Pirate Radio

Yes, when you consider risk v reward it’s not really worth going pirate for the average punter. The pirate scene in the UK is still fairly healthy by all reports, but then they have a long tradition of hoisting the Jolly Roger.

Australia has never really had a burgeoning pirate radio scene anyway. I put that down to the willingness of commercial radio to adopt Top 40 in the 60s, discouraging any would be Radio Carolines or Haurakis. Then the emergence of community radio in the 70s and 80s meant that anyone could access the airwaves. I think it is community radio that is the main factor; until very recently it was limited in both the UK and US.


This is interesting… was in Newcastle today and the 89.3 pirate was off air … just static on that frequency… hasn’t been like that for a long time.

I noticed that, 89.3 appeared in a few Wikipedia pages so maybe that drew attention to the station and the ACMA pounced.


Thanks, I was out in the car on Saturday it was off air then still (so had been for a few days). They were just lucky to have been on air for that long as it was.


There’s quite a bit about it on Reddit but nothing really giving it all away, Google 89.3 Newcastle, seems it was a Japanese guy originally in Lambton on 93.0, then it changed frequencies to 89.3 & obviously location to Tighes Hill, makes sense if it’s a Uni Student now staying at the student accommodation places around near the TAFE?
Been going for over 5 years, that’s not a bad run for a pirate station.


Or there is this Spotify playlist called 89.3 NEWCASTLE by Louie Durham with exactly the same music as played on the station.


Maybe he was using Spotify to feed it?


You know what. I’ve got my little 1 (low setting) to 10 (high setting) watt FM Transmitter sitting around doing nothing.

Maybe I need to find a tall building somewhere in Inner Melbourne, where I could discretely leave it and a disposable, cheap, PC plugged in, and see how long it would last on-air until the ACMA goons come and take it away?

Any ideas?

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Not this:


There’s a Pirate on air around Acacia Gardens on 90.3 for those is the area.


This shows what you are up against trying to get interested people to work in broadcasting:

I actually knew the bloke referred to above - he worked for a well known telco doing installation work. Not the most interesting job of course but ARN at Stones Corner happened to have a tech vacancy at the time that I knew about, so I put the pirate in touch with them and he went in for an interview. When I asked him how he got on he said it was a joke - they wanted him to start on some ridiculously low wage with 24x7 on call. It was certainly nothing that was going to get him away from the drudgery telco install work.

It’s a wonder anyone works for some of these broadcasters anymore.


Whilst, not radio; I was very recently speaking with a recently ex Ch Nine employee & was shocked at their ridiculously, if not insultingly low wage.
No doubt the purse strings in media are so tight now with margins so low.
I suspect one would need to already be financially comfortable & have to really love the broadcast industry, on the content creation side, to work there.


Studio staff in the media are generally not paid very highly, unless you’re talent & have been lucky enough to come to a good deal & bring in big money for the station/network. Most would be on an average Australian income or lower, the award rate of pay for media jobs is very low, if you were on the award rate of pay, I’m not sure how you’d get by today without having a second income, most or all Super Network staff would be on that minimal award rate of pay, so spare a thought for them, they’re mostly working for the love of it.

Us in the transmission side of things are paid quite well, well above the award rate. Most of us decent transmission techs at TXA/BAI are paid well up there, with more available for overtime, etc. most of us aren’t quite hitting the top tax bracket yet, but well up there above the average Australian income & for me it’s not even like working, I love it, it’s like getting paid quite well for doing a hobby.

In broadcast transmission, it can be stressful at times, any down/transmitter off time costs money, eye watering amounts per minute in some cases, so you have to think & work fast to get things back on, we also work long hours sometimes, you can’t just always pack up & go home when you’ve done your 8 hours if an install has to be on air next week & you’ve got 3 weeks worth of work to go, or a station is off air, & when you’re on call, you will get alarms & faults at all hours of the night, that have to be actioned, literally within less than 5 minutes, so I guess we get paid to be compensated for that.

We all argue it’s not enough, but then a broadcast tech job isn’t for everyone, even though it sounds like a fantastic job (which it is/can be) for most of us here in MS world.


A lot of the problem comes back to the Broadcasting Award which is an old stripped award that didn’t get CPI increases for most of the 2000’s. The conditions were modernised but the pay rates were not. With most commercial broadcasters its a case of go onto fixed term individual contracts or its award poverty wages.

Those better pay rates are as a result of your skills being transferable to other employers such as telco and defence etc. Back at the studio sadly their options are usually not as varied.

Pirate radio has better financials than some broadcasters now do.


I agree with that statement completely, with the stress that comes with broadcast at times the average commercial wage is just not worth it in this day and age, and yeah if you have the skill set to work for TXA or BAI then yeah you get paid well, but oh boy you certainly use your skills and when the shit hits the fan you are flat out with your arse hanging out stressed to to the max until that fault is fixed and in return get paid accordingly for it.
But there is also the fun side where you learn something new everyday and get to play with some great gear on sites that have amazing views.

A great example of times when you certainly earn the wage is over the Xmas New year break when the Gold Coast was smashed by the freak storm and power was off, shit was off air, equipment had been belted into oblivion by lightning and your finding the balance between been on calls our your mobile phone and Teams on your laptop to update Teams Leaders, Area managers NOCC operators, equipment suppliers local businesses to get distant service checks, and liasing with fellow companies your either on site with or share your site, all while filling Generators with diesel by hand cause a fuel truck can’t get into the site, due to road conditions, carrying equipment up the ripped up track cause it has gotten so bad with continuous rain that now you can’t drive the road and going between 2 sites to get stuff working with the least down time. Over all it was over 70 hours of work in 4 days, I missed my partners birthday but I got many many thank yous from those in power who care, and well let’s say I got paid accordingly to buy my partner something nice to make up for missing most of her birthday :slightly_smiling_face:

But sometimes there is a hard place I have to drag myself to :wink: below is a photo of a spot I had to be over the last week to do a voice check for the NSW GRN, been able to sit at a spot like this and enjoy the view briefly makes it all quite nice at times :grin:


Interestingly BCL/TVNZ/THL (the predecessors to BAI) paid lower than Telstra Broadcasting when they took over the government transmission maintenance in the late nineties. The Telstra tech’s went redundant at Telstra on Friday arvo and turned up at TVNZ the following Monday, however they were not on as high money as Telstra were paying. For many the redundancy they got from Telstra made it worth their while.

Commercial TV wasn’t poverty wages everywhere in days gone by either - in the 80’s Nine paid well above the award in Sydney with supplement payments.

Sadly all history now.


88.8 FM back on air. Horrible choice of frequency, and they’re not really playing anything obscure.


Discuss Pirate radio station “87.8 Hot FM Charleville” over on the Narrowcast forum of this website. The discussion is over there as it’s on a Narrowcast frequency and interfering with other narrowcast stations.


I heard it last year in and around the Brunswick area, it ID’d as Kool (The old DAB+ station) and was using their idents.

Edit: I found a 5 second video I recorded of it, you can hear the Kool ident very faintly.


Nice. I think that’s what I was hearing. The signal isn’t too bad, but being right next to 88.7, and 88.9, which is of course even stronger, it makes it way too hard to listen.

You might randomly hear it on air on the weekends for a few hours.