FPR, Fran’s Pirate Radio, aka Radio Active, aka Solid State, was a one-man station run by a teenager from the Kingswood / Speedwell area of Bristol. They were on from sometime around late 1989 or early 1990 until July 1991. Inspired by Black FM, Fran explains how it got started…
“What happened was someone went to Hanham high school with an RF microphone. We took it apart, transmitted on approximately 93 FM and wiped out Radio 3 to the neighbors. I took it home, adjusted it to about 100 FM and got out about 300mW of power. FPR went on from there; we used to get to 20 houses from mine. Then I got a 1 watt, then a 3 watts TX. Low power, but being high up…”
By April 1990 Fran had managed to get a weak signal into areas such as Bishopston, between central and North Bristol. His format was pop-dance, soul, etc, purchased cheaply from the Kingswood branch of Soundsville record shop. He used various frequencies during the stations existence, 98.6, a few around 101.7 and eventually winding up on 105.7.
The transmitters didn’t appear to be very stable at times. There was often a buzz on the audio and no limiter was in use, but modulation was usually kept just below distortion level. DJ Dime and Winnie MC occasionally joined Fran in the studio. Communication with listeners was via CB radio.
By November 1990 the station was reaching the outskirts of North Bristol. In about May 1991 the station had again gained a bit more power and was attempting to put a very ambitious schedule into action. However, the 5th July 1991 brought about the end of FPR, as Fran’s mum opened the door to the DTI.
“My mum knew about it – Channel 4 was very dodgy due to spurious transmissions but she thought what the f**k – he isn’t going out causing trouble, so when the DTI came around she just denied all knowledge!”
“My TX was put on a spectrum analyzer and it looked like a hedgehog. The 3rd harmonic was just as powerful as the main frequency of 105.7. As 105.7 x3 = 317 MHz-ish, it was wiping out the military aircraft band – that’s why I got caught. I kept it on 24-7 playing white noise to keep the bloody thing on freq too.”
“I was back on a week later briefly but, well, that was the end of FPR. I was 16 and got away with it. You might be interested that every year after that the DTI phoned my mum up asking if I still lived at that address. Why? Was I a threat to them?”
Free radio reporter Terry Starr noted FPR on air again for a few weeks around May 1992 and thought it may have been responsible for some transmissions resplendent with FTP jingles on 87.7FM in August 1993. Others also have memories of FPR from 1992 but Fran doesn’t seem so sure.
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Artwork & Paper Cuttings
|FPR – 1990||10 mins|
|FPR – April 1990||11 mins|
|FPR – November 1990||12 mins|
|FPR – Early 1991||35 mins|
|FPR – DJ Dime & DJ Fran – Early 1991||37 mins|
|FPR – DJ Fran – 1991||38 mins|