Earlier this year, former unlicensed station Radio Caroline was awarded its first AM broadcast licence in 50 years allowing the former ship-based station to broadcast to Suffolk and parts of north Essex. In 1967 the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act came into force to stop unlicensed stations such as Radio Caroline from broadcasting.
Fast forward to the 1980s and a new generation of pirate radio stations exploded on to Britain’s FM airwaves. Unlike their seafaring 60s forerunners, these pirate radio stations broadcast from estates and tower blocks in London, Birmingham and other cities to create a platform for black music in an era when it was largely ignored by the mainstream music industry.
For over a decade, these ‘rebel’ DJs used legal loopholes and technical know-how to forge a cultural movement bringing Britain’s first multicultural generation together under the banner of black music and club culture.
A fascinating documentary charting this cultural phenomenon is now available on the BBC iPlayer (until 29th October). ‘The Last Pirates: Britain’s Rebel DJs’ celebrates a different side of Thatcher’s Britain in a time of entrepreneurialism and social upheaval and tells the untold story of how that generation of pirate radio broadcasters changed the soundtrack of modern Britain forever.