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volume 5
july 2002

Yorkshire's own offshore radio station

 





  Review of:
  • Bob Preedy, Radio 270. Life on the Oceaan waves. The incredible story of Yorkshire's own offshore station. Wetherby, Yorkshire, 2001 (98 pages; ISBN 1 8743660 2 0).
by Hans Knot
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  In his book about Radio 270, Bob Preedy recollects the short history of this offshore station that was aiming its programmes at the British East Coast, more specially at the city of Scarborough. The station was rather short-lived as it aired its programmes for only fifteen months during 1966-1967. Things were happening fast in those days, however, and there are many things to tell about this small station. In this review Hans Knot looks at what Preedy has to add to previous accounts of Radio 270's history.
 
1 Radio 270 was an offshore station, that was on air for just fifteen months and — aiming its programmes at Yorkshire — could be named a regional radio station. During one week of transmissions, one could hear the name of the town of Scarborough being mentioned hundreds of times. Scarborough not only was the town where offshore radio station Radio 270 held office, but also the location to held the post address, where listeners could send their requests or order the original "Radio 270 Offers" like the Radio 270 stockings or the Radio 270 transistor radio. The station used the medium wave frequency of 270 metres with a transmitter from the RCA factory in the USA. Not only the listeners from the county of Yorkshire tuned in to the station. The station could also claim many listeners from abroad: the Netherlands. Strangely enough the station almost couldn't be received in Amsterdam, but the signal came in clearly during daytime in Groningen, a city in the far North-East of the Netherlands.
2 During the past decennia three authors have paid extensive attention to the history of Radio 270 during 1966 and 1967. First there was Paul Harris who highlighted this offshore radio station in his When pirates ruled the waves(Impulse Publications Ltd, Aberdeen 1968). Then in 1985 Hans Knot wrote about the station in the first part of his De kleintjes van de Noordzee (Amsterdam, Foundation for Media Communication) and finally there was the long awaited book Pop went the pirates. A book that was due to be published in 1968 but kept its readers waiting for more than twenty-five years. It finally was published in March 1995 by Lamb's Meadow Publications from Sheffield. Author Keith Skues did not forget to include the history of Radio 270 in his massive book on offshore radio. One would think three different books paying attention to the history of a small regional radio station would be far enough. Adding the fact that the station was on the air for only fifteen months and played just a minor role compared for instance to stations like Radio London and Radio Caroline, you wouldn't expect any new publications. Very recently, however, a new book appeared in the book shops, called Radio 270. Life on the Oceaan waves. It was written by Bob Preedy.
3 Directly after turning over the pages of this new book two things struck me. First on page 11, where the story of Radio 270 starts, an historic mistake came to my eyes. The author reminded us that the most important offshore radio station, Wonderful Radio London, started near Christmas 1965. Of course this must be one year earlier. The second thing that came to my eyes, was that Preedy had been so sensible as to bring some other photographs as have been used in previous publications in books or magazines. Of course it's very difficult, if one writes a book on a certain subject where the author himself did not participate, to bring photo material which hasn't been published before. So I have to compliment Preedy for bringing some very nice photographs from aboard the Oceaan 7, a former fishing trawler from Scheveningen, which I hadn't yet seen elsewhere. I can also confirm that I've not found any other historic mistakes in the book. For the research of the story Preedy has done some important interviews with key figures from the organization behind Radio 270. And again from this book I learnt that key figures nowadays are willing to tell more about what happened in the high days of offshore radio than in the seventies and eighties of last century. The group of people who talked with Preedy about Radio 270 includes Leonard Dale, Peter Duncan, Stella Ellis, Wilf Proudfoot and Don Robinson, who all stood right in the middle of the organization behind the station.
4 Hal York in Radio 270's studio

Preedy has also done a lot of research in local and regional archives and newspapers, which taught him many facts which haven't published before. Important too is, that in his own work on Radio 270 Preedy has avoided repeating too many things mentioned before in previous publications. Where Preedy repeats earlier published facts, it certainly was necessary, as these facts were told in a very concise way before. Important in this respect is the chapter where Preedy tells us about the past of the key figures: what they did in the years before they started Radio 270, a station that originally would be called Radio Yorkshire. Remarkable is that there were already letters from readers in the newspapers about Radio 270 in the days before the station was on the air for the very first time. One of these readers even suggested the start of an organization to jam the future transmissions of the offshore radio stations, arguing that the number of these pop stations seemed to keep growing uncontrollably.

5 Very interesting to read is the account of what happened during the month before the station finally came on the air with test transmissions (7.6.1966). Preedy tells us what happened to the people within the organization and what kind of setbacks they encountered in their attemps to start the station. Yet another lot of facts from the history of Radio 270 are brought by Preedy in monthly reports. So we learn from his book, that Radio 270 came on the air in June 1966 with Roger Gale as its first deejay. For the remaining facts and stories ... well, I advice you to read those yourself in this excellent book. The story of Radio 270 covers a full 98 pages and the book is well illustrated with many photos and newspaper cuts. You can order it at your local book shop, referring to its title Radio 270. Life on the Oceaan Waves and its ISBN number 1 8743660 2 0. If you don't want to wait, you can also sent £ 10 or € 15 in cash to the author: R.E. Preedy, Wetherby, LS22 6WG England. And, of course, you can also order the book directly at the author's own web site: Yorkshire and Humberside Books.
   
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