Unlike Jack Sparrow and Captain Hook, the pirates of Europe’s airwaves were the real thing …
They were banished from the land because they wouldn’t play things by the rules but, unlike the swashbucklers of history, these were men and women who didn’t want to take from anybody, they just wanted to give.
And what they wanted to give was entertainment and an opportunity to listen to the best popular music around in their era.
But their ships metaphorically – and literally in some cases – sank with hardly a trace. Some to this day remain rusting hulks, stark reminders of what radio tried to be but never quite made it.
In a new book, Radio Adventures of the MV Communicator, Paul Rusling who actually worked on many of the pirate stations as both technician and broadcaster, tells the real story behind the rocky battle to stay on the airwaves.
And it’s an action-packed story populated by crooks, fraudsters, thugs and the Government lackeys, Paul makes no distinction between them. But he also reveals the backroom boys, the idealists, the rich and the poor who just wanted to be involved and, of course, those who took to their microphones every day on the high rolling seas.
The Communicator survived all the thugs and the bullying Government officials for more than two decades and became a major attraction at its moorings on the Thames Estuary – and in the 1980s it became home to Laser 558, one of the most listened-to off-shore stations with an estimated five million listeners.
Then in the 90s the Communicator broadcast under a fist-ful of different names in the Netherlands – the ship for once was properly licensed and making money hand-over-fist. The rebel was finally becoming a beacon of the establishment.
And then it all turned turtle and the Communicator became a community station off Scotland … that too wasn’t destined to last and the once proud ship ended up an abandoned rotting hull.
But that might not be the end of the story and Paul’s book is packed with hopes and fears, names and facts, anecdotes and dramas, it’s an excellent read for anybody who remembers the heady days of Pirate Radio, well written and charmingly witty in places.
Radio Adventures is available on Amazon or contact Paul at WorldofRadio.co.uk to get yourself a copy.