Pirate radio in Asia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

An introduction to the subject of Pirate Radio can be found under that heading.


Radio First Termer was a pirate radio station which operated in January 1971 in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

The station was hosted by a United States Air Force sergeant[1] (born August 15, 1948[2]) calling himself "Dave Rabbit".[2] The two other members of the crew were known as "Pete Sadler" and "Nguyen". Their real names were Don Wade and Roma, a WLS team.

After three tours in Vietnam, "Dave Rabbit" and his friends launched Radio First Termer from a secret studio in a Saigon brothel. The station broadcast for 63 hours[2] over 21 nights (between 1 January 1971 and 21 January 1971[3]).

The station played "hard acid rock" such as Steppenwolf, Bloodrock, Three Dog Night, Led Zeppelin, Sugarloaf, the James Gang, and Iron Butterfly, bands which were popular among the troops but largely ignored by the American Forces Vietnam Network. The music was mixed with antiwar commentary, skits poking fun at the U.S. Air Force and Lyndon B. Johnson, and raunchy sex and drug oriented jokes.[1]

During the mid-1990s, sound clips from a Radio First Termer broadcast posted on the internet renewed interest in the station. In February 2006, "Dave Rabbit" came forward and told his story. He also did an interview for a bonus feature on the DVD release of Sir! No Sir!, a film about G.I. counterculture during the Vietnam era.

Although the frequency was always announced as FM69, in reality the show was broadcast over numerous frequencies, in addition to 69 MHz as selected by the Radio Relay troops across Vietnam. It was also broadcast over AM frequencies, including 690 AM.

In February 2008 audio clips of this underground radio show made their way into the hands Opie & Anthony and 3rd mic Jim Norton. They played some of the audio of these shows over the air at both their terrestrial radio show and their XM Satellite radio show and were impressed with the skills of Dave Rabbit back in "the 'Nam" which led to renewed interest on such sites as Google.

China (From International Waters)[edit]

A number of offshore radio stations have reportedly operated from the South China Sea, mainly for political purposes and these include Voice of the People's Liberation Army; Radio Flash; The October Storm; Redifussion Central; Popular of Peking. In 1990-1991, two other offshore radio stations intended for a Chinese audience made news in the world's press.

One of them was Radio Tiananmen, a station that was to be based aboard the MV Sarah (Lichfield I) to be renamed Liberty that had been the former home of Radio Newyork International that broadcast briefly during two consecutive years in late 1980s from an anchorage off Jones Beach, New York. The idea was to anchor the ship in international waters off the Northeast coastline of the USA and to broadcast on behalf of the thousands of Chinese students studying in the USA in support of their fellow students who had demonstrated in Tiananmen Square. The idea faltered when the backers were told that the United States government would oppose an independent political station of this type.[citation needed]

The other station was created in France and sponsored by Actuel, a French magazine and The Face, a British magazine together with support from contributors in Hong Kong. The group called themselves "Federation for Democracy in China" and they purchased a ship which they painted with prominent signs under its new name: Goddess of Democracy, which appeared to be both the new name of the ship and the working name of the proposed station. When the vessel sailed from La Rochelle, France it was intended for the ship to dock and that is where studios, transmitters and radio antenna would be installed. However, the project ran into one political problem after another and after several ports of call the would-be radio ship ended up as a financial liability headed for the scrap yards.

Hong Kong[edit]

In 2006, Citizens' Radio was founded by a group of pro-democracy activists, including Tsang Kin-shing and legislator Leung Kwok-hung, also known as "Long Hair". It broadcast on weeknights from Chai Wan on 102.8 MHz FM.

On 30 November 2009, FM101, a station based in Kwun Tong commenced broadcasting, according to the South China Morning Post (1 December 2009). It was heard in the east of Kowloon and the east of Hong Kong Island. The station's founders include Leung King-wai, Tsang Chun-ying and Kwok Yiu-cheong. The latter two were formerly presenters for Citizens' Radio, but Citizens' Radio was not involved in its foundation, according to founder Tsang Kin-shing.


In reference to unlicensed land-based stations, the term underground radio is in common usage in Taiwan. The World United Formosans for Independence reportedly studied the possibility of broadcasting from the Philippines, but no concrete action materialised.

The underground radio movement began in the liberalising political milieu following the lifting of the decades-long martial law. Historically most of the stations have opposed, in some manner, the political establishment represented by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and the Republic of China (ROC) framework, in favour of the then opposition movement broadly consisting of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and allied social movements. These so-called pan-green radio stations are mostly based in central and southern Taiwan with most listeners being hard-core pan-green supporters who despise Kuomintang rule and the potential for reunification with China. A few stations positioned themselves on the opposing end of the political spectrum, generally favouring the ROC status quo advocated by the New Party and "non-mainstream factions" within the Nationalist Party. With the DPP formerly in power, and ultimate Taiwan independence and sovereignty being the stance taken by most underground radio stations, Taiwan was one of the rare examples in the world of underground radio stations being pro-government.

Programming generally is of a vertical blocking format, with live call-ins taking up a good portion of air time. On some stations slots are allocated to local community and activist groups. The most prominent segment of the audience comes from rural working class, males usually middle aged and beyond. Taiwanese Hokkien is by far the most commonly used language on the air, although Mandarin and, much less frequently, Hakka are also used. Underground radio stations cover their expenses by selling unorthodox drugs or medicine in a humorous and entertaining manner to keep the listeners hooked between actual programming.[original research?]

Most if not all underground stations favour a mechanism to gain legal status but many balk at the costly requirements, which they believe to favour corporate and Nationalist-owned broadcasters. Government policy has always treated underground radio as an illegal enterprise, even after the DPP came to power. Official responses have been more varied, alternating between levying fines and confiscating equipment to tolerating their presence. Most stations are able to set up backup broadcast points within days of government raids. Commercial stations are known to file official complaints against pirate stations, whose signals are said to interfere with legal broadcasts.[citation needed]


The most known unregulated radio station ever aired in the Philippines was 107.9 U-Radio. It began its broadcast in 2006, it started broadcasting in Metro Manila at 107.9 MHz with the power of 100 watts. The station played non-stop dance music, with no call sign and disc jockeys, and a stinger of a recorded female voiceover mentioning a mobile phone number that served as a request line in between queues. With hundreds of text messages being received daily and the station was a hot topic at dozens of blogs and forums over the internet.

In April 2007 they temporarily ceased transmission so they could obtain all the necessary broadcast permits from the National Telecommunications Commission to legitimize the station. In June 2007, U Radio returned on air under the temporary license of a community-based radio station and started broadcasting with the power of 500 watts.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Good morning, Baghdad!- Salon News
  2. ^ a b c Vietnam War Pirate DJ Dave Rabbit Has Finally Come Forward
  3. ^ The Radio First Termer Home Page