FRS History 1990-1999
The cover of 'FRS Goes DX’ issue number 91 being published February 2nd 1990 spoke volumes:
Disappointing 1990 start
"Several problems Prevented FRS-Holland from introducing its brand new programme schedule January 21st. In the mean time preparations are continuing to bring back the station on air as soon as possible. The new jingle package is almost finished. A new German deejay, Johnny Best, will replace Danny Kay who was forced to leave the station because of personal circumstances. In contrast with what some people suggest, FRS-Holland is still looking for a suitable and reliable transmitting location to secure monthly 3rd Sunday transmissions."
Finally on the air..
Sunday April 22nd DXers all over Europe could hear Peace from Peter loud and clear at 09.54 CET. It was the first regular FRS transmission into the 1990's and FRS was happy it could keep its promise made in FRS goes DX magazine #92: “In April we will be defenitly a FRS transmisson.” A new set of jingles was finally introduced. And: Joop ter Zee came up with a new show. No more Sound Alternatives after almost 8 years ...
[JB contribution; extracts from his debut show on FRS April 22nd 1990--> will follow]
June 1990; new jingles
Was the April transmission quite successful, no doubt the June one was disappointing. The 120W transmitter, which was going to be used, was not operational and power had to be reduced to some 30W which is in most cases more than enough to put out a good signal. However, the very bad conditions ruined most of the broadcast. Besides: it was intended to use 7307 but due to utility a move to 7310 had to be made, causing interference problems with Radio Tirana in the early afternoon. The June 17th broadcast lasted for almost 5 hours and for instance in the UK the signal was very weak.
|programme schedule Sunday June 17th 1990|
|09:54||Opening: station IDs & Theme tune|
|10:02||FRS Magazine- Peter Verbruggen|
|10:45||FRS Golden Show- Joop ter Zee|
|11:15||FRS goes DX- Peter Verbruggen|
|12:00||German Show- Johnny Best|
|12:45||Mailbox 2727- Gerd & Peter|
|13:15||The Short SW Parade- Joop ter Zee|
|14:00||Mark Stafford Show|
In the mean time a complete new set of voice overs were introduced in the usual setting with Peter Verbruggen being the responsible person for the texts and Joop ter Zee doing the mixing part of the job with the help of FRS's CD production library. The voice overs were recorded in the USA by Nolan, his voice would become the familiar FRS voice as far as jingles & promos is concerned.
Evening & nighttime on 31 metres
In July there was quite some activity starting on July 1st with tests on 7310 & 7440 kHz. A week later saw brief tests on 9985 and 7480 KHz. Power was 40W and in particular the 7480 signal did well. At the end of the 1980's a new phenomenon surfaced in SW free radio land: evening and nighttime transmissions, mainly from Saturday into Sunday. As these transmissions became more and more popular among the listening audience, FRS-Holland decided to give it try. Running the risk of being caught during a nighttime transmission is relatively small and that's the reason the Saturday July 14th transmission was carried out with own equipment. In the early evening an 31 mb aerial was constructed and at 21.54 UTC the first FRS nighttime and at the same time 31mb transmission took to the air. Power on 9985 was 40W and on 6240 150W. On the latter frequency an extremely strong signal was radiated. Skip on 9985 was more than 500 km's . Reports from as far as Finland and Moscow/ Russia were received for the 6240 and 9985 outlets.
[Extracts Nighttime broadcast Saturday July 14th 1990--> will follow]
On Sunday July 22nd a morning test was carried out on 9985 between 10.00-11.30 CET. The 40W signal could be easily picked up in Spain, Scandinavia and Switzerland indicating that 31 metres was an excellent choice to realize a solid long distance reception. A further experimental test was radiated Saturday September 8th when FRS was on 6240 with 120W in parallel with 15046 kHz/ 19mb using 50W. Among the more than 40 reports, there were a number of taped ones and that brings us to a topic which hasn't been talked about so far. Sinpo's on a written report are a very personal matter for each listener. He puts his own interpretation on a received signal. A taped report is, from the station's point of view, more objective because it isn't open to misinterpretations. The recording is a very good means to hear how the signal was. Anyway, before any misunderstandings will arise: the overall quality of the SINPO reports for FRS transmissions has always been satisfactory. FRS has a large collection of off air recordings tape and on hard disk.
Activities between two broadcasts
So far no complete answer has been given as to the question what has to be done between two broadcasts to run the station properly ? Peter V. is the ideal person to answer this question…
“From time to time new ideas have to be worked out, new jingles must be recorded not to forget taking care of a representative info package, qsl's and stickers. Most important however remain the programme-recordings and the close contacts with the listening audience. In my humble opinion every serious letter from the listener deserves a personal answer from us. Of course there also are people only interested in a qsl. But frankly speaking: the majority of our mail consists of sincerely interested listeners writing interesting letters containing criticism, opinions and personal info. That’s great!”
10 Years in the Life of FRS-Holland documentary
In September the preparations for the FRS Birthday transmission ánd the ‘10 years documentary’ started continuing till the end of October 1990. Peter produced the script for what would become a lively 4½ hour documentary entitled ’10 Years in the Life of FRS-Holland’. Joop and Peter did the voice-over work and several FRS deejays from past and present gave assistance to complete this fascinating story., the story you are listening to right now! Joop was responsible for the mixing and mastering part of the job. Many, many hours were spent to come up with the definitive FRS Story. The story starts in the late 70s guiding you- in chronicle order- through the 80s. Facts, background info, contributions from numerous FRS presenters, jingles and programme extracts from the large FRS programme library…these were the main ingredients. By the end of October 1990 the documentary was finished and a promo spot was recorded (sound clips: Promo plus the first part of the documentary).
10th Anniversary on air celebrations
The FRS 10th anniversary should have been celebrated in August 1990 but due to various circumstances it was decided to wait another two months. Looking back not a bad decision! Propagation conditions on October 21st happened to be superb. To secure a fine signal in the UK, FRS contacted a very reliable UK station. Much to our surprise the OP agreed, we knew that he usually wasn’t in for relays. A second relay would come from the European continent. The original idea was to include the 10 years documentary in the birthday programming. However, the documentary lasted no less than 270 minutes and together with the
presenters’ programmes that would be much too long. Therefore we decided to do put out the documentary on a different date. October 14th all former and current Dutch FRS deejays got together in Joop ter Zee’s studio and the FRS Birthday Party was recorded. Two video camcorders were shooting video footage. On Saturday October 20th at 17:00 hours, one day before the actual anniversary broadcast would go out, a familiar voice contacted Petrer Verbruggen via the phone making an offer Peter could not refuse. Less than 1½ hours later Speed & Verbruggen drove in a car loaded with transmitting equipment to a secret location. The person offered to do the complete 4½ hour broadcast from his location. At 19:00 hours FRS was testing on 7490 kHz. A few calls learnt that it was a powerful signal. That evening it was decided to use 7308 the following day. On Sunday October 21st the official start would be at 09.55 CET. As we were willing to occupy 6240, a popular frequency, that transmitter would already be switched on at 09.25 putting out non stop music. Bad enough 6240 was already occupied and the relay OP switched to 6245, much too close to Vatican Radio. At 09:40 CET there also was a FRS signal on 7310. For us a mystery! The signal had a two minute delay compared with 6245. At that moment we realized that if the unknown station would stay on 7310, there would be interference with the proposed 7308 outlet. To avoid any problems, a quick decision had to be taken and at 09:48, only 7 minutes before the programmes would commence, 7490 was decided to be the definitive 41 mb channel. At 09:55 CET FRS officially started with programmes on 6290 from the UK and in addition 6245, 7310 and 7490. Already 8 minutes later the 6245 signal moved to 6275. At 10:19 7310 went silent but the signal continued on 7290 till 13.00 hours. All other signals would sign off between 14:30 and 14:39. Our own transmitter on 7490 was putting out 90W, the 6275 outlet 120W, the 6290 UK based outlet 20W. And the mystery relay on 7310 & 7290? It happened to be a friend of the one relaying us on 6275 we found out that morning: he used 40W. As an extra Bobby Speed used the 7490 signal on his receiver as modulation input for carrying out an extra channel being 9985 kHz. Power was 40W. The favourable propagation that morning plus the use of several frequencies made that Sunday an unforgettable Sunday with more than 100 letters being received from 13 countries. Apart from the aforementioned FRS Birthday Show with Bert van Leer, Gerd, Frankie Fanatic, Bobby Speed, Fred van Es, Peter Verbruggen and Joop ter Zee, the voices of Mark Stafford & Johnny Best were heard.
FRS 10 Years documentary aired
All was settled on Tuesday November 27th: the just finished new FRS documentary should be aired on Sunday December 2nd 10:00-14:30 CET on 6275 kHz. That Friday (November 30th) the tapes were forwarded by EMS (special messenger). A 'guarantee' that the package would be delivered next day before 09:00 CET! The next day we received a telephone call the tapes didn't arrive. And that meant 'Goodbye December 2nd broadcast'. And so it happened that the definitive FRS 10 years documentary went out on Sunday Decenber 9th 1990. What we did that Sunday was in FRS terms ‘Just a bit different’… The 4½ hours were aired over four different transmitters from 4 completely different sites. Output powers ranged from 100 to 200W. Every time another transmitter would take over, the responsible Ops called with each other to achieve smooth change overs. Afterwards there were hardly any remarks from listeners making remarks about varying signal strengths… On Sunday December 23rd FRS would ring out 1990 with a 4 hour broadcast on 7558 kHz. Response on this broadcast happened to be rather disappointing. Perhaps a bit too much following the previous festive broadcasts… That month German presenter Stefan Kramer made his debut show taking turns with the other German presenter Johnny Best.
How did Stefan Kramer got involved with FRS-Holland? He explains... [Stefan Kramer contribution--> will follow]
What kept FRS going...a few reflections
December1990 FRS-Holland had survived just over a decade in which many other stations disappeared. What kept FRS going despite several set-backs and, when will be the end was an interesting topic 20 years ago. What was PV’s opinion?
“I think there's not just one reason. There are several. We do something of our own free will and we have our own responsibility towards the programmes. We've done things which were good in our own eyes, at least at the moment we did those things. We have always been our own master. So we made our own decisions developing from FRS as it was in 1980 to FRS as it is in the year 1990. The enthusiasm towards the medium radio also played and still plays an important role. We love to make radio on SW for an international audience. A third motive is the listeners' response. Generally speaking we are not in the position to complaint about the response in the past 10 years. More than 3500 letters says more than enough...” We didn't lack DRIVE, that's for sure. And the fact we were truly serious with our intentions is proved by the finances: running FRS costed us –lots of money, just think of all those relays in the past 7½ years.”
And what was Joop ter Zee's personal view in back in 1990?
Here’s some technical info relating to the situation in the late 80s and 1990: every FRS presenter recorded his programmes in his own private studio. These shows were re-recorded on the actual programme cassettes in Peter V.'s studio. Important is the use of an equalizer and a compressor/limiter. The equalizer cuts off parts of the frequency range which are unnecessary for SW broadcasts. The output of the equalizer runs through a limiter/compressor and the final result is an extremely compact sound. The original 10W rigs contained 3 valves: an ECC 82 & 6L6 for the modulation and a self -oscillating 807 for those 10W of power. It were transmitters meant for mobile use, running at a 400V high tension coming from a so-called inverter which was linked with a 12V DC car-battery. The 1990s FRS transmitter has a power of 150W as already mentioned. It had no built-in modulator like the little 10W rigs. A seperate modulator took care of a loud and clear sound which really was and is very important when broadcasting on SW. Coming back to the subject of the two 10W transmitters which were confiscated during the Jan. 1983 raid: the wooden suitcase, containing these first FRS transmitters, hasn't been destroyed but has found its niche in a building which is part of the HQ of the Dutch radio investigation service. In the eyes of the RCD officers that suitcase with the transmitters was very unique All equipment which is to be seen in a sort of pirate museum was being used to educate new officers being under training.
What was Mark Stafford’s opinion about FRS-Holland, not speaking as a FRS deejay but as an insider in the world of SW Free Radio?
At the end of 1990 a kind of mid term review could be made…. Get ready for the following FACTS all relating to FRS' broadcasting life ......
- 10 years of FRS-Holland meant…
- more than 3500 letters from a total of 23 countries including Argentina, Austria, Belgium Denmark England, Eire, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Northern-Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Czechoslovakia, the USA, Wales, and West Germany;
- 300 programme cassettes;
- almost 100 regular 3rd Sunday transmissions on more than than 20 different frequencies via at least 15 relay stations, 12 presenters and only one engineer...;
- Between a 100 and 150 jingles ...;
- 8 different qsl's in 10 colours ....;
- Only 2 stickers and countless info-sheets;
- More than 2000 IRC's making us not rich.
This documentary came about with the help of several FRS deejays, from past and present. Programme-extracts were selected from the FRS archives containing 300 programme cassettes comparable with more than 50 kilometres of tape. Info-sources were Peter Verbruggen's personal logbook, formerly produced FRS histories and the 'FRS Goes DX' magazines.
It took an estimated 175 hours to produce the story so far. The text for this documentary was compiled & produced by Peter Verbruggen, mix, technical realisation and finishing touch by Joop ter Zee. COPYRIGHT 1990 FRS-HOLLAND.
Note: this article is incomplete as we still have to add a few 1990 sound clips!!