“This is SM3 Black Peter…You’ll never catch me…never…”
The mystic radio voice sounded provoking and mock, and the police wished that they could grab the radio-waves and pull the culprit into prison. Because he was a culprit, Black Peter, the very first Swedish radio pirate, operating from somewhere in Norrland. And he never did anything to help his ‘hunters’, instead he tricked them, and that didn’t only take a long time, it was also very expensive. Days and nights he was hunted both by police and a number of radio hams! With his illegal transmitter he gave Sweden its first programme two – that was in 1951. In a way Black Peter was a pioneer of Swedish pirate radio.
The transmissions were always started by Harry Lime Theme, which is the theme from the film “The Third Man”. And it was in August 1951 the third man of the air appeared for the first time. He was heard by some radio hams in Härnösand and Sundsvall, and they decided to stop the unwelcome interfere!
They travelled around in their radio equipped cars trying to detect him, but Black Peter only fooled them. He was impossible to detect somewhere in the air. The time went on, and in May 1952 the newspapers began to treat Black Peter serious. They wondered what was behind the mysterious voice from the north! Was the choice of records a secret code to the KGB or something like that?
The hunt was intensified. The newspaper men themselves started to look after Black Peter, and hundreds of Dx-ers and radio Hams sat in front of their receivers every night wondering; Will he be there tonight? And he was, he was not the one who let the listeners down! He had his own special programme to complete the monopoly radio (Radio Sweden) and asked the listeners to tell the press that it was impossible to get him. “By the way, my name is Olofsson and I am living 30 km north of Sundsvall”, he once said. Naturally, all who lived 30 km north of Sundsvall with the name Olofsson was checked, but of course, the pirate did not make it too easy for the hunters. Constantly he was talking to his legal colleges on the 80 metres shortwave band, sometimes he was talking with up to 12 hams at the same time.
Now the hunters put a police oar with a shortwave receiver in the hunt. Saturday the 11th of May 1952, as Black Peter was airing one of his special programmes, the hunting network was organised, the police car which was equipped with detector-equipment was in contact with the civil defence’s radio HQ, and from that HQ the detector van got its direction even from a number of Hams.
Some Sundsvall-Hams thought they had detected Black Peter in the neighbourhood of Söderhamn, but on the way to that place the police car got contra-orders – Black Peter was probably somewhere around a place called Nordinggrå, but on the way, just on the Sandö -bridge the SW equipment installed in the police car broke down, so the contacts had to be done over telephone, which made everything much more difficult.
In the meantime, Black Peter was in his best temper speaking to other Black Peter-friendly radio hams and a lot of fascinated “usual” listeners kept their fingers crossed to give Black Peter protection, so that the hunters should not catch him.
Now Black Peter did something funny, he dated a radio ham! “Meet me at the Uppsala Station tomorrow at 8 o’clock”, he said. The guy who got the invitation was electro-master Sven Lindfors. In the instructions Black Peter explained how he should be dressed; “You shall wear a light coat and a black cap, so that I can recognise you”.
He did not tell anybody how himself was going to be dressed.
Lindfors went together with a crowd of curious people from Uppsala. They did not see any Black Peter, and that was not what was expected! There were some that thought that Black Peter was tired of being hunted all the time, and wanted to give up and do it as dramatically as possible, by doing it in public. But all speculations was wrong, Black Peter was still sitting beside his radio station somewhere up in Norrland.
Now a theory turned up; maybe Black Peter had the transmitter in his car and drove away when it started to become dangerous? The authorities decided to trey everything to detect him. The state police in West-Norrland received an order: “Catch him!” Then Black Peter closed down for a while, but in May the 23rd, he was back on the air – but now with telegraphic signals. He was probably a very well educated radio engineer, Black Peter. On May 25th, “Harry Lime Theme” was going out on the air again, as a provoking abusing song against all the laws concerning radio comunications in Sweden.
However, Black Peter should not underrate his hunters, because they, too, had let their activities continue in the silence, and on Whitsun Eve the story of Black Peter was not far from its end. He did not know anything himself. The police, some military forces, the Swedish GPO had engaged all their assets, the circle around the ‘third man’ in the air shrunk, an at 23.30 in the evening, the force was concentrated to a village in the Åsele area. The force was just outside a small stable, and in that very stable, Black Peter was sitting. But in fact, Black Peter was not – you should rather say the Black Peters, because there were two brothers, John and Gunnar Figaro. They denied that their equipment (which was very simple) had been used for a long time, but the tubes was still warm, so none believed them. One thing was sure, they were no spies, so Sweden could relax. However, a whole lot of listeners were missing the musical pirate.
The fine was 300 SEK and loss of equipment. In those years, 300 SEK was a lot of money! The Black Peter appearing in the 70’s has no connection to this one.