In Memory of Tom Taylor (Barry Stephens)
This article is in memory of the late Tom Taylor, one of FRS-Holland’s inspirers and at the same time indispensable in the early years. It was posted not long after Tom's death back in January 2018.
A Free Radio station, starting in 1976, surviving the 20th century and still being active in 2017, thát is unique. It says it all about the person behind the station I’m referring at: Tom Taylor.
A passionate Free Radio enthusiast whose brainchild European Music Radio served so many listeners with ‘Sunday entertainment’ on short wave. For many older SW listeners the name Barry Stephens will perhaps sound more familiar. With great sadness I was informed about Tom passing away at the age of 63 on Monday January 22nd 2018. As a long time radio friend I feel the need to share some of my personal memories…in Memory of Tom Taylor and E.M.R.
When I first started having interest in short wave Free Radio it was 1978. After purchasing my first communications receiver, E.M.R. was one of the very first SW pirates I monitored. My first E.M.R. QSL (as far as I know) dates back to November 19th 1978. In those days E.M.R was pure magic for me…the station provided good & clear reception and had a varied, unique programme schedule including former R.N.I.’s World Service presenter AJ Beirens (Carte Blanche & E.M.R. DX), an International Service ánd Roger Tate who did a great job in the Mail Box programme. Looking into my collection of E.M.R memorabilia- letters, stickers, info sheets including the well known E.M.R. sticker ‘Broadcasting from Europe to Europe’- brings back fond memories. Following a number of letter exchanges, Tom asked me to do the Dutch service on E.M.R. as part of the International Service early 1979. Shortly after, it was the first time I visited Tom in London. We would meet up on Liverpool Street Station. Tom drove me to his home at Colliers Wood, SW London where he lived with his parents, both being very sweet and caring, truly supporting Tom in running E.M.R. even though they knew it was illegal. From that moment onwards Tom and I developed a close friendship with our mutual interest in SW Free Radio. Tom happened to be a calm, very friendly and helpful person with much passion for Free Radio on SW by means of E.M.R., the station he founded in 1976. He showed me interesting spots like Radio Jackie's main transmitting location, the station he once worked for in the very early 1970s. In his three wheeler Reliant Robin we went to shops on Tottenham Court Road where you could buy all sort of spare parts for building transmitters. And instead of writing letters, Tom introduced the ‘audio letter’ which was completely new to me. A very practical way in exchanging lots of information. Mid 1979 I intended to start my own SW station: Free Radio Service Holland. Without Tom’s indespensible help, FRSH would have never ever made it on the airwaves. He was the one teaching me how to run a SW Free Radio station giving all sorts of practical tips.
In September 1979 Tom stayed a few days at my mum’s home and most importantly: he then built FRS’ first 10W 807 rig and constructed a 48 mb aerial including a balun. Early 1980 during my second visit to London, Tom introduced me to Roger Tate (Bob Tomalski) who was a familiar name in the London landbased Free Radio scene (Radio Invicta London). The first set of FRS IDs were recorded in Roger’s studio, it was Tom’s idea to ask Roger for that job. I was both delighted with the recording results and very much impressed: what a fantastic studio Roger owned. On that occasion I went with Tom on a monthly E.M.R. broadcast. Very early on a Sunday morning I recall…a 90 minute drive to a lonely hill side somewhere in the greater London area. That day Tom showed me how a broadcast on a field site had to be carried out.