Radio 390

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Radio 390 (1965–1967) was a pirate radio station on Red Sands Fort, (near Whitstable), a former Maunsell Fort on the Red Sands sandbar.

Previously the fort had been used by Radio Invicta (c June 1964 - February 1965) and KING Radio (March - September 1965).[1] Neither was well-financed or successful, and KING approached Ted Allbeury, who suggested a format based on women's magazines to appeal to housewives.

Radio 390 was named after the station's wavelength, so listeners would know where to tune. The actual wavelength was 388 metres (773 kHz), but 390 was easier to remember. Like its neighbour, Radio City, Radio 390 took advantage of the fort's layout by erecting a 250-foot vertical mast on an inner tower, guyed to three of the outer towers. This, with additional elevation from the height of the towers, gave a stable and efficient antenna, better than ship-based stations, ensuring coverage of southern England with only a 10 kilowatt transmitter. For advertisers, the station claimed 35 kilowatts.

The station's easy listening format was innovative and highly popular with listeners, but criticised by Britain Radio as "stone age radio - a series of segmented dirges".

An episode of Patrick McGoohan's "Danger Man" (known in the U.S. as "Secret Agent") called "The Not-So-Jolly Roger" was filmed on Red Sands Fort in early 1966 when "Radio 390" was broadcasting (shut down a year later). The episode was broadcast on 4 July of the same year.

Legal challenges[edit]

On 25 November 1966, after a magistrate's court case lasting two days, Radio 390's management was found guilty of illegal broadcasting, fined £100 and ordered to close the station. Shortly after 11pm this was done. An appeal heard by the High Court in December was turned down.

On 31 December the station returned, basing its decision on evidence that the fort was outside territorial waters, contrary to the High Court's claim. A magistrates' court heard the evidence on 22 February 1967, but rejected it next day, fining the company £200 and its directors £40 each. However, the station continued.

On 10 March the Post Office brought a civil action, seeking an injunction to prevent it from broadcasting. This was granted in May, but Radio 390 appealed. The appeal was heard on 28 July, but rejected on the grounds that the Marine Offences Act, would, in any case, have forced the station to close on or before 14 August, 18 days later. Consequently, the station closed for the last time just after 5pm.

On 6 August a group raided the fort and stole equipment, but were shortly arrested.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bishop, Gerry (1975). Offshore Radio. Iceni Enterprises, Norwich. ISBN 0-904603-00-8. 
  2. ^ Bishop, Gerry (1975). Offshore Radio. Iceni Enterprises, Norwich. ISBN 0-904603-00-8. 

External links[edit]