Skyport Radio broadcast on shortwave from 1971. Mark King was the engineer with the station, here he remembers how the move to FM came about:
"The idea for Uptown Radio was
conceived while Terry, Rob, Bob and I were still broadcasting Skyport Radio on a
weekly basis, this would have been around 1977. Terry's programmes in particular
were ground breaking and it was frustrating that much of the station's output
was lost in the fades and interference of the 48m band. Whilst we appreciated
the thousands of letters from dedicated listeners all over Europe, they were
mainly DX type reception reports with very little comment on our programmes or
music. On Skyport we had already pioneered the first Hindi Film music programme
in 1971, we moved on to Punk music and Heavy Metal Rock which was at first
ignored by the mainstream stations and then of course Terry with his unique
style and music."
Uptown Broadcast in stereo on 94.4MHz. The early broadcasts came from the grounds of the Royal Holloway College on Egham Hill or the Kennedy memorial acre (officially American soil) at Runnymede very close to Elton John's house. The transmission site was later moved to Horsenden Hill in Greenford where the signal was beamed southwards. This hill is not particularly high, and to compound matters, the aerial site chosen was slightly south of the summit. This meant that reception was limited to west and SW London. This was a shame, as the transmitter power of 50w (actually around 85w ERP) could have allowed a much larger area to be covered if a higher location had been chosen.
Regular weekly broadcasts commenced around September 1978. Initially the broadcasts were from 9pm to 11pm on a Sunday, following on from West London Radio which broadcast on the same frequency from 7 till 9pm.
After a few months West London Radio ceased regular broadcasts and Uptown changed its schedule; a schedule it was to retain for almost all of the rest of its life. Terry Anderson would present 7-8pm: a programme of rock music with an alternative bias. Bob Earl continued with a more punky feel till 9pm when Topper Lindsey provided a heavier sound for the last hour.
Terry spent a lot of time reading listeners letters, and his programme became more and more speech oriented as many listeners contributed by writing in. He was always keen to do more than just provide music, and his anecdotal ramblings would fill up the hour, often with little time for music. It was wonderfully entertaining. Later on in the station's history he would conduct 'phone interviews with famous people (including a very memorable one with Mary Whitehouse). It is doubtful that the interviewees actually realised that Uptown was a pirate station.
In 1982 Uptown decided to change from field based transmissions and they moved to tower blocks. They increased transmitter power to 175w, but the tower block they chose in Hounslow was a mere 10 stories high and was located on low ground. This meant that although the reception area was improved, it was still limited to the western side of London, in spite of the much higher power being radiated.
A big blow came to Uptown at the end of 1982 when Horizon Radio decided to broadcast on 94.4MHz. The VHF broadcast band only extended to around 98MHz at that time, and there were few channels available. When the Uptown crew complained to Horizon and pointed out that they had been using the frequency for over four years, Horizon became extremely abusive and threatened to visit the Uptown site with a shotgun!
By early 1983 Uptown was suffering from Home Office raids, and the interference form Horizon was causing dissatisfaction among the members of the station. Eventually this led to some members leaving, and Uptown made it's last broadcast sometime around March 1983.
Given London wide coverage, Uptown would undoubtedly have become one of the best known, and most popular stations - it is a shame not more recordings of the station have come to light.
The Radio Eric archive holds the following recording(s) of this station:
If you have any recordings or photographs of this station you can share please get in touch
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