In May 1980, I decided to turn my hand to FM broadcasting having obtained a 1 watt transmitter from Rod Smith, who incidentally had built the NLR transmitters. Tuning around the FM band at that time I noticed that 96.3MHz was completely clear and begging for some oldies. At this time no other pirate had used frequencies above 93MHz, but what the hell, we were pioneers.
On the second week of May 1980, myself and Brian Smith took our 1 watt transmitter, car batteries and recorded programmes to the roof of Tintagal House, Edmonton, London N9 and at 2pm the first broadcasts from Veronica 96.3 were heard. Even though we were running very low power we received quite a few phone calls as well as mail. We realised that not only was this a nice clear channel but it was also right next to Capital Radio, so we were easily found by the would be listener. It's important to remember the state of radio in those days, as musically on the FM band in London there was just Capital Radio with their 8 hrs needle time restriction. I know this is hard to understand when listening to the FM band today but to appreciate this station and its story you have to think of us as the only alternative music station, certainly in North London anyway.
This test transmission proved to be extremely successful which resulted in my obtaining a higher powered transmitter from Justin Simmons of Radio North Kent. The next few weeks Veronica 96.3 transmitted regular programmes on a Sunday from 2pm until 8pm with a power of 60 watts ERP beaming south from Tintagal House. DJs were Garry Stevens, Brian Smith, Christopher England, Colin Weston, Mike St John and Alan Scott. In the autumn it was decided to move to a more southerly site; Queensbridge Rd, Dalston. This was because our prime target area was North and East London where we wanted to provide a strong signal as no other pirate station was doing that. Also by this time I had mastered how to build transmitters, linears, etc. This meant that we were now totally self-sufficient in the engineering department. I built a 90 watt transmitter which was fed in to a 3db gain H aerial. This was beamed NE with slant polarisation producing a power closely approaching 200 watts forward. This gave an end stop signal across all of our target area and beyond.
Transmission hours changed to 4pm until 10pm. The DJ line up remained much the same as earlier with the inclusion of Ricky Stevens (no relation) and Steve Anthony. A listener called Pauline who started off by ringing us for a request offered to take our phone calls for us. Hence we referred to her on-air as Auntie Pauline and invited listeners to ring her. We worked out that we were averaging 70 phone calls per hour. At this point I would like to thank Pauline for her undying help throughout the Veronica 96.3 Central London transmissions.
After several months of successful transmissions from the Dalston site it was decided we would move the transmitter to Leyton in East London using a block called Arthur Punchin Tower. This was a central site that not only covered our dearly loved North and East London areas but would also allow us to penetrate well into South London and beyond, Kent etc. This site was used successfully for 4 months until one evening when four of us including myself were retrieving the equipment at the end of the broadcast. We were confronted in the lift motor room of the aforementioned tower block by the local constabulary who had worked out that the equipment was for pirate radio broadcasting. The Police confiscated the transmitter, audio stages, antenna and programme tapes. Upon taking all of our names and proof of identity we were allowed to leave the location and duly received postal summonses two weeks later for illegal broadcasting. So it was decided to suspend broadcasting until the outcome of the court cases which saw the end of this phase of Radio Veronica.
|Veronica 96.3 sticker one|
|Veronica 96.3 sticker two|
|Justin Simmons built Veronica transmitter|
|Early antenna on air|
|Veronica 96.3 transmitter built by myself|
|Internal view of Veronica 96.3 transmitter built by myself|
|200 watt equipment built by me on air at the time|
|John Williams changing tapes at the top of the hour|
|Veronica studio in Lancelot House Edmonton, used throughout Veronica 96.3|
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