pirate radio piece

Exhibition Documenting Pirate Radio Comes To ICA

The travelling archive that looks at the UK’s pirate radio legacy in the 1980s arrives in London for the next two months.

Tomorrow (27th May) sees the arrival of Shout Out! UK Pirate Radio In The 1980s to London’s ICA, where it will be held until July 19. The archival exhibition chronicles the hugely influential UK pirate radio movement in the 1980s that paved the way for the burgeoning rave scenes of Jungle, Garage and House in the following years.

Pirate radio first emerged in the 1960s when offshore workers would illegally transmit their own shows, but saw a significant resurgence in the 80s when DIY stations would occupy residential tower blocks to celebrate Black British sounds that were overlooked by the BBC and other mainstream media outlets. Although often associated with the Jungle, Garage and Grime broadcasts of the 90s and early 00s, pioneering pirate stations such as Dread Broadcasting Corporation (DBC), Radio Invicta, Kiss 94.5 FM and London Weekend Radio (LWR) were some of the only stations at the time broadcasting Soul, Funk, Jazz, Reggae and Hip-Hop. After the Telecommunications Act 1984 was introduced – effectively ending the operations of many of the pioneering stations – a new generation of burgeoning pirates came up with ways of evading the Radio Investigation Service, resulting in over 600 illegal stations nationwide by the end of the 80s.

Photographs, videos, and press clippings will document this politically marginalised yet culturally momentous aspect of British urban music culture – the exhibition will travel to the Phoenix in Leicester 23 July-24 August following its stint in London.

pirate-radio-ica-body-image-1431013175Image Credit: No License for Kiss FM, Written Word magazine, 1989, courtesy of Gordon Mac

Shout Out! UK Pirate Radio In The 1980s, is running from May 26-July 19 at the ICA. Visit their site for more information.

Featured image courtesy of David Corio via The Guardian