"Listeners, that brings us to the end of another Potterwatch. We don't know when it will be possible to broadcast again, but you can be sure we shall be back. Keep twiddling those dials: the next password will be 'Mad-Eye'. Keep each other safe. Keep faith. Good night."
—A 1998 broadcast of Potterwatch[src]

Potterwatch[1] was a pirate radio programme hosted by Lee Jordan for those who rebelled against Lord Voldemort and supported Harry Potter during the height of the Second Wizarding War. Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, and Kingsley Shacklebolt appeared on Potterwatch ​​​​​​​as correspondents.

Purpose and activities

Royal (Kingsley Shacklebolt): "We continue to hear truly inspirational stories of wizards and witches risking their own safety to protect Muggle friends and neighbours, often without the Muggles’ knowledge. I’d like to appeal to all our listeners to emulate their example, perhaps by casting a protective charm over any Muggle dwellings in your street. Many lives could be saved if such simple measures are taken."
River (Lee Jordan): "And what would you say, Royal, to those listeners who reply that in these dangerous times, it should be ‘wizards first’?"
Royal (Kingsley Shacklebolt): "I’d say that it’s one short step from ‘wizards first’ to ‘pure-bloods first’, and then to ‘Death Eaters'. We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving."
— A broadcast of Potterwatch[src]

Hermione and Ron trying to tune into Potterwatch

Potterwatch supplied information to the wizarding community about recent events that were not reported by the Wizarding Wireless Network or the Daily Prophet, both of which had fallen under the influence of the Voldemort-controlled Ministry of Magic.[1]

The show attempted to boost the morale of the allies involved in the anti-Voldemort movement by broadcasting supportive messages to Harry Potter and everyone else resisting the Death Eaters. In this sense, Potterwatch emulated the underground radio broadcasts that were transmitted in occupied countries during wartime in the Muggle world.

They also tried to discourage the "climate of panic" being promoted by the Ministry by spreading the truth and dispelling rumours, such as one that Voldemort could kill people with only a glance. They announced the deaths caused by Voldemort's Death Eaters and Snatchers and encouraged wizards and witches to help defend Muggle neighbours from Death Eater attacks by casting a few simple spells.

Programme content

The programme content of the March, 1998 broadcast that Harry, Ron, and Hermione listened to before they were captured and briefly imprisoned in the Malfoy cellar was as follows:

  • Introductory comments and news announcements by “River”
  • A moment of silence to recognise deaths not reported by the Daily Prophet or Wizarding Wireless Network News
  • Updates on the effect of the "new Wizarding order” on the Muggle world, delivered by “Royal”
  • The popular regular segment “Pals of Potter,” hosted by “Romulus”
  • News on the “Chief Death Eater” (Voldemort), reported by new correspondent and inveterate jokester “Rapier.”

Tuning in

To avoid detection by Voldemort, Death Eaters, or the puppet Ministry of Magic, Potterwatch did not broadcast every night and was broadcast from a different location each time.[2]

Passwords were required to tune into every show. By tapping a wand on the wireless and saying the password, a wizard could access the broadcast.[3] A new password was announced at the end of each broadcast. It is not entirely clear how this should prevent unauthorised access for a long time, as only one password would have to be guessed in order to gain knowledge of the next. However, all known passwords are the names of members of the Order of the Phoenix. It is possible that all passwords to access Potterwatch were related to the Order; presumably, however, only names of deceased members would be used as to not further condemn known living members.

If one missed a show, the only means to be able to hear the next would be to ask someone working closely with the broadcast crew — a feat not easily accomplished in the times of war and terror — or to guess the password. Bill Weasley was particularly good at this.

Known passwords

Contributor codenames

Each contributor to the show used a codename while on air to protect their identity, but those who knew the individuals could generally tell who was speaking. Every known codename starts with the letter 'R'.

Wizard(s) Codename Notes
Lee Jordan River Reference to both the Jordan River bordering Israel and the River Lee in Ireland. It could also mean he is a "river" of information, since he always knows what is happening.
Kingsley Shacklebolt Royal Reference to the "King" in his first name as well as being the personal assistant of the Muggle Prime Minister.
Remus Lupin Romulus Reference to the mythological twin orphans Remus and Romulus who were raised by wolves and founded Rome.
Fred Weasley Rodent Because of the "weasel" in Weasley, but named himself Rapier. This was probably in reference to his "rapier wit" or simply because he thought it sounded better. A rapier is a type of sword (relatively light) with an extremely sharp tip.

Behind the scenes

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, when Harry Potter arrived in the Room of Requirement, Nigel reported "Lightning has struck," suggesting that for the purposes of the programme, Harry had been code-named "Lightning," a reference to his lightning-bolt scar.


See also

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 22 (The Deathly Hallows)
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 20 (Xenophilius Lovegood)
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 20 (Xenophilius Lovegood)