Walk In My Shoes Intro
The 1970’s was a brilliant time for me, after an apprenticeship in the motor trade; I turned professional as a DJ. The previous 4 years I had been a part time DJ and was into Motown, Invictus, Chess, Ric-Tic, Vee-Jay and Okeh + label artists. In other words, Soul Music. In 1976 I decided to do a summer season away and ended up at Pontins Holiday Camp In Paighton South Devon. The DJ in the Disco at night and also on Camp Radio for 1 hour in the morning and again in the afternoon.
1976 was a fabulous year weather wise and the contract was extended to the end of November. I then went to London and was not impressed, very Pop/Rock. 1977 I got offered a summer season in Jersey Channel Islands and then stayed on for the winter season, this was when I met Nigel Walton a fellow DJ in the club down the road. We hung out together in the day and both had radio on our minds. It was then Nigel bet me he could get me a show on BBC Radio Jersey, “do a tape he says”. I did and met up the next night. Come with me he says and off we go at 2am in the morning to Fremont Point the Jersey BBC transmitter. Overnight this transmitter picks up the signal from the UK and rebroadcasts it on the BBC Jersey transmitter.
Nigel jams the signal from the UK and broadcasts the show I had recorded. He only had a transmitter in his car and cassette machine. It was then I found out he had also helped out at Radio Jackie in the UK. But he sort of won his bet. I spent the next 6 months waiting for a knock on the door and a deportation notice as in Jersey, you only had to say Boo to a Goose the wrong way and you where off the Island.
Bored with Jersey (and worried) I returned to the UK in 1978 and Nigel came too. We audition for Jobs one day at Barbarellas, Disco Greenford and next day Bacchuss International Disco’s Fulham. Nigel gets a job at Barbarellas, I get a job with Bacchuss and my European adventure starts. 2 years in clubs in Europe ending at the Yellow Submarine in Munich. I was asked to stay on but I had not seen my family for 3 years, so decided to return to the UK as I knew a contract in Australia was on the Horizon and wanted home time before that.
I met up with Nigel one Sunday and he says come and meet my old pals at Radio Jackie. I get out of the car, take a few steps into Carshalton Park Sutton and Nigel says “Don’t talk radio talk football”. What the hell is he on about thinks I? Three guys were approaching us on the parkway as they pass the tall guy gives us such a dirty look, I was stunned for a moment. Nigel told me after they pass us, the tall one is a certain Mr Eric Gotts of the RID (photo on left). I had no idea who he was or what the RID was. I did not even know what Radio Jackie was. We sat on a bench and talked and I could see these 3 guys watching us from behind a hedge and I was not happy as I had done nothing wrong. I wanted to go and have a chat with Mr Gotts, as in my neck of the woods, glaring as Eric did usually ended up with a confrontation. Nigel grabbed my arm and we left. He found the Jackie Crew, tipped them off about Eric and we left. On the way home Nigel told me all about Radio Jackie and Eric. I then told him this was the second time he got me in near trouble and never to do it again. Sod that kind of radio, I am not interested.
Was It Destiny?
The DJ in Australia did what I should have done in Germany and stayed on for another 6 months contract. I looked for DJ work in London found some but not the kind of work I wanted. So I got a job back in my old trade and became head mechanic at Swan Nation Car Rental in Horseferry Road Westminster. Nigel was popping over to visit us at Ann’s flat in Comber House often and wanted to do a radio station. For a long time I said no, I am not doing that as I wanted a job on legal radio or not at all. How on earth he persuaded me to get involved I will never know. I think it was look lets do a small station low power just around this area no one at the RID will ever know its there. He had built a transmitter and did a test in the flat, I go outside you could hardly hear it in the car. Little did I know the transmitter was into a dummy load so the signal did not travel far.
Walk In My Shoes Horizon Radio was Born
Later Nigel says we need access to the roof of the tower block just down the road. The next day the head caretaker pulls his car around the back of Swan National Car Rental, I knew the guy well as he was often in the garage as local councils fleet hired all their vans for the caretakers off Swan. I fix his car as misfiring and ask about how to get access to the tower block roofs and told him why I need it. He said, service my car put two front tyres on it and he would give me everything I would ever need. He did, keys to all the tower blocks in London, caretaker uniforms and much more. It had to be destiny!
The first Horizon broadcast went out on the 11th of October 1981 off Coniston House Wyndham Road, Camberwell. Two 1 hour pre-recorded shows on a c120 chrome cassette auto tape machine and 5 watt transmitter. The phone lines lite up like a Christmas Tree with so many requests for the next show. Horizon Radio was born. How did we get the name Horizon Radio? When I first moved into the flat, I was stood looking out of the flat window at Comber House (not a great view) and I said too myself, I hope there is something better than this waiting for me over the Horizon. I was thinking of Australia at the time.
Every Sunday evening up until Christmas 1981, Horizon fired up for 2 hours from Coniston House and the requests kept on coming. Xmas 1981 we go live for the first time. Nigel did the first hour, I watch the block on look out. Then we switch and I did the second hour, well that was the plan. 25 minutes in on my show Nigel arrives back at the flat Off Off Off, he had spotted Eric Gotts & co (RID) trying to track the studio as the live link was just off band 2 on 108.5Vhf. Eric was just 100 yards away when we turned off the link. Horizon Radio lost it’s first transmitter that night along with a Sony Walkman and 2 car batteries. The station came back 2 weeks later from tower blocks on the Wandsworth Road. Week 1 was excellent the most telephone calls we ever had up to this time. Week 2 was even better, but had a sting in its tail.
Thankfully we had thought about the exit strategy, so had called lift 1 to the floor below top and stopped the door closing. Lift 2 was called to the top floor and again stopped from closing (we thought) then we grabbed the equipment and get down to the top floor lift and see the lift is on the way up. Leg it down to lift 2, jump in and hear as the door closes radio’s above us. We knew who it was. We get out at floor 4 lift, then set for floor 3, we hide the equipment in an alcove of floor 4, wait a while and then walk down to ground floor acting drunk (We did not Drink) arguing who’s turn it was to buy the first round. We got a pull at ground floor by the police and RID who wanted to know where we had been and where we where going, We told them we were off to the pub to get p-ssed and invited them to join us if they had enough money to buy a few rounds and hurry up as it’s 10.20pm and pubs are closing. One of the RID said these guys are drunks and idiots, the others must be upstairs. They told us to F-off. We did, then hid and waited until they left, then went back got the equipment and went home. RID cannot be much good then as even drunks & idiots can out think them!
By the following week Gary Lee (R.I.E.P Gary) had joined us as a DJ. We decided to try a field site for security reasons and chose parliament hill fields. Naff, 3 hours broadcasting, not one phone call, end of field sites. The next week we used Rye Hill Park Peckham Nunhead. The phone never stopped ringing. Over the next few weeks other DJ’s came on board, Greg Adams being one of them and we had more and more requests each week, the phone 01 701 0031 just never stopped ringing. Horizon got a few weeks out of that block as easy to watch. Transmitter 2 floors below roof with cassette machine and coax to antenna on roof so easy to change cassette every 2 hours.
Then it looks like Eric and Co went out on a anti p-ss taking & idiots training course. Don and Chris go in to the block to take the antenna down at the end of the broadcast, minutes later Eric and the police arrive on the roof. Oh hell, But But again this had been thought out. Don and Chris are in caretaker uniforms with even ties on. Chris tells Don to say nothing and then lays into Eric and the police and tells them he is going to arrest them for trespass and wearing fake police uniforms. Don and Chris are on the high roof, Eric and co on lower roof. Chris tells Eric and co to wait there while he took their pirate antenna down. They did as they were told. Don and Chris take the antenna down and smash it then go down to Eric and Co. Police ask Chris who he is and Chris says The Caretakers, then wants to know who they are.
Police ask for a telephone number of the caretakers office, Chris gives it. Police radio in for a check and sure enough its the office on an answerphone “caretakers are out on an emergency call right now, please leave a message or call back later”. Chris knew this would happen after 9.30pm, but it did not matter as up on the notice board was a message saying Chris Stewart is an emergency caretaker. Police said ok off you go. On exit Chris shouted back “You have 10 minutes or I will lock you on the roof. They left soon after. I forgot to mention Don and Chris had been on the advanced P-ss taking and idiots training course that week.
Pimlico Radio Meeting Early 1982
This was an eye opener for me, I have to admit, I knew nothing about transmitters and relied on Nigel for that info as he was the engineer. Don and myself turn up to the meeting organised by the London unlicensed radio network and get it in the neck as soon as I walk in. Nigel was late again. Brian Anthony JFM let go at me from a distance, then walked up to me and flicked my head back with his hand. I was not happy and nearly showed what I thought of his childish action. I am now glad I did not, as what he and others said was true and Nigel had been leading me on with is claims our transmitter was the best. In truth is was a load of crap as I found out that night. Pyers Easton came over and also gave it to me in style, he was only about 17 but something said to me this guy knows what he is talking about, especially when he said you are drifting. How the hell can we be drifting, we are on tower blocks I said to Don. Nigel turns up, I tell him what was said and he says forget their rubbish, our transmitters are the best. Pyers Easton comes over again and asked if we have a frequency counter then shows me what one looks like from his back pocket. Pyers ties Nigel up in knots and I saw this.
I get a contact number off Pyers and where to buy a frequency counter, which I did the next day and a proper dummy load and meter to measure the power. Brian was right and Pyers was right as I tested the transmitter the next day, it drifted. once I saw that, I spoke to Pyers and apologised, Brian no, as there was no need for that from him, but I sorted that out later in April 1984. I was getting transmitter knowledge and got Pyers to supply a design that worked. Nigel built it and it worked as Pyers said it would.
Horizon Radio moved on with a hidden transmitter live on Rye Hill Park Peckham Nunhead (Nigel’s Idea) and then the studio in the roof at Comber House my idea. Eric hit that install at Nunhead a few times and could not find the the transmitter, just the antenna. Nigel builds another Pyers designed transmitter as a spare, then leave’s Horizon Radio to me to get on with as he was not happy with me saying his transmitters were not up to standard. Ooh my what do we do thought I? But I remembered at the age of 13, I was stripping motorbike engines and rebuilding them, at 18, LEX TBC had me down as their best ever motor mechanic’s as I knew more about engines and cars that those 20 years my seniors. Do it it I thought and with Pyers help I did. Pyers Easton was so so special, a magician with RF and so young.
I took up the challenge and with Pyers help, I had created the first Horizon Radio MK3 transmitter and link receiver, Chris Steward style. ET I.E. Ian was in helping also doing a mega job. An IBA engineer who was also a super super star. These two guys are the best people you could ever wish to meet in your lifetime. I had to give up my full time job to do this, so Ann my girlfriend at the time became the bread winner, another super super super star. Then we got another set back, my father died and my mother the day before the funeral had finally made contact with me. I had to tell her, I just did not have the money to fill the tank of my car to go to the funeral as I would need that and more. So I did not go to my fathers funeral that day and boy do I regret that these days. 24hrs later, there was £1000 in my account at the bank, from whom, my Mother of course.
1982 fled by but it was 20 hours a day, every day sat in the kitchen at Comber learning to build transmitters and 2 days a week up tower blocks risking our necks, never going out to a restaurant, club or even a pub. Looking back now with hindsight, I wish I had also called it aday when Nigel did. Many thought Covid restrictions we suffered in 20/21 were bad, life on Horizon was 10 times worse.
By Christmas 1982 many other DJ’s had joined us. DJ’s like Barry T (Townsend), Barry Jameson and Nick Lawerence and others. What I liked about these DJ’s they loved the music we played and got stuck in with help watching the tower blocks as we broadcast and stuffed in £10 a week to keep the station afloat. They talked the talk and walked the walk, unlike the others who just talked the talk and hid up their mothers skirts. But there was one who joined in by the winter of 82 who I mistakenly allowed to join us. This DJ never got his fat ass anywhere near a tower block to help, but talked the talk as listeners complained about so often. But we all make mistakes don’t we? 1982 Christmas saw Horizon Radio with the most hours broadcast by any of the unlicensed stations. But Hey Ho this is Horizon Radio Walk In My Shoes if you dare in 1982.
1983 at the start, looked like it would be an exceptional year as Horizon Radio had that hidden transmitter install, the studio in the roof and 6 spare transmitters with more DJ’s queuing up to join the station. February arrives and so did a knock on the front door one Tuesday afternoon. Search Warrant in my face and Brian Holder, Eric Gotts and others with police pile into the flat. I did not even have time to read that search warrant as they pushed me out of the way. To this day I still ask myself, was it a search warrant of just paperwork for the toilet. 28 Comer House was a 1 bed flat, so did not take long to search. They were after the studio, but the location of that studio was way above their heads? Eric piles into the kitchen and proclaims it to be a transmitter factory, then asks for Mr Howe who he thought made those transmitters. I asked Eric who the hell Mr Howe was, he thought I was bulling him as I said I did not know him. Eric did not believe me, until he opened one of the transmitter cases and then he said “I think you are right these are not Roger Howe’s transmitters”. Eric Gotts then gave me a run down on Howe and even warned me not to get involved with Howe. As I found out later Howe was everything Eric said he was and worse. Holder arrives in the kitchen after searching the bedroom & bathroom. Eric made a comment about Howe and Holder said I told you so (not Howe’s Transmitter). Holder then goes on to say he had found some nice ladies lingerie pink and blue, but the bra’s where a bit small. I looked at holder and the copper behind him and that coppers eyes went skyward and he walked out of the flat. That was childish provocation Gotts and Holder style. I went out to talk to the police about it and they were right at the other end of the balcony and they apoligised. They did not re-enter the flat but did come back after the RID had left and suggested I should make a complaint. I went back in and slipped on the wet floor and fell against holder who bounced off the wall, just a plain accident. Eric by this time had set up a transmitter and was testing it 250 watts he proclaims. Theft of electricity I proclaimed as I told him he did not have my permission to use my electricity. That stunned him. Minutes later they were on their way out and stole that 250 watt transmitter as it was on private property, but at that time I did not know about that loophole. All along I was wondering if they had found the studio in the roof as I had seen others walking around on the balcony’s. I dare not go up and have a look until about 3 hours after Eric had left. I get there and the studio was fully intact, they had not found it. That studio idea was a winner and serviced Horizon Radio for many more months to come.
Eric Gotts and co were only doing their job, just like the police doing their job that day. The Police acted as you would expect them to and were more that reasonable. Eric and co were just bully boys and if you stood up to them, they soon showed their true colors. Eric and I am not sure if this happen before that day or after was prosecuted for assault by one of the stations and convicted. He therefore should have been dismissed from his job. If a police officer assaulted anyone he would have lost his job. The DTI/RID should remember who pays their salary’s and Gestapo tactics don’t work. Eric should think himself very lucky also.
Horizon Radio Walk In My Shoes 1983 started off on a upper, then a downer, then from those hidden studios, Horizon Radio ventured out into clubland. Kisses Alldayer, the first bank holiday of 1983 was full in minutes, Kiss’s 2 Alldayer, May bank holiday even bigger. Income just 50p a head, the rest went to others. By the last bank holiday in August 83, Horizon had moved to a larger venue the Podium 1 Nine Elms Lane Vauxhall London. It was rammed in minutes. Income £1 per head which purchased 2 sl12oo’s?. The event was broadcast live and listeners were told it was a full house. That did not stop the Horizon Soul Family, they arrived in their cars, opened their car doors and cranked up their car stereo’s and danced to the music on the pavements and in the roads. Even Capital Radio, BBC Radio London and LBC were warning listeners to avoid the area in their traffic reports. Back at Horizon Radio, studio in the roof Comber House which ET was manning, ET was was putting out “please don’t go to the Horizon Radio aldayer at the Podium as it is a roadblock”, that did not stop listeners turning up.
Christmas 1983, Horizon Radio was live 24hrs a day during the Xmas, New Years break, the longest period ever at that time. Horizon Radio DJ’s really did Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk. By January 84 the station was on everyone’s lips and was growing by the day. That raid on Comber House back in February was on my mind every day, so records were being kept of everything, just encase. Sleep, I did not see much of that with the worry as I knew where the buck would stop one day. Oh to have just been a DJ, turn up play a few records, as that is all I wanted to do.
This was just 1983, just wait until Horizon Radio Walk In My Shoes 1984.
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