A Personal Journey Through London's Pirate Radio Stations

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The Poet
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A Personal Journey Through London's Pirate Radio Stations

Post by The Poet » Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:40 pm

Tape Crackers: A Personal Journey Through London's Pirate Radio Stations

Michael Finch owns what must well be the biggest archive of pirate radio tapes in the country. Like many who tuned into the pirate stations that saturated London’s FM bandwidth in the 90s, Finch recorded his favourite broadcasts on tape – not for posterity but to “share the wealth”, as he puts it, with his schoolmates. Few though can have had the dedication of Finch, who continued making recordings for over a decade.

His collection numbers into the thousands, comprised of his own recordings and rave tapepacks (semi-official bootlegs of jungle, drum and bass, garage and grime events). Taken as a whole, Finch’s archive is a document of one of the most exciting and ephemeral periods in UK dance music. In one respect, it’s an experience that Finch has shared with many many others, not least of all the DJs and MCs that were the same age as him when they started out, like Rinse FM’s DJ Slimzee and Pay As You Go Cartel’s Maxwell D. “I never knew any of [them] but it felt as though I did in some respects because I'd grown up with them through pirate radio and raves," he explains. But it's also a uniquely personal history, shaped by his own tastes and life story. As well as tracing the rise of the biggest garage and grime stars, Finch's tapes are also, inadvertently, a chronicle of his formative years.

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