Centre Radio and KFM may not have been the biggest stations of their era, but many of the people involved in them were major influences in the pirate scene of the late 80s and early 90s.
The story starts in 1987 when Steve Marshall started using a converted radio to transmit from his bedroom to a few streets using the name K-ford Radio. At the same time Gary Edwards and Dave Kilner were school friends interested in pirate radio. By the summer of 1988 they had made friends with the operators of Radio WR in Worcester and, with one of their DJs, decided to track down Power House Radio. They not only managed to find the studio, but blagged their way in! Most Saturdays from this point were then spent in Rowley Regis answering the phones at Power House.
At around the same time, Dave Kilner had picked up transmissions from K-ford Radio. They eventually found out from where they were coming and went and knocked on the door. Soon Dave and Gary were doing shows for K-ford Radio and Steve was joining them on the weekly trips to PHR. Later, Gary and Dave progressed to doing shows on PHR and the 3 of them started to produce the PHR adverts in the K-ford Radio studio.
On Christmas Eve 1988 Dave and Gary’s shows moved to UK Radio and it was from here that the first proper transmitter was obtained. Thus, on New Years Eve 1988 K-ford Radio closed down and then at midnight the first tests for Centre Radio took place on 99.2 FM. Proper programmes started on the 15th January 1989 and they settled into a schedule of 11 AM to 5 PM on Sundays although they could sometimes pop up in the week too. The first of these special broadcasts was on Valentines Day. Programmes were sometimes live and sometimes tapes were broadcast from local hills. DJs included Gary, Dave, Steve and newcomer Simon Peters. The station had started to build a local following with much discussion on CB radio and many letters received to the Broad Street address.
By the summer of 1989 Dave Kilner had started to do shows on Freedom 102 so he, along with Simon Peters, decided to leave Centre. Dave also broadcast his own station at times using various names, including Kiss, Life and Radio Julie. Gary and Steve continued with Centre and were later joined by Mike Thompson, Wayne Tayla, Paul Lucas and Tony St. John. There were also guest appearances from Paul Johnson and Paul Kaye.
Mike Thompson became so bitten by the pirate radio bug that he decided to do his own station. A studio was put together and KFM took to the air on 101.5 FM, first with 1 Watt, and later with 5 Watts. Gary also did shows, with Alan Copper, Clair, John Luther, Dick Willy and future Exile and Freedom DJs Steve Darby and OPM later joining them.
In October 1989 Centre obtained a flat in Brierley Hill. The studio was quickly moved into and broadcasts took place with the aerial off the balcony on the 17th October. However, just a couple of days later during a test broadcast following the move of the aerial to the roof, the station was raided! Broadcasts returned using a spare transmitter in November of 1989.
At Christmas 1989 both KFM and Centre were on air with a mixture of live and taped shows, coming from two different studios, with Dave Kilner also rejoining. Due to Radio 1 opening more transmitters, Centre needed a new frequency and tests took place in January and February 1990 on 101 FM.
Later, Steve decided to re-launch as Kiss 101 and tests took place in late February 1990. By this time the new Exile Radio was broadcasting every weekend, so it was decided to merge Kiss and Exile. Broadcasts took place as Kiss FM on 101 in April of 1990. The merger did not work out, so Exile returned with Steve continuing to do shows for them and also sometimes relaying Exile via the old Kiss transmitter on 101.3.
Meanwhile, KFM was still on the air, but during early summer 1990 it was decided to end transmissions. Mike and Gary then started to broadcast from the same studios on 101.5 as Centre Radio. The first Centre 101.5 broadcast was on the 14th June and then broadcasts continued on Sunday evenings.
There were broadcasts over Christmas and New Year 1990 which were also relayed on 100 FM via the old Kiss transmitter and included a show from Steve Marshall. There was a special 2nd Birthday show on the 13th January 1991 and then the final Centre transmissions were over Easter 1991.
In August of 1990 Steve had started his own station, NRG on 101.6, and in April 1991 Steve and the NRG team merged with Freedom Radio and broadcast as Freedom throughout the summer of 1991.
Some Centre/KFM DJs later moved into legal radio, while some never DJed again. Wayne Tayla later did shows on Exile, as did Dave Kilner under the name Pete West. Pete was also involved in the Quest FM project with Andy ‘OPM’ Young and Steve Wilson before concentrating on bar and nightclub DJing.
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