FRS History 1980-1989


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The story of the Free Radio Service Holland begins in the second half of the 1970s. Peter Verbruggen takes up the story:

How it all began
“I was getting more and more interested in radio, mainly in offshore & landbased pirate radio. In 1976 I became a member of a very popular Dutch/Belgian radio magazine called 'Baffle'. Strange enough I wasn't aware at all of the existence of short wave pirates until I read about it in 'RadioVisie', a new magazine which was replacing 'Baffle' and paid regurlarly attention to the European SW scene in those days. That was at the end of 1977 I believe. In August 1978 I bought myself my first SW receiver and a new world opened up for me hearing stations such as Radio Viking, Sunshine Radio, Radio Corsair, Skyport Radio, ABC Europe and European Music Radio (among others). I remember very well I was impressed by the programme standard of some of the stations but at the same time also by the opportunities the SW bands were offering covering wide areas with relatively low-powered transmitters. Especially E.M.R. attracted my attention: the station offered a very professional programme alternative to the government-controlled radio stations and succeeded in putting out a marvellous signal despite only using 10W of power.”

Baffle cover_Febr77_500 Radiovisie cover_June78_500Peter got more and more interested in the Sunday morning short wavescene and this eventually resulted in presenting the Dutch service on E.M.R. That was in August 1979, the same period in which the first idea of starting his own SW station was born. The beginning of FRS-Holland's life was at the same time the end of an era in which several well-known stations put their mark on the SW scene of the late 1970s. Stations such as ABC Europe, Viking, Corsair, ABC England, FRBC and E.M.R. had already closed down or would soon be closing down. They had dominated the 48 metre band for several years and disappeared from the scene for various reasons. The German heydays had already passed with the closure of stations such as Radio Valentine, Channel 292, Radio Partisan and Radio Gloria. It was the beginning of a new era with new stations and new ideas: Atlanta Radio, Britain Radio Int., Weekend Music Radio, ABC Radio, Radio Mercury and FRS-Holland took over here the others left. Peter V. about his first step into the world of SW radio:
Well, I thought to myself: why not give it a try yourself? You don't have to be inferior to many of the other station's output. Very important in those early days was the support given by E.M.R.'s  Barry Stephens. I guess he was some kind of master for me. He learned me a lot about SW, not only in technical respect but also programme wise. First thing I did was to find a suitable name. And so the FREE RADIO SERVICE HOLLAND was born.”

The first transmitter and a failed test
Work on the very first FRS transmitter started in September 1979 when Barry Stephens visited Peter Verbruggen in the Netherlands. Bobby Speed- FRS' engineer- completed the little 10W transmitter and it was on February 24th 1980 when a first test on SW was planned. The frequency was 6265 kHz within the 48 mb and the test was a complete failure... Everything which could go wrong went wrong: the transmitter couldn't be tuned up properly, the aerial wasn't hanging higher than a clothesline and to make matters even worse Peter and his mate Bobby Speed got an unwanted visit in the person of the mayor of their town who went for a walk with his dog. All transmitting gear was lying on the ground and he approached them, looked on the ground and mumbled:
'a radio-electric installation.' Then he turned his back and disappeared together with his dog. Bobby Speed shouted "pack up and go" and both Peter and Bobby Speed never left the location faster than on that memorable Sunday. What a start! In the following months work continued to set up a serious SW radio station.

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