Paul H was a fan of reggae music and used listen to PCRL. Through that influence he decided to start his own station. So, with a 10 Watt transmitter and some help from his mate HMV (aka Johnny B), the first tests took place on the 3rd February 1988. Then, on the 7th February 1988 Power House Radio was born (complete with the Thunderbirds theme tune). Early DJ’s were Paul H, John Bee, Mr T and Mark Smith.
This was to be the start of a new era in West Midland pirate radio. Up until then, most pirates broadcast recorded programmes from hills or were only on live on Sundays or bank holidays. None the less, these stations were still hounded by the authorities.
Power House were to change that. Not only were they live, but they were also coming on every day. This hadn’t been done before and strangely they were left alone by the authorities. This meant they could settle into a routine of broadcasting from 6pm till the early hours every day. As 1988 progressed the hours gradually increased as more presenters joined the station such as Rickey Lee, Albert E, Alan Trace, Griswell, Paul Mills, Mr X, Tony James, Dave W and Sid Morris.
Power House were pioneering in other ways too. They broadcast all kinds of music including reggae, rock, oldies and a run down of the Top 40 every Monday. On bonfire night 1988 they broadcast live from a bonfire in Paul H’s garden using a spare transmitter to link to the studio. When a phone line was introduced, there were people calling in for requests all day long, the station was becoming extremely popular. New DJ’s included Cally, JD, Frazer Nash, Big R, Dave T, Pete S, Jonah and Wayne Lawrence.
Transmitter power was increased to 25 Watts and then later to 50 Watts with Stereo being added as well. By October they started to take advertising. By late 1988 the station was broadcasting 24 Hours a day and HMV (Johnny B), appeared on an edition of the regional discussion programme Central Weekend to talk about pirate radio. At the stations peak, there were even discussions about a second station which would have been Power House 2, and tests took place for a station devoted to adverts called Radio Ad.
By this time it was obvious a raid was imminent. DTI officials had been spotted on the stations CCTV cameras more then once. The raid came on 26th January 1989. They were back on by the same evening but another raid soon followed with another in April.
The station continued through 1989, but as well as people appearing in court and getting hassle from the DTI they now had to deal with competition from other pirates, most notably Freedom 102. Not just competition for audience but also for staff. Some DJ’s left PHR for Freedom, whist others started their own stations.
The station was raided again in February of 1990 and then for a 5th time in May. As 1990 progressed it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay on the air, so by the end of the year they decided to call it a day.
The pirate stations that came on after PHR may have been bigger, slicker and stayed around for longer, but if PHR hadn’t done it first would those other stations have existed? We at The Pirate Archive very much doubt it.
And for that PHR, we salute you.
Move forward to 2006 and Power House Radio made a return with Johnny B at the helm.
After Power House closed down in 1990, there was a massive boom of new stations in the mid to late 1990s, some of which continued until the early 00s. As these stations steadily faded out and closed down the FM band started to return to just a handful of ‘Urban’ and ‘Reggae’ stations, and of course your ‘Today’s Better Mix Of Blandness’ courtesy of the legal’s!
Fed up with the state of stations on the air, Johnny decided it was time to bring PHR back to life once again. On 24th May 2006 broadcasting on 103.5 FM Powerhouse returned to the airwaves once again, after having run some tests a few weeks prior. The station remained on air over the summer with regular broadcasts until it’s final day on air which was over the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2006.
By the middle of June, Power House had moved frequency to 106.8 FM due to another station coming on air from Birmingham, who never ran any programs, just put out music and appeared at the time to not want PHR on 103.5 FM. As soon as Power House moved frequency, this other station oddly enough also vanished, although there was nobody on this frequency prior to Power House’s tests and hadn’t been for some years since the closure of PCRL.
Power House’s broadcasts were limited to Sunday afternoon and evenings only, with the transmitter being located in a tree on a large hill and powered by battery. The power output was said to be in the region of 40 watts.
DJ’s on Power House in 2006 were Chris Knight, Richie Gold, Johnny B, TRG and DJ Olly. There was also a one off broadcast from PHR in December 2006, but since then the station has not been heard. Could this be the end? Well who knows, only time will tell….
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Power House Radio 2006 Broadcasts
|PHR – 103.5 – Johnny B – 24/5/06
|PHR – 103.5 – Johnny B – 29/5/06
|PHR – 103.6 – DJ Olly – 4/6/06
|PHR – 103.6 – Johnny B – 4/6/06
|PHR – 106.8 – Johnny B – 18/6/06
|PHR – 106.8 – TRG – 9/7/06
|PHR – 106.8 – Chris Knight & Richie Gold – 16/7/06
|PHR – 106.8 – TRG – 16/7/06
|PHR – 106.8 – Johnny B – 16/7/06
|PHR – 106.8 – TRG – 30/7/06
|PHR – 106.8 – Johnny B – 30/7/06
|PHR – 106.8 – Chris Knight & Richie Gold – 7/8/06
|PHR – 106.8 – DJ Olly – 7/8/06
|PHR – 106.8 – TRG – 7/8/06
|PHR – 106.8 – Johnny B – 7/8/06
|PHR – 106.8 – Chris Knight & Richie Gold – 28/8/06
|PHR – 106.8 – DJ Olly – 28/8/06
|PHR – 106.8 – TRG – 28/8/06
|PHR – 106.8 – Johnny B – 28/8/06
|PHR – 106.8 – TRG – Testing – 8/10/06||181 mins|
|PHR – 106.8 – Johnny B – 3/12/06