Better than Nothing.

Where's it all gone?



I was born in 1953 and after attending St Anne's Primary School in Denton, Lancs, eventually went to Audenshaw Grammar School, where I failed to blossom into a young intellectual. I was always much happier fiddling around with radios and what-not. Luckily the school had a Radio Club, which met in the new physics lab every Monday after hours. The newspaper photo below shows me and my friend Pete fiddling with a (terrible!) Unica shortwave radio at our open day in 1967.
I also used to listen to the offshore pop pirate stations on MW. What a refreshing change they were to old, stuffy BBC.
There were three of us who were mucho into radio and electronics, and between us we made covert noise-makers, TV jammers (great fun outside TV shops..) and all manner of things. I also discovered amateur radio by accidentally tuning the family radio into topband one Sunday morning, and later an old TV into the 4-metre amateur band and the rot set in. I was hooked on listening to anything and everything.
I got a job in the TV repair trade. At about the same time I began illegaly transmitting, and discovered a 'net' of illegal operators using the bit of medium wave at the top of the dial. Great fun, but after a couple of years I was busted by the (then) GPO and fined £25 plus £35 costs, a lot of money in 1973.











The court wanted to confiscate my brand-new Trio 9R59DS receiver, but I surprised myself by digging in my heels and telling them they couldn't have it!
Then I really got stuck in. I hooked up with a newly-started MW and FM pirate radio station in south Manchester. They'd just been raided (bloomin' GPO again!) and lost their FM transmitter and had fallen back on a rather crappy MW one. I went along to one of their broadcasts and found the temptation irresistable - I made all our MW transmitters for the next two years, two years of fun and court appearances. You can read all about it on the Aquarius page.
That all finished in 1975 and after a repeat performance - this time it was Andromeda Radio - in the early 80's I settled down and got my Amateur Radio licence, and about time too.
In 1981 got my first scanner - a JIL SX200 - and was amazed. Can you believe that before about the mid 70's there was no easy way of listening to er...stuff? Until then, if you wanted to listen to activity on VHF or UHF you had to use bulky old ex-services radios or cobble something together from old TV parts. The early scanners were usually 6 or 10 channel affairs, and you had to buy a crystal for every channel. By contrast the synthesized, go-anywhere SX200 was amazing! Next came the wonderful Icom 7000, a beautifully-built receiver. Then a few second-hand ones in quick succession: a Standard AX700 (wish I'd kept it), a Yaesu 9600 (terrible!) and an Icom 7100 (another beauty). Finally I have settled on the AOR AR5000, very nice indeed.

These days I pass the time by writing occasional articles for Radio magazines. Oh, I seem to have run out of story. Despite now being in my early 50's, I still think radio is somehow 'magic' and I can't imagine ever losing interest.