I guess this is my overdue tribute to Tribute FM.
Tribute FM is an ‘illegal’ or ‘pirate’ radio station in waiting. However, unlike such stations in the UK where the operators may suffer a slap on the wrist should they eventually be caught by a largely apathetic organisation charged with policing the air-waves, these brave pirates actually face death.
They are broadcasting in English, a language that was once banned. Speakers faced arrest or ‘disappearance’ should they openly flaunt their use of English or embracing of English/American culture, so providing a radio service in English is a huge crime in itself.
The radio station is broadcasting from Benghazi in Libya. Libya’s civil war and Gadaffi-sponsored indiscriminate massacring of the ordinary people who live there, let alone those who dare protest, means that what these ‘pirates’ are doing is extremely dangerous.
Put it this way: Via this radio station we can listen today to the voices of people who may die horrible deaths tomorrow. For the moment, Benghazi is safer than other parts of Libya, but tomorrow is another day and things rapidly change.
I can’t imagine how it must feel to live within this struggle, let alone to put on a, relatively speaking, ‘radical’ illegal radio station, but this to me is what pirate radio broadcasting is all about. Our pirates have nothing to moan about beyond the lack of mainstream exposure of some current styles of new music and they don’t do a single radical thing editorially, despite us radio anoraks enthusing about them as if they are changing the world.
Well, over in Benghazi their world is actually changing and via Tribute FM the young are able to talk about the things that haunt them and the way they would like life to be.
Indeed, whilst playing a mixture of automated music at other times, Tribute FM tries to go live every evening, currently from 19:00 UK time (usually 18:00 – 01:00 GMT, but subject to change and last minute interruption) with discussion and interview programming. They update the situation they face in their real lives, their hopes for their country, and chatter in a fairly relaxed style about how things are, how things could be, and they also play requests and a lot of youth oriented Western music. They introduce us to some of their home grown urban music, including a remarkably brilliant angry rap or two about their struggle, one of which says to Gaddafi, “No power is greater than God, Go ahead and devise your plan, At the end of the day you are just a man”. “You are not the one that’s in control.” Very striking lyrics.
Tribute FM is quick to point out that, whilst those behind it got the idea of constructing their radio station after exposure to the radio scene in London, they are not sponsored by another state. In times like these, it is sometimes common for (let’s say) America or the UK, to unofficially fund “on message” radio stations within a foreign country they are fiddling with (they’ll deny or refuse to comment on it of course!). Tribute FM categorically deny being anything but privately funded by themselves, all volunteers, despite suggestions that foreign (ie, ‘our’) ‘black’ money is behind them. I believe them. Money can’t buy their passion.
Despite having only existed for less than a month, they have an extremely well put together website here and have embraced Twitter, Facebook, Skype and social networking in order to communicate with each other and the world. They are also in the final stages of readying their FM transmitter for 92.4 MHz any day now. I suspect that’s when the serious shite will hit their fan.
Bringing it back to the UK, why don’t we have radical anti-establishment ‘pirates’? Is it that we are all so happy with our lot? Is it that we are so anaesthetised and complacent? Why isn’t there a pirate station on the air saying “Fuck the Establishment!” or “Don’t accept the cuts!” or “Fight for your rights!” or “We’re not standing for this any more!” or “Down with this kind of thing!”? Instead, our pirates either play new urban music or they play safe oldies and 80 year old jingles.
Now, if it was up to me to start a pirate across Liverpool I’d be there encouraging listeners to grass on the vermin that rob and shoot others, co-ordinating vigilante groups, and campaigning to stop the massive funding of the totally pointless over-fat ‘art’ industry that exists for the rich socialists to enjoy whist the lower classes suffer horrendous deprivation.
That’s what UK pirate radio should be about, hell yeah.