The story of Flight FM starts in about 1990.  Two 15 year old lads, ‘Skinny D’ and ‘DJ Techno’, had been broadcasting using various station names (Spin FM, Bass FM, Hardcore FM…) using 50mW transmitters, drifting and humming up and down the dial for a couple of years.  This was in the days before the internet and neither of them really knew what they were doing, although Techno had some experience with CB Radio.

By the time the boys had reached 18 in Nov 1993, they’d worked out enough about how radio works to put on a better station.  They were still making mistakes but at least pointing in the right direction.  They resolved to call the station Flight FM, broadcasting from Techno’s bedroom in Stoke Gifford using a tape player and a microphone as the source of the programming.

At this point, DJ Techno changed his on-air name to ‘DJ S’ but we’ll continue to call him ‘Techno’ in this article.  Ads were run on the station occasionally but only to sound more professional and not for any money or even with permission from the companies advertised.

To aid the station, Skinny printed up some flyers in college and got them photocopied.  Broadcasting on Sundays, they spent more time during the week handing these flyers out to kids from Filton High School and preparing music to be used.  Skinny just recorded his shows at home and gave them to Techno on a C120 every week.

The station survived for a few weeks using a battered old 1W transmitter which Skinny had used for a while and replaced all the components when they blew because he wasn’t using a proper aerial.  Every time a tape was started or stopped in the tape deck, this TX would jump to another frequency for a split second but they soon got a new TX which had better audio and was more stable. Techno upgraded the studio too, with a mixer and two cheap Alba turntables.

At this point, the station was getting some attention.  One of their methods of spreading the word was to phone other pirate stations such as Power FM and get them to give shout outs.  One of the DJ’s they phoned in early 1994 was 70s soul DJ Martin Starr who inquired about Flight FM and was given a one-off guest show.  He presented it under the pseudonym of DJ Killer accompanied by a massive 50Hz hum due to the cheap turntables in the studio getting feedback from the TX.

Another budding DJ in the area showed some interest and was invited to do a show.  Instead of showing up on his own, he arrived with MC Marv from Bristol’s Sub Love crew who then took over the decks and played a Jungle set for about 30 minutes.

This phase of the station didn’t last long though, and the two lads decided to rest it for a while.  Who knows what might’ve happened had they continued?

In the summer of 1994, Techno decided to move the studio to his grandmother’s shed in Patchway.  This wasn’t anything like as successful as Techno spent most of his time playing tapes of other pirates on air and smoking bongs in the studio with his mates, but the station did now have a mobile phone.  Previously, there was only the local phone box as a means of taking shouts.  There were some attempts to put callers on air by placing the microphone next to the phone, which sort-of worked although it was very quiet.  Skinny was still recording his 2hr shows at home.

After only a few weeks, Techno packed it in again.  There was another attempt to get the station running from Skinny’s bedroom in early 1995, but this only lasted a couple of weeks and Flight FM drifted into history.  Later, Techno reported that his girlfriend had heard a tape of the station whilst she was working in a warehouse in Winterbourne, so there was at least one listener out there.

Downloads

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Artwork

Flight FM Flyer 1
Flight FM Flyer 2
Flight FM Flyer 3

Audio

Spin FM – DJ Techno – 199220 mins
Flight FM 87.9 – Marv Sub Love – 199427 mins
Flight FM 87.9 – DJ Killer (Martin Starr) – 199429 mins
Flight FM 87.9 – DJ S – 199417 mins
Flight FM 87.9 – Skinny D – 199416 mins