Concept News UK
  Bert Williams 1950-2021

Bert Williams, founder of Merseyland Alternative Radio. has died on 13 January 2021 after suffering a long illness

Here are some tributes:

Jim Lowe

"I knew Bert from pirate radio meetings which took place in the 1990's. Bert used to discuss technical matters with Kevin Rogers who used to build FM transmitters, but Bert's area of interest was Mediumwave. These meetings used to go on as late as 3AM.   Bert studied every aspect of transmitting including different modulation methods. His preferred method was Anode Screen, a method which apparently was never used by other operators. Hidden antennas was another subject often discussed, but Bert was always very discreet, and mostly discussed his methods with people he knew and trusted.  Bert once appeared in a report about pirate radio on Granada Reports in silhouette with colleague Paul Jay, who also died last year.  Bert sometimes played the audio of the report on his show. There are fewer Mediumwave pirate stations in the UK now, mainly due to tower blocks being demolished, as most of the stations used wire antennas often strung between 2 tower blocks. "

 Chris via BDXC:

"Oh that’s very sad news indeed. I’d heard he was ill. What a force he was in Merseyside pirate radio. The first time I heard one of his stations was Radio Rhonda but his first attempt at a station running longer hours was Radio 225. I was sick and in St Catherine’s hospital at the time and the signal was colossal playing just continuous Beatles music on 1331 kHz. Eventually there was a repeated gruff recorded announcement: “This is Radio 225, your continuous music station.” The voice I found out later was Burt or rather Alf, as he was then known.

His presentation skills improved a bit over the years as he gained confidence. Never a natural, he did however show his passion in the radio he created. After I was well enough following hospital, me and a friend tracked the station down, on the bus, to somewhere somewhere on the Wirral.

 I have an awful feeling that in trying to get into the backyard of the property, I let his pet rabbit escape.

The station, fairly near the coast, could be heard from Anglesey to Dublin and up to coastal Cumbria. Locally it put BBC Radio One’s phasing fading daytime and worse nightime signal on 247m to shame. The station caused quite a stir and had many listeners in the absence of anything that powerful, with his amazingly wide audio modulation and sheer power and great music. Various incarnations of Burt’s stations and those he sponsored, with transmitters he built for them, appeared for many years. He was raided of course and prosecuted at various points.

He was featured in the local press and TV and gradually built a team of collaborators for more ambitious stations. Quite a gruff character, I well remember him appearing on my doorstep demanding the return of a mediumwave crystal I’d liberated from one of his smaller remote transmitters. I was a bad lad! He pretended that he was cross but accepted £5 instead for 1187 kHz, Caroline’s frequency at the time. We spoke on the phone a few times and I met him a couple of times after that. His bigger transmitters used the high wattage 813 valves and his high level AM modulation limiter was a light bulb circuit to absorb and limit the modulation peaks. They probably ran about 250 watts but only later, with long sloping AM antennas from tower blocks in the Wirral, did he achieve better efficiency and coverage with Radios Merseyland, Merseywaves, MAR, Veronica and so on.

I think what Burt did was encourage others, but mostly his legacy is the music he introduced to so many young people of the area: Beatles music, The Stones, The Shadows. Two tracks stand out for me though from those Burt Williams years: Richard Harris’ MacArthur Park and almost a theme: Across the Universe by The Beatles. So rest in peace Burt. Part of the soundtrack to my teenage years, a boost of interest in broadcasting which led to my own pirate radio, amateur radio, hospital radio, BBC local, student radio and eventually into the BBC itself at Caversham. I hope Burt, Alf, is tuning up his transmitter, measuring the RF current and spinning some great oldies on mediumwave up there somewhere beyond the ionosphere." 


The Bert Williams Story (Link to MAR website)

See also: Ken Fletcher  Dave Collins  Jim Brown

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