The first 7-day a week white pirate station in the Black Country was Power House Radio. They had been on since 7th February 1988 from Rowley Regis. At this point Craig Benson was running a car hire business that booked some advertising on PHR. It was through this connection that Craig Benson obtained his first transmitter.
The first tests of Local Black Country Radio (LBCR) took place during the afternoon of 6th November 1988 with the station opening for real at 7pm that evening on 105.5 FM. After about a week they moved up to 105.9 and were on every day until shortly after Xmas ’88 when they disappeared.
Over Xmas LBCR had been joined by Wayne Lawrence from PHR. Together with Craig they obtained a crystal controlled 157 watt transmitter, upgraded the studio and on the 28th January 1989 the first tests for FREEDOM 106 took place, with Wayne Lawrence being the first voice. The station started for real on 1st February 1989, broadcasting nightly with some of the old LBCR DJ’s and newcomers like Steve Kennedy, Kelly James and Ege and Po.
However, the days on 106 were to be short lived as they were raided on the 10th, due to the signal interfering with the MEB. Craig and Wayne were both fined £1500 following that raid!Undeterred, Freedom was back by the 22nd April 1989 on a new frequency of 87.9, (Freedom 87.9 ‘The basement station’). However, not many people tune around that part of the dial, so on the 28th May 1989 they changed to 102 FM.
Throughout the early summer the station began to really take off. As more DJ’s like Brian J, Steve Welch, Lee Clarke, Wayne James, Alan Phillips and Dave W and Cally from PHR joined, they were eventually able to go 24 hours a day. However it could not last. On the 4th of August the station was raided. The station quickly returned but was raided again within days! The station was on and off for the next year or so and was even renamed Freedom Community Radio (FCR) for a short while.
They eventually merged with NRG FM in 1991. The summer of 1991 was one of the best times Freedom ever had but once again it was not to last. This time infighting caused some of the NRG and Freedom crew to go their separate ways and then of course the inevitable raid.
Freedom was last on air in January 1993 when it was raided for the last time at Rowley Regis. There have been a few test transmissions since this date in 1994 and 1995 but the station has not returned.
And that’s The History So Far but I don’t think the story should end there ……………… Wayne Norris 2022
For a little more information on Freedom Radio then why not read the Freedom Story written by Craig Benson.