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volume 1
august 1998

A thought for August 14th

 





  Would you listen to Radio Caroline again?
  by Howard G.L. Rose
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In the history of Radio Caroline Monday 14th August 1967 is a very special day. This month 31 years ago in the United Kingdom the Marine Offences Act was introduced to silence the offshore radio stations. When it came into force at midnight on August 14th only one station, Radio Caroline, defied it and continued on air. Caroline even turned the tables by claiming the Act recognised her right to be at sea and broadcast. Howard G.L. Rose rises to the occassion to ask what our readers think of a real return of this radio station and its format.

1 Left: Radio Caroline's original ship, the MV Fredericia, later renamed as MV Caroline (Radio Caroline North)

No real radio enthusiast will ever forget Monday 14th August, 1967. Nor will many Radio Caroline fans forget Sunday 3rd March, 1968. At 14 August 1967 the Marine Offences Act was introduced to silence the offshore radio stations. Caroline, however went on after the introduction of the Marine Offences Act, mainly with plugging records of Major Minor Records, the record company of Philip Solomon, one of Caroline's directors. Also some smaller advertisers could be heard.

2 The problems were not over yet. Caroline's radioships, the former Radio Atlanta boat Mi Amigo anchored off Harwich and the MV Caroline near the Isle of Man, were tendered by the Dutch tender company Wijsmuller. When payment by Caroline didn't arrive at all, the boss of Wijsmuller decided it was time to act. On Sunday 3rd March 1968 in the very early hours of the morning both radioships were towed away by strong tugs and brought into Amsterdam harbour. They were auctioned in May 1972. The Caroline organisation succeeded to buy the MV Mi Amigo back, so they could restart their programmes in september 1972.
3 Right: The Mi Amigo

All this now has become radio history and something to remember thirty years later. It is also something that makes one feel sad, if not a little pathetic because Radio Caroline has been silent for so many years. Of course there still is a station called Radio Caroline broadcasting once a week on satellite and shortwave and, certainly, it will memorate and celebrate August 14th. But, do not tell me that it is the same Caroline, and forget trying to convince me that a piddling 1 Watt transmitter licensed by the British Radio Authority is anything but a sad joke on someone's part.

Radio Caroline came on-air and pioneered British broadcasting's development. Even when faced with tough competition, it managed to carve a niche and won the hearts of millions of listeners — not only in Britain, but also in Ireland and on the Continent. From 10,000 Watts it became 50,000 Watts on an even better frequency. From playing pretty-much easy listening and jazz, R&B and swing, it became the station that promoted new music — from Tamla to Stax, Atlantic and so much more.

4 Left: The Ross Revenge with its unparallelled antenna mast

Despite a setback in 1968, it returned in the early seventies and brought Europe the first taste of the album format. In the eighties, aboard the superb Ross Revenge with its 300 foot antenna mast, Radio Caroline was a match for anyone — even the popular Laser 558. But time went on and Radio Caroline was allowed to fizzle out. Can anyone remember the day Radio Caroline stopped broadcasting? Who was to blame — and the blame began with Harold Wilson. We will not major on here — except to say Caroline should not have ceased broadcasting, should not have been allowed to become a low-power imitation of what was being done ashore by ILR, and should not have been left in such a state that some regard it as a bit of a joke today.

5 Right: August 14th 1967: Caroline North becomes Caroline International

As we had recently 14th August 1998, thirty-one years after the introduction of the Marine Offences Act (which Caroline claimed recognised her right to be at sea, and broadcast), one can ask the question — is there still a need for Radio Caroline? Has the time past by when a station operating offshore can do any good? Would anyone listen? Say Caroline appeared with a mighty 50,000 Watts on a good channel, with superb audio quality — it is possible, she is done it before — and playing more than the same 300 tracks heard on your average local station? Would you listen? I would be interested. Like in 1964, or 1967, or whenever, Caroline can exist legally. She was not a pirate. It was and always shall be legal.

6 Caroline can sail again. But would you listen? What would you expect? Tell us. Send your opinion and comments to:
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Hans Knot
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