Between 1988 and 1989, SYT Radio had provided an alternative to both the legal stations and the other pirates in Bristol, broadcasting pre-recorded shows from cassette.

Activist Heath Bunting knew the technician for SYT and fancied having a go at broadcasting himself, so having access to a functioning transmitter he decided to re-launch SYT Radio after a long dead period in 1991. Not long after, the old SYT crew decided to come out of hiding and take control again. As the SYT crew made their plans to come back, Heath decided to bail out and start his own station. This was EMI, a.k.a Electro Magnetic Installation.  EMI was on air from around August 1991.

Using a home built 20-Watt stereo transmitter, EMI would broadcast around 9 hours of audio every Sunday from 12pm, on 101.7MHz for around the next 18 months. All tapes sent to the Greenleaf bookshop on Colston Street would be played unedited, no matter what they contained. The material broadcast ranged from cut-ups of news broadcasts, weird audio collages, noises and discussions to just music.

It seems the main aim of the station was to encourage people to do ‘extreme, different things in a creative way’, which would in turn hopefully lead on to new ideas. It was basically an extension of the aim of all free radio, which is to provide an alternative to the controlled media. This was trying to involve the listener in a much more active role by asking them to provide the alternative themselves. EMI was not a political party, trying to tell people what to think, it was a political statement in that it showed you could be outside of the establishment, broadcast your own material and think for yourself.

Other people were involved in EMI, but Heath was the main protagonist and technician for the station. To avoid detection by the authorities, Heath moved the broadcast location each weekend. Friends donated their roofs and attics for the station in locations all over the city, the higher better. Another way Heath tried to fool the authorities was to disseminate disinformation to confuse them. This took the form of new posters for fake stations on a regular basis posted around the city, and general false gossip spread amongst friends and associates.

Despite doing their best to keep the DTI at bay, Heath and his team had good signs that not only were they being watched but that they were being made to know they were being watched. They finally closed EMI down because SYT had been raided and it was thought they would be after EMI on the same day.

We’ll let Heath have the last word…  “Live FM radio is the biggest buzz out of all the actions I have done. Highly recommended.”

More on EMI can be found here

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Artwork

EMI Cutting
EMI Poster

Audio

EMI – 101.7 – 199118 mins