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Station M - A Short History

 

Pirate Radio on Wirral from the late 1970's to the late 1980's

The Wirral is a peninsular of land between Liverpool and North Wales. The peninsular is surrounded by water on 3 sides. The River Mersey separates Wirral from Liverpool, and the River Dee separates Wirral from North Wales. Wirral joins the Irish Sea at the North.

Throughout the 1970's and 1980's, the 300,000 plus population of the Wirral was served by the local radio station "Radio City" which is based in Liverpool.. However, the medium wave Radio City transmitter was located outside Liverpool, about 20 miles away from Wirral. This meant that the daytime signal was adequate at best, and during the night reception was poor.

Some pirate radio stations were active both in Liverpool and Wirral in the late 1960's and early 1970's, but in the late 1970's several big pirate radio stations began to appear in Wirral. These stations proved to be extremely popular with the population, who had been starved of both good programming and a strong, listenable signal from the legal local radio station. The pirate stations operated from tower blocks sited in the most populated areas of Wirral, and their transmissions were stronger than Radio City's across a wide area.

In the early 1980's, free radio stations flourished on Wirral.

 

 

Station M

Station M "International" was a medium wave pirate radio station based on the Wirral, Merseyside. It was on air almost every Sunday from early 1982 through until the summer of 1984, when the last transmission was made on medium wave. Some FM broadcasts were then made until around the end of 1985.

 

 

The Beginning

Tom Lodge (not the Tom Lodge from Radio Caroline!) and Roger Dee started Station M in late 1981. Tom Lodge built the transmitter. The location was Tom Lodge's premises in Wallasey. Tom came up with the name "Station M", but would never tell anybody what the "M" stood for. Many people hazarded a guess, thinking it perhaps stood for "Merseyside", or "Mud" as there was rather a lot of mud around the transmission site! (Tom also used "Pop Music" by the group "M" as a theme tune for the station).

It was decided early on to use the frequency of 1413 kHz, and this became the permanent home for Station M for the next two years. The name "Station M" continued to be used for a while, but as engineering improvements improved the signal and transmission range was increased, Tom Lodge began to announce the name "Station M International". This was just for a joke, and was often followed by fits of laughter from Tom! I can also vividly remember Tom often saying "This is Station M, pirateradio, very illegal and very naughty!"

 

 

The Early Days

This first stage of Station M was very enjoyable for everyone concerned. A lot of people involved with pirate radio would turn up to the location for the regular Sunday transmissions, with some listeners even turning up. The transmitter used four 807 valves in the output stage. Screen grid modulation was used, resulting in an RF output power of around 50 or 60 watts. Programmes consisted of a mixture of taped and live shows, and a good listener base was built up. Although the location did not allow for an antenna very high above ground level, Station M put out a respectable signal during this period.

 

 

The Second Location - A High Rise Site

At the start of 1983, Station M International moved into a tower block in Moreton, Wirral. The aerial ran from the studio flat in one block up to the very top of a block over the road. The transmitter power was around 50 watts, and the signal from this location was excellent across Wirral, Liverpool, North Wales and part of Cheshire. The modulation was also very loud, and good quality.

Station M presenters at the time, early 1983, included : Tom Lodge (station engineer), Roger Dee, Eric Monaghan, Dave Wilson, John Freeman, Kevin Palmer (who later went on to work on several Irish stations, followed by the ILR MFM, then Atlantic 252 amongst others), Pete Heaton (who had previously been known as Pete James on "RadioWombat"), Phil James, anf Roy Kelly (who later went on to work on BBC Radio Merseyside).

 

 

The Merseyside Free Radio Association

Tom Lodge founded "The Merseyside Free Radio Association" in 1983. This was an attempt to get the many Merseyside pirate radio stations sharing transmitters and frequencies, so that there was a pirate radio station on air every day of the week. This was partly successful, and resulted in two other stations using the Station M transmitter and location on Fridays and Saturdays, when Station M was not on the air.

 

 

Tom Lodge leaves Station M

Towards the end of 1983, the engineer Tom Lodge handed over the running of Station M International to Dave Wilson and Roger Dee, as he was involved with a new "commercial" pirate radio station called North Coast Radio. Over the next year, Roger Dee's 120 watt transmitter was used. The station moved location several times. Sometimes tower blocks were used, and sometimes broadcasts would take place from houses or maisonettes. Obviously, the signal would suffer when a low level location was being used, but the 120 watt transmitter helped to compensate for this slightly. The authorities took an interest at one stage, and this resulted in the location being changed frequently, so using poor locations was unavoidable.

 

 

Roger Dee Continues Alone

From the summer of 1984, Roger Dee ran Station M alone. This was initially on MW and FM, then towards the end of 1984 the medium wave was dropped. Station M continued on FM only until the end of 1985. Broadcasts became sporadic at the end of the stations life. There was a lot of action from the authorities against Merseyside pirate stations around this time, and the threat of a raid was what ultimately forced Station M off the air.

 

 

Station M International 1999

Tom and Roger Dee had been talking about coming back on the air to celebrate the Millennium, but Tom Lodge sadly passed away in July 1999. Roger Dee and Mike Ross, who had been involved with the station in the early days, hatched a plan to make a special one off broadcast as a tribute to Tom Lodge. Dave Wilson and Mike Doyle, also members of Station M personnel from the 1980's, also contributed programmes.

The date of Monday, 30th August 1999 was set. This was 15 years after the last Station M broadcasts were made on medium wave. The broadcast took place on 90.3 FM stereo, from 1.00pm until 11.30pm.

E-mail : stationm@mail.com

 

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