The year 2020 was one most of us would rather forget. But in lockdown it did give us more opportunity
for radio listening. I've been through my logs for the past 12 months to see how many European pirate stations I've heard, and how it compares to previous years.
In 2020, I logged 153 different shortwave pirates, which (surprisingly) is down from 183 in 2019, while in 2018 it was 179. The majority of these stations came from The Netherlands - 74, but that was down from 95 in 2019.
The list includes stations that might have only been on air once or twice during the year, and others which were heard regularly, such as Laser Hot Hits, Radio Merlin and Charleston Radio Int.
Some operators like to use more than one name - Radio Johnny Tobacco can be heard IDing as Radio Black Bandit or Radio Abu Dhabi. I've counted these as one station.
Pirate activity from the UK was up from the year before, from nine in 2019 to 12 last year. One station, XTC, who has been around since the 1990s, became quite a regular on the 48 metre band, and I've already heard him a few times this year.
Activity from Ireland increased from six stations in 2019 to 12 last year, although most of these tended to play non-stop music and ID jingles, rather than produce actual programmes.
The final figure is a rough guide to free radio shortwave activity over the past 12 months. It doesn't include relays of internet or FM stations. Other stations might have been on the air in 2020, but I didn't hear them.
Also I haven't included relays from licensed stations, such as Radio Piepzender or Channel 292.
Country breakdown (figures for 2019 in brackets)
The Netherlands 74 (95)
Unknown 26 (40)
United Kingdom 12 (9)
Germany 12 (15)
Ireland 9 (6)
Italy 9 (9)
Finland 2 (2)
Belgium 2 (2)
Czech Republic, Portugal, Ukraine, Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Greece (1 each)
The UK stations I logged were: The Bodge, Radio Duck, Radio Jennifer, Laser Hot Hits, Little Feat Radio, Radio Merlin Int, Radio Nova, Radio Pamela, Radio Pandora, Radio Parade Int, Wizard FM & XTC.
For my list of European shortwave pirates heard in 2020 click here
The MW Free Radio blog has done his annual survey of the Dutch MW pirates he heard in 2020. To see his list go to https://mwfreeradio.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-class-of-2020.html
It is good to see free radio activity is still strong so keep tuning in to the pirates and let them know you're listening either by email or through Iann's pirate chat room.