There are few pirate stations as important or influential as Radio Invicta. They first played “Soul over London” in 1970, becoming the first soul pirate in Britain.
They were pioneering in many other ways too. Where most pirates of the day broadcast on medium wave from fields, the soul boys at Invicta wanted the better quality of FM. So, they started the first regular FM broadcasts being the first to use tower block roofs for illicit broadcasting. Not only did the height of the blocks give a good signal, but Invicta’s 100 watt transmitters were power hungry valve designs, and the mains power available at the top of tower blocks enabled them to be powered easily, rather than having to use car batteries. They were later the first to put out 12, 14 and then 21 hour shows, the first to go stereo and the first to go live.
Although being soul boys, Invicta was always open to new musical styles. They had shows that played blues, gospel, jazz, R & B, electro-funk and electro music, and they also had the Mastermind show. Mastermind were eight guys from Harlesdon who had been taking their soul and funk road shows round the clubs since 1976, but they began to mix in electro and hip hop. Their later shows would be complete mixes with four turntables in use with some shows lasting 3 to 6 hours. Something that is common now, but innovative then.
The early 80s saw an explosion of soul pirates, with stations such as Horizon and JFM being more ambitious and more commercial. Invicta was always about the music, not fame, money or even “free radio”. Things came to a head in November 1983 when a rival station poached Invicta’s engineer, causing them to take 3 months off. When they returned, it was via an organisation that rented aerial space in Crystal palace. This was done in conjunction with Skyline Radio who broadcast till midnight and then switched over to Invicta for a soul show. There were endless problems with this arrangement between February and June 1984, so the 2 groups split.
The new telecommunications bill was looming and, as Invicta had no means to broadcast, they closed down, despondent and without even a grand farewell.
The Invicta team moved on to new things, but some have returned with a website which also an audio stream running. See below.
More on Radio Invicta can be found on these sites:
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