Radio Rag



1982 publicity sticker


Radio Rag was a "pirate" station and never had a licence. So how did it stay on air for 25 years?

Radio Rag first broadcast in the late 1960s during the annual student charity rag week. It was usually on air for 3 or 4 weekends around Rag Week and occasionally for Rag Day itself, when students participated in various charity events.

By the time I became involved, the date of the first broadcast was long forgotten, but I do recall finding an old letter in the amateur radio society filing cabinet which referred to "a spectacular success" at unnamed event in Rag Week 1969. I always assumed this was the start of Radio Rag.

Radio Rag was a charity station and broadcast details of the various student events. In the 1980s listeners were invited to send in record requests on the back of a cheque for 50p payable to charity.

It would have been bad publicity for the authorities to close down a student charity stunt. So for many years Radio Rag "got away with it".

On couple of occasions the Radio Rag team became carried away with enthusiasm and continued to broadcast after Rag Week. The Radio Investigation Service detector van cruised slowly around the university campus until it was spotted. Radio Rag took the hint and promptly went off air for another year.

The university authorities also tolerated Radio Rag as an unofficial training exercise. It was no great secret who ran the station, in fact, the mysterious "PO Box 88, Manchester, M60 1QD" Radio Rag mailing address read out on air was the main UMIST university postal address. The university mail room happily placed record requests in the amateur radio society pigeonhole. But providing Radio Rag stuck to an unofficial schedule, went on and off air on time and didn't create interference nobody bothered. Actually, many of the university staff were rather impressed with the station and turned a convenient blind eye when required towards missed lectures and borrowed equipment.

Radio Rag finally wound down when a temporary licence was issued to Manchester Campus Radio in the 1980s. This was a completely legal station broadcasting for Rag Week. By the early 1990s Radio Rag had closed down for good.

Many student radio stations now broadcast legally under Restricted Service Licences issued by OFCOM.

But remember, Radio Rag was there first!


External Links:

Student Radio

Fuse FM Manchester