Nicholas Sharpe/ UK
My interest in short wave communications goes all the way back to December 1976 when I bought my first short wave communications receiver being a Yaesu FRG7 and it wasn't long after I got the hang of it that I came across the Sunday morning pirates such as the famous European Music Radio on the good old 6235 kHz network. A couple of years later the network was expanding further with another network forming on the forty one meter band. I recall Barry Stephens as he was then on European Music Radio announcing that a new Dutch station would soon be testing on the 48 meter band and would be a sister station to his.
I am now looking at my vast collection of QSL Cards beautifully contained within many first day cover albums. My first ever attempt to hear the FRS-Holland test is going back to 27th July 1980 when I heard the old ten watt rig on 6250 kHz between 09:15 and 09:45 GMT with a SIO rating of 444. I think the station used the old PO Box 41 , NL_7700AA Dedemsvaart , The Netherlands at the time or maybe it was Kent Place , Norwell , Newark , UK (it was Kent Pace- PV) but I was very excited to receive the reply as I had already been to The Netherlands back in November 1978 to attend the 50th anniversary of the Happy Station show on Radio Nederland as it was then in Hilversum. Going back to FRS-Holland at that time I recall Barry on EMR stating that the operator Peter was delighted with the response and an exchange programme was introduced with a Dutch service with Peter on EMR and Barry Stephens show on FRS Holland. My next QSL card from the station is dated 23rd November 1980 on 6250 kHz between 11:15 and 11:45 GMT. Sadly at this time I recall that both EMR was raided and some years later FRS-Holland suffered the same fate. Thankfully FRS-Holland had more station members and determination than EMR and was able to return , first from its own transmitter and then later was able to negotiate relay facilities with the Belgium station Radio Delmare and later on the Dutch station Radio Oran Utan until sadly both stations were raided.
I can honestly tell the listeners that I have been a regular listener and contributor to FRS Goes DX over the past thirty years. I have managed to visit the station twice with my first visit back in 1983 and a further one some six or more years later. I met Peter on both occasions and had hope to have met his very close and late friend Joop Ter Zee who was producing a radio show for a Dutch hospital radio station but sadly it was too late in the evening to meet Joop before catching a train back to Arnhem in 1983. I did manage to see two very impressive studios of the station complete with mixers, cassette recorders/players as well as the original 10 watt transmitter. It is truly amazing what this station has managed to do over the years and what is seldom reported is the fact that with the German service of FRS-Holland was being heard well into the former German Democratic Republic commonly known as East Germany. Strange as it may seem the citizens of East Germany were allowed to listen to European Free Radio stations which were not jammed unlike near all West German and BBC World Service stations. I have seen various letters written by listeners behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany and recall that whilst the success rate of communications was one in five letters it did stop such listeners as Uwe and Gerald from being in contact with the station. You can see that FRS-Holland isn't really as the jingles says a balance of music and information but also was a balance of non political communication across the Iron Curtain. I for myself through the station and other stations was able in the 1980s to build up penfriends in both East and West Germany allowing the possibility to exchange cassette recordings and other communications as well as an XMas cake!