Pirate Radio in Hackney, early 1990s

Pirate Radio – authentic expression of working class youth culture, but also a right pain in the arse if you happen to live in the same block…

That aside, this is a nice documentary about Rush FM (in what appears to be an abandoned block anyway) with ‘ardkore aplenty. Rush was based on the Nightingale Estate in Clapton.

Amazing that Stoke Newington Police can be talk with a straight face in the film about being “vigorous about the misuse of drugs” when they’d recently been exposed for planting them on people and dealing out of the police station.

More info on Rush FM:

DTI investigators faced one of their toughest jobs yet when they found the pirate station they were attempting to raid barracaded behind a wall of concrete. Rush FM had installed its transmission equipment in a disused flat on the 21st floor of a council tower block in Hackney, East London.

To prevent access, the entrance to the flat had been sealed up with three tons of concrete. Programmes came from a studio some distance away, connected over a radio link.

Contractors called in by the council to enable them to gain access to the flat hit a scaffolding pole wired up to the mains while attempting to drill through the concrete, causing a small explosion. Phials of ammonia and CS gas were also reported to have been found embedded in the concrete. A Police guard was needed to prevent the contractors being attacked while the flat was secured. Hackney Council are currently carrying out work to secure their tower blocks from use by unlicensed stations.

Police have suggested that for the station to go to such lengths to protect itself there must be a drugs link. They say they believe a number of unlicenced stations are part of a network of pay party operators and drug dealers. This has been denied by deejays at Rush FM who say they aren’t making any money out of the hardcore techno station. They also denied that they had installed booby-traps, saying they were simply trying to protect their equipment after facing 10 raids already this year.

Showitzer has an amazing photo of the Nightingale towerblocks here, as well as some gruesome Rush FM recollections.

Hackney Council has some film of a couple of the blocks being blown up in 1998 and 2003.

There’s a slightly weird site about the estate being regenerated here.

See also: Alexis Wolton’s “Tortugan tower blocks? Pirate signals from the margins” from Datacide Magazine.

2 thoughts on “Pirate Radio in Hackney, early 1990s

  1. Remember these days well! At one point in 92/93 there must have been at least three pirate stations all broadcasting from the Nightingale Estate. Without a doubt, if it weren’t for Rush and associated station Kool in those early days, drum’n’bass might never have been born.

  2. Pingback: Rush FM raided, 1993 | The Radical History of Hackney

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