Tuesday, 17 November 2009
2:05 pm
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Posted by: Fluteboy
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Radio Duck

Back in the 80s I used to listen to pirate radio. Pirate radio has always served a purpose - even if it is illegal. Back in the 60's pirate radio was essential - the only radio available then was BBC radio, and the BBC would so often refuse to play current music. In 1965, they would not play the Tom Jones song It's Not Unusual, because they decided it was "too hot". Is it any surprise Radio Luxembourg was so popular over here! And this is where the pirates came in - giving us the music that the BBC were actively refusing to.

By the time the early 80s rolled along, pirate radio was still serving its useful purpose. By now these stations were dedicating themselves to providing an outlet for electro and soul music, which was largely absent from legal radio. These stations were even run with a tremendous amount of competence too.

In 1986, one station stood out. A thoroughly makeshift affair, lovingly titled Radio Duck. Whereas the other pirates were busy churning out dance and reggae flavoured material, Radio Duck gave us golden oldies! "All oldies, all the time on 89.9", "All-Feathers Radio", "Duck Hot Hits" and "The Chart Alternative" were common catchphrases.

The quality of Radio Duck was impressive too. The station consisted of a small transmitter, a 12 volt car battery, a modified car cassette player, an aerial and a tree! The setup would be on a timer, so the station members could be safely down the pub in case the DTI fancied a raid! The shows were pre-recorded on 1/4" reel to reel tape, then copied onto a C120 cassette. The cassette player would play the left channel of side one, auto-reverse to play the left channel of side two, auto-reversed again to play the right channel of side one, and finally the right of side two. A whole four hours of broadcast from one cassette - ingenious!

As for the jingles, these would usually consist of jingles from the highly familiar PAMS of Dallas, with presenter Tim Allen singing over the top of them:

Radio Duck vintage jingles

In December 2003, Radio Duck made its return via the web. Now the whole world can appreciate a truly refreshing style of radio - a music mix stretching from the 60s to the present day, with some AMAZING tracks popping up from time to time. A couple of nights ago, I heard for the first time, Stevie Wonder's incredible cover of Blowin' In The Wind, along with the forgotten gem In Your Care by Tasmin Archer. Last night I almost cried when the Pet Shop Boys song To Face The Truth came on!

There is definitely no pesky music policy laying down what shall and shall not be played. Automated, and with a wonderful selection of comedic jingles and spoof adverts, the music mix is truly refreshing when compared to the vapid fare that is offered by literally all of the radio stations over here.

Radio Duck current output

And no more having their transmitters stolen by the DTI!

Manhattan Transfer followed by Dodgy! THIS is what radio should be!!!

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