Radio Rag



Radio Rag studio to transmitter microwave link in 1985. The antenna is pointing through a window next to the bathroom.


Philips stereo encoder (right) and 1305 MHz transmitter (left) in 1985.


Link receive antenna on the roof of UMIST main building in 1984


Link receiver in the transmitter room on the roof at UMIST. Note the chicken wire shielding on the wall behind, to reduce interference..


  Microwave Links

By the mid 1980s the Radio Rag studio had grown in size and would not fit into an average student bedroom. If nothing else, 24 hour broadcasting was impossible because the regular student occupant needed the room to sleep.

In 1984 Radio Rag was even more ambitious than usual, and moved the studio to a house in Oldham, some 10 miles away from the VHF transmitter on top of the UMIST building.

But this required a new studio to transmitter link. The existing Pye U450 UHF link was an older design and could only carry mono audio, and of course, Radio Rag was now broadcasting in stereo.

Archie Gemmel designed and built the first Radio Rag stereo link. This operated in the 1305 MHz frequency band and had a range of several miles. Unfortunately it was affected by the Manchester Airport radar station on the roof of the CIS Tower. A peculiar buzzing noise was heard on Radio Rag every 8 seconds as the radar antenna whirled around.

This was solved in 1985 when the Radio Rag studio moved to a flat in Moss Side, in the opposite direction from the radar interference. Radio Rag could still broadcast 24 hours a day and security was better. Moss Side was well known for rioting, which meant the police had better things to do than chase students, and the Radio Investigation Service kept well away.

This was the last year when I was involved with Radio Rag. Just about everything that could be achieved, had been achieved. Stereo FM, medium wave, short wave, outside broadcasts, a fully equipped studio and a private communication system covering most of Manchester!

Radio Rag continued for a few years afterwards, but I lived far away and wasn't involved. Radio Rag carried on for a few years, then eventually folded when short term broadcasting was made legal.

I'm still in touch with some of the guilty parties and we meet occasionally for beer and curry, and to reminisce about student days.