"Land based pirate stations have mushroomed in Britain in the last few years. In May, 1985, John Hind and Stephen Mosco managed to locate 140 stations, though not all of them broadcast music. And there were many more that they didn't manage to contact. In their list, London alone was host to sixty stations."There are three primary reasons this was a time of pirate radio expansion in Britain.
- Historical: BBC Radio was state run
- Demographic: The "Windrush generation"
- Technological: The advent of cheap solid state electronics
"...the real breakthrough in radio piracy occurred when cheap portable transmitters came on the market. By the mid-1980s you could by an (illegal) 50-watt transmitter for around £200 or build one yourself for less. Soul and Reggae enthusiasts began to plug the gap in the airwaves playing solid funk, soul, and dub. All they needed was a good quality cassette recorder, a transmitter and a high roof."The first appearance of reggae on British airwaves legally was on the program "Reggae Time" hosted by Steve Barnards which first aired in 1971. It aired on Sunday nights from the BBC Radio London. More here. Tony Williams later took over that program in 1978 and continued for a decade. More here and here. He alternated with David Rodigan who permanent slot at Capital Radio in 1979 to present another reggae program "Roots Rockers", which ran for 11 years. He left in 1990.
But by then and land-based pirates were in full swing. Radio Invicta was broadcasting R&B, Soul, Funk, Gospel, Jazz and Electro Funk. London Weekend Radio (LWR) broadcast mostly New York hip-hop from South London and Jackie FM (JFM) broadcast Soul from Kingston upon Thames. More here. Dread Broadcast Corporation (DBC) was more dub and reggae-centric and broadcast starting in 1981 from West London. Uniquely DBC was black-run and is often credited as Britain's first black music radio station. The DBC and many others were raided and shut down following the passage of the Telecommuncations Act in 1984.