Editorial Office: Branch HQ:
31 Avondale Road, 123 High Road,
Editor: Roland C. Pearson - Sub.Editor: Pam J. Bird - European Reporter & Feature
EDITORIAL Welcome to Monitor. We have decided to change our name from `Info sheet' as we are really more of a magazine now. In this issue we take a nostalgic look at the Radio City era. Our thanks go to all the wonderful people who have helped compile this souvenir, especially Mrs. Calvert, Alan Clark and Phil Perkins. Our feature writer, Andy A. is on business in the Midlands, so he has been unable to contribute to this issue. While talking about feature writers - we welcome Auntie Mabel of Radio City fame to our happy team. We hope you will like this new style Free Radio magazine, and we welcome your opinions. So now, cast your mind back to 1964 - to the beginning of the Radio City Saga...
The home of Radio City was the old wartime anti-aircraft fort located on the Shivering Sands some nine miles off Whitstable. The station started life as Radio Sutch. I can clearly remember that hot Wednesday morning on May 27th 1964, when Radio Sutch put out its first weak signals on 194 metres. The DJs were, the then owners pop singer Screaming Lord Sutch;`hismanager Reg Calvert,_whowas also responsible for making the transmitter work; and Brian Paul,-oneof the Savages (Lord Sutch's backing group). Reg's was the first voice that I heard over the air that day, and in between the records that he played, he was urging listeners to phone his wife at a Rugby number to tell her the station was being heard all over the Thames Estuary. We were told we could reverse the charge of the call! Every couple of hours or so the transmitter went off the air for an intermission while the batteries were re-charged. The next event that springs to mind was the arrival of Reg's niece Tamara Harrison on the fort, she was the first girl that I had heard actually broadcasting on pirate radio, and I have a note in my diary for June 10th saying that she compered a one hour record programme that day. They quickly became organised and by midJune, an example of their evening programming was as follows: 5-5.30 pm "Old Favourites"; 5.30-6 pm "Swing With Those Chicks"; 6-7 pm "Cream of the Pops"; 7-8 pm "Make a Date". When in the September Dave Sutch sold out his interest in the station its name was changed to Radio City and the wavelength to 299 metres. Original programmes continued to emanate from "Station on Sticks", for instance, "The AntiCity Show"; "The Five by Four Show"; "Feed Back"; "Discomania" and of course the unforgettable "Aunty Mabel Hour". But I'll let Mrs. Calvert, who has very kindly consented to write the introductory article for us, take up the story from this point.
"It amazes me that there is still so much interest in free radio after all this time and I hope that people will continue to remember and demand more freedom and enterprise over the air.
Looking back now on those few short years I think the thing that stands out most was the amount of energy that was radiated from all concerned in Radio City. I cannot mention everyone who was concerned but I will try to give a little more information than has come to be written before.
My husband, Reg Calvert had been interested in Radio for many years and when Radio Caroline started transmission he was delighted. At the time we were very involved in our business in the entertainment field but there were light hearted dis cussions with Screaming Lord Sutch about him starting a joke radio station as a publicity stunt. Little by little this idea grew and Reg started looking for a boat. Eventually we arrived at Southend one day for a trip to the old sea forts in the Thames. I only went for the drive as I was a very poor sailor but I was taken on board for the trip. Going out was all right and the sight of the towers for the first time was like something from a science fiction film. We went past what was eventually Radio 390 as we were informed that they were definitely inside the limit and Shivering Sands were boarded.
I went on the towers a few weeks after transmissions started and was petrified by the climb up the ladders. Occasionally I used to go out in the boat but never went on board again until Good Friday, 1966. Meanwhile things had slowly improved but I wasn't very involved with things until my second visit. Reg had asked me to take over administration of broadcasting while he still handled the technical side. On that trip there was a hoist to go up to the towers, that absolutely terrified me and how I managed to hold a conversation with Ian MacRae afterwards, I don't know. After talking to Ian while he was on the air and watching the procedure and then going over with Tom Edwards how things worked, I went back and literally thought up Format Radio. Having been in the pop world so long was a big help in understanding what I felt was required of pop radio and luckily it worked very well.
Of course the event that really put Radio City on the map was my husband's death, the news flashed round the world but my world was shattered. If Radio City had disappeared at the same time I think I should have completely lost my mind but in the face of such a tragedy other people's welfare just had to come first. Radio City had to go back on the air and I was determined that no one else should take over.The people around me at that time were wonderful, I expected them to give of their best and they were determined to make Radio City the best. We immediately extended the hours of transmission and "Auntie Mabel" was born.Ian MacRae and Alan Clark really worked over that programme and everyone was pulled into the Christmas pantomime.If we had had more time I wonder just how far we would have evolved. Time was short, it hung over my Christmas and in January I was served with a summons, what a waste of talent. What a travesty of justice, what an indictment of Britain when in the two cases I was personally involved in such a mockery was made of everything I believed that British Justice stood for. How I wish now that I had used Radio City to expose the truth of those events but if I had tried I wonder what would have happened. I am still here and working hard but how and when would I have been silenced if I'd spoken out then.
By the way, Candy was the first girl disc jockey, she was thirteen at the time, and she went out over the air in the May 1964 - she did broadcast after that from time to time during her school holidays. She sends here regards too, to everyone that she has met. Tamara is now married and has a baby boy".
SIGNED: DOROTHY CALVERT
Over now to Alan Clark:
"When asked to write something on Radio City I was requested to make it an "in depth" account, I'm not sure that this will match up to that requirement, but I do hope it proves interesting to people who used to enjoy the often erratic, but always friendly Tower of Power. Of the five radio stations I've worked for, City was certainly the most enjoyable and so this article will, at least, give me a chance to sound off on one of my favourite subjects! Of course there were one or two unfortunate, even tragic incidents during City's history, but I'll start with how I became involved with the station on Shivering Sands.
I had left school in July 1965, and in September that year happened to hear an announcement over Radio City asking for would-be DJs to send in audition tapes. For some reason, possibly visions of fame and fortune I decided to apply. I had never done any Disc Jockey work of any kind, and didn't know the first thing about radio deejaying. However, a tape of sorts was produced on domestic equipment and hopefully submitted. Imagine my surprise and delight when the letter replying mentioned my possible "suitability" and "would I come out to the station for a trial period"?
I arrived at City's local office in Oxford Street, Whitstable and met American DJ Rick Michaels and the owner of the record shop which served as City's Whitstable base, Eric Martin (not to be confused with DJ Eric Martin). This was the beginning of sixteen months of thrills and spills on 299! Later, Idiscovered that it was City's policy to augment the crew with "trial DJs" from time to time who were hauled out for a couple of weeks and then paid off with expenses. The same thing happened to me. After a period on the fort, Reg drove me back to London, gave me £5 for expenses, and
said goodbye. But, having had a taste of life on the ocean wave, I pestered the London office - Reg Calvert and his secretary Jill Wileman, almost daily until they gave in and gave me a regular job, probably just to keep me quiet. Luckily for me, but unfortunately for others, Reg had just carried out a series of sackings, and so the vacancies were there. Ian MacRae, later to be part of the notorious Auntie Mabel team was also brought in shortly afterwards.
The DJs on City when I first went out were Alex Dee, Chris Cross, Paul Elvey, Dennis the Menace, Rick Michaels and a newcomer by the name of Tom Edward, who soon after became Chief DJ.
For some reason, I didn't really get to know Alex, Paul or Chris well, but Dennis the Menace and Rick were really helpful in explaining the techniques of broadcasting to a very green DJ. Although we are good friends (I hope) today, Tom eyed me with some suspicion because he felt, possibly rightly so, that I copied his style. However, having got the word through a third party, I tried to get over this. This, in fact, is the most difficult problem (unless you're a natural genius like Kenny Everett) - namely evolving a personal style in the beginning. It is very easy to be influenced by others. For example, witness the number of Everett type DJs, even today!
In early 1966, following the departure of Alex, Dennis, Chris and Rick,Ian MacRae, Paul Kramer, Eric Martin, Adrian Love and Ross Brown all joined with Tom as Chief DJ. There were also brief visits from people like Mike Hayes and Terry Dawson!! The first half of 1966 was, to my mind, the best period of Radio City. We had a fairly good signal, due to our monster mast (the tallest of all the stations) and a good crew working together with some solid pro DJs from Australia plus the relatively new English jocks. City's advertising never competed with, say, London's but it was there, particularly religion! Our broadcasting time was extended to midnight, giving us eighteen hours a day on the air. We had City discos in places during the week, where DJs made personal appearances, plus two cooks fresh out of catering college preparing all kinds of delicacies for the crew's stomachs! The London office moved into better premises and the engineers worked wonders with the equipment. At this point, given a larger power output, City would have seriously challenged the big stations with some revamping of the programmes. However, there were other things in the air unknown to most of us at the time and the story took an unfortunate twist.
I remember doing the afternoon show one day, when the tender arrived bringing visitors. Much to my surprise Keith Skues and Duncan Johnson entered the studios! They insisted I made no mention of their presence, which would certainly have astounded some of the listeners. The reason was the proposed UKGM changeover in conjunction with Radio London. I also recall the City DJs filing in one by one into Big L's Curzon Street offices to be told plans for UKGM. Although it was never mentioned, I can't help wondering whether the 299 personalities would have remained had the changeover taken place. Radio City would have been a useful asset for either of the big stations. When I first joined Radio City we were Radio Caroline's sister station, carrying Caroline's news and plugs for Caroline programmes. Now, we were to become part of Radio London.
Subsequent events put paid to that idea. I'll never forget the boarding party which took over the station for a week. They literally woke us in our beds (presumably all of us !) with flashing torches and implied threats. Some of the men wore knives in their belts - opposition was out of the question. So much has been written about this episode and so much is still confused. One member of the programme staff joined the station immediately prior to the incident and left immediately afterwards. One well known person was associated with it in some way. Cameras with photos of the boarders were mysteriously smashed. Letters were sent off the station to the Press during this time. Messages for help were sent out on a ham radio unknown to our captors.
I went ashore a couple of days later and cashed a pay cheque bearing Reg Calverts signature. I left the bank and bought an early edition of an evening paper with the headline "Pop Pirate shot dead"'. The shock was immense.
After this tragic incident, the station carried on with Mrs. Calvert at the helm. Things were never quite the same from here on. As DJs we became too influenced by the relatively new Radio England. Our engineers produced a fine new studio but advertising dropped off. As you know, the station closed abruptly on February 8th1967 at midnight after we had received the message at 5.30 pm that evening. The last few days out there were spent in gathering one's things together and sitting around wondering what to do next. As it turned out, most of the City DJs went on to other stations - Tom, Ross, Ian, Adrian and myself have all been broadcasting more or less continually ever since on various outlets in various parts of the world. I'm sure none of us will ever forget those incredible times on the Tower of Power. I know I won't.
PS. For personal reasons, I'd very much like to obtain a tape of my first City show (November 1965) or, failing that, any of my early programmes. If anyone can help in loaning or selling me the tapes I would be most grateful. Please contact through this magazine".
SIGNED: ALAN CLARK
Next, we hear from Alex Dee:
Hi, Ex Pirate day people; you know its a funny thing being asked to write about something that seems to have been gone such a long time, mind you people are still writing about both world wars and their heroic adventures in them. So here, for what it is, is a couple of short memoirs from the radio station, Radio City.
As far as I was concerned working on a radio station was no different than working in an office or being a butcher's boy, that's how I felt about entering into the business anyway, - my attitude is much the same today, although I was thrown off balance by the romance that surrounded the job at the time.
The first thing that delighted me, apart from being paid money for talking and playing records, was fan mail. I had not imagined that disc jockeys got fan mail or worship from afar and the first letters to arrive disturbed my ego, made it larger even more unmanageable - offers of every kind, and myself at the time having no moral code by which to live - partook of the kind offers!
Life on the fort for me and a few of the others was as full and interesting as any land based job. The main things I enjoyed as much as DJing were lying in the sun or making the things on the forts work again, e.g., the toilets, the cranes and anything else that needed doing.
One day, after I had been in the station about a 'year, Reg Calvert told us he had just bought a transmitter, a good one - and that the Radio Caroline supply tender was going to deliver it in a few days. When it arrived we could hardly believe it, the transmitter consisted of three of four enormous cabinets, the size of telephone kiosks, hardly the size or performance of an RCA 10 Kw. It was I'm told an early ship to share communication device and if size meant quality we would have had the strongest signal in the fleet of pirates.....
Meanwhile, the job of getting these cabinets off the tender and up to our haven prooved to be more difficult than anticipated, we tied on and began to pull it up with our electric crane. We thought it might pull the tower over, but it took the strain and the first cabinet ascended very slowly. I was working the crane handle, that was situated overlooking the Caroline tender. We had winched it as far up as the first level and I stopped the crane which automatically put the brake on ..... well our makeshift braking system decided that a telephone kiosk was to large to hold and the transmitter began to descend towards the deck of the tender. Everybody was yelling, brake, brake ... but there was nothing we could do. We had to watch the transmitter gaining speed towards the ship's deck, the crew scattered and the cabinet crashed on to the deck. It was in a big wooden box so it didn't appear to be damaged too much.
More was to come. We tried again to winch the cabinet up (it was the largest of all the cabinets) this time we decided to pull it in as soon as it was level with the first stage, which is about seventy feet above sea level, before stopping the crane, for it was only when the crane was stopped that it would start going down again. Well, once again the transmitter cabinet arrived at the first stage. We pulled it in as fast as we could but to no avail - the cabinet hit the side of the fort, rolled over and fell towards the sea ... but the ropes that surrounded the whole cabinet caught on the rail's around the side of the fort and remained dangling in mid aid. To cut a short story shorter, we tried to get it in from where it was but it fell the seventy feet into the sea, the tender obviously this time had already moved away. That night on our ship to shore linkup Reg Calvert asked if anything went wrong and I do believe had a seizure on hearing the news that his £5000 transmitter was lying in twenty feet of salty water. After he recovered, he arranged for divers to come out next day and salvage the submerged transmitter.
Well Radio fans, all that is past; all the free air plays for up and coming groups, the gay, profit-making advertisements, the jingles, the bells, the deep "hallo", the coffee breaks, the never-ending talk of who's on leave and who's just coming back, the battles at sea, the deaths, the dramas, the corruption, the transmitter breakdowns. The non-stop music parade is over and has been for a long while, and as we allsuspected, there is nothing of comparable quality on the air today. As far as I am concerned the coming and going of pirate stations and all they stood for (if anything) bothers me very little. I was at the time greatly bothered. I fought, and talked of revolution, and what the British Public could do to save free radio, but it was my job that I was fighting for - not freedom. It is only in these later years that I have began to question myself about the meaning of freedom, and it does not lead me into the paths of commercial radio. Happy days!"
SIGNED: ALEX DEE
Ian MacRae writes to us from Station 2SM in Sydney, Australia:
"My God ... how those Pirate days keep chasing me! Still I guess we all achieved something in that commercial radio looks like getting the break it deserves in the UK. Frankly I have reservations about its early success... especially with the Press running it ... and with that stupid needle-time hang up as well. I'm afraid the passage of time is making many memories of those days a little dim... and most of the stuff I can remember would have been recounted for you by Alan Clark. I started at Radio City around February 1966. It hadn't been long before known as Radio Sutch, which of course was a bit of a joke. Not that Radio City in those early days wasn't a joke as well. I'll never forget that day I first clambered aboard those shaky towers. I remember thinking "ah well.. they look pretty skungy outside ... but they can't be that bad INSIDE ... after all it is a radio station". I was wrong on both counts. The equipment was straight out
of the ark, held together with chewing gum and bits of string ... we couldn't afford wire in those days! But, surprisingly it worked ... most of the time. I suppose you could say it was homely, like a cosy slum. And that winter weather. When the winds reached gale force ten the towers shuddered and swayed and of course the tender couldn't get out to us, and often we'd live on porridge and black coffee for days. Regardless of all this I'd do it all again. It was a great experience.
Things that come to mind ... Alan Clark..I think it was for a bet ...reading the news from the toilet. Or the time we spliced a flushing toilet effect on to the end of the news theme to try and break Tom Edwards up. The time we discovered throwing food around, especially boiled cabbage, was a-great outlet. Then there was the Auntie Mabel hour. I expect Alan has some tapes of that and would be better to talk to. As a matter of fact I was playing them through only a few days ago. We got away with murder ...which may be an unfortunate word to use considering the events of June 1966. Once again I guess there is really no point going into detail about the boarding party and all that, except from a personal point of view. I was the only DJ to stay on for the whole siege, and June 22nd - the day Scotland Yard came oh board - was my birthday. I remember waking up in the early hours of that wintry morning and hearing strange voices. My first reaction was that a boat had struck trouble and the crew had come on to the station. I heard a woman's voice - must have been Kitty Black - who I never got to see. The next week was like an unreal dream... `till that happy day when they all left on a tug. We had been warned not to cross the catwalk on to the station and transmitter tower until they were well away. Of course we thought they must have planted a bomb there. We waited far a few minutes, nothing happened, so we raced across and started a mad hunt for the transmitter crystal which had been hidden to keep us off the air. We nearly pulled the place apart, then we found it and went on the air. I was first on, and it was a pretty emotional moment. I knew Mrs. Calvert would be listening anxiously in London. I just can't think what the first record was, but it was something terribly appropriate. (Ed. - `Strangers in the Night'). Maybe Alan remembers.
I've always thought that if Radio City had been able to put out more power it would have rated very strongly against the heavy guns in the North Sea. Unfortunately many attempts at getting the big transmitter on air were always futile - usually resulting in a generator blowing up or something. We were all disappointed when, after having been up all night recording a Christmas pantomime "Alice in Wonderland" just before the broadcast time the big transmitter blew again... and we went back on the lower power one, which was distorting badly. The day Radio City had to close was a big loss to all of us, and I guess many loyal listeners too.
Here in Sydney I've now been at 2SM four years this very week. We've in that time come from a number seven station to number one. We're a top forty "rocker"..very tight but, we hope entertaining as well. I do the breakfast session from 5 am to 9 am but normally work on off the air producing such as station promotions, commercials etc. `till about 3 pm. Its exhausting work, but naturally I love it. I still look for the day when I can move back to London for a while. I think the way 2SM is expanding, having now bought three other stations here, one in Melbourne and two country provincial, we may well be looking at the UK one day. I was all set to visit London in November but thanks to the American Musicians Union we couldn't do a recording session there, and the trip was postponed. Kind regards".
SIGNED: IAN MACRAE Jan 7 1972
Rick Michaels has air-mailed this account from Florida, U.S.A: REQUIEM FOR A PIRATE
Anyone who thought that the pirates proved a demand for local radio of that kind was deceiving himself. What were the pirate ships? They were hulks with big masts, carrying microphones, gramophones and seasick disc jockeys.
Anthony Wedgewood Benn Postmaster General The Times, March 4 1966
Mr. Benn neglected to mention that several million persons listened to "pirate" radios, primarily because of the continuous music that he termed "audible wallpaper". Radio Luxembourg had for years shown that there was an audience in Britain for this type of programming.
Although the venerable Times suggested that in 1966 that the Britain public was really not interested in commercial radio, in April of the same year, a National Opinion Poll survey estimated Radio London's weekly audience at 10,330,000 or 20.9 per cent of the sample. Some 15.6 per cent listened to Radio Caroline with 4.2 per cent listening to Radio 390 and 6.1 per cent listening to Radio Scotland. In addition to these figures, Radio City claimed a regional audience of over two million.
With the addition of Britain radio, England and 270, the popularity of offshore commercial radio soared and became a representative symbol of the freedom of the "Swinging Sixties".
The Beatle Bonanza was coming into full swing in late 1964 and the mod world was coming into fashion. This was the swinging zany world of the Rolling Stones, boutiques, mini-skirts, beat clubs and long hair. Britain's drab image of the tweed jacket, old school ties and the pre-war look changed over night to the mecca of the "with it" generations and "pirate" radio was very much part of the swinging scene. My association with the wonderful world of the pop pirates began one year after Screamin' Lord Sutch and Reg Calvert hired a fast launch* and equipped it with a small transmitter, and then sped down the Thames from London Bridge with the Jolly Roger flying and playing pop music. Radio Sutch, later to become Radio City, was established on the Shivering Sands Towers on May 27 1964.
I spent my third year of university at the London School of Economics, and towards the end of the year became interested in the phenomena of "pirate radio". Having previously done a small amount of work on radio advertisements and desiring to remain, at least for a while, in Britain before continuing my education in the United States, I recorded several demo tapes at Pye Recording Studios and mailed them to the stations which were in operation at that time.
In June of 1965, one of the Radio City DJs had to be removed from the Shivering Sands Towers by helicopter suffering from acute appendicitis (Ed. - Tony Carroll). Reg Calvert had heard my demo tape and asked me to act as a replacement. Reg then asked me to stay on primarily since an American voice was a true novelty at that time!
I was later made Reg's assistant and even though I continued to do occasional stints on Radio City, primarily became responsible for local advertising and press relations. As many of you will remember, Radio City received more than its share of press coverage - both good and bad!
I remained with Radio City during the Knock John Fort raids, the ill-fated merger agreement with Major Oliver Smedley and the planning of the new tower which later gave the station the nickname "The Mighty Tower of Power".
By late 1965 the Vietnam War had intensified and local draft boards were drafting most young men who were not in university or working in a strategic industry. After receiving a notice that I would be drafted into the Armed Forces if I did not return to the United States and register in university, I decided to leave Radio City in late December 1965, just six months before Reg Calvert's unfortunate death.
I maintained interest in "pirate" radios, enough that in 1968 wrote my thesis in partial requirement for my Master of Arts degree (University of Pennluania) entitled "Pirates of the Airwaves". British Offshore Commercial Radio, 1964-1968". Throughout the years, I have managed to maintain contact with Radio City's Alan Clark, as well as John and Jill Wilemen who now reside in South Africa,
Alex McKenna of the Free Radio Campaign, Roz Barber and others. I often wonder what happened to Chris Cross, Alex Dee, Phil Jay, Ed Moreno, Paul Elvey, Phil Perkins and other members of the Radio City crew.
My feelings regarding the Marine and Broadcasting (Offences) Bill can best be summarized by quoting an article which appeared in the Economist,_July30, 1966: The bill to put down the "pop pirates" was published Thursday.
It has a ripe cartload of needless rubbish. The unlicensed commercial broadcasting stations around Britain's coasts give a good deal of harmless pleasure and do very little practical harm.
Although I understand licenced commercial radio will be operative in Britain in approximately a year, the magnetic popularity, charm and excitement of the "pirates" belong to another time, and remain as historical symbols of popular freedom. The return of commercial radio will not recapture the excitement created by the daring of the "pirates", but serve to witness that governmental decree cannot stifle the will of the people living in a democracy".
SIGNED: RICK MICHAELS Jan 7 1972
*The vessel. involved was the trawler, `Cornucopia' from Leigh on Sea, Essex.
For a technical assessment of the station, we contacted engineer Phil Perkins,_who was with City from April 5th 1965 until the final close-down on February 8t 1967. "When I first joined Radio City, the one and only engineer was Don Witts. Although he was good at his job, which was in the Record Centre, Whitstable as a TV engineer, his knowledge of the RF side was not very great. He was helped at that time by Dick Dickson who was engineer/DJ. Between them they had managed to get the station on the air, but the studio equipt and the Tx were somewhat lacking in finesse, putting it mildly. The rig consisted of an old ex-Navy Tx on 299 and a TR50XM on 188. The 188 channel was badly chosen as it was right at the bottom of the medium wave, in the same place as the start of RNI. Complaints were received from the Coastguards about interference and by then it had been decided that the 188 broadcasting would be reduced to low power with a small ant just to comply with the contracts for religious broadcasts. (These were from 6-7 pm). The 188 rig was virtually unmodified except for the modulator - this was because the original mod valve was a dual tetrode which was very hard to obtain. Note that this rig was VFO controlled and frequency measuring gear was very poor on the station. The main 299 tx was also VFO - in fact this was very noticeable at that time as when conditions improved in the early evening the resultant hetrodyne was most annoying. Don had explained to Reg Calvert that the other stations on 1034 Khz were drifting! This had to be remedied as soon as possible, but as I was the new boy and Don had been there from the start, Reg was more inclined to believe Don. At last we came to an agreement that we would retain the VFO facility for the time being until I could prove that the Xtal control was the only way to operate, in the correct manner. There was one of those funny grey wavemeters on the station, with an 180 degree dial and the tuning lock - you may know the one I mean but time has erased it from my memory. Anyway it was not in the BC221 class but it did have a facility where you could put any known crystal in it and use that as a local standard,
Time was very short and there was no time for ordering a cut crystal so my first period off the station was spent in the shack in Wycombe grinding a 1 Mhz rock to 1034 Khz. Many days later the job was done and I returned to City complete with my home made standard. That evening it was put into the wavemeter and the final zeroing was done after City closed down. We now had a standard that would only drift up and down a few Hz during the day. I took control of the hourly netting (more frequent at night time) and the result was a breakthrough for City. Reg was able to hear the stn much later than ever before and so were many other people.
This convinced Reg that we needed to bring the station up to scratch on the technical side but unfortunately caused a difficult relationship between myself and Don,(i.e. "Knowall" comes on the towers and outdoes me immediately!!"). I had a foothold now but the object of power increase and other was not going to prove easy because so much rubbish had already been Don's experiments.
The rig had a pair of 813s in the PA at that time and the mod was from a Geloso amp. After a long hard battle we managed to improve the efficiency of that rig but it was the biggest lash-up you could imagine. In the meantime, on the advice of Don an ex-US AN/FRT/13 or something similar had been purchased. This was not an easy rig to modify as the frequency coverage was nowhere near the MW and the rtty and other facilities such as the frequency synthesiser were not of much practical use. In my absence that rig was made virtually useless as Don decided he would get it going on the MW. To cut a long story short, after numerous arguments I was allowed to take a more active part in the building of the station and the 1760 watt mod tranny from that rig was combined in what became the main City tx. The line up was a 1034 kHx osc (using my home-ground rock) with a 6AQ5, an 807 buffer into an 813 which drove 2 QY5500's in the PA modulated by a pair of QY4-400's which were driven by the old Geloso amp. This was the most reliable rig and it ran about 2 kw input.
By now Ian West had joined the station and both being amateurs (G3SZC and G30UV) we knew that which we were after, and we certainly tried. The next mad scheme we knew of was the purchase of a 10 kw tx from the USA. This duly arrived and proved to be a home brew lash up of a commercial tx. It was in three large cabinets, each about 8 ft tall 6 ft wide and 6 ft deep. The relay and switching cabinet suffered disaster before it even got on the towers - the ropes on it broke and it fell off the winch into the sea. It was rather lucky that the Offshore One was not under it at the time or it would have been even worse. The next day two divers came out and put strops round it and it was hauled on board. Complete with the tx came two of the Caroline engineers, Karl Thomsen and another chap. Together with Ian the whole thing was stripped down and washed in fresh water to remove the sea water and then laboriously reassembled. I did not spend much time on that as when it eventually came on the air it was always breaking down; it had seemed a waste of time to begin with. The most expensive burn up was the 10 Kw mod tranny, which Reg had rewound.
In the end Ian and myself concentrated on keeping the home brew on the air and that was how it carried on until the end. During our stay we even built a new studio so we were one of the first stations to have two studios. The problem was always keeping the home brew rig on the air and that RF out of the audio but we did win in the end and we even had our own volume compressor installed to keep up the "talk-power". Besides the radio side of the station we both spent many hours cooking, working on the diesel generators, building and even plumbing. (We had the original oil-fired central heating going and this really made the otherwise not so clean place quite habitable and comfortable). I suppose the biggest improvement was the installation of the 200 ft vertical tower - with the mere 2 Kw we managed to put out an extremely potent signal as we always kept the modulation level quite high and infact the Caroline engineers were under the impression that we ran in the order of 10 Kw!!
One thing I should like to make clear is that I do not support those who pollute the MW with their Sunday morning inane chats; this is just plain piracy and is most irresponsible. I do not however, object to those who try to put on decent shows without making anti GPO comments etc. Good luck, 73, cu sn".
SIGNED: PHIL PERKINS (G30UV) ** CHECK LIST OF CITY DJ'S ** Karol Beer, Colin Brian, "R.W.B" (Ross William Brown), Woolfe Byrne, Candy Calvert (the taped "Candy's Pop Shop" show), Tony Carrell, Alan Clark, Ralph Cooper, Cliff Cottell, Chris Cross, Rick Dane (to Radio Caroline), Tony Daniels, "Terrible" Terry Dawson (we'll believe it!; our own Andy Archer), Alexander Dee (to Radio 270), Keith Delmont, Dick Dickson (also engineer/to Radio Essex), Peter Dolphin, Tom Edwards (longest serving & Chief DJ), Paul Elvey (also an engineer), Johnny Flux (to Radio London as John Edward), David Gilbee "Big G" (to Radio 355 as Dave MacKay), Martin Green "Little G" (from Holland), Mike Hayes, Ben Healy (to Radio Scotland), Peter Jamieson (the taped "Basildon Request Show"), Eric Jay, Phil Jay (the taped "Discomania" show), Peggy Knight (taped shows), Paul Kramer, Adrian Love, Ian MacRae, Eric Martin, Rick Michaels, Ed Moreno, Janice Nicholls (the taped "Gulliver Staff Bureau Request Show"), Mike Proctor, Martin Ross, Bob Spencer (to Radio Scotland), Gary Stevens, Martin Stevens (the free radio photographer), "Dennis the Menace" Straney (to Radio 270), Leon Tippler (to Radio 270), Graham Wallace (to Radio London as Mark Roman), Mad Ian West (also engineer), Jeremy Wilde and Geoff Woods.
ENGINEERS- In addition to those already listed there were: Don Witts, Tony Pine, "LAC" Johnny Short, Phil Perkins and a character known as Farmer Jim.
The above list is the most comprehensive ever published. If I have inadvertently missed anyone out I apologise - any omissions or amendments should be forwarded to the Editorial Office. Well Campaigners, that brings us to the end of our Radio City feature. I sincerely trust that you found it as interesting to read as I did to compile. In conclusion, I should like to express my warmest appreciation to all those who have contributed articles, and I should like to thank the free radio supporters, too numerous to mention individually, who spared their precious time answering my many questions. During the course of one of the long telephone conversations I had
with Mrs. Calvert, she said to me that she would welcome the opportunity of running Radio One. I hope that some day soon she will be given the chance .... how about it Lord Hill?
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CONTINENTAL RECORDS as played on RNI and Veronica, are obtainable for 70p each from: Peter Lenton, 101 Pytchley Road, Kettering, Northants. Also available is the Joost de Draaier stereo LP for £1.80.
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WHERE ARE THEY NOW? -Compiled-by-John A. Steven
Brian Vaughn Ex-Caroline South Polydor Records, Australia
Tim Yail Ex-Caroline South/Scotland Plugger for Robbins Music
Stephen West Ex-Radio 390 Script writer for Anglia TV
Dave Cash Ex-Radio London Working on Pop show for HTV
Duncan Johnson Ex-Radio London/RNI Label Manager for both Rak and
Sovereign Records at EMI
Paul Kay Ex-Radio London Yorkshire Television
Dave Dennis Ex-Radio London Programme Organiser for United Biscuit Network
Chris Denning Ex-Radio London Head of Promotion, Bell Records
Stephen Ladd Ex-RNI Interviewer, BBC Radio London
Dave MacKay Ex-City/355 Working with The New Seekers,
Adrian Love Ex-City DJ on UBN 6.00 am - 1.00 am show.
Alex Dee Ex-Radio City/270 Sales assistant in ironmongery store.
*** AUNTIE MABEL COLUMN *** NO. 1
Only the other day I was quietly demolishing a bottle of gin (for medicinal purposes, of course) and slowly attaining a horizontal position when a letter arrived from Mr. Pearson requesting a column for this wonderful magazine for all you beautiful people who remember my outstanding broadcasts on Radio City. As I was usually well and truly sloshed at the time I find great difficulty in remembering them myself. However, although the letter interrupted the important business of sampling a new brand, it was most welcome and I will certainly be high. That should read.... I will certainly be highly delighted to oblige. Not only that, I'll be delighted to dash off the occasional column.
Those two delightful young men, Ian MacRae and Alan Clark, who were responsible for many unfortunate incidents on Radio City, including my broadcasts to the nation, are now no longer working together.I think the shock of days on end in my company has had a lasting effect. Ian, who has since returned to the sunny shores of Australia, found it necessary to get as far away fro me as possible. I...hic... find this disappointing because Ian and I always had a close relationship. You know what it's like to be at sea for weeks at a time? It'll drive even the most sensible of citizens (such as myself) to drink, and worse! However, if by some strange quirk this reaches the eyes of Mr. MacRae I can only say - Come home all is forgiven. Furthermore, don't forget the fiver I lent you at Whitstable station! All the very best to you and your present programme director.
Mr. Clark, as you may or may not know, left for Holland soon after our lovely Radio City closed in spite of my efforts to detain him. He has been heard, it is reported, on various old frequencies over the last few years, although I must add he has never asked my co-operation on his programme, I shall have to severly reprimand him next time we meet ... if indeed we do meet again. This brings me to the point of where I can be found these days. Well ...hic...if there's an exceptionally low tide in the Estuary I am usually visible in the region of Shivering Sands. Regrettably, its a lonelier place these days, apart from the odd visit from I must say, odd people under the impression that valuable equipment is still present there. As anyone knows, there was never any valuable equipment there at any time, apart from my personal cocktail cabinet which survived all manner of threats and take overs. People often ask me whether I miss my very own broadcasts on the wireless. Actually, I don't because these only interrupted ether important business which I don't intend to go into here. On the other hand, a glove! Oh dear, I mean on the other hand if any important programme directors read this and wish to obtain my services (broadcasting or otherwise) I'm sure this mag. Will put you in touch. I can assure you my voice hasn't changed a bit, in fact if anything, it's proved... sorry I'll type that again.... improved thanks to frequent lubrication and lots of sea air. Mr. Pearson tells me a regular column is required, and so I've decided to devote this one to general greetings and other rubbish. In subsequent editions of this wonderful magazines whatever it's called, I shall go into sordid detail of what life was really like during the days of the Auntie Mable Hour on 299. I shall also be pleased to answer reader's questions concerning the programme, also I am prepared to answer your personal problems in a friendly and helpful manner. Miss Proops has nothing on me.... or was it Poops ... oh never mind.
Anyway, I'll end this very first Auntie Mabel column with best wishes to all you lovely boys and girls and the editor of this magazine who has been naive enough to ask me to write for it. All the best, bottoms up and cheerio for now. Love , A. Mabel".
ODDS N'ENDS...New arrival on Mebo II, engineer Chicago Peter, who was recalled at short notice to overhaul the main transmitter and iron out antenna problems ...... 10 Kw 270 transmitter still in pieces at time of writing... shouldn't Paul May be renamed Please May (I)?..sorry!! ... Alan Clark will be on the International Service of Radio Rwanda (SW - 16, 19 and 25 M bands) between 0945 and 1045 daily (except Sundays). Its a multi-lingual show (French, Swahili and English) and can be heard throughout February ...Congrats Alan - good show on Med. 3.2.72 (your third!) Hans Verbaan would like to draw your attention to this year's trip out to see RNI, Veronica, REM Island (July 29th). Please write to him for full details: - his address Van Swietenstraat 123, Den Haag, Netherlands ... We hear that Larry Tremaine and his attractive wife Carolyn have just bought a 1960 Rolls Bentley S2 saloon, how about taking out the Editorial Staff next time you're in the UK!!!!!...Sub-Editor would like to thank Mr. Balk (RNI BUSSUM) for help given over the phone... great game of musical chairs going on aboard Mebo II ... but who pulled the chairs away under Dave Rogers and Mike Ross.
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*** RNI REVISES FORMAT ***
As we go to Press Radio Noordzee announces its revised programmes, and introduces two new DJ's to replace Dave Rogers and Mike Ross.
is now as follows:
19.00 - 20.00 GMT A programme for all teastes
20.00 - 23.00 GMT "Cloud Nine" introducing
23.00 - 02.00 GMT North Sea by Night
Newscasts are now broadcast on the half hours and we no longer hear the "Man of Action" signature tune. RNI still goes twenty-four hours at weekends.
Replacement DJs are Tony Allan (will the third time be lucky?) and newcomer Barry Martin.
+++++ STOP PRESS +++++ A. J. Beirens programme "North Sea Goes DX", which is presented on the first Sunday of every month, is under the shadow of the axe. The programme went out this Sunday (6th) February and featured Radio Scotland. It is not known whether it is to be continued. Thanks go to NEWSCASTER for kind offers of assistance and plugs.
*** RADIO RECOVERY SPOT ***
Two half-hour programmes have been received from Edward Cole, Ex-390. Many thanks! The studio is currently being re-equipped with Garrard 401 turntables, RCA cassette machines and other more up to date equipment. For those who don't already know, Radio Recovery is a hospital tape service.