Some important dates in the history of Radio Veronica
by Jim Parkes
The history of Radio Veronica, the famous Dutch offshore station, falls apart in two episodes, closely connected with their two ships. From April 1960 the station aired its programmes from the Borkum Riff. Though its programming then still was very conventional, the station acquiered a growing audience. From the 1st Januari 1965, three months before the Norderney took over, the station became still more popular by adopting the format of real rock radio. But, while the station boasts the fact that it was well liked by the people of Holland, it must be remembered that it paid for the Radio Noordzee ship to be removed — the people concerned set light to the engine room and it exploded on the 15th May 1971.
Station: Radio Veronica
Frequencies: 1639 kHz / 183 M and 1562 kHz / 192 M
Opened: April 1960
Closed: May 1965
Ship: Borkum Riff
Location: Scheveningen, Holland
Address: PO Box 218, Hilversum, Holland
Owner: The Verweij Brothers plus ten other share holders
Theme: No theme music used
15th October. A group of radio dealers held a convention at the Krasnapolsky Hotel in Amsterdam. The Danish station Radio Mercur came up in conversation, and they decided to start a similar station off the coast of Holland.
A company was established, Vrije Radio Omroep Nederland (VRON) which was registered in Liechtenstein. The main backers involved were Mr J. Beeuwkes, Mr Will J. Hordijk, Mr Norbert Jurgens, Mr Max Lewin, Mr Kees Manders, Mr Henricus Oswald, Mr Lambertus Slootman and Dirk, Hendrick A. 'Bull' and Jaap Verweij.
16th December. The first test broadcast was made, and for many years it was not realised that the transmitter had been in an office in Amsterdam. It had the desired effect of creating interest in the station.
The Borkum Riff, an ex German lightship built in 1911, was located in Emden, West Germany and purchased for 63,000 Guilders.
Problems arose when parts for the transmitter were being taken across the Dutch / German boarder, the Dutch refusing to allow the parts to leave Holland.
18th April. The Borkum Riff left Emden, towed by the British Tug Guardsman to a location off Katwijk aan Zee.
21st April. First test broadcast made from the Borkum Riff on 1620 kHz /185 Metres, with a power of 1,000 Watts. The station was introduced by Ellen van Eck and Max Groen. Reception was so good that the station was heard in Amersfoort, over sixty miles away.
Programme tapes were taken out in a small fishing boat the Wiebe, owned by skipper A. de Ruiter. But after a few trips the customs officials refused the fishermen permission to make the trips. A small plane was hired and the programme tapes and food were secretly taken aboard the plane, then dropped onto the ships deck.
6th May. Regular broadcasts commenced. Almost immediately the Dutch PTT station at Noordwijk commenced jamming of Radio Veronica.
In an attempt to improve reception Radio Veronica changed frequency to 1640 kHz / 183 Metres, but this only made matters worse, and was outside the range of most radio sets.
13th May. Broadcasts ceased.
15th May. Broadcasts resume on 1562 kHz / 192 Metres, and reception was much improved.
June. The Panamanian Government withdrew its flag from the ship, which was registered in an undisclosed country (Guatemala).
November. Although the station was popular, a NIPO survey put the audience at 5,000,000; advertisers were still not interested in buying air time.
November. Test broadcasts were made in preparation for the Commercial Neutral Broadcasting Company station, which was to start broadcasting from the Borkum Riff during February, the first offshore station aimed at a British audience.
The arrival of the English staff meant that extra studios were needed. The Dutch staff also learnt broadcasting techniques from the English, such as using egg boxes for sound insulation in the studios.
Seven of the original shareholders withdraw their backing, leaving only Bull, Dirk and Jaap Verweij to run the station.
January. A small fishing boat, the Ger Anna, was purchased for use as a supply tender.
16th February. The Commercial Neutral Broadcasting Company made its first broadcast using the Radio Veronica transmitter. Paul Hollingdale and Doug Stanley were the presenters.
Radio Veronica's advertising slowly increased throughout the year.
Following the Action taken by the Scandinavian Governments, the Dutch Governments started working on ways to close the station down, but such was the popularity of the station that nothing was done about it.
9th August. Radio Veronica broadcast advertisements for a period of one week for the new Radio Antwerpen station in a deal stuck between the Verweij brothers and Georges de Caluwe. Radio Antwerpen commenced broadcasting on the 16th August.
During 1964, the programme director, Joost den Draayer, took notice of the success of Radio Caroline and Radio London. He persuaded the Verweij brothers to let him travel to America and study the commercial radio set up there. Joost den Draayer came back with many new ideas for the station, including car stickers and tee shirts.
A new ship was purchased, the Norderney, converted from a trawler she was a vast improvement on the Borkum Riff. A 10,000 Watt transmitter was installed.
September. The Norderney was anchored off the coast of Scheveningen.
At the end of the year the first live Dutch broadcasts began from the Borkum Riff.
1st January. The first Top Forty programme on Dutch radio was broadcast. Sponsored programmes were partly withdrawn during the year.
May. The Norderney takes over from the Borkum Riff.
After the Norderney took over as the home for radio Veronica, the Borkum Riff was sold for scrap and broken up in Zeebrugge.
Problems were encountered on land, a new building for Vroom and Dreesmann was being built opposite the land based studio, and the vibrations caused by pile drivers caused the turntable pick up arms to jump, all recording had to done late at night while the building yard was quiet.
Station: Radio Veronica
Frequencies: 1562 kHz / 192 M; 558 kHz / 538 M (September 1972); 1187 kHz / 253 M (April 1973) — while the Norderney was refloated
Opened: May 1965
Closed: August 1974
Location: Katwijk aan Zee, Holland
Address: PO Box 218, Hilversum, Holland
Owner: The Verweij Brothers
Theme: No theme music used
A day after the Norderney anchored off a disaster was narrowly avoided when the ship lost her anchor, and nearly ran aground, the ship was towed back to her anchorage by a Dutch coast guard vessel. A new anchor system was installed which lasted until the 2nd April 1973.
May. During this month, the Norderney, became the home for Radio Veronica, using its10,000 Watt transmitter (at night power was reduced to 2,000 Watts).
3rd May. After Britain Radio and Radio England commenced broadcasting from the MV Olga Patricia, the DJ's and the owners of Radio Veronica, the Verweij Brothers, became envious of the jingles they had, and hired session singers and record producer Frans Mijts to produce the first "Veronica 192" jingle set. These were the very first jingles produced in Holland.
V-e-r-o-n-i-c-a (the first Dutch jingle) — Summer 1966
Frans Mijts went on to own a voice over and commercial production company.
Paul Hollingdale and Doug Stanley are said to have been called back into service when Radio Veronica hired air time on Radio Populara Mallorca, and introduced a series of test programmes in English, in preparation for broadcasts from stations along the Spanish coast, but the only people making programmes were Robbie Dale, Joost den Draayer, Tineke and Jan van Veen.
October. An increase of signal strength by a Swiss station on the same frequency, causes extreme interference to Veronica at night.
Tests broadcasts commenced between 02:00 - 05:00 on 558 kHz. Consideration was also given to the introduction of a FM service.
20th March. The land based studios and offices moved to a much larger building in the Utrechtseweg. During the move programmes were recorded at both studios.
Unconfirmed reports of test broadcasts from the Norderney on 100.3 mHz.
1st May. The eighteen / twenty hour weekend service was increased to a twenty-four hour service
During the year Radio Veronica raised over 1,000,000 Guilders for the Kidney Foundation of Holland, Requests are played for listeners who paid 2.50 Guilders, and special records are released for the event.
In early 1971 Dirk Verweij died in Italy of a heart attack.
10th March. Radio Veronica took Radio Northsea International to court.
Veronica claimed that a payment of 1,000,000 Guilders was paid to RNI to cease broadcasting, but they resumed broadcasting at 15:00 on 20th February in English at on the 7th March in Dutch. RNI counter claimed that they had tried to repay the money as they wished to resume broadcasting.
The Court ruled that no decision could be taken, as all the problems occurred in international waters. Because the radio ship, Mebo II, was controlled by Meister and Bollier they could continue to broadcast.
15th May. 07:40 Tom van de Linden and two men, leave Scheveningen in a rubber dingy, 10:40 two men climbed aboard the Mebo II and set light to the engine room, and the stern of the ship caught fire.
The "Veronica blijft als u dat wilt" (Veronica stays if you want it) campaign was launched, and more than 2,000,000 post cards were received pledging support.
September. Veronica 192, a magazine to promote the station appeared.
21st September. Two Veronica directors and three divers are sentenced to one years imprisonment for the bomb attack on Radio Noordzee International.
29th February. Beatles day, twenty hours of nothing but Beatles music, an official world record.
30th September. At 12:00 Veronica broadcast a thirty minute history of the station, and then at 12:30 announced "We hope to see you at one o'clock on the 538 spot". The transmitter went off the air, and thirty minutes later appeared on 558 kHz (538 Metres).
For a couple of days a low power message was broadcast asking people to tune to 538 Metres (558 kHz). At 12:30 Radio Noordzee International started to broadcast on 192 Metres (1562 kHz).
Reception in Holland was much improved, but this was not the case in England.
15th January. The Independent Broadcasting Authority started test broadcasts in London, on a frequency of 558 kHz, in preparation for the new London station, Capital Radio. Radio Veronica was inaudible in England and most parts of Belgium.
February. At the end of the month extremely rough weather for days on end resulted in the supply of taped programmes running out, and the news readers on board the Norderney were forced to present all programmes live.
2nd April. During the night a hurricane force storm blew up, the worst in living memory, at 20:54 the Norderney announced she had lost her anchor and was drifting towards the shore and taking in water. The lifeboat Bernard van Leer put to sea, an hour later the lifeboat had taken four crew off the ship and stood by. Against Captain Arie van der Zwan orders, Ruud Doets, a technician, broadcast a last message "we now have to leave the ship. It cannot be avoided. Friends and relatives, don't worry" and the station left the air. And the remaining six men were taken off by the lifeboat. With no engine the Norderney was at the mercy of the waves. By 23:30 she was aground, fifty yards from Scheveningen harbour.
3rd April. The lifeboat was unable to enter the harbour until 10:00, because of the severe conditions. Offers of help came almost immediately, Radio Noordzee International offered the use of the standby transmitter, Caroline offered the use of the Mi Amigo, and offers of four replacement ships were made if the Norderney was a complete wreck. No action was taken by the PTT, although broadcasts did not stop until the ship was well within Dutch territorial waters.
4th April. Hilversum 3, had planned to present a live programme from the Norderney, but cancelled it at the last moment. Smit - Tak of Maassluis were given the job of refloating the ship, they dug a deep channel to allow the sea to reach the ship.
7th April. 06:00 the ship had been turned to face the sea, but they still could not free her.
11th April. 12:00 Radio Veronica was back on air, broadcasting from the Mi Amigo on 1187 kHz / 253 Metres with a power of 10,000 Watts.
12th April. Veronica DJ's broadcast live from the MV Mi Amigo.
18th April. The Norderney was refloated at 04:00. 05:00 the ship was back at her anchorage, test broadcasts began immediately and by 10:00 regular programmes were once again broadcast. The Mi Amigo broadcast details of the Norderney's return but after 11:00 resumed broadcasting recorded programmes for Radio Veronica.
20th April. Last day that the Mi Amigo broadcast Radio Veronica programmes.
28th June. The Dutch Chamber of Deputies voted ninety-five to thirty-seven in favour of outlawing the offshore stations, the act would become law on the 1st September 1974.
13th November. Storms forced the Norderney off air for three hours. The continuing bad weather prevented the prerecorded programmes from reaching the ship, and non stop music was broadcast.
December. Because of the world wide oil crisis the twenty-four hour format was dropped to an eighteen hour format.
Because of the Dutch Marine Offences Act, the station was to close down on the 31st of August.
31st August. Bull Verweij arrived on the ship. The transmitter was running at full power for the final day.
17:00 Rob Out presented the last programme live from the ship.
17:30 Bull Verweij said his farewells, recorded earlier, he knew he could not read it out live.
17:59 Rob Out spoke the last words to be heard from the ship "This is the end of Veronica, it's a pity for you, for Veronica and especially the democracy in Holland". The Dutch National Anthem followed, then a Veronica jingle which was only half way through when the transmitter was switched off.
19:30 the tender Ger Anna and the Loekie arrived in Scheveningen with all the staff on board and were welcomed by a large crowd of well wishers.
After closing down, the Norderney remained at sea. Work was carried out on the ship and caused speculation that the ship was going to used for another offshore project.
Radio Veronica would have been entitled, following Dutch law, to apply for a licence to broadcast on land, since to do so required an organisation only to have sufficient members. Veronica's membership had grown to unbelievable proportions (about 100,000) but the Dutch Government still refused to issue a licence. The station took a writ out against the Government for unconstitutional action.
Norderney towed into in IJmuiden (1975)
August 11th. A crowd of 5,000 turns out to greet the Norderney as she is towed into IJmuiden with all the DJ's and Bull Verweij on board. The ship then anchored in Amsterdam.
August 28th. The Norderney is towed to Zaandam harbour.
The ship was then towed to Dordrecht, and conversion work was started to turn the ship into a museum.
December 28th. Radio Veronica broadcasts are made using the Hilversum 4 studio and transmitters. The classical music programme was opened by Andre van Duin, ex Dutch Radio Noordzee International DJ.
1st January. First broadcast by Radio Veronica made via Hilversum 3 studio and transmitters.
July. The Veronica Omroep Organisatie could no longer afford the up keep of the Norderney and sold her to a man from Dordrect, south east of Rotterdam, for an undisclosed sum. Contracts were signed to say that the ship would be kept in good condition.
The Norderney was towed to Zoutkamp harbour, Groningen and the ship was converted into a discotheque and restaurant. The owner was Mr Jan Groeneweg, a restaurateur and chef who employed fifteen people to run the business.
1st September. The Norderney was used in the town of Zoutkamp, Groningen, as a public house. Chairs and tables were placed in the bridge.
19th April. The Norderney was hired by Rob Koster and taken to Middelburg, Zeeland and used as a floating discotheque.
31st July. The owner of the Norderney, announced that the ship had been docked in Amsterdam. There was an exhibition of old Veronica studio materials, photographs, video's and stickers.
The Norderney was moved to Urk and was repainted.
29th August. The Norderney reopened as a discotheque in Lelystad.
18th April. Veronica celebrated 30 years of broadcasting.
They hired a ship which was anchored off the coast of Scheveningen, which broadcast programmes via the Radio 1 frequency between the hours of 07:00 - 17:00. The signal from the boat was picked up by a circling plane and relayed the programmes to the land based transmitter. DJ's that took part in the show were, Peter Holland, Bart van Leeuwen, Will Luikinga and Erik de Zwart.
15:00 - 17:00 a live concert was broadcast of the Fortunes on the beach of Scheveningen.
16:00 - 18:00 Nederland 2 broadcast a two hour television programme about the history of the station.
October. Lex Harding left the land based Veronica organisation, leaving only Rob Out from the original Veronica team. Lex Harding wanted to take the Veronica name with him, but this caused legal problems over who owned the name.
7th December. Lex Harding Starts Radio 538, broadcasting from the Astra Satellite, replacing the Dutch station 'Hit Radio'.
After two years in Maastricht the Norderney is back in Groningen harbour. The ship is to be completly rebuilt as a cafe / restaurant.
December. Hans Knot and Bull Verweij visit the Norderney, the first time Bull Verweij had seen the ship since 1975. He was so impressed with the rebuilding work he is to promote the cafe / restaurant for the new leasers.
25th May. Official release date of the double CD "Bull Verweij interview" in which he tells the story of Radio Veronica. An official presentation took place at the Dutch Omroepmuseum (broadcast museum), and was covered by Dutch television (RTL4, RTL5 and NOS news). The CD was produced by Hans Knot and Jelle Boonstra after interviewing Bull Verweij for more than seventeen hours.
31st August. Twenty years after the close down of Radio Veronica as an offshore station, they broadcast their last programme as a public broadcasting society. During the last hour a documentary, produced by Leo van der Goot, was broadcast in which Hans Knot describes the offshore radio era.
October. The Veronica organisation, through Endemol, had purchased fifty-three percent of the shares of Holland FM. The Veronica organisation stated that it was starting a joint venture with Endemol, and that by September 1995 Holland FM would cease and become part of the Veronica organisation.
June. Veronica Radio 2 transmitted the longest documentary on the history of offshore radio. During nine evenings a total of eighteen hours were broadcast. The producers were Hans Knot and Ad Bouman.
1st September. 00:00 Veronica Television commences on the Astra satellite (transponder 53 - 10.744 gHz) and on cable TV systems in Holland.
1st October. Holland FM was renamed Hit Radio Veronica.
3rd November. Official reopening of the Norderney as a cafe / restaurant in Leeuwarden harbour by Bull Verweij, after refurbishment started in 1993.
In the coming months these Veronica backed stations will commence:
Kink FM broadcasting from Astra satellite (Transponder 54 - 10.758 gHz). Kink FM was launched as a cable only station in Holland.
Veronica Concertzender broadcasting from the Astra satellite.
Kink FM was bought out by Ruud Hendriks (ex Caroline DJ) — MD of Sport 7 TV and formerly CE of Super channel TV, John de Mol — Major Dutch TV operator (part of Endemol) music publisher and one time owner of Radio Nordzee, Arnie de Winter and Mojo — the concert promoter
28th November. One of the owners of Kink FM dropped out, and the remaining three partners were unwilling to pay extra.
29th November. 09:00 The Veronica board of directors and new owners decided to close Kink FM.
This page originally appeared in: Jim Parkes' Encyclopedia of Offshore Broadcasting (CD-ROM, Beta Version 0.4, 1999), where you can find more information on all offshore stations. The sound fragments on this page are copyrighted. They are used here according to the rules of fair use and academic quoting.