The London Pirates

LWR (92.1 FM, 92.5 FM, 102.8 FM) 1982 - 1988

37b New Cavendish St

London W1M 8JR

Coverage: Londonwide

Jingles: “LWR – the hottest show in London” (Bill Mitchell)

DJs: Tim Westwood, Steve Harris, Jazzy M, Maxi Jazz (Faithless), Derek B (Boland), Master MC (Rapattack), Carl Cox, Mr C (The Shamen), Froggy, Norman Jay, Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson, Jasper ‘The Vinyl Junkie’, Steve Jackson, Pete Tong, Trevor St. Francis, Dave Gregory (aka The Lone Ranger), Paul Dodd, Lindsay Wesker, Tony ‘The Hitman’ Bevans, Ron Tom, Daddy Ernie, DJ Elaine, Eddy James, Alistair (Rapattack), Trevor Smith, Scully (aka The Jive Master), Steve M, Steady Eddie, Shads, Shay, Dezzy D, Addie, General Lee, Zak (LWR owner), Elvis, G.T., Brian Bell, Richard Taylor, Mr Vader, Yomi, Jerry Francis, Chris Collins, Peter G, Cliff Ringwood, Mike Steele, Steve Edwards, Neil Charles, Andrew Dennis, Oscar J (aka Peter Anthony), Tony Christian, Mike ‘Ruff Cut’ Lloyd, Jigs, Angie Lemar, John O’Bell, Johnny Haywood & Keith Green (founders), Paul Stafford, Ricky King, Mark Mason, John Dawson, Mike Sefton, Jeff Young, J.J., Robbie May, Perry Daniels, Ralph Tee, Wayne Turner, Fuzzy Dee (DJ/engineer).

Carl Cox

N.B. The above list comprises roughly half the known lineup over the years.

London Wide Radio (incorporating London Weekend Radio) began official weekend broadcasts from council tower blocks in December 1982 following test transmissions throughout October and November. It is thought to have first been heard over Bank holiday weekends in 1981. Like most other pirates LWR struggled at first to maintain signal strength and quality and also consistent broadcasts. By September 1983 it had established itself sufficiently and under new management grew to cater for a wide variety of specifically black music including Soul, R&B, Calypso, Jazz, Funk, Latin, Reggae and Hip Hop. By about March 1984 it was broadcasting seven days a week. It managed to weather the constant DTI raids which had silenced JFM and Horizon and carried on broadcasting until 31st December 1988, when it closed down voluntarily to bid for a legal licence (unsuccessfully). At the time of its closure it was described by the Mail on Sunday as ‘the largest land-based (pirate) station in the UK.’

LWR had an impressive initial roster of 22 DJs and proved serious weekend competition to Kiss FM. On 9th March 1987 The Sun newspaper reported that LWR had won 1.5 million listeners. In their own words they had ‘competitive advertising rates’ and raised healthy revenue from the long commercial breaks and self-promotions for gigs. Their DJs had built solid reputations in the clubs and, like those from Kiss, were at the forefront of the emerging dance music scene. The LWR Soul Syndicate DJs played regular Friday night sets at Valentino’s nightclub in Tottenham and were also available for hire via Midas Media.

Tim Westwood began his radio DJ career on LWR in early 1984 and it is where he developed his unique broadcasting style. From at least April ‘84 his show could be heard on a Wednesday night between 10pm-1am and was an apparently unscripted blend of old and new tunes, Soul, Funk, break beats, requests, crew calls, dedications, and mix tapes submitted by up-and-coming DJs. One of those who got airplay was DJ Undercover of later Hijack fame, while the ‘official’ mix-spot was provided by the Imperial Mixer. Westwood had a strong bias towards New York Hip Hop and was adept at obtaining pre-releases, imports, exclusive acetates and recordings of live jams and MC/DJ battles.

Westwood DJ’d at many places across London and was one of the first to popularise Hip Hop in the clubs. He would regularly play it to crowds of 2,000 at Soul City at Heaven. There were also Saturday lunchtime jams at the Electric Ballroom in Camden and a Sunday session at The Wag in Wardour Street. Along with Lyndon T, he could also be found hosting the Jazz Funk night at Gossips in Dean Street every Friday between 9pm-3:30am. The most memorable venue was undoubtedly the Hip Hop club at Spats (37 Oxford Street) every Saturday lunch-time between 12 noon to 3:30pm, which he co-presented with Family Quest and DJ Fingers. Admission was a mere £1.50 and it was always packed. In 1984 Westwood helped organise a Hip Hop festival with the Greater London Council at the South Bank arts centre which drew in excess of 30,000 people. That same year, Afrika Bambaataa* came to the UK and used LWR to popularise his Zulu Nation movement and recruit British members.

By autumn 1986 Westwood had left LWR and, after briefly appearing on Derek B’s short-lived WBLS station, joined Kiss FM.

After Westwood’s departure Steve Harris then hosted the “Hip Hop on a Tuesday Night” show throughout 1987 until at least September 1988. Between 7-9pm he played a mixture of old and new tunes interspersed with Rare Groove, break beats and the occasional exclusive track. As well as reading out listeners’ letters and dedications there were also phone-in competitions and a “Mi Price Hip Hop Top Ten/Street chart” supplied by Mi Price Records of Croydon and compiled by Jazzy M. Jazzy M’s show immediately followed Harris’s and would also feature a mix of Hip Hop, House, breaks and Rare Grooves as well as live satellite link-ups with the States.

Steve Harris also had a Monday night drive time show between 5-7pm where he would play a mix of old and new House, Hip Hop and Funk. This show is known from at least February 1987.

In 1987 Maxi Jazz brought his “Soul Food Cafe Show” to LWR and would play Hip Hop on Thursday nights. On Monday nights from 9pm Barry B would mix live on air, while on Friday nights DJ Yomi had a show featuring Soul and Electro. Jasper the Vinyl Junkie would also play the latest Hip Hop, Go-Go, House, Soul and Funk on his 1-3pm weekday show, and it is probable that Hip Hop also featured on the playlists of the Master MC’s shows. Paul Dodd had a 9pm Sunday show but at the time of writing it is not known if he played Hip Hop.

* Bambaataa appeared at the Hammersmith Palais on Monday 16th July 1984 at a jam attended by JFM’s Paul Dodd.

© Copyright Lindsay (2013)