Tech. Science. Culture.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

The Gear That Keeps London's Pirate Radio Hidden

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Untraceable infrared links. Backpacks full of back-up transmitters. Cloak and dagger secrecy. Hundreds of pirate radio stations broadcast in London every day, but this 20 minute documentary shows that only the tech-savviest stay a step ahead of the police.

Homemade antennas, hidden in plain sight on the tops of apartment complexes and abandoned buildings, broadcast pirate radio throughout London. But while the antennas themselves are conspicuous, the makeshift studios they link up to are hidden behind soundproof walls and security gates.

The video traces the history of pirate radio in the U.K. from its beginnings, when rock and roll was broadcasted from sea forts abandoned after World War II. Today, the DJs have moved inland, though their aim of broadcasting music marginalized by mainstream radio remains the same. As one modern pirate says, "you're just putting up an aerial and playing some music, at the end of the day." The music, of course, is the mission. But the aerials are pretty damn cool too. [Palladium via Maria Popova]