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volume 2
april 1999

Rare pictures from radio's past


  Scandinavian Offshore Radio: Radio Mercur (3)
by Hans Knot
  Radio Mercur was the first offshore station to fight the law. The Danish Government decided that the offshore stations had to be closed down at midnight 31st July 1962. Indeed Radio Mercur closed down but a part of the former broadcasting staff came back on air on 13th August 1962. The Danish authorities decided to act and on 15th August 1962 a force of armed Danish police boarded the Lucky Star. The Lebanese flag was carried but no registration form could be shown. The captain however told the ship was registered in Guatemala, but no transcript of documents could be shown either. The ship was impounded and later all the equipment was taken off the ship. Radio Mercur returned in the 1980s as a local radio station in Copenhagen.
1 During the year 1960 a group of collaborators of Radio Mercur decided to leave the station. Among them were the very popular deejays Anders Dahlerup, Nete Schreiner and Hans Vangkilde. Planning to start their own offshore radio station, they bought the Libyan freighter "Nijmah al Haz" and renamed the ship into "Lucky Star". In a Belgian harbour the ship was rebuilt into a radio ship. The picture below shows the MV Lucky Star before it was rebuilt into a radio ship.

The Lucky Star anchored at the Danish coast and started broadcasting on 15th September 1961 as Danmarks Commercielle Radio (DCR). The programmes were taped in a studio in Copenhagen. The music choice made the main difference with Radio Mercur. Instead of popular music DCR did broadcast light classical music, opera and talk programmes in the Danish language. The transmitter had a power of 20 kW and aired DCR's programmes on 93,97 mHz FM. The picture shows the transmission mast of the MV Lucky Star.

3 The ship's name did not bring DCR any fortune. That part of Danish public which liked popular music, kept to its favourite Radio Mercur. The people who preferred the classical style were abhorred by DCR's commercials. In January 1962 Radio Mercur and DCR decided to merge, on the condition that Ib Fogh would leave the organisation. On 29th January 1962 Fogh did resign and two days later Danmarks Commercielle Radio stopped broadcasting. The share capital of 200,000 Kroner was split with 60 percent for Mercur and 40 percent for DCR.
4 Radio Mercur now owned three ships and that proved to be a good thing, as the Cheeta I was obliged to stop broadcasting on February 12th, 1962. During a gale that day the Cheetah I put out a distress call and was tugged to the Langelinie Quay in Copenhagen harbour. Here the Cheeta I was met by the police and detained. It was discovered that after Panama had withdrawn her flag, the ship in fact had been stateless. The Lucky Star took over the broadcasts of Radio Mercur, now on 88 mHz. The Cheeta I her self was impounded, later to be sold to Britt Wadner who would use the ship from March 2nd 1962 on for the Radio Syd transmissions.
5 The start of Radio Syd triggered the Swedish authorities to adopt an anti-pirate Bill, called the "Lex Radio Nord". The Danish government was quick to follow. On 3rd April 1962 it presented a bill to the Danish Parliament, which after its third reading on 14th June 1962 was passed with 83 votes for, 38 votes against and 23 abstentions. The other Scandinavian countries followed step. On July 3rd 1962 during a ministerial meeting between Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden the Scandinavian countries agreed to bring their anti-pirate laws into effect at midnight on July 31st, 1962.
6 As Radio Mercur now had two ships the close-down was effectuated, exactly at midnight on July 31st, 1962, on both of them. This picture shows console operator Verner Skovgaard in the studio of the Cheeta II, which had the better equipped studio onboard, looking at the midnight 12:00 when the transmitter was turned off for ever.
7 When the final date came, the transmitting in fact was done from the former DCR's Lucky Star. MV Lucky Star's engineer Erik Lindhardt got this picture in the Danish papers at the occasion of the close-down.
8 The mess room of the MV Lucky Star. The man in the white shirt, third of the left, again is engineer Erik Lindhardt.
9 Handing over the programme tapes
10 On August 13th 1962, at 17.00 hours, transmissions restarted from the Lucky Star, using old Radio Mercur tapes. Benny Knudsen, manager of the old Radio Mercur, stated that his company had nothing to do with this and only had rented the ship until the close-down from a Senor Arturo Delboso of Guatemala. On August 16th, 1962, a force of armed police men boarded the Lucky Star. They discovered that the ship had no registration and that the Lebanese flag flying from the stern was a fake, differing slightly from the true flag. A customs vessel escorted the Lucky Star into Copenhagen harbour, though the people on board claimed Guatemalan registration. In Copenhagen a court ruled that the boarding and seizing were in order and that the ship would be held until the owners appeared. Some weeks later the ship moved to the German city of Flensburg, to be sold there to Britt Wadner.
  The MV Lucky Star, carrying the fake Lebanese flag
  Police nearing the MV Lucky Star
  Police boarding the MV Lucky Star
14 Police boarding the MV Lucky Star with some bigger material
15 Danish police getting the tapes off the ship
  During the eighties the Danish Government introduced local commercial radio. The above photo was shot at the opening of Radio Mercur as a local station
  Photographs are from the Freewave Media Magazine Archive and Hans Knot
  Look here for more pictures of the Scandinavian Offshore Radio Stations
  1999 © Soundscapes