Venue Magazine – March 16th 1990

Since December, SPEC (St. Pauls and Easton Community) Radio has been the new mellow sound on your FM dial, but the decision to set up this new Bristol pirate was made back in July, before Black FM were on the air.

Now broadcasting wit a regular schedule (7 day, 10am to midnight), SPEC differs from Black FM in playing a lot less Dancehall Reggae; a less abrasive approach, and a much warmer feel.

“It’s just week time music that you can do your work to,” say head DJ Stax. “From Thursday, it starts getting up tempo, it starts pacing out.”

Daytime is two hours of Soul, two hours of Reggae, while there’s weekly Asian programmes, an African show and your more upbeat weekend spots. “It’s always mixed up and jangled about,” says Stax, “There’s plenty of variety in there”.

He was a core member of the old FTP, who started at the bottom. “There were so many DJ’s who got dropped, I was one of them, and nothing was said to me.”

He’s still bitter, not just about the way he was treated, but also in the direction the new station looks like taking. “It was going to be a community station, that’s what we were aiming for from the time it was set up, but it didn’t work out like that.”

FTP’s perceived failings have been well-documented: DJ’s left out in the cold, not told what was going on, while outside people have been brought in (even though 15 of the 17 FTP DJ’s are from the old station) is one major gripe. Many feel that the new station is motivated by profit and are uneasy about GWR’s involvement – even though GWR have a minority stake, and an attempt to improve that would need to be approved by the IBA.

“We’ve made it clear that we wouldn’t approve of any increase in the stake during the early months of the contract,” says the IBA’s Neil Romain.

“SPEC is not just for black people,” says Radio Manager Junior Ash. “It’s for all the people in the community.”

While the radio’s staff would like to see some wages at some point, right now they’re aiming at the local area. “We ain’t in it for making money,” says Stax. “We seriously, seriously want to help the community, all the little things and small businesses, that’s the sort of people we want to help.”

Meanwhile, SPEC are going for their own licence, and are fairly confident of success. What’s important is to hang onto that underground enthusiasm. “To a certain standard we’re professional,” says Stax, “But we’ve got to keep that pirate feeling.”

Addendum: March 30th 1990 – SPEC’s Wavelength

Did you spot the deliberate omission from our article on St. Pauls and Easton Community Radio (SPEC)? Yup, we forgot to tell you the wavelength of Bristol’s latest pirate radio station. SPEC, which offers up a daily dose of Soul, Reggae and much else besides – can be found on 101.2[5] FM. Get tuned in.