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volume 7
august 2004

Radio Caroline's future perspectives


  The wet and wild history of Radio Caroline (25)
by Hans Knot
  All in all, we now have published twenty-four chapters of the wet and wild history of Radio Caroline. They have shown that the offshore radio station surely has a rich past. But, does the station also have a future? In this final chapter Hans Knot doubts Caroline's future perspectives as the station's manager Peter Moore now openly starts asking the listeners for money to keep the station in the air.
1 Left: Deejay Pandora and Peter Moore

A begging-letter. In January 2004 the Horizon, a "Caroline-magazine" that, thanks to John and Jenny Knight, is being published on a regular base, again landed in my post-box. Paging through the articles, I saw it was as good as always. I was rather surprised, though, to read a letter by Peter Moore. Caroline's manager started his contribution by apologizing: "I am ashamed that often when I put pen to paper, it is to beg yet another favour from Caroline supporters ..." A letter that starts with words like these, must be a begging-letter! And, indeed, Moore was asking his readers for a financial donation to get the name "Caroline" on the Sky Electronic Program Guide. By this, he wrote, he hoped to get a larger audience and consequently more advertisers buying airtime on the station. I really think there are better ways to strengthen the financial base of Radio Caroline. As a see it, a commercial radio station first and for all has to operate on the advertisement market.

  However, nowadays the Caroline organisation not even has a sales office for its station. In the 1980's the Caroline organisation at one stage had a company in America who partly did the job of acquiring advertisements. And that, I think, still is the way to run a commercial station on a professional base. A real office with at least one sales officer at the desk, present from 9:00 am up till 5:00 pm, is the only way to get Radio Caroline back where it once was. Sadly, I can't see this happening now or in the nearby future. Instead, we find the station's manager urging his listeners to send some money ... Even those who only tune in to the station by the internet received his letter. Consequently, Radio Caroline as it is now has nothing to do with the concept of free radio, which Ronan O'Rahilly and his managers and program directors fostered in the past. At that time we, the listeners, could listen to the station without paying any money and the deejays could play all they wanted. Now, the situation seems to have changed completely: the organiser behind Radio Caroline wants the listener to pay money! What's more: the Caroline organisation not even seems to care for a regular income from commercial initiatives.
2 Right: The MV Mi Amigo in Zaandam harbour

Smouldering initiatives. I know from some very good sources — people I have known for many years and who are all very reliable and trustworthy — that some organisations really tried to pump some money into the Caroline organisation over the past year. Their offers, though, were all declined. One organisation, for instance, came with the idea to ask bands and artists to pay a small amount of money in return for the service of their songs being played on regular air-time. Moore, however, told to the person involved that this would cost him "too much work to organise." So no plugs for new bands and also no money for Radio Caroline! This really is what was being said, as I sat next to them both when they were talking for the third time in a row about the possibilities to acquire more money for the Caroline organisation and to offer new bands a means for airplay on the station.

  Yet another way of making money is selling airtime. I happen to know that a couple of very fanatic supporters in Germany are willing to pay a regular amount of Euros to a bank account in Germany for a German service on Radio Caroline. In return three times a year the money will be transferred to the Caroline account in Highgate, which amounts to about 1.000 Pounds a year. Still, saying that's not helping much, our station's manager also has declined this offer. Where are the days that no less than 120 different companies could be heard, promoting their products on Radio Caroline within one week? No, don't say we're not living in the 1960's anymore. If a good team would be arranging a good rate card (see the appendix) — the last one I've seen from the Caroline organisation dates back to 1982 when the proposed MV Imagine would come on the air — the station finally would be making money again. That way it could be providing its programmes as a free radio station.
  Left: A recently re-discovered Caroline poster

Surely, it is not the first time the Caroline organisation addresses its listeners by asking for donations. In my archive I found a letter from early 1992 to the Foundation for Media Communication (FMC) — again written by Peter Moore, begging for 300 Pounds. In those days some of the products of the Foundation were Caroline-related — like the CD The Legend Lives On. I was and still am advisor to the board of FMC and as the producer of this CD I advised that all the money earned by the project would go either to the Caroline organisation or to Peter Chicago. So, as a matter of fact, FMC (SMC in Holland) paid the 300 Pounds Moore asked for in 1992. With this money a big van could be rented in London. Mike Dundee and some other guys used it to go over to Holland to pick up all the equipment and records from the storehouse of the Dutch OCD in Bleiswijk, Holland. This was the same equipment that was — illegally — raided in August 1989 by the Dutch authorities and taken over to Holland with the MV Volans. I must say that, at the time, FMC contributed the money willingly, helping to bring the Caroline belongings back to Dover harbour, where the Caroline vessel then was located. So at that stage 300 Pounds proved to be good money. Now, in 2004, Peter Moore isn't even happy with a yearly 1,000 Pounds.

  I also happen to know that some of the people who are now already working to bring the promotional sales of the radio station to a higher lever or who are incidentally making radio programs free of charge, have been developing some interesting ideas to turn Caroline into a more commercial radio station. One of them brought his plan to "Highgate Headquarters." You can guess the answer: "Sit back, wait a moment and I will come back to you." What is only one moment for us surely must be many moments in Manager Moore's life, for the idea is still waiting to be heard. I myself experienced some problems of this sort when I approached Moore with the plans for a book publication of this series. Initially I planned to do a photo book, spanning the history of Radio Caroline. Over the last forty years I've built an exclusive photo archive relating to offshore radio and so I wanted to select some rather unique and rare photos while asking some former deejays to write a few lines about them. That way, Moore would make some profit for the Caroline organisation. A day later, I already had a bad feeling about the plan. Not only my archive would be used, Moore would have the control on the book, which implied a saying on the contents of the text. I thought it wise to change my plans and so the idea changed into the series of which you're now reading the final chapter.
3 Right: The MV Mi Amigo (about 1965)

Sharing good memories. To me it seems that Moore has been overidentifying with Radio Caroline to such an extent that he no longer is capable to hand control over to other people. And that's just what Caroline needs most at the moment. Caroline has become his private pet project. He simply can not share its management with other people, though that is just the thing Radio Caroline needs for a more commercial approach. Earlier this year John Knight of Caroline Sales, the company which brought a lot of money in for the Caroline organisation — not only to run the satellite programming but also to restore the Ross Revenge — decided that it was time to quit with Peter Moore. I will mention only one reason why Knight decided to do this: every time Moore asked him for a cheque to be signed Knight stood ready to do so, but when he in turn wanted a new commercial on the radio station, he had to wait and keep waiting.

  My good hopes and with them my strong feelings for Radio Caroline's future have been slowly drifting away. And, quoting John Lennon famous song lines, I know that I'm not the only one. Luckily, Radio Caroline has given us all so many good memories which we all can share and that's what this series on the wet and wild history of Radio Caroline has been all about. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Sadly, during the work on this series, two persons who were very close to the history of Radio Caroline passed away. Anthony J. Smith, better known under his deejay name as Tony Allan, died on July 9, 2004. Jenny Knight, editor of Horizon Magazine, passed away on August 23, 2004. My thoughts and condolences go to their families.
  Look here for the index of this series
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