In early 1989, whilst in the 6th form at school, Paul discovered Power House Radio. Totally blown away by the station, Paul decided that he had to try to set up his own station. The initial name – Horizon FM got quickly discarded in favour of Magic FM. A frequency of 101.4 was chosen and a 10 watt transmitter and slim-jim aerial were ordered from a supplier up north.
The station actually came on air in February 1990 from the back bedroom of a semi-detached house playing mainly 80s and ‘easy’ pop music. Equipment used was very basic at this point – Tandy mixer, Tandy Red ‘Fashion Microphone’ and two tape decks. Occasional pre-recorded shows were broadcast of dance music. The station was on and off during the next couple of years due to problems with the location but whilst on air broadcast every night from 9-11pm and for longer periods at weekends. The station was a proper ‘back bedroom pirate’ and did not reach very far at all (2-3 miles was about the limit). A phone box about 3-4 miles away in the centre of Walsall was used for requests for about half an hour a night and received a steady stream of calls mainly from pupils at the local schools where the station had apparently become cult listening and the ‘hot topic’.
By early 1992, after several major issues, it was obvious to all concerned that the premises were unsuitable for broadcasting and the station came off air – at the time with the intention of being permanently finished.
However, Paul soon caught the bug again and took a slot on the station – Link FM (also now on 101.4) with whom a friendship had been formed with the operators. The station broadcast from a flat on the top floor of a tower block in Darlaston for a while before the inevitable raid came and Link FM were taken off the air for good. This later went to court and Paul was prosecuted and fined for his part in the station.
Following the demise of Link Fm, the decision was taken to bring back Magic Fm in what was to become the stations hey-day. New studios were located in a mid-rise block of flats in a very high location and a 10watt transmitter and dipole were purchased. Due to the superb location, the reception was fantastic and covered far further than could have been hoped. Calls were received from most of the Midlands. As this flat was solely to be used for Magic, a larger schedule was able to be broadcast with a more commercial chart / dance based format.
Dizzy D 10am-2pm
Andy Carlton 2pm-6pm
Rave Crew (Turrican/Melody) 10pm-1am(ish)
Occasional guest slots were from Glider Rider and Spencer.
Out of the blue, an article was published in the Walsall Advertiser about the local music scene which mentioned Magic, so the management of the station decided to contact the paper and offer an interview which ended up being printed as a news story to which the DTI were approached for a comment and replied that they would locate the station and close it down (or words to that effect).
Shortly after, the opportunity arose for an outside broadcast from a local pub so Paul went to fetch the equipment required. Upon returning to the studio, Paul walked in to find the DTI in the process of raiding the station. The studio was cleared and another court case and prosecution followed. (The Link Fm and Magic Fm court cases were both heard at the same time)
Magic was effectively dead in the water until 2000 when the bug once again bit and Paul decided to come back on air. New studios were used in a low rise block and Paul purchased a 35 watt transmitter and a dipole. The dipole was professionally installed on the highest point of the building and incidentally still remains there today! A new frequency of 105.2 was used due to not wanting to cause any interference to Centre Fm (Now Touch Fm) from Lichfield who were now broadcasting on 101.6. This was pretty much back to the original days of Magic and was a one man operation. In what no doubt led to the demise of the station, the rig was left on 24/7 playing continuous music on a loop until live broadcasts started from 8-11pm.
This was probably the least successful era of Magic Fm as in a classic lesson of “don’t run 24/7 direct”, after less than a month, Paul returned back from work to find the coax missing from the side of the block. He walked in to find the studio completely cleaned out with a search warrant pinned to the desk along with a note asking ‘the owner’ to contact the DTI. Paul who by this point felt he had nothing to lose as the flat was in his name anyway, telephoned the number and the DTI came to visit a few days later and conducted a taped interview.
A court case followed in October 2000 and another fine was given. Following the court case, the Express and Star got in touch and asked for a quote. Paul simply and probably looking back naively said “I’ll be back”.
This prediction never actually came true as Paul received a summons in the post from the CRCA asking him to attend a hearing at the High Court in London as the CRCA were going to prosecute him based on the damage pirate radio broadcaster’s cause to the interests of commercial radio stations. Paul did not attend the hearing but the High Court granted a permanent injunction against him quoting that if he operates an unlicensed station at any point in the future, he will be held in contempt of court and will face imprisonment. He was also fined in the region of £5000.
For obvious reasons, Paul is no longer involved in the pirate radio scene and Magic Fm is now dead.
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