Skip to main content


Making Waves: Pirate Radio

Pirate radio—illegal or unregulated radio transmission—holds a special place in broadcasting history. In its British heyday in the 1960s, entrepreneurs and music enthusiasts began broadcasting pop and rock music from offshore ships and unused sea forts. Stations proliferated, meeting the daily demand of 10 to 15 million British listeners and ultimately cracking the BBC’s virtual monopoly of radio. Adrian Johns, a historian at the University of Chicago, recounts this exciting period of action on the high seas, revealing how pirates changed not only British radio history but also all of broadcasting.

Recorded Sunday, October 23, 2011 at Mandel Hall, University of Chicago.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.