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A history of dance music radio stations

Tracing the history of London’s initial dance music stations through clips, music and modern report and interviews.
The beginning

It seems insane now, however in 1980 there were simply 3 stations playing popular music in London: Capital Radio, Radio One and BBC Radio London. On Sunday evenings Radio One closed down at 7pm and Capital Radio had actually classical music followed by an arts programme.

Radio Invicta was Britain’s first soul music station. Prior to long the leading club DJs were pressing to do programs on the station as they saw the impact it was having.

Radio Invicta: Steve Walsh (RIP), Roger Tate (RIP) and Chris Hill. Thameside Radio, Britain’s first weekly FM pirate: Aleks Wright and Bob Edwards, who speaks about the dangers they face.

Light of the World– London Town
The Human League– Gordon’s Gin (Extract).


As the technology continues to get less expensive and easier, the FM band starts filling with stations on the air for a few hours weekly with display C120 cassettes from the tops of towerblocks. Most have a mix of different designs: alternative, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, however pop and rock still dominate.

Radio Invicta: Steve Chandler, Steve Devonne, Bluebird Records ad with Steve Walsh, Nicky Holloway. Uptown Radio, South London Radio, Radio Suburbia, Keith Allen’s Breakfast Pirate Radio. Station employer Tony Johns (RIP) discusses Invicta’s listeners and what the station suggests to them.

The Rah Band– Slide.
MFSB– Mysteries of the World.


The first pirates begin becoming services, not just hobbies, and some stations begin live broadcasts. Invicta gets regular competition from JFM and Horizon Radio, while DBC ends up being the very first black-owned radio station. Jazz-funk controls the soul stations but DBC expands from its reggae core to other black music designs.

Alternative music station Radio Zodiac: Roger Vosene, Vince Cent and Mike Standing. The Dread Broadcasting Corporation: Ranking Miss P, speak about the need for a black radio station in London while Capital’s deputy head defends their programs. JFM: manager Brian Anthony talking about the station and future Radio One DJ Jeff Young providing.

Silicon Teens– Chip and Roll (Extract).
Ranking Miss P & Night Physician– Making Every Effort To Be Free.
Cocoa Tea– Lost My Sonia (Extract).


A loophole in the law is found and some pirates are now on the air seven days a week. Blending crosses the Atlantic and forward-thinking DJs start integrating mixes on their shows for the very first time. However, the more conservative soul DJs start grumbling as electro ends up being the brand-new dance music radio and, like their rock refusenik counterparts, some decline to play anything without genuine instruments.

Horizon Radio: Greg Adams. LWR launches playing whatever from pop to rock to soul– and Tim Westwood with his rap show. Radio Invicta: Steve Devonne interviews The Mastermind Roadshow’s Max LX and Leroy who talk about the response in clubs to their mixes.

Indeep– Last Night a DJ Saved My Life (12″ Version).
Captain Rock– The Return of Captain Rock.


Horizon, JFM and LWR are on the air twenty-four hours a day, but in July the Government passes a brand-new law plugging the loophole that enabled the pirates to operate more easily and some stations close. Invicta and LWR leave the air, but in the autumn LWR is back, under new management and playing only black music. While– with a few notable exceptions– DJs aren’t truly playing electro, the sound significantly influences the rest of dance music.

City Noise Radio: advert for Peckham’s Kisses Nightspot with DJs Froggy (RIP), Gordon Mac, Steve Walsh and boogie godfather George Power. Radio Small and LWR close down ahead of the brand-new laws. Solar Radio releases after Horizon is taken off air in a huge raid that autumn.

EBN OZN– Aeiou In Some Cases Y.
The Edgar Winter Group– Frankenstein (Extract).
Cybotron– Clear (Extract).
The Fresh Band– Return Lover (Extract).
Newcleus– Jam On It (Extract).
Shannon– Let the Music Play (12″ variation).


Raids from the authorities start getting more serious as some stations close down when the Government reveals an experiment in community radio. Wayne Smith (RIP) unleashes a brand-new type of digital dancehall tracks that are fast to spread through the reggae DJs on air and Under Me Sleng Teng refuses to leave the airwaves for the next year.

Solar Radio promos, including Curtis Hairston (RIP) and Chuck Brown (RIP). LWR plugs their DJ services– get Tim Westwood for your wedding or pub. Horizon boss Chris Stewart closes the station down to apply for a licence, as does Solar Radio’s Paul Buick. Kiss-FM launches with Gordon Mac and Tosca. It assures it will be the very first station with routine live blending, but Paul Oakenfold just pulls out some DMC vinyl. TKO launches from former Horizon jocks. Gilles Peterson’s K-Jazz with Chris Philips.

Wayne Smith– Under Me Sleng Teng.
Nu Shooz– I Can’t Wait (Long Dutch Mix) (Extract).
Les Adams– Hip Hop What’s Up Doc.


The Conservative Federal government axes its neighborhood radio experiment over political concerns, however there isn’t a rush to the air as brand-new technology and the usage of personal investigators indicates stations are getting their studios regularly busted. It appears like the authorities are finally winning the war versus the pirates. With the first wave of hip-hop flagging, some DJs begin pushing Washington DC’s go-go as its new replacement. As the significant labels put their efforts into pressing their back catalogues on CD rather than purchasing brand-new talent, so some club DJs likewise appear more thinking about the past and uncommon groove is born. Some enterprising DJs begin bootlegging the tracks they’re pressing on the radio.

North-West London’s Time Radio. Tim Westwood advertisement for his new gig at Hammersmith City center. Fame-FM: Scott Tracey. Starpoint-FM launches with founders Ben West and Chris Philips. Desmond D plugging him and Gordon Mac at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. Trevor Nelson on bootlegging.

Macattack– The Art of Drums.
Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam– I Wonder If I Take You House (12″ Mix) (Extract).
Rochelle– Magic Man (Magic Mix) (Extract).
Maceo and the Macks– Cross the Tracks (Extended Variation).


The number of pirates begins to grow once again, some old names relaunch and there is a consistent development in the number of Afro-Caribbean neighborhood stations on air. Derek Boland (RIP) leaves Kiss-FM to launch WBLS– called after Kiss-FM New York’s competitor– with the cream of DJs from West-End clubs and storage facility celebrations however is messed up by rivals. House begins to appear on a couple of shows, usually the more soulful tracks, however London’s still grasped by unusual groove.

Hits-FM, Clockwork Wireless, Fresh-FM. TKO: Sir Lloyd, Ian Laird’s African program and Tony Bevins’ mix show. Kiss-FM commemorate their 2nd birthday at The Wag. Derek B and Jez Nelson talk about pirates assaulting each other. Jazzy M’s Jacking Zone on LWR. Faithless’ Maxi Jazz. Streetsounds help pay everyone’s bills pressing their numerous collections. Starpoint goes huge on acid jazz with DJ Willber (Willberforce, future One-Xtra boss) and Galliano’s Rob Gallagher.

Hardrock Soul Motion– Double Def Fresh (Scratch Side) (Extract).
Raze– Break 4 Love (Initial Mix).
Galliano– Frederick Lies Still.


The FM band blows up with brand-new pirates. Less expensive, increasingly robust and more protected innovation makes it much easier to get on air while the development in stations lures more to try and after that the sheer number of them on air makes it easier to stay around. Uncommon groove lastly loses its supremacy as more DJs enter into house, particularly as it mutates into acid house and more local productions make it to the stores. As the year ends, stations close down in order to be considered for brand-new licences being offered by the Government.

Starpoint-FM: Chris Philips and Jez Nelson welcome listeners to page in questions on any topic for a late-night talk program. More new stations: Studio-FM, Groove-FM, London Rock, Radio Jennifer, Sky Radio, CRN, RJR, London Greek Radio, RFM, London Asian Radio, Fun Radio, Time Radio, PCR, CD-93. Kiss-FM’s Word, a round-up of music news, what’s on and interviews with Tony Farsides and Lisa I’ Anson. Danny Rampling goes full loved-up, Judge Jules getting on the acid home bandwagon, Matt Black and Jonathan More. Lindsay Wesker on Kiss leaving the air to go legal. Kiss-FM’s pirate closedown with Gordon Mac, LWR’s second closedown.

Steve Reich– Electric Counterpoint 1. Quick (Extract).
LNR– Work It To The Bone (Extract).
Corporation of One– The Reality (Initial Mix).
Baby Ford– Oochy Koochy.
Turntable Orchestra– You’re Gon na Miss Me (Club Mix) (Extract).


With the older stations off-air the FM band goes insane. Every part of London gets its own black neighborhood station pumping out reggae, dancehall, fans rock and soca. As the summertime celebration season starts, the first 24-hour rave stations begin to appear with a brand-new generation of DJs playing a mix of house, acid house, Italian disco and pitched-up electro. Together these 2 groups set the template for the next twenty-five years of pirate radio in London.