Journal of the Southend & District Free Radio Campaign
Editor:- Roland C. Pearson Editorial Office:—
Sub-Editor:- Ineke Jager. 31, Avondale Road,
Feature Writer:- Andy Archer. Benfleet,
Circulation Officer: Diane Foale. Essex SS7 lEH
Liaison: - John A. Steven. ENGLAND
Issue Number 2. Price 10p (Overseas 16½p) post free.
EDITORIAL Our last issue, which was the Radio City souvenir edition, proved extremely popular and was a complete sell out. We should like to take this opportunity to thank all those who took the trouble to write in and express their appreciation, it has given us much encouragement. In response to many requests we are in this issue featuring R,N,I. The story will be told in two parts, possibly three, depending upon how man people we can find to contribute articles. This issue is even larger that the last one, thence the slight increase in price, also we are endeavouring to make it more European in outlook and with this aim in view have included a survey of the free radio scene in West Germany. Finally we should like to point out that "Monitor" is published at irregular intervals, or in other words, whenever there is sufficient information available to fill a copy. This means that we are unable to accept subscriptions, instead we will send out any future issues on a sale or return basis to all those who are on our mailing-list.
R.C.P. Benfleet, July 1972.
The auction of the two Caroline ships, as forecast in our "Info-sheet" No.6, took place recently in Amsterdam. The following items were publicly auctioned by R.W.Bais, N.A., Maritiem Handels – En lngenieursbureau:-
The "CAROLINE" Built in 1930 — 702/366 GRT/NRT — 550 tons dead weight. Dimensions 60•96 x 9•88 x 4•04m.
The "MI AMIGO" Built in 1921 — 274/108 GRT/NRT — 370 tons dead weight. Dimentions 40•74 x 7•04 x 2•90m.
List of equipment: 1 large oscillograph; I small oscillograph Barker & Williamson 210; 2 Ampex sound-mixers; 1 frequency regulator; 1 disturbance meter, 2 tape- recorders; 1 tone generator; 1 tube test apparatus; 11 cassettes; 1 box tapes; 1 typewriter; 1 lantern; i fire extinguisher; 500 EP’s;13 LP’s; 3 cartons 655 records; i dinghy; 1 large Gates record-player; 1 box 100 records; & 1 direction finder.
The following account of the outcome is a translation taken from one of the forermost
Dutch newspapers:— "Pirate Ships in Auction".
‘On the afternoon of Monday 29th 1972, the hammer of the auctioneer sealed the doom of the radio-ship Caroline, which was the base for the well-known pirate station Radio CarolineNorth, from April 1964 until March 1963, for the sum of 26,500 guilders (about £3,l50). The Caroline, seized by the Offshore Tender en Suppletie Mij. N.V. Wijsmuller, because of the withholding of payment for supplies and repairs, changed owners. The new owner Mr. Frank Rijsdijk-Holland, who prides himself on being Holland biggest ship breaker intends to tow the ship, which is in quite bad condition, away. With the purchase of the ship, Frank Rijsdijk-Holland, also took over radio equipment made incomplete by plunders. He also bought the Mi Amigo, once accomodating the pirate station Caroline South, this fetched 20,000 Guilders (about £2,400). The price for which the owners sold both vessels has probably been disappointing. Four years ago they asked from Abi Nathan, who wanted to use the ships for a peace mission, the sum of 1,750,000 guilders (about £200,800).’
"DE TELEGRAFF" dated May 30th, 1972.
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MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Two —
Part 1. The 1st Year of Operation.
Introduction written by Roland C. Pearson
During January 1970 rumours were rife in the free radio world that a new radio-ship was shortly to arrive upon the scene, it was said that she would be equipped with Short-Wave, as well as Medium-Wave & FM transmitters. I must admit that I took all this with a pinch of salt, but I made a point of regularly checking the wavebands, just in case! Then at 9.25 on the morning of January 28th I picked up a test transmission on 6210 kHz in the 49 metre-band. The first voice that I heard on the air was that of Elke, who made an announcement in German between every record, she was using a very catchy tune as a talk-over, which I later found cut was "Man of Action" by The Les Reed Orchestra. Shortly afterwards she was joined by Hannibal and Horst Reiner, Hannibal gave some station idents in English and asked for listeners reports to be sent to P.O Box 113, 8047 Zurich, Switzerland. I stayed tuned to the station until tea-time when it faded out.
I did not hear the station again until February 7th, and once more it was on 6210 kHz. This test lasted from at least 09.46- 18.35 BST. Hannibal and Horst Reiner were answering listeners letters in German, and on tape, in English, with station announcements, was a familiar voice, although no name was used I recognised it as Roger Day!
The next time I heard R.N.I. was on 186 metres (1607 kHz) in the Medium- Wave. Roger Day and Johnny Scott joined German DJ’s Horst Reiner and Hannibal aboard the Mebo II on February 18th and proper test programming was immediately commenced. The station was opened officially a few days later on February 28th. Reception throughout this period was reasonably good, however, there was some slight CW interference (Morse) on the channel during the hours of darkness. Then suddenly between 9 .30 and 10 on the morning of Friday March 13th the Morse station upped its power by five times (to 10 kilowatts), and in doing so made listening decidedly more difficult — the call- sign of the W/T station was GBL and it transmitted from Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset. But worse was to follow! On the night of Thursday March 26th a powerful unmodulated carrier appeared on 186 metres and almost obliterated RNI’s signal. Although no one knew it at the time this was the first use of the Beacon Hill "jamming" station in Kent. The following day R.N.I. ceased operations on this wavelength.
Broadcasting was resumed on April 10th on the new wavelength of 190 metres (1578 kHz). All went well until April 15th when the unmodulated carrier from Beacon Hill was again brought into use against them. (The exact whereabouts of the "jamming" transmitter was still unknown). The intensity of the "jamming" soon forced R.N.I. off their newly acquired wavelength; they did in fact vacate it the following day.
Nothing further was heard on Medium-Wave from the Mebo II until May 1st, when yet another wavelength was tried, this time it was 217 metres (1335 kHz). Unfortunately technical problems arose within the transmitter, and the next day broadcasting had once again to cease. At least, on this occasion, it was not due to any "jamming" signals!
For the next ten days RNI’s MW transmitter was silent, but on May 13th they reappeared on a brand new wavelength - 244 metres (1230 kHz) and regular programming was soon to follow. On May 21st Stonehouse ordered the resumption of "jamming" and for the third time Beacon Hill was used, but this time their signal incorporated the notorious "bleeping" effect. Then on May 22nd a Mr. Brian Horne from Carshalton, using home-made direction finding equipment traced the source of the "jamming" to Beacon Hill near Rochester, in the county of Kent. He contacted the "Daily Sketch", who on May 23rd printed a full account of how and where the station was found. The cat was now well and truly out of the bag!!
This information enabled the Campaign for Independent Broadcasting to organise a demonstration at the very gates of the "jamming" station, and so on Sunday May 31st a protest rally was staged outside the Beacon Hill site. This was highly successful as it received considerable coverage in the national and local newspapers, which in turn, focussed public attention on the loss of a basic freedom — the freedom to listen to the radio station of ones choice. The "bleeping" continued, but listeners discovered that it could be tuned-out to a great extent by rotating their transistor radios until the "jamming" almost vanished.
The situation changed dramatically when the Government suddenly announced that a General Election was to be held on June 18th. On Election eve I listened to RNI during the evening, when….WHAM! A colossal new "jammer" was switched on completely blocking 244 metres, and, as I found out later, everything else between
MONITOR SUMMER ISUE 1972 — Page Three —
186-300 metres to boot! Although it only stayed on for a brief half minute that night I knew we were in for trouble with a capital T.! Throughout the following day (June l3) it was switched on and off spasmodically, but it did not really get going in earnest until the weekend. Four days were to elapse before free radio supporters tracked down its location, it was eventually found by a friend of mine, Chris McCarthy of Westcliff-on-Sea. He phoned me at 2 p.m. on Sunday June 21st and told me he had traced it with the aid of a DF set to the old Battle of Britain radar station at Canewdon, near Southend Airport. Chris was speaking to me from a call-box right outside the station and the field-strength of the "jamming" signal was so strong there that it broke through on the telephone line! Apparently the G.P.O. had strung up an inverted "V" aerial to the sole remaining 250 ft. high radar mast, while the actual transmitter was installed in a marquee nearby.
Early next morning (Monday June 22nd) I contacted the Rayleigh office of Bernard Braine, M.P. to inform him that the Socialist- instigated "jamming" of R.N.I. was now being conducted from his constituency. I was told that nothing was known about it and that I was the first person to report the matter. Many others were to do so during the week ahead! As a direct result of our complaints Mr. Braine sent the following message, dated June 25th, to the newly appointed Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Mr. Christopher Chataway, it read: "Many of my constituents especially in the Rochford, Wakering and Canewdon area are complaining that as a result of the jamming of Radio Northsea broadcasts ordered by the late Labour Government, there is serious interference with the reception of normal B.B.C. programmes. There is also much resentment of this interference with the freedom of the individual. I would request, therefore, that you order the cessation of jamming forthwith, and in any event, investigate the complaints of interference with normal reception. I would hope that you could make an early statement as to the intention to provide for free enterprise radio being brought within the law." This brought prompt action, and Canewden ceased to be used for "jamming" purposes after June 29th. We must not overlook the part played by our two local papers, the "Southend Standard" and "Evening Echo", in getting Canewdon closed down, their forcefully expressed condemnations must have been a contributory factor.
Meanwhile the "jamming" was continued from Beacon Hill. On June 23th R.N.I. surprised everyone by changing wavelength from 244 to 217 metres. For the first couple of hours they broadcast free from interference; but then Beacon Hill moved up the band, proving that, unlike its Canewdon counterpart, it had a VFO capability, and slapped on its full 10 KW’s of power, something it was never able to do on 244 metres for fear of clobbering BBC Radio One in the Medway towns even more than it had already been doing. The engineers on board the Mebo II soon realised what was happening, and that night reverted back to 244 metres. "Jamming" from Beacon Hill ceased on July 23rd with the return of the Mebo II to the Dutch coast.
This was not quite the end of the affair, the Norwegians, not to be outdone by the British Government, decided to hold their own "jam" session, the target they chose was RNI’s Short-Wave outlet on 6210 kHz. Their "jamming" lasted throughout the best part of July and August, it differed from the British variety by having a taped announcement inserted after every one minute of "jamming", the announcement was as follows: "This is a transmission from the Norwegian coast station Rogaland Radio. The transmitter is operating in a single side band mode, upper side band, with a carrier frequency of 6210.4 kHz. The purpose of this transmission is to clear the channel of unauthorised and out of band broadcasting; to improve reception conditions for ships wishing to communicate with this coast station, on this frequency, or on adjacent side-band mobile telephony channels". This particular interference problem was amicably resolved by R.N.I. moving 5 kHz LF onto 6205 kHz and thus ended an unforgettable chapter in the annals of offshore radio. But enough of technicalities, let us now hear from Alan West...
I really don’t know where to begin, let alone end; the R.N.I. story, or at least my part in it, is such a long and complicated one that, as time goes by, the more misty the memory of it becomes.
The beginning would be the best place I guess, so we’ll start in the London office of Mill’s Music (Publishers) in Denmark Street, just off the Charing Cross Road, where in October of 1969 an old friend, Tim Davies, and I were discussing the plausibility of an advertisement in a well-known pop paper. The ad. asked for disc jockeys, "pref. w. experience", to forward tapes to a Zurich address. It all seemed so improbable, and having come across several hoaxes and strange rumours before, I was inclined to treat it in much the same light.
In writing a letter to Mebo Ltd. in Zurich, how little I realised that it would totally change my life, and lead to so much high adventure, to say nothing of considerable physical danger. In the letter I said I thought "it" was a hoax, but if "it" wasn’t, I’d be interested in a job, and proceeded to give my qualifications, if that’s what you call them.
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 - Page Four -
A few weeks went by, and by the time I had forgotten all about it, and it off for what I originally thought it was - a hoax - the letter arrived. Erwin Meister had signed it, and said quite emphatically, that it was a very expensive "hoax", and asked me to send a tape immediately with a view to going on the new station: Radio Nordsee International. Off went the tapes. A couple of weeks later, back came the reply, asking me to be in Scheveningen, at the Grand Hotel, on the following Monday morning, to meet Mr. Meister.
Liverpool Street was the departure point that Sunday evening in cold February, and who should I walk into on the platform, but Andy Archer (good start!). That night on board the "Koningin (Queen) Juliana", we spent running about, avoiding a Mayfair hairdresser on this way to Berlin, and trying very hard to live up to the ship’s first name, and his profession’s main social problem!
An adventurous journey to say the least of it, and on reflection a taste of what was to come in the long months ahead. We arrived early on Monday morning in Scheveningen, which as you well know by now, is a mixture of a suburb of The Hague (Dan Haag), a popular seaside resort, and a typically Dutch fishing port, equivalent in size and importance to Grimsby. Being just after 9 a.m., so everyone’s gone to work, and also being the middle of winter, you can imagine the place was totally deserted, except: for two unshaven, bedraggled, tired, long-haired disc jockeys falling out of the train doors, suitcases falling all over. What few natives there were about seemed amused, but in true Dutch fashion, shrugged it off as "one of those things best ignored" like Governments and taxmen,
Once in the hotel, we found Carl Mitchell, refreshed and clean shaven (well, except for the famous weird beard), after a good night’s sleep - swine! From then on life became a whirlwind which kept blowing relentlessly. A few minutes later, or so it seemed, I met Edwin Bollier, a man of great fame and fortune, and looks the part right down to the velvet suit and patent wet-look shoes. Money seemed to walk at his feet, but - unfortunately, so I gather, the Grand Hotel management never got near his feet.
A day or so later, a dozen apprehensive people set sail in a tiny blue tug named ‘Eurotrip" and braved the unfortunate weather which the North Sea gave us as a welcome present. I remember seeing Robbie Vincent, at that time an erstwhile reporter for the (London) Evening Standard, turn a pale green, just before I was thrown from the bunk I was perching on, in the general direction of the floor. Closely followed, by some other personage, whose face I cannot recollect, especially as he was lying on my back at the time (er - just by accident)...
We made it eventually, and from nowhere a huge red, green and yellow blob appeared before our very eyes in the grey mist of the gentle (cold) rain. Somehow, I don’t remember how, I shut my eyes, kept my stomach beneath my chin, and groped my way on board.
Roger Day was there to meet us, and we were whisked down into the depths of this groaning giant, a ship we were to come to regard as home, and love it as much we did. On the way down I remember catching a fleeting glimpse of Johnny Scott (there’s a name that only the most dedicated RNI listeners will remember) rushing in the other direction and looking very seasick. I never saw him again.
Corridors painted green, red and grey, cabins bright, clean and comfortable, television lounge clean and open and looking like a board room, studios spacious and full of bright expensive looking enamelled equip only half of which could be relied upon, as we were all later to find out.
In what was then the main broadcasting studio, we all collected to witness Austrian-born German service disc jockey Horst Reiner at work Through the next few days we continued test transmissions, and strangely enough after the opening programme the signal got worse!
Opening day came soon enough, everyone was on board, Edwin Bollier, Erwin Meister, Managing Director Urs Emmeneger (that’s what he called himself anyway), Bollier’s secretary Eva Pfister, Robbie Vincent reporting for the London Evening Standard, Rodney Collins doing something for Record Mirror, German disc jockeys Horst Rener and Hannibal, looking surprisingly like an elephant at times, English disc jockeys Roger Day, Andy Archer, Carl Mitchell and myself. Scores of other serfs were in attendance at this chaotic Royal occasion, and the whole bloody thing looked like a farce straight off the West End stage. Engineers and disc jockeys, executives and reporters, crew and photographers ran back and forth like crazed beings possessed.
Both studios were in use that night, Horst Reiner in the bigger studio, and Roger Day in the smaller side studio, and neither knowing what was happening around them or what was going to happen next. They couldn’t hear each other, and consequently they were often talking over each other’s records and over each other! I was running back and forth telling them what was next, and by the end of that one
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 - Page Five -
hour programme my legs were telling me not to run the 4 minute mile tonight kid! We all took our turn to say hello and play a few records. And in the corner of the small studio sat Boiler smiling benignly amid all this confusion watching his tape and not really understanding what the hell all the panic was about. Perhaps an omen of what was to come.
Anyway, at last the station was on the air officially, and now we could get down to doing our programes in peace and quiet. Then a storm blew up and no one could get off for another day. From then on things went peacefully for my first couple of weeks on board. We went about our jobs satisfied and happy with the thought that Caroline wasn't the end of offshore radio and that we were carrying on the good work sort of thing. The weather wasn't too good, being February, and the sea was rough, grey and foreboding, but the sun broke through occasionally bringing a bit of cheer to the grey skies. My programme at that time was from 6 till 8 in the evening, and I was trying hard to find my feet in this strange new world, having not been on the air, on a top 40 station for nearly three years. I had the feeling I was out of the inner circle if you know what I mean, a feeling which I later proved right. The other three English DJ's were ex-Caroline, and I was the outsider. It was unfortunate, I think, that they tried hard to continue the old Caroline image; all during the 1970 era, Radio Nordsee had no real identity of it's own, but tried to sound like so many different stations at different times. It has been said of course that the period from the beginning of August 1970 until September of that year was the epitome of commercial broadcasting, and it has also been said that the period from the beginning until September/October 1971 was the zenith of free radio of all time. It is difficult, therefore, to come to a decision as to how good or bad RNI was at any given time. I'll leave you to make your own opinion. It's all beyond me these days.
Back to the story at hand, and a chilly but bright Thursday morning, signalling oncoming spring, sets the scene in Scheveningen harbour, and a rather confused me trying hard to understand what Edwin Bollier and Edwin Meister and a dozen other Germans and Dutch are gabbling about. Later, as I was making the precarious jump from the quayside to the Mebo I's deck, I learned that the radio-ship, Mebo II, was to move, shortly, to the English coast! Even through the distance and advent of all the weeks and months, in fact two and a bit years which have passed since, I remember my feelings of that day: excitement, passion, and the great anti-climax, frustration. The weather was too bad to get aboard the Mebo II, even though we went alongside and very nearly made a hole in the side of the radio-ship as we soared, bow up, 20 feet or more above the hull. Feeling annoyed and frustrated at the weather we beat a hasty retreat to the Grand Hotel, where we stayed another night. The next morning's weather was better, and we finally made it aboard the creaking, swaying radio-ship. A nerve-racking moment for me though, because I had the misfortune to have to jump at the very moment when both ships clanged together, rose 10 feet out of the water and parted at least 6 or 7 feet in no more than 10 seconds. I just closed my eyes. Roger Day, was going off for a spot of holiday, if I remember rightly, with Hannibal. Andy Archer and myself went onboard to join Carl Mitchell, Mark Wesley (who had joined the station two weeks previously) and Horst Reiner.
The day grew warmer as the afternoon wore on, and the excitement grew and became almost intolerable. The moment came eventually, and the crane ship "Beever" came alongside as the Mebo I drifted away and began it's treck back to Holland. The
radio station was off the air for a big portion of that day, which was a pity in retrospect because we must have lost a lot of listeners to a spectacular moment in broadcasting history. However, the transmitters had to be out of action for the delicate task which the crew of the "Beever" had to undertake that afternoon. In under an hour, the anchor had been cut with oxy-accetuline, and ropes tied to major stress points groaned and strained as they took all the weight of a 100 ton anchor; slowly but steadily the anchor and chain were winched and derricked on board the "Beever". The transmitters were put back on the air, and it was 6 o'clock and time for me to do my programme, perhaps one of the most memorable programmes I have ever done. The honour of announcing the Mebo II beginning it's voyage across the North Sea came to me as the engines grumbled and shuddered to life and the journey began. Once around Veronica, who unknown to us were having the last laugh, and we headed out to the North Sea broadcasting as we went.
From then on, life for Radio Nordsee and for us, it's crew, was no easy. Late tenders, bad.weather, transmission troubles on every frequency except FM. For some reason that little .75 KW transmitter has never caused any trouble, and yet it was
never really heard by n except the fishes and seagulls! Problem after problem beset the struggling adventure. International complaints passed from one government to another, frequencies had to be changed, causing more transmitter troubles again, then the antenna started shorting, and then long periods off the air sent us all reeling into total boredom. Not only this, our future was to be cataclysmically taken from under our feet, when the British Government of the time undertook to
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Six —
interfere with our broadcasts using jamming signals. Everything seemed so uncertain. We all got very nervy and jumpy, and what with the boredom or the long periods off the forced on us by equipment troubles, life became far from easy. Thoughts and moods changed not only from day to day but from hour to hour. Happy, sad, excited, frustrated, bored, hopeful, tired, fed-up - it was endless, and infuriating. Constant changes in format, presentation and policy, I must admit, drove me very near the point of suicide. Things were exasperating. And then there was the threat of the Wilson Government. But that’s another story, and hopefully I can tell it to you in a future edition.
SIGNED: ALAN WEST
Next we hear from Andy Archer
"Would Andy Archer please make his way to Holland to join the radio station", said Roger Day over the air one Saturday evening during the early test transmissions of Radio Northsea International, so being as I was looking for a new job, over I went. On arrival in Holland, with Alan West, we made our way to the Grand Hotel, which resembled a poor man’s Claridges, where we both met Carl Mitchell, and later the bosses, and, following a Common Market shopping expedition, we made our way to the harbour. We never actually got on the tender as the Panamanian Embassy in Rotterdam were playing up a bit, so it was all back to the Grand Hotel, where we wined, dined, slept and generally acted as lecherous playboys at the expense of the company. However, the following day brought with it a new light, the Panamanian had given the go-ahead for the tender to sail, so we all climbed on board the old converted cattle boat (and still smelling of them) only to find out that the generators would not function, so consequently, the engines wouldn’t start. After a quay side consultation with just about the entire population of Scheveningen, it was decided that a small tug, the Eurotrip, should transport us out to the ship, that was fair enough, the only problem was that besides the tug’s crew of four, there was the Managing Director, three disc jockeys, about six reporters, and the entire relief crew for the radio ship, and it was forbidden by the harbour authorities for the tug to actually transport more than four persons. The captain of the Eurotrip, a real salty dog if there ever was one, told us to get into the cabin just under the bridge, so in we all crept, only to find that we were sharing it with a dozen barrels of diesel oil, and a carton of dried fish! If I were to tell you that I had seen much bigger airing cupboards, then you can imagine what this particular cabin was like with about fifteen men in it.
Eventually the engines started up and we chugged merrily out of Scheveningen harbour, only to come into a nasty little storm. When we were about a quarter of’ a mile offshore, the captain kindly informed us that we could leave the ‘Black hole of Calcutta’ and come up to the deck, after very nearly being trampled to death in the rush, I managed to make my way onto the deck, where I was met by a huge wave, which absolutely soaked me to the skin, as you can appreciate, it didn’t put me in the best of moods. It took us about forty minutes to get out to the radio-ship, which at my first glimpse reminded me of a floating advertisement for Brolac Emulsion. Getting the tug alongside the ship I thought would be a comparatively simple affair, however, I was wrong, the twenty minutes that followed were reminiscent of a session on the dodgem cars at a funfair, only much rougher! Eventually, more by luck than judgement, I hasten to add, we tied up alongside and we had to climb up an apology for a rope ladder, when it was my turn, up I went like a mountaineer trying to scale the Matterhorn wearing carpet slippers, and landed up on the deck like a mackerel that had been hooked twenty minutes previously. It was only when Roger Day shook my hand that I realised I really wasn’t having a bad dream, but was actually there. When Alan and Carl finally made their way on board, looking like a pair of drenched landlubbers, Roger took us on a tour of the ship. I, like Carl and Alan, was surprised at the size of everything and the amenities. The studios and the transmitting equipment, although absolutely useless, looked good and really impressive. Horst Reiner was on the air at the time looking like an out of season Vienna Schnitzel rabbiting away in German, and he gave us a polite "Guten Abend",
After finding myself a cabin (No 7 Abbey Road - each corridor had a street name), I decided to take a shower and freshen-up. On entering the showers, I tried to find a wash-basin, and then realised that what I originally thought was a fountain was really what I was looking for, after this I expected to see wallpaper with mermaids and cherubs! Dinner on that first evening was quite tasty, as a matter of fact, both of the cooks, Henk and Koos, were first class, and prepared some really great food throughout the whole period of the first broadcasting year. I can remember with ease my first broadcast, it was diabolical, as well as being absolutely shattered, I was rather nervous as I hadn’t hosted a record programme on the air for nearly two years, only interviews for the B.B.C. However, after about fifteen minutes I managed to get into the swing of things, aided by Alan, Carl and Roger.
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Seven --
It was quite difficult for all three of us to get going as we were all rather nervous, but, somehow, when we were together, things seemed to move much easier. So on went the test transmissions until the 28th February, this was the official opening day. Nobody on board had any idea what was supposed to be happening at six o’clock, the time allocated for the opening. The tender which was bringing out the directors, relief disc-jockeys, journalists, photographers, new records and most important of all, the greetings tapes and running order of the opening programe was supposed to be arriving at twelve noon - the actual time of arrival was about ten minutes to five! To show courteousness to the directors, all of us paraded on deck dressed up to the nines, and we were confronted by about seventy people! Roger Day managed to battle his way through the maddening crowd and we all charged down to the studios to finalise the details for the opening ceremony, which was to end as a fiasco!
We had thousands of tapes by such people as Jose Feliciano saying such things as "This is J.F. saying good luck to R.N.I.", & "Hi this is Fred Coffin of the Undertakers saying ‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello to all the groovers and movers on that there radio ship". All in all it was quite ridiculous and quite an impossible task to arrange the opening programme in such a short space of time. I can recall Roger Day battling with Horst Reiner as to who was to speak first, Roger speaking in English and Horst in German; it was not till our bilingual Managing-Director arrived in the studios that some arrangement was made. Ten minutes to go and both studios are crammed full to capacity, cameras clicking and conversations taking place in every language from Icelandic to Swahili. Six o’clock and Horst Reiner officially opens the station, with Roger Day doing the honours in English, both were at their wits end as to what to say next, but fair do’s, I think that any one of us would have been in exactly the same predicament. The whole evenings programmes were quite a shambles, I can remember at one point in my programme having about twenty people in the studio with me, at times I felt as though I was a sardine! I can recall with amusement asking Alan West to get rid of some of the people in the studio putting a deep voice on and saying "Right you lot, let’s ‘ave yer outta ‘ere". I couldn’t have done better even if I had been a drill sergeant!
So on (although more usually off) we went, Mark Wesley arrived, Duncan Johnson arrived, and Johnny Scott left. The ship remained off the coast of Holland for a while, and then moved to a position off the Essex coast, it was while the ship was anchored here that we met the now infamous Larry Tremaine, "The Geeter with the heater". T’was a bracing morning when a Swiss-registered Mercedes had the affront to pull into Brightingsea harbour, and then load a few supplies, and Larry Tremaine, into a clapped-out shrimp boat which then made its way out to the Mebo II. Larry was to be our new programme director… Whoopee! As a matter of fact, I couldn’t stand the man when it came to discussing radio tactics, but socially he was a great person, and it was quite an experience meeting him.
It was at this time that our dear friend, Harold Wilson, decided to start to jam us, and times became quite difficult. Ronan O’Rahilly, that well-known Irish buccaneer and film producer, had discussions with the management and together, both sides decided that something should be done about the jamming. Our initial move was to try and dodge the jamming signals by changing frequency, however, wherever we went the phantom jammers followed, in the end it turned out to be a cross between a game of hide and seek, and catch as catch can! We soon realised that we could do no good by changing frequencies, as we would loose listeners, so we remained on 244 metres and continued broadcasting, giving instructions over the, air as to how to avoid the interference. The powers that be decided one week before Election Day that we should change the station’s name to Caroline - this we did, and began broadcasting twenty-four hours a day with records and anti-Socialist propaganda until Election Day when we blatantly advised listeners to vote for the Conservative Party. On reflection, I think it was a bad thing for us to have got politically involved, but, at the time, with the jamming stations operating at full power, it seemed the only logical thing to do.
So with the Election over, the jamming continued, and the radio-ship sailed back to its original position off the coast of Holland. The most notable thing about moving hack to Holland was the change in the sea conditions. Off the coast of England the radio-ship was anchored over a sand bank, but off Holland we were anchored in the open sea, and, at times, the sea was most unfriendly. However, we soon got used to this, and with the jamming now switched off set ourselves the task of getting ourselves an audience, as we must have lost millions of listeners in the period us we were off the air. The new disc jockeys came and went, but it was at this time, with Carl, Alan, Spangles, Steve Ladd, Mike Lindsay and Rob Eden, as well as myself, that I thought the station sounded at its very best. The programmes were of a very high standard and professionally carried out, and our signal was becoming increasingly better. They say there’s never a dull moment on a pirate ship, well, I certainly saw a few, although this wasn’t the case at a certain Saturday
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Eight —
lunch time when I was taking a post-lunch stroll around the deck and saw a large tug and a small launch heading our way. After being on Caroline when she was towed away, I immediately became suspicious and tried to raise the Captain, I say tried because he had just finished his lunch time drink, namely two bottles of Dutch Gin and was in no fit state really to get out of his bed, however, he did and we all know what happened after this. I must say in all honesty that all the DJ’s on board were rather frightened at first, at the thought of having to defend the ship with cudgels, knives, water cannons and Molotov cocktails, but after a while we realised that we had a tremendous height advantage and not quite so much to fear. I think one of the most amusing incidents to come out of the attempted piracy were our appeals over the air for the listeners to telephone our directors, it resulted in the switchboard at the Grand Hotel being engaged for four hours on all ten lines, and the automatic exchange in Zurich exploding! Perhaps the most heartening sight of the day was to see our little tender ship speeding out towards us with Larry Tremaine sporting a red Mickey Mouse Tee shirt, and the boarding party taking to their heels, or should I say propellers.
The scene that followed reminded me of the Dunkirk evacuation with hundreds of small boats coming over to see us, including a small rowing boat with an outboard motor from Radio Veronica. It was pleasing to see that small boat from Veronica; there we were, a rival station, but Veronica’s staff showed that they were just as concerned as everyone else. Later in the afternoon a frigate of the Dutch Royal Navy, the "Van Nes" anchored about a quarter of a mile away to guard us. That evening we all went over to see the warship, and were invited on board where we drank beer with the Captain and crew, we collected over three hundred requests, which Michael Lindsay and myself read out the following morning.
The incident was over, we received massive publicity, and at last all looked to be going well until the evening of September 23rd, when we were told that the station was to close down the following morning. Alan West and myself closed down the station at 11 a.m. that morning, and it was the end of a radio station that during its ten months or so on the air received more publicity sometimes adverse, sometimes good, than any other radio station in the world. In retrospect, I think at times we could have been much better than we were, but we all learn by our mistakes, but I can safely say this, I’m sure that every disc jockey that worked on the station really enjoyed themselves, and learned that broadcasting was more than just sitting in a. studio playing records and talking into a microphone.
S IGNED: ANDY ARCHER
Finally Rob Eden writes to us direct from the Mebo II.
It was way back in August 1970, in fact the 5th of that month, that I left Scheveningen harbour and for the first time work aboard the infamous Mebo II. At that time I didn’t know anyone on board, although Larry Tremaine had come out with us. It was a dark foggy day and when the Mebo I finally berthed alongside the radio ship we were greeted by the crew and the DJ’s on board, namely, Spangles Maldoon, wearing his famous yellow shirt (The only one he seemed to have), Michael Lindsay, who I noticed was younger than I thought, and Mark Wesley. Also on board at that time were John Denny and Dave Gregory. Andy Archer I had seen earlier in the week at Beacon Records in London and I mentioned to him that I would be on the Mebo the following week. I met Andy in Scheveningen in the Grand Hotel and we came out to the boat after having a vegetable fight in the harbour.
After settling down and after the Mebo I had left with all the photographers and everyone else I was shown the boat and told about the programme schedule etc., and told I was doing 12-2 that night, although that day we added an hour and it became 12-3 a.m. At midnight I noticed everyone had gone to bed as it was getting a little rough. Spangles showed me how to operate the panel and I was left on my own until three in the morning, and then closed down the station which I thought at the time was a big job, but it seemed to pass over without incident. Still I thought everyone would be listening upstairs, but it seems the boys were all very tired and only (as I found out the following day) tuned in to see how many mistakes I made in the first half hour and gave up. It wasn’t really a great programme, but I think it wasn’t bad for the first time "on the air", especially from a rocking boat. The next few days I spent getting to know the boat and most important the personel on board the boat. At first all the DJ’s seemed to be happy and to get on well together, but I soon found out that most of the DJ’s either hated each other or wanted to be Programme Director. I just got on with my job and tried to he as friendly as possible with everyone. At that time Captain Tom started to bring his boat "The Redder" out to the Mebo most days, and so we had a regular flow of mail and papers, and constant contact with land. In the evenings we used to have a few parties, which under the present circumstances we could not have now. Every Sunday Larry
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Nine —
Tremaine came out in the afternoon and interrupted normal programming to do his own "American style" show. Every weekend, because Larry couldn’t operate a panel properly, I used to sit at the panel while he shouted at the microphone. We had some really good sunny days when someone would decide to start playing about with water and we’d end up running round the deck in the sun hosing each other down, or chasing one another with buckets of water. One thing I think most people will remember is one Sunday when Larry, Andy, Carl, Michael and myself went over to the Nordeney, Veronica’s boat, with Captain Tom in the Redder and decided to stay and have some fish with them. Suddenly it became very foggy and we left the Nordeney at ten o’clock to make our way back a mile to the Mebo. At that time the fog was thick and we realised we had lost our way. Captain Tom tried to tune into a harmonic of R.N.I. and guide us to the boat, there was only one problem (and this will surprise all the DXers and amateurs), we had no decisive harmonics except the norm which were too loud to beam on, and so realising that if anybody accused us of putting out harmonics and interfering with shipping, then they really must be crazy, as we couldn’t find one on the Short Wave half a mile from the boat. At that time Chicago came on the air in Spangle’s Show to say that they had us on radar and we were heading towards the beach. Captain Tom turned the boat ninety degrees, but, alas, the boys didn’t give us any more radar checks. Carl (who usually did the progressive show on Sunday) wondered if Spangles would compere the show, but at midnight we tuned in (still drifting) and heard Spangles say "I don’t know much about progressive music so I’ll hand over to Chicago our Engineer". Chicago carried on with the show and played some really good tracks, including a couple of tracks from "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" by "The Pink Floydd". At two o’clock we were still drifting and we heard the close down (as then we were closing again at two), finally we saw a light at half past and made our way towards it. There it was and we certainly were happy to see the dim lights, as we made our way toward it of the colourful Mebo II.
After a month I came off the boat and stayed in the Grand Hotel in Scheveningen. On the Saturday afternoon we were sitting on the patio when we heard a radio nearby and were surprised to hear Andy Archer’s voice giving out the Zurich office number, and that of the Grand Hotel. We ran upstairs to Mr.Meister’s room and Larry came running to phone the harbour. Bruno came out of the room, and we ran downstairs to his car and proceeded (I must admit far exceeding the limit) to the harbour to find Captain Tom or the Trip Tender. We were told that Captain Tom was at a marriage in the south of Holland and so went up to the home of the owner of the Trip Tender. After about ten minutes the Trip Tender was on its way, leaving myself and Steven Ladd on the harbour with many photographers, newsmen and onlookers, as Mr. Meister had told us to stay at the harbour in case of violence on the boat. After about ten minutes a press boat was ready to go out and we hopped aboard. About twenty minutes later we approached the Mebo, noticing the two tugboats, the Husky and Viking, which were threatening to tow the Mebo away had vanished into the mist. Steve and myself climbed aboard and stayed on for a few hours while everything was sorted out, then we climbed aboard the "Trip" Tender and as we were making our way to Scheveningen out of the fog came a huge Dutch Navy vessel who had come off NATO trials near Rotterdam to protect the Mebo for the night.
That weekend was very eventful and so I went back to England and stayed there for two weeks. Larry came in the office on the Tuesday morning and asked me to go back to the boat on Thursday. I prepared for going back to the boat, and in the office on Wednesday lunchtime, Mr. Meister phoned from Holland to ask Larry to go there as the boat would close down the next day at 11 o’clock. Mark Wesley was prepared to go out immediately, and I followed him a couple of hours later. R.N.I. that night went 24 hours and even Captain Tom did a program at 3 o’clock in the morning.
After the closedown we arrived and everyone except the crew, Mike Ross, Chicago and myself went off. We stayed aboard making sure everything was clean and left in working order. On Monday afternoon Carl, Michael and Spangles came on board and we all went off together to stay in Amsterdam. Mike, however, decided to go home to England. I stayed in Holland for about two weeks and I decided to go to see what was happening in England.
SIGNED: ROB EDEN
- Mebograms -
April 20th saw the arrival of new DJ Arnold Layne on board the Mebo II.
The first two hours of Brian McKenzie’s Wednesday morning programmes are devoted to Rock n’ Roll music.... take a listen, they’re really great!!
On June 14th R.N.I. increased the power of their Medium Wave transmitter on 220 metres from about 35 KW up to 90 KW The result is a vast improvement in signal strength and quality.... Congratulations to all concerned.
Coming soon - an all-day English Service on 390 metres (773 kHz).
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Ten —
CHECK LIST OF DJ’s WHO APPEARED ON R.N.I. DURING 1970
Name. First Show. Last Show Previous Stations.
ELKE Jan. 70 (SW). ?
HANNIBAL Jan. 70 (SW). 15-4-70
HORST REINER Jan. 70(SW). 27-3-70
ROGER DAY 18-2-70 17-6-70 Radio England, Britain
Radio, Radio Caroline
South, & Radio
JOHNNY SCOTT 19-2-70 24-2-70
ANDY ARCHER 24-2-70 24-9-70 Radio City, & Radio
ALAN WEST 24-2-70 24-9-70 Radio London, Radio
390, & Radio 270
CARL MITCHELL 24-2-70 16-9-70 Radio Caroline South
ED MORENO 1-3-70 8-3-70 (The Dorothy Squires interview).
Radio Invicta, Radio City,
Radio Caroline, & Britain R.
MARK WESLEY 10-3-70 13-9-70 Radio Essex, Radio 270,
& Radio Scotland
RAY COOPER 22-3-70 12-4-70
DUNCAN JOHNSON 10-4-70 11-6-70 (FM) Radio London.
AXEL 16-5-70 29-7-70
BOB MACKEY 12-6-70 (FM) 19-6-70 American Forces
LARRY TREMAINE 12-6-70 (FM) 30-8-70 Numerous Stateside
MICHAEL LINDSAY 25-6-70 16-7-70 Radio Free London.
SPANGLES MALDOON 10-7-70 24-9-70 Radio Caroline South.
DAVE GREGORY 10-7-70 6-9-70
JOHN DENNY 24-7-70 5-8-70
ROB EDEN 7-8-70 31-8-70
STEPHEN LADD 13-8-70 24-9-70 Various Australian
MIKE ROSS 7-9-70 24-9-70
DAVE ROGERS 18-9-70 24-9-70
NORTHSEA GOES DX
Albert J. Beirens’ popular monthly programme continues to attract ever increasing audiences. We have even heard of a Short-Wave Party being held in Harlow, where enthusiasts who do not possess their own Short-Wave radios, gather on the first Sunday of every month to listen in the home of one who has! Offshore station histories recently featured on "Northsea Goes DX" have included Radio 270 on March 5th; Capital Radio on March 26th, a very nice plug for "Monitor" was also given on this programme....warmest thanks Albert for the kind mention. On May 7th Part I of the R.N.I. story was told; and on June 4th the second part of the story followed. For those who don’t already listen to these informative broadcasts we would remind you that they are transmitted on 6205 kHz in the 49 metre Short-Wave Band, and are heard at 09.00 GMT (10.00 BST) on the first Sunday of the month.
*** *** ADVERTISEMENTS *** ***
CONTINETAL RECORDS. As played on RNI & veronica are obtainable for 70p each from:- Peter Lenton, 101 Pytchley Road, Kettering, Northamptonshire.
FREE RADIO INFORMATION SERVICE. Dial 01-692-6808 with your free radio questions, this service operates nightly between 7 and 11 p.m..
NEWSBEAT INTERNATIONAL. Issue No.5 out July 10th, includes an interview with Ferry Maat RNI DJ, the complete ships rules and DJ contracts aboard the Mebo II, comprehensive guide to all RNI and Veronica programmes, plus the very latest news and photos from Holland. And loads more. Price 20p. Order now from: 26 Spey Road, Tilehurst, Reading, Berkshire.
THE SOUND BROADCASTING BILL WILL SOON BE LAW. The C.I.B. has been following its progress through Parliament, and has made many recommendations to the Minister of Posts & Te1ecommunications, and Ministry officials before and during the Bill’s Parliamentary journey. Some of these recommendations have now been incorporated into the Bill. For INFORMED opinion join the C.I.B. Current newsletter includes RNI, Veronica, AFN, Manx Radio, Radio Telefis Eireann, Sound Broadcasting Bill progress, plus many more articles. To join simply send 38p plus foolscap S.A.E. to: Campaign for Independent Broadcasting (M), 13 Ashwood House, London, N.W.4.
SOUNDS OF LONDON Mobile Discotheque. Two professional DJ’s, psychedelic lighting. Available for Weddings, Parties, Dances, Clubs, etc. Phone 01-987-3133 evenings.
ZAP DISCOTHEQUES. Most-Music Power. For your Dance or Party - 3 Units available, phone Deal 2768 Disco—Dollies as well. (Corrrrr !!!).
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Eleven —
R.N.I. PROGRAMME GUIDE
(All times BST) Weekdays
00.00-03.00 "Brian McKenzie Show". (Except Mondays when one of Brian
colleagues takes over the programme).
06.00-09.00 "Ochtend Editie" (Morning Edition) Presented ‘live’ from the
Mebo II by either Hans ten Hooge or Gerard Smit.
09.00-11.00 "Espresso". Alfred Lagarde.
11.00-13.00 "Doorsnee Noordzee". Peter Holland.
1300-15.00 "Berk in Uitvoering" (Berk in Action) Tony Berk.
1500-17.00 "Hou Maat". Ferry Maat.
17.00-19.00 "Driemaster" Presented ‘live’ from the Mebo II by either Leo
van der Goot or Nico Steenbergen.
19.00-21.00 "Paul May Show".
21.00-23.00 "Rob Eden Show".
23.00-00.00 "Kent Request Hour
00.00-03.00 "Brian McKenzie Show".
06.00-08.00 "Ochtend Editie" (Morning Edition) Live from Mebo II with
either Hans ten Hooge or Gerard Smit.
08.00-10.00 "Doorsnee Noordzee" Peter Holland.
10.00-12 .00 "Sport en Sport Wereld" (Sport and Sport World) with Alfred
12.00-15.00 "Super Top 50". Ferry Maat.
15.00-16.00 "Toekonistmuziek" (Future Music). Tony Berk
16.00-17.00 "Muzickparade" (Music Parade) An hour of golden oldies with
17.00-19.00 "Driemaster". Live from Mebo II with either Leo van der Goot
or Nico Steenbergen.
19.00-22.00 "International Prediction Hit 40 Show". Presented by Paul May
22.00-23.00 "Brian McKenzie Show".
23.00-00.00 "Kent Request Hour".
00.00-03.00 "Northsea by Night".
07.00-09.00 "Zondagochtend Editie" (Sunday Morning Edition). Peter Holland
09.00-11.00 "Prioriteiten" (Priorities).
11.00-13.00 "Stil - Sommige Mensen Slapen Nog" (Quiet - Some People
Are Still Sleeping). Live from Mebo II with Hans ten Hooge.
13.00-14.00 "Vader Abraham Show" Various Dutch artists
14.00-17.00 "Driemaster". Live from the Mebo II with either Leo van der
Goot or Nico Steenbergen.
17.00-19.00 "Berk in Uitvoering" (Berk in Action) Tony Berk.
19 00-21.00 "Hitback Show" Brian McKenzie.
21.00-23.00 "Cloud Nine" Paul May.
23.00-00.00 "Kent Request Hour".
The Newsreaders and relief DJ’s on tho International Service are Tony AlIen, Terry Davis & Arnold Layne.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?Compiled by John A. Steven.
Chris Denning Ex-Radio London & Luxembourg Promotion Manager for
UK Records. (Jonathan King’s new label).
Mike Lennox Ex-Radio London Phonogram Records.
Rick Dane Ex-Caroline South Runs his own company, London Town
Roger Day Ex-Caroline South, Lux& RNI DJ on United Biscuit
Alan Clark Ex-Radio City DJ at Playboy Club, London.
Tom Edwards Ex-Radio City, Caroline South Various programmes for
Radio Two. (Light music shows such as Late Night Extra, and Night Ride).
Stevi Merike Ex-Caroline South & RNI Daily show on BBC
Pete Brady Ex-Radio London Newsreader on Radio’s One &
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Twelve —
Mike Raven Ex-Atlanta, Invicta & 390 Now making "HORROR FILMS"!!!
Edward Cole Ex-Radio 390 Announcer HTV.
Jinmy Mack Ex-Radio Scotland B.B.C. Radio Medway.
Tommy Vance Ex-Caroline South, London, Trails for Radio’s One & Two.
Phil Martin Ex-Radio 355 Daily Express Reporter.
Guy Hamilton Ex-Radio Essex & 270 Advertising Agency in London.
Dave Sinclair Ex-Radio Essex & 270 Commercial Radio in Canada.
Spangles Maldoon Ex-Caroline & R.N.I. Fraser Discotheque in Wolverhampton.
CORRECTION: Dave McKay mentioned in my last article is not the arranger working with THE NEW SEEKERS. Dave (of Radio City and 355 fame) runs Sounds Unlimited, a Brighton Hi-F firm.
SIEGFRIED PIEPER, "Monitor"s correspondent in West Germany, surveys the German
Free Radio scene.
As elsewhere in the world, also in West Germany, you can find the ideas of free radio in many parts of the population. However, their opinions are not only connected with the establishing of free radio, but with the liberation and democratisation of the existing broadcasting system.
The main interest of the Germans is the political independence of the radio stations. The population’s understanding in the freedom of information is expressed in public discussions and criticism of one-sided programmes, and in strong reactions on attempts to bring the radio stations into a political dependence.
West Germany is a federal republic, and the broadcasting system is built up with federal principles too. The establishment of BC-stations is the concern of the government of each federated state, and only exceptionally will the West German Government found a radio station by Parliamentary Bill, for example, Sender Freies Berlin, Deutschlandfunk and Radio Deutsche Welle.
In every state of West Germany there is one publicly-owned regional radio station. Each radio station is responsible for maintaining democratic principles. However, a commission of the legislature (of every state) controls the station so that it cannot operate against the law, and to ensure that its financial affaires are managed in accordance with sound economic principles.
In the German viewpoint this seems to be a good form of democratic and independent radio, and, therefore., you may find a general satisfaction in the German population in relation to the supply of radio programmes.
But still one has to be watchful, because again and again attempts are made by different political parties to exert influence on the broadcasting stations. The youth and intellectual sections of the community especially, react strongly to these manoeuvres. For instance, the German Government founded the "Deutschland Fernsehen GmbH" (German TV Ltd.) a few years ago, to own and operate a TV station. This company was declared to be unconstitutional by the Bundesverfassungsgericht, the highest court of German jurisdiction.
A short while ago a law was passed by the Bavarian Parliament, that ordered the enlargement of the Rundfunkrat (BC-Commission), which controls the Bayerischer Rundfunk station. Among the German Parties:- SPD (Social-Democrats), FDP (Liberals), and CDU/CSU (Christian-Democrats/Christian-Socialists) there was great trouble, because the CSU Party, which at this time has got a majority in Bavaria, would get the possibility, to obtain a larger political influence within the Bavarian-BC- Corporation, by this law. In the newspapers and on TV this bill was strongly criticized, and in several big cities of West Germany protest demonstrations were organised.
You can see that large numbers of Germans have a marked political independence-mind. But there are no serious efforts to build up free radio, for instance, offshore radio. The people were really interested to hear that a Liechtenstein businessman had equipped the radio ship "GALAXY" (ex-Radio London "Big L") in Hambourg Harbour, and planned transmissions in the German language under the name Radio Nordsee in 1968/69; but no reaction at all was to be seen, when in September 1969 a law passed the Bonn Parliament to forbid the fitting-out and supply of floating radio stations, and that forced the German-speaking RADIO NORDSEE to die. According to this law everyone will be punished who sets up an offshore/or airborne station, maintains, supplies, finances the radio station, or works with it. In spite of this law German firms do still buy advertising time on offshore radio via the Dutch
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 - Page Thirteen -
In this country....I’m sure...there is a real need for all-day music stations and pop pirates. The enormous numbers of listeners to Radio Luxembourg and Radio Northsea International do prove this.
It. has been tried several times to start 100% entertainment stations with state licences in the Federal Republic of Germany. These moves were initiated by various financial groups. As mentioned above, the licences are issued by the federal states, not by the German Republic’s Government in Bonn. The opinions on constructing commercial stations differ widely among the governing parties; while most of the German states don’t give licences for entertaining-broadcasting, so do aspire after private BC-stations. For example, in the Saarland Radio Europe I was allowed to transmit on 182 kHz LW, but on condition that the aerial was situated near the Franco-German frontier, and that it was adjusted so that the programmes can only be heard as weakly as possible in Germany.
A few months ago the building of local private BC-stations on VHF was debated and the opening-up of the GIGA-HERTZ-BANDS (SHF) by the GPO Deutsche Bundespost caused big speculations by industrial firms. Among the German public there are apprehensions, because the new radio stations could be misused for party politics, or the population and the wireless-ether might be subjected to neverending commercials.
The popularity of free and non-political music-stations has, however, achieved one thing at least. Many regional licenced stations that used to broadcast on MW and VHF with 2-4 different programmes, increased their entertainment transmissions and turned their FM frequencies into real music channels - perhaps a comparison with BBC Radio I.
An interest in free radio exists in West Germany, even when the organisations that support free radio get only a "few" members, and "few" in this case is related to the German population of around 65 million. The Free Radio Association Germany, in Frankfurt, has about 340 members; and the Free Radio Campaign Germany, in Offenburg, nearly 280. But this is only the beginning of a European solidarity movement of free radio enthusiasts. And no doubt, the independent radio stations will receive their support.
Just one word about German pirates, the land-based unlicenced variety. There are several of these stations in Germany, but only a few with a large audience like Radio Sally from Dusseldorf which ….I think...broadcast in 1967/68; and Radio Caroline from a secret location near Hannover. I am sure the listeners in neighbouring countries think that there is very little pirate activity in West Germany, but really this is not correct. Most of the German pirates work with only a few Watts output on MW or FM, and so are only audible within a few kilometres. At this time I can very well remember the days of 1969 and 1970 when dozens of pirates in the Ruhr-Gebiet operated between 1610-1640 kHz in the Medium Wave Band, and many of them were hotly persued by the police!
But I think it would require a full-scale discussion to find out whether the illegal POP-PIRATES do demand a free radio-system and do support "our idea of free radio", or whether they would bring the whole notion of free radio in Europe and the world into deep discredit.
SIGNED: SIEGFREID PIEPER
Luenen, May 1972
PIRATES OF THE AIRWAVES: BRITISH OFFSHORE COMMERCIAL RADIO 1964-68
by J. Patrick Michaels, Jr.
(Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania to Professor Robert Lewis Shayon, April 26th, 1968.)
PREFACE. Any study of communications problems in the Sixties must necessarily include a discussion of comparative broadcasting systems and problems of international broadcasting, simply because the very nature of today’s radio and television broadcasting defies limitation to national boundaries. In Europe, the problem of broadcasting across national frontiers has cased severe international regulatory problems which, because of economic, political and social implications, are far from being solved. Offshore commercial radio as it has existed for the past decade is indicative of deep problems not only in international law in relation to broadcasting, but also raises significant questions about conflicts and tensions in national systems of broadcasting which contributed to the success of these "pirate" stations, and ultimately to their downfall.
This brief history of British "pirate" radio (1964-1968) attempts to look beyond this unique phenomenon in international broadcasting in order to point out the true nature of the conflicts that arose from the operations of these stations and the historical background that led to their develope. The "illegal" nature of
MONITOR SUMMER ISSUE 1972 — Page Fourteen —
these stations has necessarily led to much confusion about the events surrounding their operations, and in spite of my own close connections with these commercial corsairs, much of the backstage history of these stations will forever remain a secret. Although the "pirates" were a colorful part of the "Swinging Sixties" in Britain, the history of these stations reflect important, and yet unsolved, economic, political and social problems with deep historical roots in the structure of British broadcasting, and serve also to point out the shocking fact, that international broadcasting regulation is a "paper tiger". By applying the criteria used to criticize the British "pirate" radio stations to European broadcasting practices, one is able to ask: "Will the real pirate please stand up?"
J. Patrick Michaels, Jr. March 26 1968.
Who Are the British "Pirates"
Pirates! Most Americans conjure up images of bloodthirsty rogues of the Spanish Main. The English, on the other hand, immediately think of "pop" music, disc jockeys and their favorite commercial radio station -- and the recent legislation which banned them from the high seas. The British Broadcasting Corporation, a public trust, has operated over forty years in the United Kingdom having the monopoly on sound broadcasting, and until 1956, on television broadcasting. Although commercial television was legalized just over ten years ago the government has continually rejected the outcry for legalized commercial radio. From 1964 to 1967, "pirate" radio stations located off the British coast in international waters filled the gap by beaming commercial programs to the United Kingdom while operating beyond the control of the authorities.
Most of the current generation thinks of the "pirates" as a phenomenon indigenous of the "Swinging 60’s", but the riproaring gambling and drinking ships anchored off the American coast during prohibition were an early precedent to the beat music buccaneers. Actually the idea of commercial radio "pirates" closely followed the end of World War II with the threat of American commercial broadcasters invading England from Eire, Iceland and the Continent. At least two commercial stations. broadcast programs to England before the war and succeeded in capturing a large proportion of the B.B.C. audience. Lord Foley, advocating advertisments on the B.B.C. in a House of Lords discussion in 1946, said:
Although their programmes were rather crude they were an enormous success. One of the stations had charged £400 an hour for its time on the air and many British firms were prepared to pay it.
Radio Luxembourg was one of the early stations that operated a higher power transmitter from the Grand Duchy to neighboring nations, including Great Britain. Since the Government participated in the profits of the station, Luxembourg refused to accept either the Madrid agreement of 1932 or the Copenhagen agreement of 1948, and in its earlier years, was widely criticized for its illegal use of usurped frequencies for commercial operations. Mr. H. Morrison, Lord President of the Council, remarked that "the British Government has a right to use its full influence against attempts directed from the Continent to undermine the broadcasting system that the nation has chosen to adopt". He was accused in the press of advocating jamming of Radio Luxembourg, which he denied, but he clearly stated the Coalition Government’s policy towards "commercial pirates" such as Luxembourg:
This type of sheer and naked exploitation was one the Government did not like, and felt that if they could discourage it they should do so.
Although the anticipated American efforts failed to materialize, Radio Luxembourg continued to grow in popularity, strength and revenue, and today is the most important European commercial service.
In 1956, a B.B.C. newscast was interrupted and viewers in Perth were told to stay tuned following sign off. This "pirate" radio transmission opened with the provocative statement: "This Radio Free Scotland proclaiming to the nation that the fight for independence is on in earnest". This roving station was heard for almost a month in Glasgow, Ayrshire and Perth. The Scottish National Party announced official backing for Radio Free Scotland because of the government ban on broadcasts by the Scottish and Welsh nationalists on the B.B.C. Both parties later negotiated for time on the modern "pirates".
In 1958 Radio Mercur was located between Sweden and Denmark, and like Radio Veronica, specialized in continuous popular music, This successful operation was followed by the establishment of Radio Nord, a Swedish ship which served Stockholm and southern Sweden. A year later (1960), a Dutch company launched Radio Veronica,
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the longest-serving "pirate", which set the precedent for British corsairs.
No doubt inspired by these efforts, two Canadians residing in Britain announced that they were entering the "pirate" flotilla. Mr. Arnold Swanson of Thame claimed to have a converted lightship with a 5-8 kilowatt transmitter which would give a coverage of 150 miles at a cost of £80,000-£100,000. Station GBOK was to broadcast religious programs, popular music and news, twenty-four hours per day with advertising spots at £35 per minute.
John Thompson, a Canadian living in Slough, announced that he intended to start the "Voice of Slough" on a 70 ton motor fishing vessel with a one kilowatt transmitter (estimated range of 50 miles) to broadcast 12-14 hours a day. How the residents of Slough were expected to receive this weak signal was never explained! This consideration was of little importance as neither venture got beyond the planning stage. What was of significance was the violent opposition expressed by the B.B.C., the Post Office and the Musicians Union who were later to form the leaders of the pack to torpedo the "pirates" that finally emerged in 1964.
The Scandinavian and Dutch "pirates" offered an incentive to expand operations to England and are themselves an interesting parallel to developments off the United Kingdom. Radio Mercur, the Danish "pirate", was located on an old freighter with foreign registry anchored in the Oresund, the 20 mile wide channel between Sweden and Denmark. The Swiss owned company, International Radio Mercur, invested $40,000 in the ship and an equal amount in the transmitter and studios. By charging $95-300 for a 15 minute program (with the advertiser paying royalties and fees), it is estimated that the station grossed $1.5 million per year. After six years of operations, Denmark passed legislation to ban "pirate" radio and the Danish police silenced the station. This move was so unpopular that Denmark opened a third service on the national radio system which featured light and popular music. When Sweden moved against "pirate" radio, they implemented Melody Radio on their national broadcasting service, just as B.B.C. introduced Radio One in 1967.
In addition to the seaborne "pirates" broadcasting to Holland and Scandinavia, there were the continental commercial stations aimed at France and Western Europe, Radio des Valles (Andorra), Radio Monte Carlo (Monaco) and Europe One (SAAR) -in addition to Radio Luxembourg - were all making large sums of money from commercial operations. In 1964, there existed a tremendous untapped source of advertising revenue in Britain, as the only sound broadcasting to the United Kingdom which featured British advertising was Radio Luxembourg. By Easter 1964, two "pirates" appeared off the British coast.
"Pop Pirates" Ahoy!
Dial twisters were in for a surprise when they pickedup the sound of pop music on their sets on Good Friday, March 1964, where there had formerly been only dead air. This was the beginning of offshore commercial radio in Britain -- Radio Caroline. Perhaps the first people to hear a Caroline broadcast were ships’ ccrews and the coastguard who picked up Caroline’s test transmissions in the maritime frequencies at the lower end of the medium wave band. This brought immediate objections of interference and danger to shipping whichwere to be major complaints against all the "pirates". "It is all very well having continuous music", an Essex coastguard said, "but if we have an emergency lifeboat launching without clear ship- to-shore communications there could be serious trouble".
Radio Caroline, located on a 34 year old tramp steamer, dropped anchor off the Essex coast in March 1964 and began its first official broadcast on Easter Sunday, 1964. The 763 ton vessel was fitted out at Greenore in Southern Ireland for approximately $150,000 and began operations flying the Panamanian flag. The brainstorm of the operation was Ronan O’Rahilly, the 23 year old son of an Irish businessman who found financial backing from such notables as Jocelyn Stevens, publisher of Queen magazine, Ian Ross, London financier, and Jarvis Astair, a wealthy gambling club owner. The parent company owning Radio Caroline was Alrauna registered in Liechtenstein, while advertising was sold by Planet Productions formed in Ireland with headquarters at 6 Chesterfield Gdns., Mayfair, in London’s fashionable West End.
Caroline was well received throughout Southern England and the theme song "Caroline" by the Fortunes became a familiar sound in millions of homes. However, even before Caroline started to broadcast, rumors had reached the British press from Greenore that another "pirate" was ready to be launched. These rumors of Radio Atlanta spurred the General Post Office to ask for assistance from the International. Telecommunications Union (I.T.U.) to stop "pirate" broadcasts. The appeal was referred to the International Frequency Registration Board (I.F.R.B.) which is the permanent organ of the I.T.U. The only action taken by the I F.R.B was to ask Panama to check into Caroline’s licence. Meanwhile, the G.P.O. prohibited any ship to-shore communications with the vessel and refused to list the telephone number of the Mayfair office in. the directory.
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Ironically, the principal advertising associations had given the G.P.O. assurance that the leading advertisers would boycott the venture, and at the same time the Panama Government had withdrawn registration after being pressured by the I.T.U. to adhere, to the Geneva agreements of 1959 which stated:
Transmitting stations must have licenses from countries to which they are subject, and the Radio Regulations prohibit the establishment and operation of radio and television broadcasting stations on ships, aircraft, and floating or airborne objects outside of national territories.
This, of course, did not deter the Caroline organizers who simply registered the ship under another flag of convenience, and required the captain to reveal the flag only in case of an emergency. The Ministry of Transport said that nothing could be done even though registration had been withdrawn
Another form of opposition suddenly appeared, the Phonographic Performance Ltd. which, under the Copyright Act of 1956, had obtained exclusive performance rights to about 90 percent of British records. The P.P.L. announced in early April that it intended to issue a writ against the sponsors of Caroline to prevent them from using records to which they had performance rights. Although they failed in their efforts, the P.P.L. remained in the vanguard of the opposition to commercial radio.*
The Parliamentary discussion about Caroline was reminiscent of the 1946 discussions about the Continental "pirates". In response to the question of discouraging "pirate" broadcasts, the Postmaster General Mr. Bevins replied:
We are still examining the possibility of legislation and I am making a technical examination of the possibilities of jamming. I have had to proceed cautiously in this.
The Government did proceed cautiously, however, and nothing was done to hinder Caroline or to stop the arrival of Radio Atlanta. There has been much speculation about the Government’s failure to act in the early stages of "pirate" operation. Two reasons come to mind. Firstly, the Conservatives under Selwyn Lloyd were newly returned to office and they were unwilling to risk any crisis, and secondly, legislation was not feasible with the Conservatives own Backbench favoring commercial radio, Indeed many of the backbenchers belonged to or were in close sympathy with the National Broadcasting Development Committee, the chief commercial radio lobby. Only a few days after Caroline’s initial broadcast, the business oriented magazine, Economist, a favorite of the Conservative Backbench, was calling for commercial land based radio.
Radio Atlanta, aboard the 470 ton M.V. "Mi Amigo", was formerly used by the Swedish station Radio Nord until 1962. She arrived off Essex Naze at the end of April 1964 but did not officially start broadcasting until May 9, 1964. One of the leading figures behind Project Atlanta was Australian ex-bomber pilot Allan Crawford, who at the time was a Soho music publisher. In 1960, Crawford and Kitty Black, a television writer, formed "C.B.C. (Plays)" for the primary purpose of investigating the legal and technical obstacles commercial radio had met in the past. By 1964 Crawford had found enough financial backing to buy out several Texas investors who had conceived the idea of Radio Atlanta. Although most of the backers of Project Atlanta remained in the shadows - it is rumored that several Conservative M.P’s had shares – Major Oliver Smedley, a prominent director of twelve companies and a one time former Vice President of the Liberal Party, was named chairman. Radio Atlanta was owned by Atlantic Services, a Liechtenstein registered company, and the ship was registered in Panama. C.B.C. (Plays) owned 24 percent of Project Atlanta and had an exclusive contract to sell advertising for the station. Radio Atlanta required an estimated initial capital outlay of £250,000 in addition to $2,000 per week running costs,
With both stations pumping out non-stop pop vis-a-vis the B.B.C’s somewhat stodgy Light Programme (hampered by limitations on "needle time"), the "pirates" soon captured a large audience.** The first audience statistics available were conducted by Gallup Poll which estimated that in the first three weeks of broadcasting, some 6,840,000 persons had listened to Caroline which represented 36% of the 19 million people living in the area covered by Caroline (To be continued).
* Courts refused jurisdiction because the ship was in international waters..
** Needle-time" - an arbitrary limitation on the amount of time phonograph records can be played.
ACKNOWEDGMENTS. The Editor acknowledges with gratitude the assistance rendered by the following people:- Sir Bernard Braine, M.P., Keith Manning of the Southend "Evening Echo", Siegfried Pieper, Alan West, Andy Archer, Rob Eden, Albert J. Beirens, Martin Rosen, Hans Verbaan, Rick Michaels, Bob Arnold, Ben Cree of "Record Mirror, Clive Moore, Barry McNamara, Steve England, Roy Brooker, Steve Harris, & "Newscaster".