Grant Goddard, the U.K.’s go-to analyst on all things digital radio, has just finished a substantial history of KISS FM – a London commercial radio station that began as a pirate more than 25 years ago.
KISS broke new ground on London’s airwaves by giving airplay to what was once called “black music,” now more popularly identified as soul, R&B, hip-hop and various elements of electronica.
The 500+ page tome paints a vivid picture of the dynamics of London’s vibrant yet shadowy pirate radio scene, the sociopolitical struggles behind the station’s legalization, and its effect on the evolution of commercial broadcasting in the U.K.
Goddard himself was involved with KISS from its pirate days, and was there during the station’s transformative years. In this regard, the book is part station history, part market and regulatory analysis, and part autobiography.
One of the most interesting takeaways is the fact that regulators actually thought accommodating pirate stations by legitimizing them would work to marginalize those left unlicensed – an objective which utterly failed, as the U.K. (and London specifically) has one of the most vibrant pirate radio scenes in the world today.
This is Goddard’s second book in a single year; the first wholly deconstructed the myth that digital radio represents the future of broadcasting. Both are recommended reading.