Profile : you gotta read!
(hey these profiles are getting more like cvs - any program controllers out there - giz a job)
My pirate radio interests;
I started my long interest in pirate radio in around 1976 (pre-pizza days), as a young child aged around 9 years. Twiddling the tuning knob on one of those tabletop wireless sets, I discovered some interesting radio signals and wanted to learn more about them. Yes I must’ve been a strange child! Ha ha. Those early years between 1976 and 1979 I heard such stations as Radio Caroline from the North Sea, World Music Radio from Andorra and more locally, Radio Jackie North with Rick Dane and Radio 252 with Burt Williams. Now my early interest wasn’t just pirates, great though they were, but I was wanting to hear distant legal local radio stations as well, so I became a dxer by this early age, regularly trying to tune distant AM local radio stations. How sad from one so young!
What really got me hooked on pirate radio was the romanticism of it, in that it was illegal and the GPO could come at any minute, plus the deejay could play anything he wanted. This was better than any tv drama!
In amongst those early days Radio Jackie North at one point was supposedly coming from the Irish Sea on the MV Jackie (I think I believed Rick. How gullible! Hee hee ) and at other periods you’d hear Rick talking about broadcasting from fields. Now all this was amazing for someone used to the traditional fare of local legals, Radio City & Radio Merseyside, so no wonder I got hooked.
Radio 252 had very interesting presenters also. Bert Williams (little did I know he’d been doing pirate radio since 1969) and Paul Jay. Radio 252 interested me as they used lots of those amazing old offshore pirate radio jingles made by PAMS dubbed with Paul’s echoed voice overs for Radio 252 jingle use. I just had to have similar, so then the young radio nerd that I was, became a jingle collector also. I was often found with a tape recorder placed next to the radio speaker to tape those elusive radio jingles off any radio station I happened to be listening to. No inbuilt cassette recorder in those days! L!!!!
My radio world changed in late 1979 into 1980 when the original MAR started. Wow. A great pirate radio station on all over the weekend too. I was thrilled and was amazed to find Bert Williams there and better still on one of his first shows I vividly remember he did a free radio documentary. Radio heaven!! Anyway I used to write in to MAR and quickly found that my favourite presenters were Andy Davis and Dave Simpson, as they were very obliging and so friendly that nothing was too much for them and you could also tell that they loved doin’ what they’re doin’. I hasten to add I think I was a pest to these two poor fellas during this time, but I was hungry for more information and recordings on pirate radio so my letters and blank cassettes continued to be mailed in and I must say that these two guys were just brilliant. I was never disappointed plus of course there was the added bonus of getting your name mentioned on the radio!!!!
My interest in listening to pirate radio was high throughout most of the 1980’s, listening to such stations as J1000, Radio Elenore, SCR, Radio Rhonda, Radio Alpine, Radio Merseywaves, Central Radio, North Coast Radio, Radio Veronica, Radio Wombat etc. etc., all great fun, but unfortunately my interest waned a lot in the mid to late 1980’s and throughout the whole of the 1990’s due to other interests. Although I was not listening to pirate radio as often as I used to, I did get involved in the transmission side of things. Yes I became a pirate!!!! Innocence to criminality at the flick of a switch.
My first attempted transmitter was supposedly a 20 watt AM transmitter which I assembled in I think 1983 or thereabouts from a hand drawn Andy Davis circuit diagram. Now only being a kid and not an electronics genius, I failed. It was a Mickey Mouse effort and it just didn’t work properly. Andy Davis offered to look at it for me in his shop that he worked in on Prescot Road, Liverpool. Well, thanks Andy it did work for a short while using a vfo, but I soon gave up on it, due to too many technical problems with it and to make things worse I got a minor electrical shock, the bird brain that I am, whilst using full metal scissors to cut wire off the terminals on a large electrolytic capacitor, which decided to discharge itself on stupid little me. Anyway in the end I gave up on that transmitter. It was anyway using the aerial I used probably only going for a mile or two and it was basically just me messing about from my bedroom, using the name Radio Annabelle. I remember mostly using around 210 to 215 metres mw with it. Next I bought myself a readymade transmitter from Electron Electronics in the Midlands. It was a 17/20 watt rig and came with a crystal this time. In fact I had a decent set of AM crystals at that time! It worked really well too. Aerial though was still too low and should’ve been rubbish for medium wave, but I still got heard some miles away from Anfield, not sure if it reached Wirral. It was never a serious radio station, just me messing about under the name Terry Hawkins (very very sad name!!!) with test transmissions mostly and non stop music at various times of the day or night. Names used were Radio Annabelle (again), Voice Of Freedom on 186, Moving (Moving??? What a crap name!!), Radio 186 or was it 189?? and Radio Electra all using medium wave.
Around the same time I got involved with the lads at Central Radio and joined them for a very short while under that silly name, Terry Hawkins again L SAD. Unfortunately just a few weeks after joining they had a very heavy raid and lost everything. Poor Jeff Stone & Phil Davies were nabbed. So that was the end of that. They were off for a long period of time after that.
I continued with the non stop test transmissions from home using various station names, as previously mentioned. I only got serious again in 1987 through to 1991 when I altered the current medium wave transmitter to operate on shortwave instead. It worked really well and the radio station, again mostly tests, but eventually a more permanent name was chosen and that was Radio Electra, which was on quite regularly during this period of time. Reception reports received from all points of the British Isles and even from Europe including France, Netherlands and Norway. My name on Radio Electra was Gary Phillips! Yes, that’s where Gary Phillips was born, ha ha.
My interest waned again after this from around 1992 until 2005 when I was once again bitten by the bug. Worth bearing in mind that it wasn’t that I was totally not interested in pirate radio during this long period, just that I didn’t have much time and other things unfortunately were keeping me occupied in life, but like I say in late 2005 I came across my two favourite presenters again, Andy Davis via his web site and Dave Simpson via the Laser Hot Hits web site. They were still great fellas and I’m in contact with both of them still as of today and indeed we’re all now on the same radio station, MAR, in its new incarnation broadcasting over Easter 2007. Thanks to Steve Martin , Steve West and Bert Williams for giving me that chance.
Hope that fills you in on a now middle aged Gary Phillips