SCOTTISH PIRATE RADIO - RADIO ACTIVE
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SCOTTISH PIRATE RADIO INDEX
RADIO ACTIVE - 1242kHz, 242m
This station was heard only once in 1984. The date was Monday August 27th between about half 6 and half 7 at night, or maybe just a little later. It is unknown how many broadcasts were made from Radio Active, but this loud test broadcast was heard in the days when a few of us checked and tuned around the band on a daily basis. We were always checking for changes to the flourishing but ever changing Irish pirate radio scene. Radio Nova was running the big 50kW transmitter at this stage and was hammering out on 738kHz. In fact a tune around and tune to Nova is heard on the long recording at one point.
I had discovered a weak signal from a hobby pirate called South Dublin Radio, and was sitting on 1242kHz, only managing one rather quick poor ID, after Tracey Ullman. In the next 10m or so there was a very strong signal / carrier coming on and off like someone testing a new transmitter. It came thumping on, with such a strong signal. What a shame we didn't have the wideband SDR recordings back then to listen back to like we have today. Stange as it may be, this was the first and last time both South Dublin Radio and Radio Active were heard here.
Eventually this strong carrier started to modulate, with a few disco tracks to test on and off with, including Grace Jones and The Sugar Hill Gang. The first announcememt sounded Scottish, but the second announcement was made by an English chappie. There were only two announcements, bar the mumbling as soon as the audio started.
The station signed off, and was never heard of again, sometime around 1940 or maybe just a little later. When the transmitter was turned off, the French station on the frequency was starting to come through even though it would still be daylight at this time in late August.
A few crazy problems showed up during the digitising of this recording. Back then if I was going to record 45m or 90m of station XXX, I would see it as a waste of space recording mono AM on both the right and left channels, and therefore would regularly record something else on the other channel. Effectively giving three hours on a C90. In this case it was Radio Nova from Dublin on the other channel. Ultimately, one channel would use a communications receiver with only fair audio, while the other one would use a Grundig Satellit 3400 with excellent beefy audio from the line out. But why oh why did I continually change over receivers and even antennas while recording. This is clearly heard as the audio changes from beefy to a bit flat and tinny. That was me changing over receivers. As mentioned, I also had a stupid habit of changing antennas during recordings, which of course is such a pain. It wasn't on a nice switching system, but rather a shove the wires in the socket type of a set up, which was much slower and created more noise during change over. All to see if any improvements however small, could be made. But of course we can hardly go back almost 40 years and kick my arse now.
Nothing more was ever heard of Radio Active, or indeed of any suspected location of the transmission. One DXer who used to go to the Glasgow dx meetings was able to tell me that he had "heard about" an antenna going up in town A. This would have explained the very strong signal approx some 15 miles distant, if that was the case.
In 1992, a local lass, and daughter of another local radio enthusiast was going out with a fellow from town A. One random night in the pub, "Davie" began to talk about Radio Active. What the context was I have no idea, but he suggested it was the guy that had run a string of mobile discos in the 1970's and early 80's who had started Radio Active. This sort of made sense, a music fan and all that. I am not sure if big Davie had worked for the geezer or not. But that was about the end of the story. It seemed to answer a question. Although Davie became known as Mr Active after that. Some local folks wrongly assumed it to be because he was a lazy bastard.....LOL... which wasn't the case.
Much later, maybe around 2017 whilst at a gig in town A, my ears pricked up when that person from the disco was mentioned by some guys outside the pub. I spoke at length to a chappie I saw regularly at these gigs, who seemed to know who to ask about Radio Active, and although he came back to me with some vague answers, I was never put in touch with anyone involved in the station.
Finally in late 2022 after almost 40 years since the recording was made, I was talking to a friend in my own local, who knew the guy from the discos. It turned out that it was who Mr Active had said had run the station all those years ago!!
I wonder if it was on air for a time, or just this once?? Or even used a different site / antenna to this initial booming test? Or maybe radio active decided to use FM, where I may not have picked it up. At any rate, the strong powerhouse MW signal was never heard again.
The next year another powerful signal was heard on the next channel up, 1251kHz. This turned out to be from over the water, and a test transmission from Erneside Radio in Co Cavan. But this was not as strong anyway as the Radio Active broadcast.
KEN, DECEMBER 2022
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