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volume 6
january 2004

The wet and wild history of Radio Caroline


  Forty years of Radio Caroline, 1964-2004
by Hans Knot (Editor)
  On March 27, 1964, the offshore station Radio Caroline started its transmissions from the former MV Fredericia. Now, forty years later, Hans Knot presents a series of memories of the station's wet and wild history.
English Introduction. On March 27, 1964, the offshore station Radio Caroline started its transmissions from the former MV Fredericia. Nowadays the station still can be heard by way of internet and satellite. The forty year history of Radio Caroline is characterized by countless ups and downs, each worth memorising — as will be done on these pages. Here Hans Knot introduces this series on the wet and wild history of Radio Caroline.
English 1. A memorable Saturday: September 30, 1972. Almost nobody heard the very short test transmission in the late evening of September 29, 1972, on 1187 kHz. The next day, however, many people noticed the non-stop music, being aired on the 257.2 meters, coming directly from the MV Mi Amigo. Indeed, Radio Caroline was back on the air and due to bring some impressive high energy radio over the ensuing years. Here Hans Knot tells us all there is to know about that illustrious Saturday, September 30, 1972.
English 2. Looking back at Caroline with Mike and Tom. From Easter 1964 on, when Radio Caroline came on air for the first time, its listeners were won over by the deejays. Simon Dee and his friends gave the station a massive audience. In the late summer of 1988, in the Essex Radio studio, Robert Chapman interviewed two former Caroline deejays for his research into the history of pop-radio. On that occasion Mike Ahern and Tom Lodge saw each other again for the first time since they left Radio Caroline in 1967, when the Marine Offences Act became law in Great Britain.
English 3. Some Radio Caroline cut-outs. Radio Caroline sure was prone to headlines. In this third instalment of our Radio Caroline series, Hans Knot takes us back to what the newspapers wrote about the offshore station, adding a few of his personal memories.
English 4. New Year and no nicotine ... From August 9, 1983, till November 6, 1990, Radio Caroline would be airing its programmes from the MV Ross Revenge. Over a three year period — from 16th December 1984 to 24th November 1987 — the Lady shared her ship with Radio Monique. Frits Koning was one of the guys who worked for Radio Monique. Here he shares his memories of his first Christmas and New Year aboard the Ross Revenge.
English 5. More Caroline cut-outs: March 1968 - September 1972. Next to thousands of newspaper cut-outs, Hans Knot fosters an impressive amount of diary notes about the state of offshore radio. In this contribution to our series on the forty-year history of Radio Caroline, he takes us through some of his notes scribbled down in the years between 1968 and 1972, when Radio Caroline was not on the air from her own ships.
English 6. Britain's buccaneer broadcasters: my story of Radio Caroline. In 1965 Steve Young became a pirate, joining Radio Caroline South in 1966 to do overnight and daytime relief shifts. In 1968 he returned to Canada, working at CKOV Kelowna, CFRN Edmonton, CKIQ Kelowna, CJVI Victoria and CHEK-TV Victoria. In this contribution to our Radio Caroline series, Young revives some of his memories of his high days on international waters.
English 7. "They wanted us to sound slick, pacy and fast." In November 1966, Roger Day went to work for Radio Caroline on the MV Mi Amigo, where he became known as Roger "Twiggy" Day, "your thinner record spinner." He left Caroline just ahead of the Marine Offences Act of August 14, 1967, but changed his mind and returned to the station. He was on board the final day of March 3, 1968, when the ship was towed away by the Dutch Wijsmuller company. Jelle Boonstra and Hans Knot spoke to him in Amsterdam in 2001.
English 8. Running the Euro-siege blockade. Bob LeRoi started his radio career with a few stints for Radio City on the Shivering Sands Forts in 1965. Three years later, in 1968, he missed the chance of going to the MV Mi Amigo for Radio Caroline. In the late 1970's though, while working for the local BBC Radio, he became involved with supplying the new Radio Caroline ship, the MV Ross Revenge, on the tender Henrietta. Here he recalls some of his memories for our Radio Caroline series.
English 9. "The Radio Caroline format has changed dramatically ..." After a full three years absence, in 1983 Radio Caroline again could be heard, now airing its programmes from the MV Ross Revenge. The ship was anchored only twelve miles away from the spot where the former Caroline ship did sink in March 1980. Though the name and location were the same, the programme format did change dramatically. For the worse and not for the better, as Hans Knot argues.
English 10. "It all started with Ad Roberts borrowing my new microphone." Rob Hudson started his radio career working at Radio Mi Amigo in 1978. Next he joined the first local cable radio station in Holland, Radio Unique in Amsterdam and, for a short period, worked at offshore station Radio Caroline in 1979. Later on Ruud Hendriks — his real name — became the European Director for NBC TV in London and subsequently director of the ill-fated Sport 7 in the Netherlands and sales director for EndeMol Productions. At the Dutch Annual Radio Day of 1992 Hans Knot interviewed him about his early days in offshore radio.
English 11. On and off the air: the second half of 1978. In chapter 11 of this Radio Caroline series, author Hans Knot looks into the very first issue of the Freewave Media Magazine, dated July 1978, to see what this magazine had to say about the station at that time. As a bonus, we also learn some more about the "Zeezenders 20 Convention," where the magazine was presented to the public. By bad luck, Radio Caroline itself was off the air at that time.
English 12. An American in Europe. Over the past four decades Radio Caroline hosted a lot of English-speaking guys from outside England. In the mid-1980's, for instance, John Ford took a trans-Atlantic flight to Heathrow to become another American in Europe doing radio programs from international waters. Almost twenty years later he wrote down his memories for our Radio Caroline series.
English 13. Listening to Radio Caroline. The four decades of Radio Caroline's history can be divided into five periods, Rob Olthof argues. In this chapter of our Caroline series, he takes us through them all, sharing his experiences as a listener.
English 14. The Radio Detection Squad. Herbert Visser belongs to that very small group of authors of our series on Radio Caroline who hasn't yet reached the age of 40. So he is younger than the station itself. Visser, though, knows all about it. He worked in the Netherlands for some illegal radio stations, the land-based pirates, and in the second part of the 1980's he joined Radio Monique, one of the many sister stations Radio Caroline has had over the past four decades.
English 15. Never ever accept any cheques. In the late 1970's a young guy from Naaldwijk did a lot of work for the Radio Delmare organisation. It was Leen Vingerling who not only figured as deejay Jan Olienoot but was often seen under dangerous circumstances supplying one of the former Delmare vessels. He even put a lot of his own money into the tendering to ensure that the station would continue its programs. In the 1980's, he helped tendering the MV Ross Revenge. And again his money was at stake.
English 16. A parrot certainly adds to all the mayhem. Over the four years Radio Caroline was on the air in the 1960's, a lot of deejays came and went. From the USA came Michael Pasternak, a.k.a. Emperor Rosko, son of producer Joe Pasternak. For our Radio Caroline series he here refreshes some of his memories.
English 17. The day of the great hurricane. October 16th 1987, the Great Hurricane hit the southern half of the UK and, with it, also the radio ship MV Ross Revenge with its 300-foot aerial. At that time, Steve Conway was on board of the ship. For our Radio Caroline series he here commemorates the hectic moments on the ship.
English 18. Eighty pints of Birthday Beer. Working on a pig farm was not the kind of work he was really enjoying and, as his interest in radio was huge, he decided to try his luck on international waters. Working for a whole range of offshore radio stations, our "Morning, lads" man hided himself behind a series of deejay names: Johnny Moss, Stephen Bishop and Johnny Lewis. Under that last name, the man who worked for Radio Caroline for no less than four decades, here shares some good and bad memories on the wet and wild history of Radio Caroline.
English 19. Dealing with the "Radio Caroline Dis-organisation". This chapter of our series on the Wet and Wild History of Radio Caroline has been written by Phil Mitchell, who not only worked for Radio Caroline on the MV Mi Amigo, but also did a lot of experience on land based pirate stations; not forgetting in international waters off the Israeli coast on the famous Voice of Peace, which was set up in the late 1960s from a former Groningen coaster, called the MV Cito by Peace-fighter Abe Nathan.
English 20. The Ross Revenge revisited. At Eastern, 2004, forty years had passed since Radio Caroline's first transmissions from the MV Fredericia. To celebrate the occasion, John Patrick of the Caroline Organisation invited a lot of people for a festive party in the Riga Bar in Southend on Sea. Ad Roberts accepted the invitation and here tells about his trip to England.
English 21. Three men on a radio ship. On 19th November 1991 storms built up across Europe and by the early hours of the next morning force ten storms were battering the Ross Revenge, and eventually the main anchoring system broke. In the early hours of November 20, 1991, the radio ship grounded on the Goodwin Sands. The next day the tug Dextrous managed to get lines on the ship and towed it back to the Eastern Docks at Dover, where repair work was carried out. Stuart Dobson was there and tells us all about this dangerous adventure.
English 22. The dreams and doings of Allan Crawford. During his research for his recent book on Radio North, Bob Preedy spoke to many people who wished to see a proper recognition of Allan Crawford's contribution to the story of UK offshore radio. Responding to these questions, the author here offers us some known and some unknown facts out of Allan Crawford's biography. This story was published earlier on in the Offshore Echos Magazine, 2004, but, thanks to its Editor Chris Edwards, now also is available as part of our series on the wet and wild history of Radio Caroline.
English 23. Listening to Radio Caroline. When we started our series to commemorate the forty years of Radio Caroline, we asked the readers to write down their memories of the station in just a few lines. There proved to be a lot of people, cultivating little gems of the station's history. On this page Hans Knot presents a few exemplary ones.
English 24. The making of the young Paul Alexander. In the late Spring of 1973 two stations, both calling themselves Radio Caroline, were airing their programmes: one in the English language with a Top-40 format, the other in Dutch with an easy-listening format. In those days, Hans Knot frequented the MV Mi Amigo and the Caroline offices at the Van Hoogendorpstraat and befriended many of the people working at these centres of radio-activity. Among them was a young lad by the name of Paul Alexander, or rather Paul Alexander Rusling, who desperately wanted to go out to the ship. Now over thirty years later, he wrote down his memories of those days.
English 25. Radio Caroline's future perspectives. 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.
  Some other publications on Radio Caroline in this journal
  • Baldwin, Geoff (2000), "The many faces of Radio Caroline. The conspiration against Radio Caroline." In: Soundscapes, Volume 3, July 2000.
  • Edwards, Chris (1999), "Ten years ago to the day. Remembering the entering of Radio Caroline." In: Soundscapes, Volume 2, August 1999.
  • Edwards, Chris (2000), "Een mooie mix van directheid, romantiek en drama. Interview met Norman Barrington en Brian Anderson." In: Soundscapes, Volume 2, Januari 2000.
  • Edwards, Chris (2001), "Having an audience with Emperor Rosko. An interview with Michael Pasternak, a.k.a. Emperor Rosko." In: Soundscapes, Volume 4, October 2001.
  • Haan, Paul de, en Sietse Brouwer (2001), "Caroline versus Caroline. Een open briefwisseling over Radio Caroline." In: Soundscapes, Volume 3, Januari 2001.
  • Knot, Hans (1999), "Caroline in Nederland. Een open briefwisseling." In: Soundscapes, Volume 1, Februari 1999.
  • Knot, Hans (2000), "Caroline Supporters Day in Leeuwarden. One day of powerful radio, and now what next?" In: Soundscapes, Volume 3, August 2000.
  • Knot, Hans (2001), "Caroline en Astra. Haalt Radio Caroline de overstap van analoog naar digitaal?" In: Soundscapes, Volume 3, Februari 2001.
  • Knot, Hans (2002), "De vijfde opstart van Radio Caroline. Op de kabel in Noord- en Oost-Nederland." In: Soundscapes, Volume 4, Januari 2002.
  • Knot, Hans (2002), "Inside Radio Caroline. Review of: Tom Lodge, The Radio Caroline Story from the inside." In: Soundscapes, Volume 5, July 2002.
  • Knot, Hans (2002), "Wat zat er een snelheid in die radio! In gesprek met Keith "Keefers" Hampshire." In: Soundscapes, Volume 5, Oktober 2002.
  • Knot, Hans (2004), "In memory of Tony Allan (1949-2004)." In: Soundscapes, Volume 7, July 2004.
  • Lhote, François (2000), "De keuken van de Fredericia, de vogel van Rosko en andere Carolinia. In gesprek met Dave Williams." In: Soundscapes, Volume 3, April 2000.
  • Munck, Tom de, en Hans Knot (2007), "Mistgordijnen rond een zendschip. De derde terugkeer van Radio Caroline, 1980-1982." In: Soundscapes, Volume 9, Februari 2007.
  • Rose, Howard G.L. (1998), "A thought for August 14th. Would you listen to Radio Caroline again?" In: Soundscapes, Volume 1, August 1998.
  • Ven, Martin van der (2001), "Caroline, don't change the format! An open letter to the Caroline organisation." In: Soundscapes, Volume 4, May 2001.
  2004 © Soundscapes