitha (Gaelic for radio Dublin). This station came on air in 1964 on very low power playing a song seven drunken nights by the Dubliners , this song had been banned by the state radio service Radio Eireann and substituted with an edited version the five drunken nights , because of the language contained in the last two verses. This station didn't last long because the transmitter burnt out or something like that . But a radio station called Radio Dublin did come on air shortly after set up by a man called Ken Sheen . This fact is sometimes distorted by the stations new manager Eamonn Cooke (the captain Cooke)who would wish people to believe he set it up himself . The Captain Cooke did take over the station sometime in the early seventies and gave it the boost it needed . Being a television repair man he was able to build more Powerful medium wave transmitters .
Broadcasting on 253 MW the station hit the big time around 1978 , moving from weekend services to all week and twenty four hours a day , which wasn't even available on the state radio service RTE ( Radio Telefis Eireann ) . With higher power and good reception around the city , the station interested advertisers to take out ads on the station . This was in direct competion with RTE so the DOC ( Dept of Communications ) were sent in many a time . These raids were often violent smashing up equipment with sledge hammers leaving very little evidence for future court cases. Nobody was ever imprisoned for this although There was a fine of a few pounds from an outdated law , the 1926 wireless telegraphy act.
Radio Dublin was joined by other stations Big D , ARD, Radio City and some more smaller and sporadic stations . The rivalry was often not so friendly , and turned into feuds at times , fighting over stations who poached each others advertisers . One time one station accused another of petrol bombing a station members house , as far as I know this was never proved but somebody must have thrown the petrol bomb .
Raids continued throughout the late seventies , accumulating to a massive demonstration by thousands of listeners of all the stations . Politicians saw this as a great political football , kicking it around at election time promising voters that their favourite pirate station would be legalised . But this was the usual party political bullshit , nothing was done about legalisation until 1988 ten years later.
1981 saw the arrival of the "super pirates " these were Sunshine radio 101 and radio Nova 88 FM . These were run by ex radio Caroline DJs Robbie Dale and Chris Carey , using kilowatt fm stereo transmitters and studios that made the smaller stations set ups look like" Noah's ark " to quote Derek Jones station manager from Radio Valerie a short wave pirate .
These super pirates also brought the most awful thing to Irish radio the mid Atlantic smooth DJ accent , this spread through radio like the plague . And to this day DJs on bedroom stations around Ireland , DJs are still trying to imitate them , somebody should have a quite word with these assholes and convince them that there is nothing wrong with their own native accents . The super pirates were very professional and did great job winning over multinational advertisers from the state run services . leaving the smaller ads to the old style pirates .
One thing the pirates did achieve was , they forced the state run radio authority RTE to open a second service orintated towards the youth , this service came on air in 1979 and became a successful rival to the pirates . There was a few small raids in the early eighties on the super pirates , but the authorities lost the cases in court , due to loop holes in the law , which didn't define exactly what a transmitter was .
This law which long out dated was in need of an up date and it was on the cards for along time . 1988 saw the introduction of the new broadcasting bill , it was passed through government with no opposition . It clearly set out the laws on broadcasting and introduced heavier fines of £10,000 and or three years in prison as a maximum . This scared the shit out of the super pirates and they closed down fairly quickly . Most of them believed they would obtain licences when they were issued.
This didn't happen at all the government issued licences to groups of people who had nothing to do with radio in the past . This was a licence to print money through ads sales and many of the share holders were friends of the government. These laws didn't silence free radio it just got rid of the profiteers who were giving free radio a bad name .
Radio Dublin stayed on air throughout the change over , and they got raided to make an example of them . But they challenged the constitutionality of the charges and the case is still on five years later . Other new stations emerged after 1988 these were a new breed of kids , nearly all of them under the age twenty five. These stations were totally different to the commercial stations who closed down because they couldn't make money out of radio any more , these new stations were operating from their bedrooms and disused garden sheds in their parents house , out of ten stations only one was renting its own studio space .
The new breed of pirates were everything radio wasn't in the past few years , with no rent to pay for studios the stations didn't have to advertise and not only did the DJs work for no pay , but in every station they paid the station a collective subscription of £2 IR per member . This money went towards updating equipment and paying for electricity bills .
The new stations were generally friendly to each other they would occasionally ring each other up asking for reception reports on the signal and asking for loans of equipment when they accidentally blew transistors while trying to tune up more power in their transmitters . The stations met a few times in Radioactive 101s premises ( because it was in the city center ) to discuss things like what frequencys could be used and mainly to pass on info about other pirates who were suspected of stealing transmitter equipment and speculating when and where the police would hit next Most of all these were a bunch of guys and two girls who shared the same hobbies and interests and little much else after that , a lot of time was spent slagging off each others musical interests which was good, because that meant that Dublin was getting a diverse musical service .
This was a good bond of unity and it still exists, which will be good strength for solidarity in a raid campaign by government. Radio Dublin who were mentioned earlier and another large station DLR 106 fm once proposed that a united front should be formed, and that a combined station would work on its own, being relayed by the fifteen or more transmitter sites being used by the pirates. This was seen as a good stategy against the government as it would be impossible to close down every transmitter in one swoop. But when this proposal was taken back to the stations it was overwhelmingly rejected by all the stations as they would loose their identity in the big station. Radio Dublin did join forces with DLR for two weeks but this failed as the love songs and rock music didn't mix.
The final two chapters of this book are available
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