Friday, 6 April 2012

Rapid Radio

Before mobile phones were ubiquitous, there was a wave of pirate ragga and dancehall radio stations in Leeds (& probably elsewhere), centred principally on Chapeltown. In the late 80s and early 90s, you could scan the dial up from 100MHz and find lots of them, often with a life expectancy of days or weeks. Head and shoulders above them all on 105.3FM stood Rapid Radio.

RR lasted longer and had a reliability far in excess of the others. We suspect the transmission gear was moved from house to house around Leeds 7 to avoid apprehension, although John reckoned that the forces of Laura Norder were far happier with the boys running a radio station than being on the streets looking for something else to do. They got as far as jingles (Rapid Radio – broadcasting from the roof of Chapeltown Police Station) and a schedule of sorts, although listening to DJs wondering where the hell the next, very late, guy had got to was a regular laugh.

Usually they just played stuff they liked - you could tell when they liked something especially, as they just played it again. And again.

I owe my liking of Tinga Stewart, Shabba Ranks, Ninjaman and a host of others to RR. My greatest triumph was ringing in for a request for Bea, who was 7 at the time; one flaky conversation, believe me. After a considerable delay, we got “This song going out to a girlchild called Beatrice”, and they played something I had not asked for – but she I and thought it was well worth the wait.

Keenies will like to learn that I have some cassette tapes of RR from 1991 which I am digitising for publication hereabout. Big thanks to TechnoSauce for technical input in this complicated operation.

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