In this essay I will explain the main reasons because of which pirate radio stations became popular and important in Great Britain, as well as the reasons for their manifestation. I will analyze the main features of this movement and the way they influenced radio broadcasting in general, its impact on a generation in need of fresh, new things in every aspect of their lives. Focusing on two decades of twentieth century Britain, as the most lucrative and important for pirate radio, I will explore the governments stances on this issue then, as well as now, and the importance of pirate radio stations today and the way they are represented in other popular media.
From the 1920s most of Britain’s territory was covered by the signal and radio program of BBC which was providing quality informative and educational programs in accordance with Reithian principles. “...under the control of Lord Reith, the programmes shied away from being too popularist. Lord Reith felt that, whilst the public wanted popular entertainment, it was not necessarily what was good for them.”
The Continental Stations (http://radio.eric.tripod.com/the_continental_stations.htm) However, times were changing, and the BBC’s program did not meet all of the needs of the youth generation, especially when music programs are discussed. The BBC did not provide a regular output of popular music, the only radio program of that kind was “Hit Parade” which was on air once per week.
“The only real outlet for listeners to hear all the new records was Radio Luxembourg and many British listeners tuned into Radio Luxembourg (The Great 208), but that was only available in the evenings and the signal would often fade or become distorted as the night time propagation changed and listeners had to endure regular periods of poor reception, even though the Luxembourg transmitter used a million watts of power.”
Mike Smith, The Story of Offshore and Pirate Radio (http://www.mds975.co.uk/Content/pirateradio.html) This radio station was extremely popular with the youth generation because it played hit popular music BBC’s show could not cover. Even though Radio Luxembourg had a wide audience it was far from being perfect, simply due to the fact that it was to commercial. “Luxembourg’s overriding purpose was to serve
as a promotional vehicle for the top record companies. In this capacity Luxembourg was fulfilling its function perfectly adequately, but its role was limited to just that: a shop window for the industry’s goods.”
Rober Chapman, Selling The Sixties: The Pirates and Pop Music Radio (Routledge, London and New York, 1992), Selling the ether, page 2
Due to this dissatisfaction with both Radio Luxembourg and BBC, and the restrictive system of promoting new artists of the first, and a small number of songs played by the second, the radio scene was going to be practically reborn in a new form during the sixties by the people were dissatisfied the most and...