A Podcast You Should Hear
Criminal — episode Sealand
Criminal — episode Sealand
Would you believe me if I told you that there is a link between British pirate radio and the murder of Gianni Versace? It seems unlikely, but there is.
Would you believe me if I told you that only 23 corporations own ALL of the terrestrial radio stations in the United States? It seems unlikely, but it's true.
Would you believe me if I told you that iHeartRadio owns TWICE as many radio stations as its nearest competitor Cumulus Media? It seems unlikely, but it’s true — 858 stations to 429 stations.
Would you believe me if I told you that radio listenership INCREASED from 2005 (230 million listeners) to 2017 (256 million)? A strange fact, but true.
That means from coast to coast, there is a homogenized sound and message from these behemoth companies.
If you’re shaking your head wondering who on earth still listens to the radio, then you probably live on either the east or west coast and are probably white. The growing markets for terrestrial radio are people of color, who are increasingly financially marginalized. That means that paid services, like Sirius, are out of their reach. And the people in the “fly-over” states often don’t have access to a lot of the same technology we have on the coasts.
It seems hard to believe, but that’s one of the reasons Broadband is in the new infrastructure bill weaseling its way through Congress now.
OK, OK, I am stepping off the soapbox now.
All of this to get to a point to say that this week's episode of the podcast Criminal focuses first on the boon of pirate radio in the UK in the 60s/70s.
It would seem the BBC wouldn’t play the pop songs of the day, like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (RIP Charlie). So some enterprising folks found a way around that by creating radio stations three miles off the coast of the UK — out of the government's reach.
But this episode is specifically about what is now known as the Principality of Sealand.
The micronation located on one of the UK’s Maunsell Forts was constructed as a defensive measure in WWII. They’re also known as HM Fort Roughs or Roughs Tower.
Before it was Sealand, this Roughs Tower was occupied in 1965 by Jack Moore and his daughter Jane, squatting on behalf of the pirate station Wonderful Radio London.
By September of 1967, the fort was occupied by Major Paddy Roy Bates, a British subject and pirate radio broadcaster. After kicking out a group of competing pirate broadcasters, he planned on starting his own — to be called Radio Essex.
Bates didn’t do that. Instead, he declared it the Principality of Sealand.
Hilarity does not ensue.
The podcast only touches on music initially and then goes on to meet its commercial obligation as a podcast called Criminal.