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volume 5
july 2002

Lost for words


  In memory of Howard G.L. Rose
by Hans Knot
  On the evening of July 17th, 2002, Howard Rose died in hospital after surgery. Avid listeners of Radio Northsea International, Radio Caroline or Radio Atlantis will know him better under the deejay names of Crispian St. John and Jay Jackson. For over twelve years now he edited The Radio Magazine and made it into the leading news weekly for the UK radio industry. Lost for words, Hans Knot wrote this obituary.
1 During the more than 33 years that I'm writing about the medium radio, never before it was so difficult to find the words I was looking for while compiling a story as today. Yesterday evening, July 17th 2002, after an operation, Howard G. Rose died at the age of 49 years after a heart attack. Most people in radio land knew him as deejay Crispian St. John or Jay Jackson. He was one of the very first British Anoraks whom I came to know after I started writing for Pirate Radio News in 1969. Very young, 16 years of age at that stage, Howard wanted to grab and eat everything which had to do with Pirate and Offshore Radio and so he also did read my magazine and got, on regular base, in contact with me.
2 Of course he couldn't avoid to start his own station at that time and he was doing some illegal things in England working for a land based radio station. Although this was a very tiny, little one, bigger stations would come soon reality for little Crispian. It was in 1971 that he, as an 18-year-old guy, climbed onboard the MEBO II, in those days the radio ship of Radio North Sea International. There he became part of the international service which supplied us with the perfect sound of "RNI, the Summer of 71". Howard learnt a lot from his fellow deejays like Paul May, Martin Kayne and the guy who hired him at that time, Steve Merike. It was also on one of my visits to the Oude Boerenhofstede at Naarden, where the land based studio's of RNI were housed, that I did met Crispian for the very first time. In 1971 he was fired by the station — recently he wrote a story about it for this journal.
3 It was not only RNI which took the interest of Howard. In 1972 he went to the station, where he tuned in to the sixties: Radio Caroline. In March 1968 both Caroline vessels were towed away of the British Coast and went into Amsterdam harbour. After being there and in Zaandam harbour for many years, they were sold for scrap in order of the Wijsmuller Tender Company, to which Caroline had to pay still a lot of money. It was Gerard van der Zee who bought the MV Mi Amigo back for Ronan O'Rahilly, so Radio Caroline could return to the air waves again. First they started as Radio 199 and as it was almost winter the station came in clearly and we especially enjoyed the Christmas programming in 1972, where Howard, a.k.a. Crispian, played a key role. It looked like the station would stop as quickly as it has restarted, as the crew, which wasn't properly paid by the organization hijacked the ship and towed it into harbour. With some hard work by the deejays and volunteers, however, the MV Mi Amigo was soon back on sea and the most famous radio station on earth was rocking again on the only place where Radio Caroline can be: the international waters.
4 It seemed Crispian was very restless and later, at the end of 1973, he wrote me that he would soon leave for Germany. There, in the harbour of Cuxhavn, a new radio ship would be fitted out under very hard conditions. Even one of the crewmembers died during the outfit of the MV Jeanine. The new ship would be used for Radio Atlantis, which earlier on had hired transmission time from Radio Caroline. With their own ship, off the coast of Zeeland, they started also an international service and Crispian once again was part of a very good team including Steve England, Andy Anderson as well as Terry Davis.
5 In the 1970s Howard played a role within the Independent Radio, which started with LBC and Capital Radio in 1973 as the first commercial stations in Great Britain. He could be listened at stations like Swansea Sound and Viking Radio, but the sea still had a special attraction for him. Abe Nathan's Voice of Peace, a station in the Mediterranean was the next station he went to work for. There Howard stayed for many years. While doing my research for my book on the history on the Voice of Peace I interviewed a lot of people and every time Crispian was mentioned as a very good deejay and friend, although some told me that he sometimes could be very pigheaded and tried several times to get things done his way.
6 Then more "Rocking on the Northsea" came for Howard under his nickname Jay Jackson, sometimes adding a middle "J" between both these names. Not only was he responsible for the newsroom from 1983 on board the MV Ross Revenge, the new Radio Caroline ship, he also made a lot of prestigious album music programs, we will never forget. The combination of the music he played, added to his knowledge of the music and his beautiful voice made it all complete for listening with good pleasure. About his period on board the MV Ross Revenge Jay Jackson wrote a book called The Pirates Who Waive the Rules, a book which didn't get the publicity it deserved.
7 In the 1980s Howard played an important role in co-starting the very first golden oldie station in Britain, Radio Sovereign. It became headlines, not only in Britain but over the whole of Western Europe. It was an illegal station and therefore, one day it was forced to go off the air, but it returned later at the Riviera in France. Over the years Howard made thousands of contacts within the radio industry and he decided, taking a new step, to highlight the radio world from another corner. An own radio magazine was his idea. After a false start a second attempt was very successful and The Radio Magazine was born, now already more than twelve years ago. In between he was also one of the co-owners of KCBC, a radio station in his home town Kettering.
8 Howard, which whom I stayed in contact all those years, one time more than the other, asked me to write for The Radio Magazine for the news from the Benelux. He also wrote on regular base for the Freewave Media Magazine since the late seventies of last century. Just last week the message came in that Howard and Patricia, his wife, had sold The Radio Magazine and the Gold Crest Communications to a big publisher. It was stated that Howard would be staying as the key role man, but this next step in his career could not last for longer than a week. He died yesterday, leaving behind his wife Patricia whom he did marry last year, and three children. I hope that they in the time may find the strength to carry this heavy loss.
  2002 © Soundscapes