Radio Rag


Judith on security duty in 1980 (?)



JIL SX 200 radio scanner



One of the sporting aspects of pirate broadcasting is to avoid being caught by the authorities.

The radio spectrum has always been policed by UK government agencies, first by the Post Office, then by the Radio Investigation Service. Detector vans were based around the UK to catch anyone up to no good.

Each year Radio Rag had at least a dozen volunteers equipped with 144 MHz FM radios. They worked a shift system during broadcasts, loitering on street corners and passing messages. I remember spending several evenings hanging around the Canadian Charcoal Pit burger takeaway on Wilmslow Road, talking into my coat sleeve and looking for yellow vans. I didn't see any.

Pete Mann remembers more:

"We had a JIL SX 200 scanning receiver which we used to monitor the local police, university campus security and Post Office radio investigation teams."

"The latter had proved difficult to track down, but about a month before the Radio Rag broadcasts were due to commence I had a stroke of luck. The Radio Investigation team were inspecting my amateur radio station and were trying to sort out an interference problem with one of my neighbour's televisions."

"In order to do this they left a Pye Bantam transceiver with me whilst they went next door. So I took this opportunity to quickly open it up, note down the crystal frequencies, and reassemble the set before they returned to collect it. From this point onwards we always knew when they were close on our trail."