Join the forces - Radio Matilda

Radio Matilda is a joint venture of many Finnish pirates- tations and -operators. So far stations like Right-Wing Radio, Mayday, Voice Of Free Radio, Diablo, Kapina and Wega have been involved. Since the first joint transmission at spring 1992 Miss Matilda had to be silent a long time because of military service, huge cashprice in lottery, unemployment, employment and a dozen other irrelevant reasons. It wasn't untill January 1993 when something started to happen again.

DJ Saigon "On Air" at Radio Mayday studio summer 1991. Joint broadcast under name "Right-Wing Radio" short wave 48 metre pirateband.

A young Finnish free radio enthusiast, DJ Mega Watti, wanted to start his own SW-piratestation. He needed advice, information and contacts, also help from other stations. For that reason he offered to organize a joint SW-transmission to get experience and to meet older and more experienced free radio people.

DJ Mega Watti made contacts with other pirates around Finland to decide the day, time, etc. necessary details of the transmissi- on. The transmission day was going to be 7. February 1993 and the transmittersite was going to be a farmhouse in the deep forests of south-east-Finland. One reason in selecting that place was the rumour of a lion living in that part of Finland. It was thought that even THK (=Finnish FCC) might be afraid of the lion...

The invitations were mailed soon and in the end of January Mega Watti was receiving "bookings" from people and stations who wanted to join the project. A good amount of people did "register", and a new Radio Matilda-project was sure to take place. It was also decided to travel to the transmittersite already on Saturday and build the station during the Saturday night.

During the Saturday people started to move from all around Finland towards the transmittersite near the Russian border. Your PC-editor travelled there too with one car full of people and equipment. It was quite hard to get to the transmittersite, as it was really far a way from everything. After we turned away from the last paved highway we had to drive still over 30 kilometres along small forestroads which were covered with solid ice! Our speed was 20-30 kilometres per hour as it's best.

Anyway, we did get there. On the farmhouse there were Mega Watti, his parents and 2 Valmet-tractors. In one room of the farmhouse there were a ready to use studio. The pirateoperators were offered a possibility to sleep in the warm and nice main building. The operators were also told that for transmitters there were a small cottage and sauna on the beach of a small lake just few hundred meters away from the farmhouse. And there were a hole on the ice of the lake so that people could swim there. When our bunch of hard headed pirate operators who have all served in the Finnish Army heard about this small cottage, they all went straight away to set a fire to the sauna. DJ Mega Watti and his parents had no possibilities to stop them.

People and gear

Soon the cottage and the sauna were warming up and it was time to look what we've got. In the studio there were a Monacor 6-ch mixer, 3 CD-players, 2 cassettedecks and the necessary microphones.

5 SW-transmitters were on place and the sixth could be get in working order in just 2 hours time, if needed. All transmitters were home-made valvetransmitters. We also had a huge amount of modulationamplifiers, wires, coaxialcable and all kinds of gear. One 48 mb SW-dipole was already hanging on the trees near the farmhouse. Other dipoles were still in pieces, but they should be put together and lifted to the trees during the night.

On the farmhouse there were a small FM-transmitter (0,5 W). This FM-transmitter would be used in relaying the programsignal from the studio to the saunacottage, where most of the SW- transmitters would be situated. The FM-antenna was a Slim Jim.

On site we had our main man DJ Mega Watti, Frank N. Stein and the Technician from Radio Mayday, the operator of Radio Diablo and DJ Tex Willer and DJ Saigon from Right-Wing Radio. Tom Collins from Voice of Free Radio was not able to arrive on Saturday, but he should join the others early on Sunday morning.

On Sunday we would also receive more help. 2 local free radio enthusiasts would come and block the road with the Valmet- tractors in case police and THK would come too close during the transmission. The guards could block the road (there was only one road coming to the transmittersite) with snow and watch for the possible approaching cars. If police or THK would approach, the guards would give a warning by CB-radio to the transmittersite. The operators would have enough time to close down the station, hide the transmitters to the forest and warm the sauna for THK.

The necessary sleepinggear were carried the the cottage. DJ Mega Watti provided us among other things with 24 bottles of beer, 24 bottles of "other things to drink" and a good amount of sausages, etc. Later in the evening even more six-packs did show up in a strange way from secret locations...

Action? During the night we lifted 3 antennas in a very hard and cold wind. 1 antenna to the farmhouse and 2 antennas to the cottage. The temperature was around -15 degrees Celsius. One antenna was for 9 MHz and the 3 other for 48 mb. At the same time the transmitters were located to the right places and we wondered how to get electricity to all transmitters.

A part of the operators were testing the FM-link/relay and they found out that the coaxialcable to the FM-antenna was broken and some components of the FM-transmitter were blown. That's why we decided to forget the 0,5 watts micro-tx. Other possibilities were to use a 35 watts FM-transmitter as a link, take the programsignal from a SW-transmitter which would be located in the studio or build a telephoneline from the studio to the cottage. This should be decided during the bath in hot sauna.

We were able to start the bath in sauna around midnight. Some operators were at the same time listening to the SW- and MW- bands for any possible pirates, but without success. No-one dared to swim at the lake... Sausages were warmed on fire and eaten with pleasure. Six-packs got empty... and men full...

Some of the operators got fascinated about the idea of building a telephoneline from the studio to the cottage. The distance was approximately 500 meters. After an hour or so Saigon, Mega Watti and Frank N. Stein went out to the cold night to build a line. Mega Watti had 500 meters of telephonecable which should be enough. The only problem was that the cable was NOT on a neat package. No, it rather looked like a nightmare...

Others were already sleeping when Frank and Mega Watti came back to the cottage at 3 o'clock. A little bit later also Saigon came back. The boys had been drinking too many six-packs and they had a "small" argument about the idea of building a telephoneline. They said that over half of the line was ready, but they needed some help in building the rest. Nobody wanted to go out and after an hour everybody was sleeping.

Around 5 o'clock Mega Watti for some reason got awake and went to continue the linebuilding. When we woke up in the morning, the other end of the line was truly in the cottage! We were wondering how this could be possible - untill we went out to watch the sunny wintermorning. Yes - the other end of the line was in the cottage, but the line was only 20 meters long instead of the needed 500! Later when the lineroute was examined, it was found out that the telephoneboys had build about 30-40 meters of the line in the middle of the forest and later Mega Watti had built 20 meters more close to the cottage. The only thing missing was the first 200 meters from studio to the forest and the 150 meters between the two pieces of cable... "Great" work boys...

Let the hundred watts shine

Early in the morning the operators divided into 2 groups. The first group gave the finishing touch to the transmitterassemblies in the cottage and the other group walked to the studio in the farmhouse. We decided to use only 4 transmitters at the same time, as we couldn't lift more antennas easily. The SW-link had to be used to get the programsignal to the cottage, as the telephoneline was a "bit" too short and 35 watts FM-link was too powerful and it might attract the THK's attention.

At the same time Tom Collins (Voice of the Free Radio operator) and 2 guards arrived to the farmhouse. The guards took the Valmet-tractors and headed towards a suitable location to block the road. Tom Collins moved gear and people between the 2 actionsites. Mega Watti tested the CB-connections between the guards, the transmitter site and the studio.

In the same location with the studio there were a 45 watts SW- transmitter for 6258 kHz and a 30 watts transmitter with a 9980 kHz-crystal. In the cottage there were transmitters for 6225 and 6281 kHz. These were the frequencies that seemed to be free of interference according the bandcheck we made just before we divided into groups.

DJ Tex Willer started to test the studio at 0800 UTC. At 0810 UTC Radio Diablo operator kicked on the 6258 kHz transmitter and Boney M. ruled the wawes. 9980 kHz followed straight away and the live show was in full swing. Tex Willer took care of the beginning, later also Saigon, Frank N. Stein and Mega Watti were able to show their talents in live pirate radio. The music was mostly disco, but DJ Saigon played also some tracks of both old and new rock'n'roll. The Money M. compilation-CD was just released in Finland in February and they got very much airtime. As RWR-boys Tex Willer and Saigon were in studio, you couldn't pass a huge amount of jingles, effects and echo-o-o-o-o-o-o...

In the cottage in was soon found out that one the two antennas there were showing bad SWR-ratings and couldn't be used at all. The other antenna was connected to the big 90 watts Mayday-machine, which blew up. Finally we were able to use a smallpower transmitter (25 watts) on 6225 kHz. The programsignal was taken from the 6258 kHz-transmitter, which was located in the studio.

The troubles with the gear didn't end yet. Soon after the beginning the Radio Diablo's 9980-transmitter start transmitting carrier only. There was no modulation on the frequency at all. A bit later the transmitter started to give some smoke to the studio and DJ Saigon had to disconnect it in a hurry. From the cottage we carried one extra transmitter to the studio to replace the 9980 one. We gave it a 6281 kHz crystal and connected it to the 9 MHz antenna with an antennatuner.

Also the studio was giving trouble. The Monacor mixer couldn't handle all the RF. There were too many transmitters in the same location. It just went crazy. Same music could come from all channels, CD could stop by itself and the microphones made strange distorted voices at times. It was also difficult to keep the modulationlevels high enough.

In the cottage the modulationamplifier was not strong enough and the modulationlevel on 6225 kHz-transmitter was far too low. Later 6225 was switched off and the rest of the show was transmitted only on 6258 and 6281 kHz. Those transmitters were both in the studio.

Around 1025 UTC we had been on the air almost 2,5 hours live, which is quite exceptional and dangerous in Finland. We decided to close down as long as we are not forced to do so. At 1035 UTC the two transmitters were disconnected after the necessary announcements. The guards had seen no sign of police or THK.

It took few hours to disconnect all the gear and pack it. In the end of the project we all sat in the coffeetable together. We all thought that this second Matilda-project was OK, althought it didn't succeed as well as the first one in 1992. Maybe next time we can beat all the troubles we ran into this time. Transmitting is learning.

If you were listening 7.2.1993 or you hear Miss Matilda on the airwawes some other time in the future, please send your reception reports to the Wuppertal-mail drop with 1 IRC. Matilda will be back!