Radio Rag


Radio Rag International shortwave transmitter on 6.225 MHz. operating on UMIST roof in 1984.


Radio Rag International antennas on the UMIST roof in 1984.



Radio Rag broadcasts were always intended for students in Manchester, but over the years received many letters from medium wave listeners in far away places like Cornwall.

In 1984 Radio Rag decided to cover the world, or least some it. "Radio Rag International" started short wave (and short lived) broadcasting for the first time. Pete Mann remembers:

"We acquired an ex-RAF shortwave radio teleprinter link transmitter from an electronics scrap yard, probably Thacker's at Cheslyn Hay."

"This was a real big beast with two huge PA valves and a mercury vapour rectifier. The AM modulator section from the old Band II transmitter was used to modulate the HF driver on 6.225 MHz which was amplified up to about 800 watts peak by the PA."

"I tried this transmitter out in my garden shed one Sunday afternoon with a 6 MHz inverted Vee antenna strung just above the roof. Using the name 'Radio Hamster' (a Radio Rag in-joke at the time), I transmitted programmes for a couple of hours before the neighbours came round to complain about breakthrough on their TV's and stereos."

“Chris Arnold was working at a well known broadcast monitoring centre and saw official log entries relating to 'Radio Hamster' so it would seem that we had at least one genuine listener!"

After these tests the shortwave transmitter was moved to the roof of UMIST and connected to a long wire antenna. Here's Pete Mann again:

“Getting the HF transmitter onto the roof at UMIST was a major problem. I can still remember Archie Gemmel removing a glass skylight and with some rope, hauling the huge power supply onto the roof under cover of darkness.”

Radio Rag International was heard around most of Western Europe, but unfortunately, also by Manchester Central Fire Station and the UMIST Union “heavy metal rock” disco PA system. Both these locations were just a few hundred metres from the transmitter and the interference was dreadful.

The shortwave transmissions broke through to every electronic device within half a mile. This drew far to much unwanted attention to our supposedly “secret” location, and not wanting to annoy the fire brigade or 2000 drunken heavy metal rock fans, Radio Rag International closed after a couple of weekends.