Free Radio

Free Radio in Scandinavia

When looking back into the history of Free Radio, there are one chapter, that are not so known to the DX-ers today. It is the chapter of Scandinavian Free Radio.

If you ask a DX-er about Scandinavia and if the DX-er know any pirate station that origin from that area, the answer will probably be Radio Nord. But Scandinavian Free Radio was, due to the circumstances, one of the biggest in free radio during the 70 and 80’s.

Some years ago, the old operators would probably have been laughing if someone had told them that Scandinavia would become strong again in Free Radio. Today it is a fact.

Those new stations did not just produce and transmit there own programs, they also helped others, that did not have the opportunity to get in possess of a transmitter by their own.

This has increased the amount of Free Radio from Scandinavia.
When you take a look on the development that Scandinavian FR have taken on the 48 Mb you’ll see that the end of “the golden age” took it’s beginning at the 80’s. Why did they stop broadcasting?
Some of them perhaps get over to become Ham’s and some of them perhaps found that the DX-ers where not interested in their programs, just their QSL.
The fig down here shows some statistics from The Sound of Sweden (SoS), they had their programs relayed from R.Poseidon and R.Snoopy.

Date Sweden Norway Denmark Finland DDR BRD Totally
75-11-16 49 7 4 10 4 8 78
75-11-30 1 1
75-12-24 2 2
76-02-22 5 3 1 9
56 7 4 10 8 9 94

By total 95 reports from those 4 broadcast, 83% of them was received by the first transmission. To stop this kind of QSL-hunting SoS put up some rules for the report. The report should have been taken during at least 10 minutes and include at least three details. Those were the demands, so the listener could get some time to judge the programs. SoS did also put marks on the reports. Is this something that the operators should do today?
I hope not. I do not think that my reports will get any “A”‘s

When the feed-back from the listeners did not reach the station, the operators asked their selves; Whom are we broadcasting for? It could not be satisfying just to send out a QSL and then be met with total ignorance. Unfortunately, this is still happening. But never the less, new stations are born.

Another thing that was missing in Sweden, but not in Norway and Finland, was an “umbrella organisation”. The Swedish FR had to get outside Sweden to get a mailbox. It was also dangerous by that time, because of the experience of Radio Nord and Radio Syd that had done some basic Free Radio on FM and MW. In Sweden there were a law that said that supporting Off Shore stations was illegal. But the government had forgotten the stations on land. But the police was not familiarly with this, they could not separate the words land and sea.

The mailboxes that was in use were Free Radio League in Norway, SIRA in England and Free Radio Service in Holland. In Norway and Finland the two U.O. was RDXL and Night Gallery Network. At the end of the 70’s Free Radio Campaign Sweden started, perhaps to late.

As more and more FR-stations began, the criticism against them increased. People said that the programs had a lot more to wish for( normally pop-music and nothing else) and that FR was some kind of therapy-work for those that could not manage to get a amateur-certificate.

Among the DX-ers in particular Sweden and Norway, it was not “god enough” to listen to pirates. In Sweden there was even a opinion-poll among the members in the Swedish DX-Federation if the Pirate-column in their magazine should remain. The pirates won.

How much did it cost to run a free radio station back in the 70’s?

First we have to do some comparing. One IRC cost today about 15 SEK, back in the 70’s the price were around 1.70 SEK.


Running 200 SEK / 6 month

QSL 33 SEK (127 á 0.26 SEK)

Info-sheets 17 SEK

Stamps 206 SEK

FRS membership 12 SEK

FRS extra cassette 20 SEK

Others 28 SEK

Total out/6 month 535 SEK


IRC’s 302 SEK

Cassettes as gifts 18 SEK

Bribes 15 SEK

Total income 335 SEK

This station “lost” 400 SEK / year. So I will not say that the cost was something that made those station end up their broadcasts. It was more the fair in getting caught by the GPO and of course that the operators was normally in that age when other things took a lot of interest as well.