Pirate FM
Broadcast areaCornwall
FrequencyFM: 102.2 MHz (Caradon Hill)
FM: 102.8 MHz (Redruth)
DAB: 11B
FormatHot AC
NetworkHits Radio
OwnerBauer Media Audio UK
Greatest Hits Radio Cornwall
Wave 105
First air date
3 April 1992; 31 years ago (1992-04-03)
Former names
Pirate FM 102
WebsitePirate FM

Pirate FM is an Independent Local Radio station owned and operated by Bauer and based in Cornwall. The station forms part of the Hits Radio network.

As of December 2023, the station broadcasts to a weekly audience of 122,000 according to RAJAR.[1]


The station was launched in 1992 under the name of Pirate FM 102 with the voice of breakfast presenter Roger Day (a well-known ex-pirate DJ from Radio Caroline and Radio North Sea International). The station's launch Chief Executive was Mike Powell, who specified digital technology so advanced at the time that it was featured on the BBC science programme, Tomorrow's World.

Much of the early success of the station was due to the technical expertise of the first managing director Richard Lawley, who was also a graduate electronic engineer. He was succeeded by the station's initial sales director Joseph Swain. The station has also won numerous awards including 'Station of the Year' (in the 300,000 to 1 million potential audience category) at the 2003 and 2006 Sony Radio Academy awards.[2][3][4]

In September 2005, the station's branding changed from The Southwest's Pirate FM to Cornwall's Pirate FM. Listenership appears to have increased in Cornwall following the move, however it reduced their audience in West Devon (including Plymouth, where Pirate FM had a separate office and studio prior to the rebrand). From "Quarter 4" 2006 Pirate FM's survey area (TSA) was reduced by removing Plymouth & most of West Devon, thus reducing the potential audience significantly but focusing on the core Cornish audience. Pirate FM remains as the number one station by audience reach despite the increased competition.

The Pirate Trust is the charitable arm of Pirate FM that raises thousands of pounds yearly for good causes in Cornwall with their 'Cornwall in Need Appeal'. Yearly fundraisers include the 'Garden Party' and the all-day on-air and online auction known as 'Radiothon'. Radiothon [2007][1] and Radiothon [2008][2] were both run in collaboration with free classifieds website itsmymarket.com

Almost all programming is produced and presented locally. From August 2014 until 2020, the station operated a second service on DAB, known as Pirate 2, which aired a series of weekly specialist talk shows, covering topics such as business, farming, education and health and wellbeing.

Until 2018, Pirate FM broadcast The Vodafone Big Top 40 chart show (previously The Pepsi Chart & Hit40UK) which was produced from Capital FM in London and syndicated across over 140 commercial radio stations in the UK. However, the show was withdrawn from syndication in 2018 and now broadcasts solely on Heart & Capital stations.

In February 2021, the station, along with Lincs FM, began syndicating the UK Chart Show, from Bauer's Hits Radio network, on Sunday afternoons.[5] In recent years, the station has also shared a music playlist and many features with Hampshire-based sister station Wave 105.

Station restructuring and rebrand

On 27 February 2024, station owners Bauer announced Pirate FM would be rebranded as Hits Radio Cornwall from April 2024, as part of a wider relaunch involving 17 local radio stations in England and Wales.[6]

The station will be available on DAB and online only and most of the station's local programming outside weekday breakfast will be replaced with programming from the Hits Radio Network, although local news, traffic bulletins and advertising will be retained.

Pirate's FM frequencies will be taken over by a local variant of Greatest Hits Radio, which will include a local afternoon show, local news and traffic bulletins, alongside a largely networked schedule featuring weekday shows with Ken Bruce and Simon Mayo.[7]

The changes are expected to lead to a number of redundancies with freelance contracts being placed under review.[8]

News service

Pirate FM produces local news bulletins from its Redruth studios between 6 am and 6 pm on weekdays and at weekends and bank holidays. Bulletins are broadcast every hour, on the hour with headlines on weekdays at 6:30 am, 7:30 am, 8:30 am and 5:30 pm.

National news bulletins from Sky News Radio in London are broadcast on the hour at all other times.

Transmission details

Pirate FM's two transmitters broadcast separate opt-outs for news bulletins, travel information and advertising. The Redruth transmitter on 102.8 MHz FM includes content for the mid and west of the county of Cornwall, and the Caradon Hill transmitter (on 102.2 MHz FM) covers the East and North of the county, as well as Plymouth and West Devon.


Pirate FM has two current on air straplines: "The Biggest Hits, The Biggest Throwbacks" and "Love Cornwall, Love Music, Love Pirate FM".

It's jingle package is a creation of London-based Wisebuddah.

Pirate FM's original jingles were sung by JAM productions, Dallas in 1992, which included the famous "Tamar Bridges" Cornwall theme tune (lyrics by launch Chief Executive, Mike Powell), which used to be played after midnight and before 6 am every day. That image song was a cut from a package called "Yours Truly". The original Pirate FM jingle package was a selection of cuts from two packages originally created for Detroit's Q95.5. The packages were Q Cuts and Right on Q. In addition, Pirate FM also bought a couple of cuts from the Turbo Z package originally produced for Z-100 in New York.

In the late 1990s, Pirate FM returned to JAM to update their package. That time, they used cuts from the Hi Qume, Uni-Que and Quick Q's packages produced for Detroit's Q95.5, as well as a couple of cuts from Breakthrough, which JAM produced for WPLJ/Power 95.5 in New York.

A new jingle package was first aired in December 2005, made by jingle production company IQ Beats. It was a re-recording of a previous package made for Heart 106.2 in London.

Previous Pirate FM straplines are "More music for Cornwall", "Real music variety", "Better variety, more music", "The world's greatest music", "Greatest memories, latest hits" and "The latest technology, and the best records too".

As of 2023, Pirate FM has taken on the Hits Radio Network slogan 'The Biggest Hits, The Biggest Throwbacks' alongside 'Love Cornwall, Love Music'. [9]


Intermittently since 1992, Pirate FM have employed a mascot that accompanies the broadcast team to events. From launch until the early 2000s, the character was known as "Jasper Parrot". Recent years have seen Pirate FM revisit the concept with a new parrot character, named "Dreckly" after an audience vote.


Pirate FM was one of the two stations that applied for the licence to serve Plymouth after the licence was handed back by Macquarie's Diamond FM. The UKRD plan to extend Pirate's service under the name Plymouth's Pirate FM lost out to Radio Plymouth.[10]


  1. ^ "RAJAR".
  2. ^ "Radio Station Awards". UKRD. UKRD Group. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Sony Radio Academy Awards 2003". The Guardian. 9 May 2003. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Sony Radio Academy Awards 2003". The Guardian. 28 March 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Pirate FM and Lincs FM to take Bauer's chart show", RadioToday.co.uk, Feb 2021
  6. ^ "Pirate FM and Wave 105 to rebrand". Bauer. 27 February 2024. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  7. ^ "Pirate FM and Wave 105 to rebrand". Bauer. 27 February 2024. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  8. ^ Wave 105 and Pirate FM frequencies to become Greatest Hits Radio, RadioToday, 27 February 2024
  9. ^ planetradio.co.uk/pirate-fm
  10. ^ "Radio Today article on Radio Plymouth/Pirate FM battle". Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2010.