In the early 80s Cecil Morris was running Rising Star Records and Management from a shop at 151 Dudley Road Birmingham. He also branched out in to running a venue (The Elite) and a magazine (Rasta Mag), so it was obvious that Radio would be next.
His first shows were on Sounds Alternative during 1981, but at the same time he was campaigning to get the legal radio stations in Birmingham to include a programme for the black community or employ a black presenter. Despite a lot of hard work, he couldn’t convince them so he reluctantly decided to start his own station. His first attempt was Radio Star which was first heard on 94.2 FM in 1982. The station was an immediate hit and continued through the early 80s and even attempted pirate television (Telstar) in 1984. There were numerous raids and court appearances and by 1985 Radio Star had become The Peoples Community Radio Link (PCRL).
The station was first heard on the 23rd May 1985 on 103.7 FM and in its early days was often the only pirate on air in the West Midlands. This meant they lost a lot of transmitters to the DTI. By the end of 1987, PCRL had been raided 103 times. How many of these were studio raids and how many of these were main transmitter raids is unclear, but a sizeable number of these raids (including number 103) were studio raids.
However, they still became very popular and by 1986 had opened their own shop and started their own record label. The shop sold various PCRL merchandise, including T-shirts, sweat shirts, pens (of various natures), rulers, even pen-knives! The shop even had PCRL carrier bags. The record label, PCRL Records, released a 12″ single by Skibbu entitled “The One I Adore”. This was sold at the PCRL gift shop.
Most of the music heard on PCRL was reggae music, also quite a lot of dance; soul and rap music was played. In addition, specialist music shows – such as a Gospel music show, and a Soca (Soul Calypso) show – were aired. On Saturday morning PCRL had a children’s show, during which – as well as music, phone-ins and games – children’s stories were read out. In November 1988, PCRL had its own Children In Need show to raise money for disadvantaged young people in the Birmingham area.
Cecil Morris – aka Music Master – was taken to court a number of times for operating an unlicensed broadcasting station. During one such case in late 1988, following the transmitter, studio and shop all being raided, Cecil’s solicitors successfully argued that Cecil was running the PCRL Gift Shop and not PCRL Radio.
In 1987, a number of staff left to start rival station Enterprise FM, which meant PCRL had to very much smarten up their act. Enterprise closed at the end of 1988 to apply for the new Birmingham incremental license, and PCRL followed by closing in January 1989. Both stations were unsuccessful as the license went to Buzz FM, so by August 1989 PCRL was back on air as a pirate. During PCRL’s time off air, a number of their DJs could be heard on other stations. First on FM104 and then Supreme FM on 103.5.
PCRL continued through the 90s and into the 21st century despite many raids and prosecutions until they had a large raid in 2003. They were then taken to court in January 2004 and it become clear that – if PCRL were to continue – those involved would face severe legal penalties, and risk being sued by licensed stations for “lost revenue”. They were found guilty and large fines were given out, while Cecil received a suspended prison sentence. As a result, PCRL was forced to close.
More information on PCRL can be found here:
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