Pirate Radio from Birmingham
Radio Jolly Roger
The first land-based pirate radio station that I ever heard was what I thought was called Radio Free Nold in 1970. It used to transmit on a Sunday afternoon with a weak signal to Birmingham on medium wave. In retrospect, I wonder whether this might have been called Radio Free Knowle.

Radio Jolly Roger hit the airwaves from a flat located at Vernon Road in Edgbaston in 1971. The station transmitted on frequencies from 1357 kHz to 1363 kHz, announced as 222 metres to exploit the slogan, "music for you on 222". Radio Jolly Roger, or RJR, transmitted all day Saturday initially and sometimes on Sunday. The sole diskjockey was Jacko Diamond - "your man Jacko" - with a staunch Birmingham accent. Jacko had obtained a little experience from Eddystone Radio where he had learned some radio constructional skills.

Often, after RJR's transmissions had closed on Saturday evening, a Radio Jolly Roger South would come on the air, and RJR (North) would converse with RJR South on medium wave. RJR South, from Northfield, aired a number of programmes in its own right.

During 1972, Radio Jolly Roger was raided after many weeks of transmitting by the GPO and "our man Jacko" was fined 75. The RJR transmitter, based upon an 807 value, and the Linear Concorde Modulator with 2EL34's was confiscated.

However, this setback did not keep Jacko off the air for long. Soon RJR with its theme tunes, "Exodus" and "Rinkydink" (a 45 rpm record played at 78 rpm) was back on the air from Vernon Road.

It was soon joined by Happiness is Radio Dolphin (from Birmingham 12 minutes circa 1971). from Halesowen with Chris Stevens. Later Radio Albatross (Northfield), Radio Midlands Mobile (Smethwick), Radio Javelin (Rubery), Radio Pegasus (Warley) and Radio Signal North (Northfield) arrived to join with Radio Jolly Roger and Radio Dolphin to form the Brimingham Free Radio Network.

Soon the GPO, known as the Gippo, increased its activity and the stations had to move from location to location to maintain hourly weekly broadcasts. I learned many years later that the Gippo were thrilled by the Sunday broadcast because the activity lined their pocket with Sunday overtime payments. Walter Frank Preston headed up the GPO team, and records were often played for Frank Preston - "this one's for you Frank".

A number of court cases were heard following raids, and fines started to mount. During one court case, eggs were fed into the diesel tank of a GPO Landrover, and someone's mum, a parking warden, issued the GPO with a parking ticket when the Landrover subsequenly broke down on a double yellow line.

Some years prior to the outbreak of illegal CB in the UK, a number of individuals took to 27 MHz. Unfortunatley, the third harmonic caused interferrence at a government radio station at Romsley, and again there were court cases.

The Birmingham Free Radio Network faded out around about 1973 and the stations were not heard again. From that point on pirate radio in Birmingham was mainly centred around black and Asian stations. The final act of the Birmingham Free Radio Network was to jam the local commercial station, BRMB, for a whole afternoon because it was believed that a transmitter from the BRMB transmitter site was being used to jam Radio Jolly Roger broadcasts - this was unproven but a directional finding expedition was deemed to demonstrate that this was the case.

A Radio Venus North could be heard on 194 metres medium wave from Shropshire. An SRBC from Banbury on VHF. Radio Sunshine later transmitted from a farm near to Ludlow, and subsequently obtained a licence. Radio Britannia transmitted from Nuneaton. And Three spires Radio broadcast from Coventry - later to become Radio Enoch. Some unidentified broadcasts were heard from a council estate in Coventry. Transmissions were made from a flat in Rowley Regis but I can't remember the name of the station.

If anyone has anything to add, please mail - stephen@which.net