Alpha started broadcasting on bank holiday Mondays around 1978. The original programmes were recorded on a reel to reel machine and pre-installed in a tower block on a timer to switch the equipment on and off. On one occasion the equipment got filled with snow - there was no broadcast that day!
Later the engineer (aka Roger Barry) built a stereo encoder and also band V link equipment so that Alpha could broadcast live. The first live show using the link was an August bank holiday Monday in 1978 or 1979. The studios were provided by another station, West Essex Radio, and were based in Stamford Hill. The transmitter was in Newham some four miles away but line of sight, and using hi-gain antennas at each end a lock was easily achieved.
David Charles remembers that broadcast: "I for my sins did the first hour live on Alpha .. I had a foul cold which lowered my voice by half an octave so I sounded ok for once! A telephone no. was given and that was based in Barking in Essex and the idea was as requests trickled through we could give on line mentions to listeners as the guy on the telephone rung them through to the studio. It didn't quite work like that. From the moment we went on air the phone rang "off the hook" it was non stop. three hundred calls for one broadcast......there was one from near Brighton and several from around Southend a phenomenal coverage for 60 watts on FM based close to central London. Quite the best free radio experience I ever had. It's nice to know that even though my involvement with them was brief people still remember them for the innovative station they were. Irony...the founder of the station professed to being more of a soul boy than a rock person .. he much preferred Invicta lol!
David Charles in the University College, London's radio studio - used for a while by Radio Alpha
The station did some broadcasts using the University College, London's radio studio and from 1981 started regular Monday night broadcasts using a room in the University's basement for a studio. Transmitter power at this time was around 20w, but this was increased and Alpha had a transmitter installed permanently on the Metrople hotel for several months - it caused quite a stir when Eric Gotts finally raided it and the Home Office tried to find out how the station got access to a high security area - they never succeeded!
Music policy was mostly rock based, but some presenters managed do fit in Soul programmes.
It is believed Radio Alpha closed some time in 1983.
The Radio Eric archive holds the following recording(s) of this station:
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