From pirate of the Netherlands to trafficking in Radio

By his own admission, Raoul Wedel wasn’t a very good broadcast engineer.

“I started out as a young kid playing around with CB radio, ham radio and stuff like that. Commercial radio wasn’t allowed in Holland yet.

“There were a lot of pirates (radio stations) – not the pirates on the ocean but land based pirates. They were doing pretty well, generating revenue. The government was shutting everybody down. It was quite big. Every major city in Holland with populations over 100,000 would have several pirate stations. The most famous ones got caught maybe 120 times.

“They’d have several locations. They would take away the transmitter from one side and reinstall it on the other side. In the beginning they were just paying fines but they were doing very well financially generating 100s of 1000s in revenue.

“What they did to put a stop to it was to make it illegal to advertise on the radio. So, they went after the advertisers and that was the end of it,” explains Raoul.

Well, not quite. So called “hobby pirates” still abound in Holland but they pose little threat to legitimate licence holders says Raoul. “They’re just like a big beer party out in the countryside with a couple of hundred people, a 20kw transmitter and a 50 metre high mast for weekends.”

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