12 March 2011

Radio pirates

50 years ago commercial radio broadcasting was not allowed in Sweden. The Swede Jack Kotschack found the solution to bypass that situation. On March 8, 1961 he started broadcasting from a ship on international waters in the Baltic Sea, east of Stockholm. This radio station, called Radio Nord, on the medium wave band (498 m) became very popular. It had a 24h programme content with mostly pop music attracting young listeners. A content that the Swedish state owned broadcaster did not have room for in its two radio channels. Gramophone records, tapes etc. were handed over to the ship from airplanes. At the same time Britt Wadner broadcasted on the FM band from a ship in the waters between Sweden and Denmark. Her station was called Radio Syd at that time. Nord is north and syd is south in the Swedish language. Swedish government became very annoyed by this situation. From its view, this was a threat to the state owned broadcaster and its income from license fees. They also wanted to protect the citizens from radio commercials. They even discussed stopping Radio Nord by boarding the ship! After 16 months Kotschack had to stop Radio Nord. A new law in company with other countries was in place stating that it is illegal to broadcast from international waters. Sweden was the first country in Europe to use this law. Britt Wadner, the real radio pirate, did not stop until 1966. She was put into jail several times for not stopping her radio station! The Swedish state owned broadcaster got a third programme channel with pop music content as resultat of this. Today it has hard to understand that a government can control what citizens should like or not like to listen to.

To celebrate the brave man Jack Kotschack and his station Radio Nord a medium wave transmitter on 1,512 kHz (198 m) is in operation since 8 March for some days. The transmitter power is 1 kW. This 50th anniversary is called Radio Nord Revival.

The distance from the transmitter to my QTH is 42 km. The medium wave band is very noisy here, but I managed to somewhat copy Radio Nord Revival here this morning. The woman in the photo is not Britt Wadner. She is a crew member of the Radio Nord ship called Bon Jour. Jack Kotschack is the one thanking her at the time when Radio Nord had to shut off.


.