There had been a long history of pirate radio in the East Midlands, but little to do with serving the areas’ black community. This was to change with the start of Heatwave Community Radio (HCR).
They started in January of 1988 on 105 FM and quickly gained a large following. This was helped by their strong signal, often heard as far away as Sheffield to the North and Dudley to the West. Like many other stations of that time, the format was black West Indian and they played mostly reggae music but also some dance and soul.
Discussion phone-in programmes were sometimes aired, including one which featured a discussion on the new world order (not the wrestling organization of that name!) They featured many adverts, some for discos featuring HCR DJs, with a common venue for these events being the Marcus Garvey Centre in Nottingham. T-shirts were also available from Danny’s records in Nottingham.
From late 1980s into early 1990s, Heatwave managed 24/7 broadcasts for much of the time. It’s original studio was at the back of a bakery in a notorious area of the city which had become almost a no-go zone for police following the race-riots of the early 1980’s and thus it remained ‘above the law’ for many years. Indeed, their on air mailing address was c/o The Peoples Bakery, Radford Road, Radford, Nottingham.
There were still some raids though, and a big court case was planned for late 1988. However, the case kept being adjourned, possibly so more raids could be included but some felt it was just to allow the DTI more time to put their case together following the collapse of their case against PCRL earlier that year. The case was eventually heard in 1989.
On New Years Eve 1988 Heatwave remained on air, despite many stations in other areas (e.g. Birmingham) closing down to apply for community radio licenses. This meant they could celebrate their 1st birthday with a party at The Marcus Garvey Centre on Friday 20th Jan 1989. People attended this party from PCRL and some London stations, indicating the status of HCR at that time.
By mid 1990 they were using frequencies around the middle of the FM band (98.5 to 100) and after a brief change to 107, settled on 87.9. They could still be heard on 87.9 by 1996, although by this point they were only on in the evenings. They have not been heard since 2000.
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