| home   authors | new | about | newsfeed | print |  
volume 3
august 2000

Caroline Supporters Day in Leeuwarden


  One day of powerful radio, and now what next?
by Hans Knot
  The Norderney in Leeuwarden harbour

On Saturday August 19th the Caroline Day for the Dutch listeners was organized on board of the MV Norderney, the former transmission vessel of Radio Veronica, harboured in Leeuwarden harbour in the North of the Netherlands. For one day Caroline was back on the air again on powerful radio. On this day the British Caroline organization, broadcasting on a daily base on the Astra 1C satellite, also officially opened Caroline's new webcast. Hans Knot tells more about this day, taking a critical look at Caroline's plans for the near future.

1 August 19th is, of course, a date in Caroline's history, no one will forget easily. On that same date in 1983 a 50 kW signal was beamed over Europe on 963 kHz when the new radio ship, the Ross Revenge, was heard officially for the first time. Caroline was back on the air after tragedy came in March 1980, when their long used radio ship, the MV Mi Amigo, did sink in the Thames Estuary. In 1989 another thing happened to the radio ship. A boarding party, lead by Dutch and English authorities went onboard the Ross Revenge, taking away all the studio equipment, the transmitter gear as well as the record library. It was, as was stated more than a year later, an illegal operation, so all the equipment, which was stored in Holland, had to be returned to the Caroline organisation.
2 Caroline came back again, but more trouble lay ahead. After a storm, in 1991, the radio ship Ross Revenge had to be towed into Dover harbour and the AM transmissions from international waters came to an end. Since then the Caroline organisation has had 10 RSL's — Restricted Service Licences — permitting them to transmit for 28 days periods on several locations at the east coast of England. Next to that, over the past two years, they hired airtime from Flechtech in Maidstone Kent to air satellite radio programmes to Europe during the weekends. It seemed that the real Radio Caroline listener had found the way back to the station by listening on their dish receiver.
3 Peter Moore, Sietze Brouwer and Adrian Hondema at the press conference

Now, August 19th, 2000 can be written down as another important day in Caroline's history as during 13 hours Caroline could be heard over the main part of Europe by means of a 600 kW transmitter, hired by the Dutch Caroline Support Group from Merlin Communications for a once and once only transmission. This transmitter is normally on air during evening time, transmitting BBC World Programmes. Many e-mails, faxes and phone calls came in from all over Europe during these one day only powerful transmissions. They seemed to be having a lot of listeners that day and I think the Dutch team deserved it.

4 Reason for these very powerful transmissions was to promote the start of another Radio Caroline exclusive, as from this day on Caroline's Internet radio officially started, airing for a full 24 hours a day. For the forthcoming period Caroline's webcasts will keep a low profile, as each week only nine hours of programmes — presented by Johnny Reece and Gill Legine — will be specially recorded for the Internet. Next to that the satellite weekend programmes will be repeated during the week. The rest of the hours will be filled with nonstop music. To this end the album format, which made Radio Caroline so big in the seventies and eighties, will be adapted to the Internet.
5 The Caroline organisation has more plans for the future. On the press conference initiator Sietse Brouwer — a Dutchman from Harlingen, Holland — told that they hope to get more former Caroline deejays to record special Internet programming. In the future they also want to use the 1296 kHz to bring back Radio Caroline on AM during daytime hours. Brouwer's statement was confirmed by station manager Peter Moore, who flew over from London. He told the press that Caroline wants to become a Pan European Station again. However, he added, the station will bring only English language programmes. And that's where, in my opinion, the real problem for the organisation lies.
6 In the past Radio Caroline could survive only for a short period on the money of its British investors. Since the start of the station there were only three years, from March 29th 1964 up till August 1967, that the money to run the station, was furnished by British investors and advertisers. When the Marine Offences Act became law on August 15th, 1967, the station lost a lot of its advertisers and the two radio ships, the MV Mi Amigo and MV Fredericia were towed away from international waters in March 1968 as the organization "forgot" to pay the bills to the Dutch tendering companies.
7 Hans Knot, Jelle Boonstra and Jan Hendrik Kruidenier on board of the Norderney

When Radio Caroline came back in 1972 it was there because a Dutch organisation put in some money. April 1973 saw the stranding of Veronica's vessel Norderney and Caroline came to help. Radio Veronica could make use of the facilities of the Mi Amigo, but the Veronica organization had to buy new equipment and a generator. After ten days of transmissions Radio Veronica went back to her own ship, leaving the equipment and also the generator. With this equipment Radio Caroline could make a comeback herself, but again only for a short period. Then again a helping hand from other stations was needed. July 1973 saw the start of the sister station Radio Atlantis, from Belgium, who was responsible for the running costs for four months. From January 1974 up till October 1978 another Flemish investor paid all the bills. Then the station came back in April 1979 up till March 1980. This time, due to the fact that, next to the English language programmes, there were also Dutch language shows and Dutch and Belgium advertisers, the station could go on.

8 When the programmes restarted in 1983 from the new radio ship Ross Revenge they could be there — and only for a year — due to a big financial injection from some American investors. Again Radio Caroline could be saved for the period from summer 1984 up til late 1989 due to the fact that sister stations like Radio Monique, Radio 819 and Radio 558 — all from the Netherlands — paid for the running costs for the ship and the crew. When the Dutch stopped programming from the Ross Revenge the conditions on the ship got worse and at one stage, a few weeks before the ship stranded on the Goodwin Sands in 1991, the crew had only one heater left on the bridge. Programming was impossible as a result of failing equipment.
9 The ship was towed into Dover harbour and again the money came from unexpected sources. Several Free Radio Organisations, including the Ross Revenge Support Group, The Foundation for Media Communication from Holland and individual listeners, put a lot of money into the organisation with the main idea to rebuild the studio and transmitters and get the ship back to sea. The last thing never happened.
10 Now the Caroline organization thinks to find backers to pay one million guilders a year to hire the 1296 kHz during daytime hours. But where do they think the money can come from? Undoubtedly some British advertisers will invest, maybe a few small companies. From the Dutch side also nothing can be expected as long there will be no Dutch language programmes. So there's only one thing to do for station manager Moore and his team: deciding to go some hours a day in Dutch and try to gain as much as Dutch advertising to see if there's any future for the station.
11 Peter Moore on the Norderney in Leeuwarden harbour

On the subject 'Ross Revenge' Peter Moore told on the press conference that the radio ship will be used again in the future as a base for programming. Although the running costs for the ship are high, the accommodation and atmosphere on board the ship is far much better that the conditions in the studio's at Flechtech in Maidstone. There a deejay, who has completed his programme, will leave soon afterwards. On the ship a deejay will stay and socialise more with the other people of the team, who all still do their work as volunteers.

12 Finally, what are the perspectives for a web radio station under Caroline's name? With nine hours a week of presented programmes and a repeat of satellite programmes of Caroline's weekend programming, not too good! Recent research has pointed out that Internet users only listen to Internet radio for 23 minutes a day. And there are already so many radio stations all over the world using the Internet, so Radio Caroline will get only a few hundred listeners a day. I get the impression that the Caroline organisation itself doesn't really believe in the success of its Internet adventure. At least, during the weekend of the introduction of the web radio station — when I was listening to the satellite radio programming — there was little or less promoting of the new Internet service. When you start something new you have to bring it to the attention of the listener repeatedly. Also on the web we heard the name of Radio Caroline far too less to persuade the new web listeners that they were really listening in into a programme of the world famous radio station 'Radio Caroline'.
  The photo's on this page were taken by Martin van der Ven. You can listen to the webcasts of Caroline on the web site of live365.com.
  2000 © Soundscapes