FRS Newsletter/ FRS Summer Splash

The FRS-Holland format sounds different, just a bit different.
Tuesday , 11 June 2024
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1981

1981 began with the same programme line up and presenters as in previous months.

Good start

For the January transmission more than 60 letters were received; conditions on both 48 & 41 metres were excellent. 7325 gave slight problems and instead 7315 kHz was used. The latter proved to be the right hoice and till January 1983, 7315 would remain FRS-Holland’s fixed 41 mb frequency. Unique was a letter from Jerez de la Frontera in the southern part of Spain, more than 1700 kilometres from the transmitting location. It’s also interesting to know that people from the Eastern Bloc were very keen to pick up the FRS signal because the programmes offered a good alternative to the state-controlled stations which were not very popular among a lot of radio enthusiasts in those countries as there was a lack of pop music and radio related information. The majority of Eastern Bloc listeners came from the G.D.R. Very few letters reached the station from other countries in that part of Europe such as Czechoslovakia and Poland. The question is whether poor reception could be the reason for this …. According to FRS engineer Bobby Speeds the answer is definitely ‘no’! Taking a look at the sinpos from for instance the GDR in those days, people in countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia must have been able to receive FRSH without too much of a problem, even taking into consideration their receivers were not state-of-the-art and could’t be compared with many ones used by Western European listeners. It seems obvious that the non response was caused by the attitude of the postal authorities in those countries behind the iron curtain. Of course also in the GDR the situation was far from ideal. To give one example: FRSH once got a letter from a GDR listener who had already written five times. None of these letters reached the FRS mailbox. On the other hand: several letters send by FRS-Holland to the GDR never reached their final destination. Rather sad and annoying but the station didn’t have the power to change this unwanted situation.

E.M.R. final 3rd Sunday 

Sunday February 15th was a rather sad day for many dedicated shortwave listeners. European Music Radio, the legendary UK SW hobby pirate, made its final regular 3rd Sunday transmissionSince 1977 E.M.R. ruled the European free radio airwaves. It was the brainchild of Barry Stephens, the man who also played an important role in the first years of FRS-Holland. Between 08.30-11.30 GMT the programmes of E.M.R. were relayed via the facilities of FRS-Holland on 6250 & 7315 and over 100 letters poured into E.M.R.’s letter box! FRS-Holland’s schedule was reduced to only 2 hours that day. Due to one of the car batteries running flat, the last hour of the broadcast was only to be heard on 41 metres. Most important however was E.M.R.’s signal got out very well! Since Barry Stephens had always been so helpful, FRS-Holland was more than happy to do something in return. The following extract is from Sun February 15th 1981 just after EMR closed down and FRSH commencing transmissions.

FRS featured in FRM

Preparations in the field

So far there hasn’t been paid any attention to the work at the location, perhaps the most specific and important part of a transmission as Peter V. will affirm ……

FRSH_FRM promo for January 1981 edition

Any FRS-Holland broadcast started on Saturdays when two or three of the crew went to the location to hang up the aerials which could take up a lot of time because all sorts of things could go wrong. You had those two pieces of rope, connected with a heavy piece of iron. Ideal person for helping out was Frankie Fanatic who was tall, strong and had arms like trunks.

After completing the work on the aerials, the FRS people went home. Saturday evenings the alarm clock was set for 8 o’clock the following morning and at approx. 08.45 Peter drove his car loaded with equipment to Bobby Speed who so now and then had quite some difficulties getting out of his bed. Then they drove to the location and everything had to be prepared in readiness for the upcoming transmission. Most of the work was properly erecting both 48 & 41 mb hanging in some kind of a V. Around 09.45 the transmitters were tested for a few minutes. A solid organisation was very important and nothing could be forgotten: a SW transistor radio for monitoring the signal, particularly the modulation level, spare parts including x-tals, aerials and valves, the SWR metre and of course the programme tapes. Because the programmes were recorded on C-120’s, every hour someone went to the location to change the programme cassette. To reduce the risk of being caught, most of the time nobody was on the location during the broadcast apart from the just mentioned cassette changes.

New programme schedule

Sunday May 17th the FRS people arrived on the location to discover only the left-overs from what once were aerials. That Sunday of all Sundays no spare aerials were available and so the people had to return home empty-handed. Because of the stolen aerials, it was the first time a broadcast had to be cancelled on the regular 3rd Sunday. A week later FRS made it to the airwaves with one self constructed and one spare aerial. Peter V. brought the news about the stolen aerials: his show was the only one re-recorded (after Sunday the 17th).
On 48 metres there was only a carrier during the first hour: Peter V. simply forgot to plug in the modulation lead …. As a result of the first 9 months of broadcasting and the response from the listeners, a new programme schedule was introduced in May. The English Service, which was temporarily cancelled, returned and the German Service was extended to 45 minutes due to the overwhelming support from listeners in both Germany’s. The DX Show was also extended with an extra 15 minutes. New was the Free Radio Spot  in which a land based free radio station featured itself to the SW audience; the Album Show disappeared although Frankie Fanatic was still involved with the station. May also saw the introduction of a brand new address which was already known in the free radio world: P.O.Box 41 in Dedemsvaart, the Netherlands should become FRS-Holland’s new mailing address and would remain so until the summer of 1989.

FRSH_24-05-1981_about stolen Antennas-New Add

RF Feedback

From that moment onwards future transmissions would result in hanging the cassette machine in a shopping bag on a branch some 80 cm above the ground level thus avoiding any RF feedback. June, July and August passed almost quietly although a few things are worth mentioning: in June FRS-Holland’s 6250 channel suffered from heavy interference from the Free Radio Broadcasting Company, a UK based high-powered station which hadn’t been heard for a long time on SW. A rather low modulation level during the last hour of that June broadcast was caused by one of the car batteries which went flat. Also in July it was FRBC causing interference and thus a move to 6260 was made. Annoying was the fact the cassette machine got jammed in the middle of the the July broadcast. Peter V. thought something different was happening …..

FRS One Year

August 30th saw the second 5th Sunday transmission together with the celebration of FRS-Holland’s very first anniversary. A 90 minute documentary, compiled and produced by P.V. & Joop ter Zee, was broadcasted and a good number of copies were ordered by FRS listeners. Sunday September 20th something strange happened as Peter V. recalls (listen to two audio cuts:  Peter talking about the groundwave and: a September 1981 audio mix).

PV talking about groundwave
FRSH mix pxs 20-09-1981

The period Oct. The period 1981 until March 1982 was an extremely good period for FRS-Holland and its staff. The most important thing for a station is the actual response from the listeners and during this period more than 300 letters were received !! Peaks were noted in November and February. In November the 48 mb transmitter remained silent because of some trouble with a piece a rope preventing the FRS people from hanging up the almost 22m long aerial. Conditions were excellent that day and even with only one transmitter everything was going very well. Talking of conditions ……Hear Frankie Fanatic: 

Frozen cassette machine

FRSH mix pxs 20-12-1981

November 29th 1981 the 48 mb transmitter returned on air and even in Italy FRS provided fair signals witness the various reports being received. The final 1981 transmission took place on December 20th and for the second time a special X-Mas broadcast was put on the air. One little funny incident took place when Peter V. discovered on the location that the cassette recorder was frozen only producing whining sounds. It had been very cold that Saturday night and the cassette machine had been put away all night long in Peter’s car not giving enough protection against the cold.