PRINT Summer 1996


Pirate Radio

BUILT IN A CLAY basin, London embodies claustrophobia as a way of life, but once in a while something happens that lets the air in, that makes you see the city in a new way. It happened to me just before Christmas: flipping the FM dial on the car radio, I was hit by a minimal, psychedelic jungle rhythm, over which the DJ was improvising, Jamaican dance-hall style, on the old Shirley Ellis “Name Game” routine: “doggie doggie bodoggie, banana nana bonana. . . . ” This went on, in ever more baroque variations, for at least thirty minutes. Instantly hooked, I felt as though I were a character in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus, listening to a transmission from the other side.

Beaming out from Friday to Sunday night in a seamless jungle mix—not so much show as environment—Pressure FM is one among dozens of London pirate radio stations. Like all other broadcast media in the UK, radio is carved up between

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