The London Pirates

WBLS (88.5 FM) 1986


Coverage: Londonwide


WBLS was started by Derek B
DJs: Steve Devonne, Jazzy B (Soul II Soul), Derek B (founder), Tim Westwood, Dave Dorrell (M.A.R.R.S.), Chris ‘CJ’ Macinstosh, Jay Strongman, Rob Milton, Bugsy, Judge Jules (Family Funktion), Josh Ritchie, Rob Day, Noel Watson, Maurice Watson, Aitch Bee, Bobby B, Frankie, Tomek, Chris King, Mr Magic (aka Lyndon C), Rob Nagel, Nick Jones, Olly Daniaud, Hector, Des Parks, Doctor Cleanhead, Ben Anthony, Jason Mayall, Nassa, Gaz Mayall, Barry Sharpe, The Brothers Slide, Damon Birchnall, Mark Vaughan, Gary Neal, Tim Sutts, Del Boy.


By rights WBLS should have been one of London’s premier pirate stations for Hip Hop, Soul, Funk and House. It was started by rapper Derek B and boasted an impressive line up of the capital’s top underground DJs, including Tim Westwood, whom it recruited from LWR for a 6-8pm Sunday slot. The launch party was held on Thursday November 6th 1986 at the Limelight in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, with the first stereo broadcast commencing at the stroke of midnight. Transmission time was to be from midday on Friday until 3am on Monday morning with the intention of covering two thirds of the Greater London area. However, it immediately ran into difficulties, most notably when a rival station wrecked its studio hours before the launch, and then they lost their engineers due to pressures from other pirate stations. Kiss FM were also unhappy about WBLS recruiting some of its DJs. WBLS promised a re-launch in April 1987 but disappeared long before then, silenced for good by a DTI raid on 7th December 1986. The experience - and resultant loss of money - convinced Derek B to concentrate on his rap career which proved far more successful.

© Copyright Lindsay (2013)