Fantastic news this week! RinseFM, East London’s underground-music pirate radio station, has been granted a broadcast licence. The station has been instrumental in fostering a sense of community around, and promoting, varied underground bass-music. DJs and records calling themselves UK Garage, grime, dubstep, funky house and drum’n'bass have broadcast from its studios for 15 years.

Rinse FM logo

I gotta admit, I don’t tune in very often. I’ve not listened to much grime or the more obviously “garage” sounds, but dubstep and d’n'b, techno, breaks and electro have been my staples for years. Brighton, where I grew up, had several occasional pirate and RSL stations broadcasting all these musics and feel connected to Rinse even tho’ I can’t pick it up all the time (or couldn’t ’til they went digital). These formative experiences have instilled a love of FM radio in me. It’s cheap to broadcast and to receive, and can be used by new or under-privileged cultural groups, who may be divided by significant time or space, to express their ideals and reinforce their identities. Pirate stations encourage pioneer spirit and are soul-food for communities.

RinseFM seems the ideal UK pirate. Long-running, inspirational, underground, successful. The music and scenes it champions have blossomed, becoming mainstream. East London’s grime pioneers like Roll Deep have had a national UK no.1. The Dubstep scene has grown from a handful of friends in South London to a worldwide underground and overground phenomenon, Wombling & wobbling out of bassbins from Scotland to Japan and New Zealand. Its new, legal status is testament to the passion and dedication of its team and listeners. Well done Rinse!

Some notes:

I found this news on Blackdown Soundboy’s blog. I apologise to Blackdown for ripping off his story and implore you all to read his words because he’s a far finer writer than me.

For an exploration, in Spanish, of pirate radio subcultures, check Rosa Apablaza Valenzuela’s ESTACIÓN PIRATA (Spanish). She produced this documentary art-work and demonstrated really accessible transmitter technology at Medialab-Prado’s AVLAB08 workshop.