Many people who have recently started listening to our unique nostalgia station will be surprised to learn the truth about the origins of Angel Radio ........... but here goes -
Part 1 - The Pirate Days
Angel Radio began broadcasting in August 1993 from a small flat in the Hampshire village of Clanfield. In those days the Angel team consisted of just Tony and his wife Lorna. The original idea was to start a radio station which was very different from all the
other stations on the dial. Angel FM, as it was then known, was to be a community station playing music unheard elsewhere.
They bought a transmitter which had previously been used by a local bus company to keep in touch with their drivers. This was converted by Tony to transmit on 105.2 MHz,
a clear channel on the radio dial in those days before 'Wave105' came on the scene.
No effort was made to seek a broadcast licence. They just switched on and began broadcasting 3 hours of programmes each Sunday afternoon.
One of the first broadcasts wasn't actually transmitted from the flat.
The 3 hours of programmes were recorded at the flat and put onto cassette
tape.Then the tape recorder, transmitter and antenna were loaded into a
3-wheeled Reliant Robin and the
car was driven to the B&Q store in
Havant. In the B&Q car park the
tape player was connected to the
transmitter, which in turn was
connected to the antenna.
Unfortunately the antenna was
12 feet high and looked ludicrous
bolted to the roof of an old 3 wheel
car. We attracted so much attention
from staff and customers of B & Q
that we decided never to do a
broadcast from a three-wheeler in a car park ever again.
A few weeks into the broadcasts Tony received a letter from a listener offering to present programmes. This listener was Martin Kirby. Martin had been running his own pirate radio station, which had recently closed down, and was looking for another station as an outlet for his talents. Tony wrote back and said he would be pleased to give him a programme slot. With Martin's programme filling extra time on Angel FM the broadcasts began to stretch to 5 hours each Sunday.
Although the transmitter being used to broadcast the signal locally on FM was only low power (10 watts) and the transmitter site was surrounded by hills, the Angel Radio signal was picked up clearly as far away as Fareham.
Just before Christmas 1993 Martin brought in the old transmitter he originally used for his station and suggested we connect it up and do a special Christmas Day broadcast on Short Wave. So a 'longwire' aerial was put up by Tony, the transmitter was connected, and at 10am on Christmas morning Tony, Lorna and Martin did their first short wave broadcast to Europe, on a frequency of 6200KHz, using the name Angel International. Their success was almost instantaneous with telephone calls coming in from the Midlands, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy. A week later their post-bag showed that the signal had travelled much further than expected, with letters also coming from Spain, Russia, Austria and Sweden.
THE ORIGINAL ANGEL RADIO TEAM - LORNA & TONY (behind) + OUR
FIRST NEW RECRUIT, MARTIN KIRBY, IN THE ORIGINAL STUDIO
This whole new short wave audience boosted the team's confidence and they began regular Saturday and Sunday broadcasts on short wave from 10am to 5pm. These broadcasts, you will recall, were all being carried out without a broadcast licence.
The programmes, which proved very popular with the continental audience, were not proving quite so popular with the Radio Communications Agency, who were at this very moment driving around in their detector vans tracing the pirate radio signals back to that small flat in Clanfield.
..and so, one Sunday in 1994 at about midday we were visited by 3 officers from the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) Radiocommunications Unit and 5 police officers. The raiding officers explained to us that the shop next door to our flat had problems on his telephone line and had called an engineer who had decided it was interference of an illicit nature and reported it to the DTI.
The officers disconnected all of the transmission and studio equipment and confiscated it along with our entire record collection.During the following couple of weeks we received
so many good wishes from our many listeners that we decided to get back on air as soon as possible. Just four weeks later we were back with a new more powerful (100 watt) FM
As the shortwave transmitter had been the cause of the interference that led to our raid
we decided to only run an FM transmitter locally in future. So that we could still be heard
by our many listeners overseas we recorded special programmes and had them relayed
by several shortwave pirates based around the UK, including Free Radio London,
a station in Kent, one on Guernsey and a station in Luton. This meant that on some Sundays listeners could tune to any one of up to 5 Angel Radio broadcasts, each one different from the rest.
We also decided to broadcast for more hours each week.
Our FM broadcasts took to the air on Friday evenings and went through to Monday morning. We included programmes from many ex-pirate deejays from Jamm FM in Portsmouth.
In 1995 we were invited onto a Portsmouth RSL station called Radio Victory to discuss pirate radio. The following weekend we were raided once again by officers from the DTI Radiocommunications Unit and police.
It was interesting to note that the local beat-bobby actually stood up for us against the
DTI and argued that we were providing a community service. Never-the-less our equipment was confiscated again.
During the programme about pirate radio on Radio Victory we were joined by Tracy
Mullins from the Radio Authority, who told us about RSLs (Restricted Service Licenses) and offered assistance in applying for one so that we could broadcast legally, albeit only for 28 days.
TO BE CONTINUED