Pirate radio is audio broadcasting without a regulatory or licensing regime; in other words, it is unlicensed and thus generally illegal. The illicit nature of pirate radio is key to its being and character. Its essence is opposition to any kind of establishment. This entry discusses the history of pirate radio and some examples of the format from around the world.

Wireless was originally the province of amateurs and inventors. It speedily came to the attention of governments and those in power who sought to manage and control the new means of communication on the following grounds. First, the need to manage spectrum scarcity and allocate places on the wavelengths to avoid overlap or interference. Second, the requirement for national security–military and/or emergency services needed (and ...

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