Battle of the airwaves

IT was a time of defying the government and running from the authorities - but most importantly broadcasting a pirate radio station that garnered a cult following.

IT was a time of defying the government and running from the authorities - but most importantly broadcasting a pirate radio station that garnered a cult following.

Youngsters determined to fight for the cause of free radio faced daily raids, persecution and numerous arrests in the bid to stay faithful to

the dream.

Thousands of listeners would furtively crowd around the radio to hear the only free and independent but illegal station. And now the lid has been lifted on the compelling tale

of Radio Jackie by a North Elmham man who was in the thick of the

action and at the start of the adventure.

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The radio station was the very first pirate broadcast to be land-based and took to the airwaves in 1969, covering South West London and North


It quickly drew the attention of people living in the area who would wait anxiously for the few hours it was initially on, while the band of determined souls responsible for setting it up were always on the alert for the Post Office, which was desperate to close them down.

Colin King, 60, author of, Radio Jackie - A Very English Struggle, said: “We were a group of spotty youngsters angry about what the government were trying to do.

“When the Wireless Telegraphy Act was passed in 1967 it was done by an overzealous state and we all felt outraged.

“There was all this amazing music available, which we all all been listening to and suddenly it was replaced with dreadful Radio 1.

“Only 30pc of the output was

allowed to be records, so we were left with Johnny Young playing at a


“I knew then I had to do something about it. Initially I joined the Free Radio Association, but it wasn't enough. Then we came up with the idea to start a land-based pirate radio station.

“The next few years were a rollercoaster of emotion - we all had some incredible highs and lows. Anyone of those could have knocked us down and it would have

been over. But there was always someone to say or do the right thing to keep us going.”

The group of people who helped found Radio Jackie spent years of evading the Post Office, which on many an occasions led to chases across

London rooftops, raids, searches, arrests - and in one instance imprisonment.

But still the hundreds of people who kept Radio Jackie going were determined not to give in and eventually in 2003 the station was granted a licence.

Mr King, from North Elmham, who is also chairman of the Mid Norfolk Sunday Cricket League, said: “It was important we did it. We wanted to stick it to the government. All we wanted was the chance to be free as opposed to having to be censored. It was

a case of standing up for our

and the rest of the country's


“I remember our lowest point

when Nick Catford was imprisoned

for 28 days. We couldn't understand it.

“Our principles were not to break any other law than the Telegraphy

Act. We never hurt anyone,

broke in anywhere or damaged anything.

“His father told us that evening, 'I fought in the war for my country and now it's your turn to fight. If you turn your back on this I will never speak to you again.'

“What happened in those years changed us all but it was worth it.”

Radio Jackie - A Very English Struggle is priced at £10 and

available at Jarrolds, Balfour News in Dereham, Holt Book Shop or at