Pirate radio: tripping down memory lane

During the 1980s, I recorded many American pirate radio stations on cassette tape and actively traded tapes with other DXers.  A slow and long process of transferring these cassettes to MP3 was undertaken a few years ago with many more tapes left to convert.  Below is the start of a list of stations that I have recorded and archived, with more to follow as time permits to process them.  The quality varies from decent to down right horrible (depending on band conditions at the time, recording media, etc.), but nonetheless they are presented here for historical purposes. All recordings were made from a circa 1986 GE “World Monitor” shortwave receiver and a simple longwire antenna.

KBFA – 7400 Khz – November 27th, 1987 – 1618 UTC
Calling themselves the “Broadcasters of Free America”, this pirate usually operated on the odd frequency of 8000 Khz and solicited reception reports to the Pirates Den column in Popular Communications magazine. This drove the column editor nuts and frustrated me since I could never get a QSL from these guys. KBFA played a good mix of 80s pop music and the station ops went by the name of “The Archer” & “Corona”.  As noted here, KBFA also operated near 7400 Khz and used the slogans “AM 74” & “AM 8000” depending on the frequency used during a broadcast.  KBFA claimed they were broadcasting at 200 watts (TROMP-MI)

Radio Clandestine – 3445 Khz – September 26th, 1987 – 0423 UTC
Station op “RF Burns” operating here at the top of the 90 meter band with his classic anti hum-drum programming style.  I’m still waiting for my reception report to be verified that I sent in over 20 years ago.  Hey Clandestine – how about it? 🙂 (TROMP-MI)

Radio Clandestine – time/date/frequency unknown – should have kept better records
This short clip contains Radio Clandestine signing off, possibly continued from the broadcast noted above (TROMP-MI)

WDOG – 7415 Khz – October 10th, 1987 – 0014 UTC
Perhaps the only broadcast (and logging) of this shortwave pirate calling itself “WDOG” testing and playing a string of songs by Gary Numa. (TROMP-MI)

The Voice of Laryngitis – 7415 Khz – October 31st, 1987 – 2231 UTC
Classic Huxley style programming at its best! (TROMP-MI)

Secret Mountain Laboratory – unknown date/time/frequency – circa 1987
A rough cut here of a SML shortwave broadcast. (TROMP-MI)

6 thoughts on “Pirate radio: tripping down memory lane

  1. Harold Frodge

    Do you belong to the Michigan Area Radio Enthusiasts? We have paper and e-mail bulletins. I can send examples of the later.

    Do you get the Free Radio Weekly (e-mail bulletin)? No charge for this.

  2. Harold, nice to see a familiar name from my earlier days of DXing. I’m not aware of the Michigan club but would be interested. I’ll contact you with my email address for a sample. I don’t get the FRW newsletter but was a longtime ACE member.

  3. Andrew Yoder

    Hey Tim,
    Great to see your site! Hope you’ll get back into listening–there’s a lot of fun stuff to tune in these days.
    Have a great evening!

  4. Hey Andrew – it’s been a long time. I was just reading some old PiPa issues that I unearthed from the past. Fond memories, I’m looking forward to hitting the dials again!

  5. Wow! Do these bring back some memories! Back in da-day when you could listen for 6-months and not hear a pirate! Love these stations and the recordings are top-notch. thanks for posting them and making them available.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Pat. I have about 80 more old cassette tapes to get through and will be digitizing & posting them online when time permits.

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