Landbased London 1968-1977
Landbased London 1968-1977 (Originally published in Free Radio Focus 1978)
It all started with the closure of Radio Caroline in the spring of 1968. Some months later a Radio Free London situated in London, and operating on low power, could be heard test transmitting on the medium wave at about 255metres. This station was run by people previously well known in offshore radio. Shortly after this, other stations began to appear, such as Radio's Helen & Telstar. These would transmit at odd times on weekday evenings and use various wavelengths (255m & 197m being popular). As these stations expanded & improved the operators decided to form a network, "Helen Broadcasting Net," or H.B.N. as it became known, with stations such as Helen North, Helen South (later Helen International)Telstar and another new station which started early in 1969, Radio Jackie, (formed from smaller stations like Red Rose.) The HBN broadcast on Sundays on 197m, with each station having a hour segment. However, due to various inadequacies the Net' was short lived and the stations all went their separate ways, Jackie changed wavelength to 227m. The other stations closed down one by one. During 1970 numerous other stations started up including for the first time test transmissions on 88MHz VHF from Radio Invicta, an all soul music station. During a typical listening weekend Radio's Pandorra, Free South, Constellation or Stardust & perhaps Free Caroline could be heard along with Jackie & Free London.
By the beginning of 1971 a new station Radio Star on 227m was test broadcasting. Also plans for a new VHF station Radio Aquarius were going ahead (94.4 MHz Friday nights) . At this time Jackie was also considering an additional VHF service and tests were made. Eventually the organisers of Jackie & Aquarius got together to form a network called the London Transmitter of Independent Radio (LTIR) whose purpose was to lend out VHF transmitting gear to various stations interested in VHF broadcasting. During 1971 Radio Aquarius could be heard with light music on Friday nights from 10pm to 1am and Radio Jackie broadcast on Saturday nights with specialist programming from 8pm to 1am on 94.4MHz through the facilities of the LTIR.
Towards the end of 1971 Jackie & Aquarius were joined by a new station, Radio London Underground which specialised in progressive music and would broadcast on Sunday evenings, 10pm to 12 midnight. This station became very popular, its' popularity being attributed to their professional programmes. Also Radio Invicta were now broadcasting on 92.4MHz establishing a regular service on weekday evenings between 11.30pm &12.30am. Towards the end of 1971 & at the beginning of '72, the number of smaller stations operating in London increased with the formation of such stations as Jennifer, Thames (also Tower or Marina), Tracy, Samantha, Carol etc. However, operators like Constellation, Free South &Free London had since disappeared some months previously. Some of the larger better known stations were heard for the first time like, Radio Concord & Radio Odyssey both in North London & both very popular. In West London another station started, Radio Nelson, which suffered a spectacular ending in the way of a massive Post Office raid which was headline news at the time......
Here is a typical weeks listening schedule for Summer '72;
Radio Invicta 92.4MHz Mon-Fri.11.30pm-12.30am.
Radio Aquarius 94.4MHz Fri. nights. 10pm-1am.
LTIR Radio Jackie 94.4MHz. Sat. nights. 7pm-1am. (LTIR)
Radio London Underground 94.4MHz. Sunday nights.10pm-12pm. (LTIR)
Medium Wave. Saturdays;
Radio Star 227m 11am-4pm;
Radio Carol & Samantha sometimes after 2pm on 240m. approx'.
Radio Jackie 227m.10am-6pm
Radio Jennifer 260m.3pm-5pm
Radio Concord 230m.12am-4pm
Radio Odyssey 235m.11am-3pm
Radio Nelson 201m.9am- 1pm
Radio Carol & Radio Samantha sometimes after 2pm on 240m approx'.
Radio Tracy sometimes on 222m (Mornings).
Thames Radio (also Tower or Marina) 266m. 4pm-6pm.
On Short Wave at this time Skyport Radio, (so called because of it's proximity to London's Heathrow Airport) was transmitting to Europe on the 41mb changing to 48 metres in early 1973. At the end of 1972, Radio Gemini also started transmissions on short wave from around London. Back to Summer '72 and medium wave, as well as those listed above there were lots of small very sporadic stations on the air, e.g. SBN, (Southern Broadcasting Net'), Radio Valerie etc. Unfortunately after several months of good broadcasts Radio Nelson closed down but West London was soon to hear a new sound, Radio Anonymous on 223m every Sunday from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
However, most of the aforementioned stations did not last long into 1973, including one station which was doomed before it even started, a West London station called Radio Phoenix. Christmas '72 saw the close of Radio London Underground and Radio Odyssey who were now experiencing difficulties with their medium wave station & decided to join the LTIR, these programmes could be heard on Sunday evenings. Radio Star the regular Saturday broadcaster had already become interested in the LTIR and by the end of 1972 they also had programmes going out, this time on Thursday evenings, 10pm-12pm. Radio Invicta had by now switched their weekday service (evenings) to Sunday afternoons from 2pm onwards, this was because of a staff shortage. The people who previously ran Radio Anonymous formed another station, Radio City, but this was only a Bank Holiday broadcaster.
In the spring of 1973 some of the Radio Jackie & Radio Jennifer staff decided to leave to join a new station to London (previously heard in Essex & East London on 186m) called Radio Kaleidoscope, This station broadcast with higher power than most and had very professional programming on 266m from 12am-2pm at first but later from 10am-3pm. However, reception to stations already using that frequency was hampered, e.g. Thames, Tower & Marina, and not much more was heard from these stations again.
Other stations operating around this time, Radios Free Atlantis, Electra, Atlantis & yet another Free Caroline were experiencing staff problems and had since ceased to exist. Radio Invicta had again switched times, this time to Sunday evenings, and later extended this to cover Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday evenings as well. Now due to staff problems Radio Jackie & Jennifer had problems and the Jackie VHF service had to be temporarily suspended, and a new station, Radio Classic took their Saturday evening spot on the LTIR (also the medium wave service closed two hours earlier at 4pm.)
Here's a the summer schedule for a week in typical programme of 1973:-
Medium Wave. Saturdays;
Radio Star 11am-4-pm. 227m.
Radio Jackie 10am-4pm. 227m. ;
Radio Kaleidoscope 10am-3pm. 266m.;
Radio Jennifer 3pm-5pm. 260m. (Irregular due to low staffing.)
Sun-Tues, Thurs & Fri' nights 10pm-11pm Radio Invicta on 92.4MHz.
Radio Star. Thurs nights 9 or 10-12, 94.4MHz.;
Radio Aquarius. Friday nights 10-1am, 94.4MHz.;
R.Classic, Sat' nights 9-12, 94.4MHz. ;
R.Oddysey. Sun' nights 9-11 ,94.4MHz.
(All stations on 94.4MHz are LTIR stations.)
Later on Radio Odyssey left the LTIR never to be heard again, and Radio Classic moved to Sunday nights to make way for the return of Radio Jackie on Saturday nights from 9 till midnight. During the summer of 1973 Radio Star staff decided that they could no longer continue with their VHF service as well as mw, so this was terminated. Radio Kaleidoscope who had meanwhile become quite popular from their regular broadcasts were looking for room to expand, so they joined the LTIR with programming on Thursday evening from 10-12pm. taking Star's place. During this period Radio Jennifer received a series of nasty raids from the post office & had to stop broadcasting regularly (occasional bank holiday broadcasts could still be heard).
Meanwhile Radio Concord were heard from time to time on Sunday afternoons on 230m, Later, the LTIR decided it still had room to increase it's programming & they started advertising for a programme contractor to operate on Wednesday evenings, and rumours started circulating that Radio Invicta might join the network. However nothing came of this, or of Wednesday evening broadcasts from any station. In the Autumn of 1973 the LTIR operators announced that the network would shortly close, due to the advent of legal commercial radio in London, and in October the last LTIR programmes were heard from Kaleidoscope , Aquarius & Classic. Radio Jackie stated that they had their own VHF transmitting gear, and would continue, but nothing much ever came of this. Some weeks later Radio Star revealed that they had plans to close as well, and shortly before Christmas their medium wave service, indeed their station was heard for the last time....
So this left the medium wave services of Jackie & Kaleidoscope & Radio Invicta who were soon to change to Bank Holiday only programming, Concord & City had since ceased broadcasting to any great extent. But despite all this Christmas '73 brought extremely good broadcasts from Radio Jackie using high power for 48 hours continuously on Christmas & Boxing Days, and Radio Tranquility using high power for three nights during Christmas week, very good programmes like phone-ins etc, presented by ex-offshore djs and also Kaleidoscope staff. Numerous other stations, too numerous to mention were heard as well as Kaleidoscope International on Christmas day.
Spring '74 came with the creation of a new station to broadcast alongside Jackie & Kaleidoscope, formed from various other stations like Radio Carol, London Weekend Radio and Skyport (SW). This was Swinging Radio England (SRE) on 239m from 10am-2pm. This lasted some months, but then after a post office raid & staffing difficulties they had to close never to be heard again. Some weeks after SRE's closure, during the summer of '74, some old familiar names to North London listeners were heard again over the airwaves, this time going under the name of 'Radio Dynamite 235'. They were of course the old Concord staff, Dynamite broadcast on Sundays 10am-4pm and used quite high power (500w at onepoint.Ed'). Also at this time another station opened up, trying out for the first time a high power night time medium wave service called 'Wonderful Free Radio London' (WFRL) on 266m every Thursday & Sunday night from 11pm-1am, tests had been going on for some months. This station proved very popular especially in North London (WFRL's service area) and also well outside London due to extended coverage at night. Radio Dynamite were impressed by this form of broadcasting (although they had tried it before without success) & decided to extend their service into the night with Dynamite NTS (Night time service), commencing at midnight on Saturday through till 10am Sunday when Radio Dynamite would start up from a different location or sometimes the same. However, differing ideas among station staff caused a split in the station between Dynamite NTS & Radio Dynamite, with the result of NTS re-emerging as Radio Concord & Radio Dynamite eventually being forced to close down due to intense post office activity.
In Autumn '74 test transmissions began from a new station, London Music Radio (LMR) on 389m (these tests being in the evenings). LMR was run by people who previously operated City & Anonymous plus a few of the Jackie & Kaleidoscope staff & was closely linked with Radio Invicta, (now a Bank Holiday only operator).
Here's a typical programme guide for Summer '74,
WFRL. Thurs & Suns,11pm-1am.266m.;
R,Concord,Sat/Sun 10pm-10am, 225m.;
Sundays: R,Jackie.227m,10am-4pm (later 2pm,) ï»¿
R. Kaleidoscope.10am-3pm, 266m,
R. Dynamite, 10am-4pm,235m .
Others Linda Anne, Escort, Skyline, Atlantis, 227m. & Big Noise (270) & LMR (389.)
R. Invicta, Bank Hol's, 10am-6pm Or 8pm, 92.4MHz
Sat LMR tests
The Autumn of 1976 saw the close of London Music Radio's VHF service and Radio Jackie transferred their VHF programme to Friday evenings from 10pm -Midnight, but unfortunately this did not last very long and by late Autumn the Jackie VHF service closed announcing that it would return in the Spring of '77, nothing came of this though. The Medium Wave service meanwhile had changed broadcast times to 9am-3pm to allow for bad winter reception conditions after 3pm,but by Christmas it was extended to 9am-4pm. At the same time, LMR who were broadcasting alongside Jackie to South West London decided to change their broadcast area to South East London and by the end of 1976 had established a regular service on 222m from 10am-3pm on Sundays.
Over the Christmas period Jackie were operational with three days of almost continuous programming, they were raided once by the police but in the true spirit of Christmas were allowed to carry on! Radio Invicta and LMR also did extended transmissions over Christmas but LMR suffered a nasty raid by the Home Office, all the equipment was lost as it was left unattended, the LMR team thought it was stolen and pursued the raiders in their car before realising that it was the Home Office! Early in 1977 a new station was heard operating on 92.4MHz VHF on Sunday evenings from 7-8pm, this was Telstar South with an oldies type format, some of the operators included ex Free London and Sun staff. Over the Easter period transmissions were once again heard from Sun Radio (a regular Sat. evening operator during 75/76), along with Invicta and Telstar South on 92.4MHz VHF. A1so heard over Easter were Radios 235 (Ex Concord/Dynamite operators) and R.239 (Ex SRE operators).
Jackie meanwhile continued it's 9-4 Sunday transmissions into '77 with much supporting publicity from the national and local press, TV and radio, covering Jackie's eighth birthday in March. By this time LMR had also extended transmission hours by 1 hour to 10am-4pm. With the advent of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, special transmissions were organised for the Jubilee bank holiday, heard on that day was a "Jubilee Sounds" on 227m and simultaneously on 92.4MHz, this was the old Radio Tranquillity team, also noted was a "Radio Jubilee" from the south coast. About this time Radio Invicta announced that due to the start of a new specialist soul music programme on national radio they would suspend programming until they thought it necessary to return. (They have recently returned with a regular service on Sunday evenings due to the demise of the aforementioned soul programme!)
During the Summer of 1977 a Radio Sovereign was heard for a few weeks on Sundays on 266m, 1133kHz, the signal to London was weak though as the station operated from well outside the London area. By early Autumn another station, Radio Galaxy was occupying this channel, initially transmissions were irregular but recently they have been on every Sunday with an album format and they have been heard as far away as the Midlands. By this time East London Radio had well established themselves, starting transmissions to East London in the early summer providing a community radio station. Transmissions were initially on 201m, plans to use 235m were made and tests carried out but just before the planned opening on this channel a powerful station called Telstar One turned up with a heavy album format. After some feuding over this channel an agreement was reached and ELR now use 221m. This channel of 1358kHz was left empty after LMR closed down due to internal disputes in late summer 1977. Other stations on less regularly were Radio Elaine on 199m on Bank Holidays and Radio Celebration on 235m, 1277kHz and Back Street Radio a punk station on 226m from North London with a very good signal.
By Ed of Radio Celebration