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We love the Sixties
Original pirate material
By Matt Seymour
In 1966 North Yorkshire joined the radio revolution with its own pirate station. Radio270 broadcast from a refurbished Dutch trawler moored a few miles off the Scarborough coast.
Want to know more?
If you want more information about Radio270 you can follow the links at the bottom of this page, or get hold of a copy of Radio 270 Life on the Oceaan waves by Bob Preedy. ISBN: 1-8743660-2-0
The year is 1966 and music is more important than ever before. Bands like The Beatles and The Beach Boys are pushing the boundaries of pop music and it's generally a pretty exciting time... Until you turn on the radio.
These days we have national music radio stations, even more digital stations, local radio from the BBC and commercial operators and then there's the hundreds (if not thousands) of stations you can hear over the internet.
And of course what music lover would be without their portable music player? Be it an MP3 player, minidisc or CD player, most of us have got one.
Back in the 60s what everyone had was a pocket transistor radio, but in the days before Radio 1 the choice was limited.
Only the BBC was allowed to broadcast to the masses, but Aunty had managed to get stuck some time in about 1949. You could get music on The Light Programme (what became Radio 2) but it wasn't from records. Musicians unions had a lot of power at the BBC and that meant almost all music was performed live by dance bands and orchestras. If you did hear a modern tune, it wasn't as performed by the original artist.
There were other alternatives to the BBC. The most popular was Radio Luxembourg but many of Luxy's shows were sponsored by major American record companies. So you wouldn't always hear what you wanted.
Into this radio void sailed the Pirates; commercial radio stations managing to circumvent the strict broadcasting rules by transmitting from boats or old unused offshore buildings.
Radio270 was based off the Scarborough coast onboard the Oceaan-7 (a refurbished Dutch ship) and was easily spotted thanks to its enormous antenna mast.
On the air from June 1966 until 14th August 1967 Radio270 had a relatively short, but very interesting life.
There were lots of technical difficulties. The original launch date for the station had to be put back because vital parts of the transmitter were missing. And the North Sea isn't the most hospitable place to moor a radio station. Even before 270 began broadcasting the transmission mast broke in a heavy storm and had to be cut free of the ship (it was discovered some 20 years later).
One one occasion the ship was struck by severe power fluctuations as the generators struggled to cope with jellyfish being sucked into the cooling intakes.
It wasn't unusual for weather conditions to stop staff on shore leave from reaching the ship to relieve colleagues and with conditions onboard the ship being cosy, to say the least, it's no surprise that staff turn over was relatively high.
But despite all these problems 270 became the station to listen to. If you wanted to hear great music on your pocket transistor, you tuned in to 1115 kilocycles in the medium wave band for Radio270.
last updated: 01/04/2008 at 18:05