Viva La Fip is the monthly celebration of the music and mad ecclecticsm of FIP.
Telerama (which is the French equivalent of The Radio Times) were so fascinated by the Vive La Fip nights that they published an article on it. If your French is a bit rusty, and you can’t translate the article don’t panic. There’s a translation at the bottom of the page!
AN ENQUIRY INTO THESE ENGLISH WHO ARE MAD ON FIP.
The Pirate’s Fiancée
Who’s secretly broadcasting FIP, the seductive French radio station over the Channel?
On the evening of the 25th January, dozens came to The Hope at 10, Queen’s Rd Brighton. It’s a traditional pub where posters announce ” a celebration of the mad eclectic music of the mysterious French radio station”. What then is this radio station? None other than our national station, FIP created in 1971! On the last Thursday of each month, the inhabitants of this elegant seaside city meet up to celebrate the musical eclecticism of what, according to local accent, they call “La Pheep”. How do they manage to capture a French radio station on an FM frequency when Brighton is situated 180 km from Dieppe and Le Havre and thus outside the reach of the network transmitters? Through what technical prowess? After eight years living with “pheep” the fans are no longer asking themselves the question. They prefer to imagine it riding the airwaves like a siren and miraculously reaching their ears. FIP has imposed itself like a sort of radiophonic ideal, a sonorous secret garden for sharing.
So this evening, the Hope with its red ceiling, Chesterfield armchairs and obligatory beer pumps along the bar, hosts two DJs Robin Tee and Hend de Coy. There’s no collective listening to FIP, rather the two DJs in homage to its spirit, mix music that mirrors the programmes. “There’s nothing like it in England” say Maria, Martha, James, Matthew and Mike, five fans of FIP pints in hand. “Here all the stations are formatted. One plays blues another plays rock. There’s no mix. With FIP the programmers appreciate all styles of music and play a repertoire that dates back to the 60’s.” Some of these English fans appreciate the FIP mix so much that they choose to live in spots where there is optimum reception. Others record it on CD or cassette to take on journeys. And FIP is played in boutiques, taxis and restaurants.
After a few rounds of beer, the event’s organiser, local comedian David Mounfield, appears in the smoky pub. This Thursday he was acting in a comic piece at a local venue. “You know, FIP fans love the arts and culture! Commercial; radio stations don’t take any risks musically and their presenters talk all the time. The local BBC station is aimed at an older age group. It’s logical that FIP has found its public here, in a town full of eccentrics and independent spirits.”
Next to David Mounfield, a man is listening attentively. We start talking and after some minutes he drops his mask. It’s him, the ‘engineer’ – the one who installed the pirate system that broadcasts FIP over Brighton. The desire to share this radio station that he adored was too strong. Afraid of reprisals he declines to reveal his identity, but for the first time, shares his secret. “I pick up the satellite signal…then, through two low wattage FM transmitters installed on two nearby hills, I re-broadcast it. I have chosen the frequencies so as not to interfere with other local stations..” One complaint and it would all be finished the transmitters could be seized. In the pub no one reacts or they don’t want to hear. These listeners are too fond of the idea that FIP is a phantom radio brought to them on the ebb and flow of the radio waves.