Hans Knot's International Radio Report - June 2008
Hi and welcome to the
June edition from the Hans Knot International Report which means the 6th
edition for 2008 again with a lot of interesting memories from people
world wide interested in the history of Offshore Radio. A lot of you
reflected on last issue and the more interesting ones will be mentioned
as well as the first one reflecting, which was Anne Korevaar from
Holland, who wrote to me: ‘Again many thanks for your monthly radio
report. Again there was a nice collection of new facts for me. And
reading the news about forthcoming
Radio Day in Amsterdam I can tell you
that I’m most interested to hear what they guys from Caroline 1977/1980
have to tell us about there memories to that period.'
Thanks Anne and good to see you back in November 8th in Casa 400 in Amsterdam. Theo Bakker from Leeuwarden also thinks the idea of a 1977/1980 reunion will be a must to visit: ‘A nice concept for the Radio Day. I had lost partly contact with Radio Caroline in those days, as I moved to the eastern part of Holland. There the reception was bad as well I was very busy with my work. One time Caroline was away another time she was back again. I must say the short period Caroline was also on 389 metres in 1973, was a very good period to listen too. A good reception and an atmosphere in the programming which brought me sometimes thinking it was in the sixties. Why I can’t tell you. Last years Radio Day had a very busy impressive program and there was less time between each subject to get a cup of coffee or do something else. Maybe those pause moments can be a bit longer so we can get the change to talk to the deejays from those days.’
Well Theo we will try to make the breaks a bit longer but during the whole day there’s also the change to go to the bar as there are always a couple of deejays there to get in contact with.
Another big Caroline fan regarding the period 1979 and 1980 Fons Winteraeken is living in the Dutch Provence of Limburg and has his own site where his personal logging about the mentioned period are found. http://radiocaroline79.punt.nl/
Next to that he has a question: ‘On Christmas Day in 1979 I noted that in one of the programs all crewmembers made Christmas wishes to family and friends. Tom Anderson started with greetings to Ad Roberts, who left the ship on December 23rd. Next one in the program was Captain Harris who, in broken Belgian, did a lot of greetings to all on shore. And now here comes my question: ‘Who can tell me more about Captain Harris as nothing more is known to me? Anyone who was on board the ship during that period and can tell me more please send answer to HKnot@home.nl
And now the news from California is that the Emperor Rosko can be heard every week on Saturdays at Big L between 10.00 and 13.00 hours (BST). Of course also he can be heard on the internet live link from Big L at: http://www.bigl.co.uk/
Martin van der Ven sent me another photograph from the former LV18 and had some additional information. The ship will be used as ‘Sunshine Radio’ in the movie ‘The ship that rocked’ (working title). As Peter Moore wrote the film now requires a second pirate ship as a rival to 'Radio Rock' So no use for the movie which will be directed by Saskia Visscher. Also I can add that Johnnie Walker mentioned in his radio show on BBC Radio2 that there will be a change he will take part in a cameo role in the movie.
Hi Hans, I was guided to you by Graeme Stevenson in Scotland, as I am in urgent need of a sound that you may have in your archives. I hope you can help! Do you have a recording of the offshore bell near Tilbury ? It is a bell attached to a buoy I think in middle of the estuary and is near the old Radio Tower at Tilbury in the Thames Estuary. The bell rings out when rough waters or when large ships pass by. Please let me know if you have it or if you have suggestions of other sources. I need the sound for a soundscape composition (non profit, for a gallery). So if anyone can help me or having an advice you can write to the editor of the Radio Report. Thanks, Dave Lawrence UK.’
Thanks Dave and I hope someone can be of help. All mail please to HKnot@home.nl
|RADIO DAY 2008
Hans Knot, Rob Olthof and Martin van der Ven have been busily planning this year's Radio Day which will be held on Saturday 8th November 2008 again in Amsterdam's Hotel Casa 400 near the Amstel railway station
(James Wattstraat 75) from 11:00 till 17:00 CET (which is Dutch local time).
This year's event will have "Radio Caroline in the late seventies (1977-80)" as a main topic. We are planning three panels to discuss that exciting era just before the MV Mi Amigo sank in March 1980. This will
include all English and Dutch colleagues who worked for the legendary offshore radio station thirty years ago. You see that this will again become a big class reunion...
We have also plans to invite a well known guest from Belgium. And you might look forward to an interesting dialogue between two old stagers who formed a major role in the European broadcasting history. Last but
not least Sietse Brouwer will present his station Radio Waddenzee which is broadcasting from the radioship Jenni Baynton.
More details to be announced soon. Many impressive pictures from the years gone by can be found at http://www.offshore-radio.de/radioday/
Less than half a year to go and we have the annual Radio Day. Organiser Foundation for Media Communication has a special offer: DUTCH AND BELGIAN READERS: MAY WE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION? YOU CAN WIN A MEMBERSHIP FOR A YEAR ON THE MEDIA MAGAZINE FREEWAVE IF YOUR ANSWER IS CORRECT ON THESE 2 QUESTIONS:
1) IS BIG L STILL BROADCASTING ON NOVEMBER 8TH 2008? (WITH BROADCASTING WE MEAN ON 1395 AM AND/OR ON SATELLITE)
2) IS THE NORDERNEY IN THE HARBOUR OF SCHEVENINGEN ON NOVEMBER 8TH?
SEND YOUR ANSWER ( 1 PER PERSON) TO HANS KNOT IN GRONINGEN.
DURING THE RADIODAY IN AMSTERDAM HANS KNOT WILL PICK FROM THE CORRECT ANSWERS 10 LUCKY WINNERS, WHO WILL GET A YEAR LONG SUBSCRIPTION. ALL ANSWERS UNDER ‘RADIODAYCOMPETITION’ TO Hknot@home.nl
Last month an interesting story appeared in the Independent about a new publication, which I thought would be of interest to you the reader:
The Independent: ‘When a young Irish entrepreneur named Ronan O'Rahilly founded pirate station Radio Caroline in 1964, he also established a great British tradition. Not only did the actions of O'Rahilly and his fellow radio pirates force the BBC to start playing pop music, they left in their wake a great cultural legacy for everyone in Britain, a heritage we should all be proud of. They instilled in us the innate capability to become first-rate media pirates.
O'Rahilly was a pioneer who used the pull of youth culture to remove a barrier to entry in the music business. He was told it was going to be impossible to get an artist he managed any airtime on BBC radio, because they only played records from the four big labels not that the Beeb played much in the way of pop music at all at the time. In response, he converted an old ship into a floating radio station and began broadcasting from the English Channel. He was quickly followed on to the high seas by a number of others and by 1966, 45 per cent of Britain was tuning into the pirates. The Government realised this was a battle they couldn't win there was too much support for the pirates, they couldn't close them down, they feared riots, so they did the only thing they could. They decided to compete. Commercial radio was legalised in 1970, while the BBC set about hiring many of the DJs from the popular pirate station Radio London, and created their own imitation copy, which they named Radio One. Run-of-the-mill entrepreneurs look for gaps in the market, but pirates find gaps outside the market such as the English Channel places they're not supposed to go, where they can do things they're not supposed to be doing. When pirates aren't doing anything society finds useful, the strong arm of the law is usually enough to get rid of them, and protecting our intellectual property is often the smart thing to do. But when pirates are adding value, people tend to support them, and in those cases the pirates will keep coming back and multiplying, no matter how many people are sued. And the truth is, if lawsuits become a component part of your business model, then you no longer have a good business model.
In these cases, what pirates are actually doing is highlighting a market failure and pointing out a better way to do things; they find better ways for society to operate. In such situations the only way to fight piracy and survive is to legitimise and legalise these new innovations by competing with pirates in the marketplace. Once a new market is legitimised, more opportunities are created for everyone. Pirates have done this plenty of times throughout history. When a guy called Edison invented funny little discs that could perfectly reproduce musical performances, artists branded him a pirate out to ruin live music, until a system was established so they could be paid royalties, which we today call the recording industry. Edison went on to invent filmmaking, and demanded a licencing fee from those making movies with his technology, which prompted a band of filmmaking pirates to escape from New York for the then still wild West, where they thrived, unlicensed, until Edison's patents expired. This town of pirate filmmakers continue to operate, albeit legally now. It's name? Hollywood.
We're consistently good at piracy here in Britain, especially when it comes to music. For decades, pirate stations have continued to provide us with new artists, DJs and genres, not to mention inspiring new legal stations such as Kiss FM and BBC 1Xtra. Grime rapper Wiley is climbing the pop charts this week thanks in part to the modern-day equivalents of Caroline, such as London's Rinse FM. As a society we've allowed the pirates to stay in business because enough of us recognise they add an extraordinary amount of value to British culture in a way mainstream commercial radio simply cannot. It's sad to see us punishing some of our greatest pirates today, instead of figuring out how to compete with them. When file-sharing site OiNK, arguably one of the finest repositories of recorded music ever assembled, had its Teesside HQ raided last October, we lost a great site that should have somehow been allowed to exist legally. People are consuming music in a new way that is adding value to their lives (which is why OiNK was replaced about five minutes later), and adding value to every other part of the music business. Outside of the business of selling people CDs, every other part of the music business is growing because today music, as David Bowie put it, flows like water.
Of course, today music isn't the only way to rebel. If you were in your early twenties in the 1970s and bored with TV, dying your hair green and forming an alternative rock band with your friends to complain about it was a good idea. If you were really lucky, you might get a record deal like the Sex Pistols did. Today, it is just as easy for three guys in their 20s to start an alternative to TV, as the three guys behind YouTube did, and if you're really lucky, you might sell to Google for $1.7bn 21 months later and revolutionise the way television works. As a nation we understand the value of the pirates who work outside the mainstream media, but all over the world people are demanding the same things from their media as pirates always have. Whether it is music, games or TV, we want to consume media on our terms, remix it and share it as we see fit. New forms of malleable media and new opportunities to create many-to-many networks are adding value to broadcast models, the way pirate radio adds value to commercial stations.
Media platforms that include the consumer in the creation process become more complex and create new relationships between the broadcaster and the audience. Some even extend markets and product life spans. Video games have realised the potential of this idea more than any other type of entertainment. The battle between Master Chief and the Covenant isn't the whole story of the Halo franchise your YouTube video of yourself regulating 10 noobs with nothing but the butt of your gun and a hand grenade, set to a Euro-disco soundtrack that sounds terrible to everyone other than yourself, is also a major part of the story. That's the reason why Halo set the record for the most single day sales of any form of media, and the reason why Grand Theft Auto IV knocked Halo off the top spot last month. The real value in the GTA franchise (another great British institution) has always been the rich and detailed sandbox worlds that let you create your own stories within them. Great networks perpetually add value to all kinds of media, even if they are frowned upon when they start out. From fan-fiction to piracy to making home videos at theme parks, people have been creating their own niche forms of media within mass entertainment properties for a long time. When mass entertainment properties encourage and add value to the networks that grow around them, they make it easier for those networks to reciprocate.
'The Pirate's Dilemma' by Matt Mason is out now, published by Penguin
THE RADIO CAROLINE STORY - THE 1970's
With the Mi Amigo's return off the English coast, Radio Caroline entered a darker period with strong attention from the British authorities. Deejays and those involved with the station came under surveillance. There were court appearances, a boarding of the radio ship, and even Caroline fans were fined for displaying car stickers promoting their favorite station. Radio Caroline's story continues through the mid-1970's, and includes pictures, audio, press reports and official documents. Visit the continuing Caroline story at www.offshoreechos.com
The people at OEM sent me also a new DVD called The Offshore Radio Years Volume 15. This issue highlights Caroline’s history in the second part of the eighties. Many shots in the 82 minutes long video are taken by deejays and crewmembers aboard the radio ship Ross Revenge and show action on Caroline as well as some on sister station Radio 558/819. Amazing someone had the clear moment to take the camera when the big arial came down in 1987. During very heavy weather the next day Peter Chicago and captain Ernie had to break the last parts to get the mast into the sea. If they hadn’t done so the people on the ship would had enormous problems. A DVD which should be in your collection.
The Offshore Radio years Volume 15 is the latest documentary DVD in a series about offshore radio.
The cost of the DVD is £19.99, and it can be ordered online from www.offshoreechos.com or by post from Offshore Echo's, PO Box 1514, London W7 2LL, England
Radio Caroline North
‘Pirates of the Irish Sea’
40th Anniversary Convention
19/20/21 September 2008
Douglas, Isle of Man
Radio Caroline North was anchored off the coast of the Isle of Man for three and a half years from 1964 – 1968 and, during that time, a very good relationship developed between the broadcasters and the Islanders. Now, forty years after the station's demise, Manx National Heritage is paying tribute to the Island’s former offshore friends.
An exhibition, ‘Pirates of the Irish Sea’, is being mounted this summer and Manx National Heritage needs your help. If you have any Caroline North memorabilia, memories or association with the station, please contact the exhibition curator, Matthew Richardson at email@example.com
More details are at:
A convention is to be held on the Isle of Man over the weekend of 19th, 20th & 21st September. It will play host to former Caroline North deejays, engineers, executives and fans who will visit Manx National Heritage’s ’Pirates of the Irish Sea’ exhibition and Caroline North’s former base in Ramsey. Plus, at a conference to be held on the Saturday delegates will discuss the station’s part in the Island's radio and political history - and in the wider British broadcasting background. The company handling travel and accommodation is Isle of Man Travel. Details are at:
If you prefer to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements and just want to buy a ticket for the event, delegate places can be obtained by contacting; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost of the ticket (£50) will cover admission to the conference at the Manx Museum in Douglas and the ’Pirates of the Irish Sea’ exhibition at the House of Manannan in Peel as well as a morning at ‘Caroline Corner’ in Ramsey. Transport between all three is included in the price. There is an optional dinner on the Friday evening.
In last issue we had a short item about offshore radio t shirts from the past. One of the readers showed us on a photograph which t shirts he still has at his home and so the question came ‘who has also t shirts.’ First to reply is Mary Payne who wrote: ‘Hi Hans, Talking of offshore tee-shirts, I still have my original Radio London 'Big L 266' shirt from 1965, but I think if I wore it now, it would fall to pieces! It was very precious to me and I would have loved to have bought the other Big L teeshirts, but I was quite young and did not have enough money. In 1966 I had an accident when I was wearing the shirt. I was out in the country and I fell over and fractured my collarbone. I was terrified of going to hospital because I thought they would cut my precious shirt off! Luckily, I managed to remove it and swapped tops with my mother, who had to wear the Radio London shirt to drive me to hospital. A few years ago I had a replica made, using the original shirt as a template. It was difficult to find a company that was able to print such a big design as most teeshirt printers only have A4-size machinery, but I managed to find someone in the end. The finished result can be viewed at the bottom of the following page:
There are also photos here of the original 'I Dig Big L for 66' and 1967 Kenny Everett designs. However, I don't think I have seen the Radio London Batshirts that were sold on the station in 1966 during the height of Batmania. I believe there were two, one of Batman and one of Robin. I'd love to know what they looked like.’
Ed Stewart in 2007 Photo: Hans Knot
Thanks for sharing the t shirts and memories Mary and hopefully the pain after from the fracture doesn’t come back in your memory when talking about the accident. Anyone who still has a t shirt please go to the attic, shed or wherever you have them. Take your photo camera and take a picture and send it with your memory to HKnot@home.nl
And Mary Payne finished her mail with another subject: ‘Rick Crandall is right - I have updated the site with a full photo report from the premiere of Grey Pierson's documentary 'Swinging Radio England - a Tale of Texans and Teenagers'. Very best wishes, Mary http://www.radiolondon.co.uk
During the past months I’ve informed you about all kind of interesting books and internet sites former Radio 270 deejay Mike Hayes has published. Well especially for all the readers of the Hans Knot International Radio Report he has opened:
On this page you will find several publications which can be obtained at a very special low raid for the readers of the report, so go and have a look at:
Now some news from Ireland: ‘Riverdeep founders Barry O'Callaghan and Pat McDonagh are backing a bid for a proposed classic rock radio license in Dublin. The pair is part of a consortium backing Radio Nova 100's application, which was one of three received by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) yesterday. This is thought to be the first time that either of the wealthy businessmen has backed an application for a commercial radio license here. Other members of the Nova consortium include Vienna Investments, which is headed by former FM104 chief executive Dermot Hanrahan; Des Whelan, chief executive of WLR FM in Waterford; and aviation executive Ulick McEvaddy.
Nova, which was named after a Dublin pirate radio station that closed in 1983, will face competition from Classic Rock, which is backed by East Coast radio in Bray, Co Wicklow; and Rock Radio, which is supported by Phantom FM, which already operates an alternative rock service in Dublin. A Nova spokesman said it would employ 20 full-time and 12 part-time staff across programming, marketing, sales and administration, and will operate from Dún Laoghaire. It has projected its initial launch costs at Euro 3.8 million. People at Nova are forecasting modest revenue in year one of Euro 1.2 million, rising to3.5 million by the end of its fifth year. Nova expects to hit profitability in its fourth year of operation. The classic rock license on offer is aimed at over 25s. The BCI is expected to invite applicants to oral hearings in October, with a decision likely
before the year end.
Hopefully they will win from the other applicants and they can bring the name Nova back into this project, a name once related to the famous Irish Pirate headed by the late Chris Cary aka Spangles Muldoon
Always nice to see former Voice of Peace deejays return to Israel. Here an e mail received from one of them: ‘I recently spent a week in Israel where I was invited back on the new 100fm station to talk about my time working for Abe. During the programmes I talk about our April Fool joke in 1985 here it is the presenter is Paul Rogers. I should also have mentioned there is a forum http://www.100fm.co.il/forum.asp?forumID=10 about the voice of peace run by the new 100fm - a lot of it is in Hebrew but some is in English and if you write in English they will normally answer in English. Harvey Williamson
Abe Nathan and Voice of Peace studio (Photo archive Freewave Media Magazine)
For those who love to listen to old radio commercials the next internet site is a must to click:
Mike Hollis, former deejay at Radio Luxembourg, gives us a nice insight look of his time at the station. Just click on the next internet site to get some memories back: http://www.flickr.com/photos/knightrider/sets/625840/
Question time from Germany and I hope any of the readers can give an answer to JHofstadt: Dear Hans, since a couple of years I use the transmitters at Ulbroka to transmit the programs from my ‘Radio Joystick’. I wonder if any of the readers can help me which was the connections between the former Laser, Euronet and Seagull with the owners of the transmitter site at Ulbrokal. Remember I mean not the Laser and Seagull from the offshore days. Any answer can be send to: email@example.com and anyone interested in my own internet site go to: http://www.jhofstadt.de
Well I hope you get an answer and if so please share it with us again.
THE 8th ERKRATH RADIODAY
On Saturday 13th September 2008, we organise the annual meeting for radio makers and listeners for the 8th time in the rooms of the observatory Sternwarte Neanderhöhe in D-40699 Erkrath. The event is scheduled from 13.00 to 20.00 hours EST, entrance is from 12.00 o'clock EST.
- Radio Veronica: "The MV Norderney-Story", guest: Wout van der Meer ("Peter de Vries" Radio Caroline 1979-80 / MV Norderney)
- Shortwave stations meet their listeners
- A premier showing: The Tony Allen DVD, by and with Cornelia v.d. Berg
- 103.7 Kiss FM - The Megawatt Pirate, or : "How Northern Eire local radio got a hot blast from south of the border" by Ian Biggar and Ken Baird (Scotland)
The Charlie Hardt company will again show receivers which can be tested.
From Düsseldorf railway station one can get there by train S 8, direction Wuppertal/Hagen. You leave at stop Hochdahl-Millrath and walk the road in direction of the train to small way. on right hand named Hausmannsweg. After a vew hundred meters you see the observatory.
By car you leave Autobahn A 46 at exit Haan West to Erkrath, in the town the way is marked 'Observatorium'.
The entrance fee is 10.- EURO (5,- EURO for Caroline Support Group members)
including a welcome drink. Preliminary registration or requests please to: Jan Sundermann, Millrather Weg 74 , D-40699 Erkrath.
phone ++49 - (0) 171 - 492 5829
Good luck to you Jan Sundermann and your team at the German Radio Day.
Remember our big Radio Day, organized by Martin van der Ven, Rob Olthof
and Hans Knot has this year the celebration of 30 years Radio Days in
the Netherlands. More news about our own Radio Day for 30 years is
elsewhere in this report.
Bob Le-Roi is a regular in our report with his monthly update from his site with memories. He wrote to me the next lines: ‘Welcome to the June 2008 Update
Summers sort of with us, that’s in between torrential rain & gales which are curtailing our Sailing Trips & work on the Fort. But another Big ‘Scrapbook’ for you this month, we’ve been remiss and ignored Knock John for a while but back to the Naval Fort for ‘Early Essex’. In our endeavors to broaden the scope of the site, first of a new series on the smaller and hobby stations, we kick of with ‘Special Music Radio’ who make programmes from a tiny little boat in Weymouth Harbour. ‘One Subject One Link’ has a contribution on BBC local radio asking is it right that young produce for the old audience? Finally, another classic album added to the vinyl and the next in the Yesterdays Gold series in the CD Store
Enjoy Your Visits. www.bobleroi.co.uk
Talking about someone in an old offshore t-shirt? Well here’s Larry Tremaine in 1970. Photo Archive Freewave Media Magazine
Hans, Hello and hope all is well with you and the fans. I really do enjoy all your reports, as you know. The information and the news of what the guys are doing is great reading in Beverly Hills, California. I just had a lunch in Beverly Hills wit a great group of guys that are working on a documentary on Radio Caroline 60's to 80's. They are hoping that Disney will take on the project. They have been trying to fill in gaps, as they did not have the whole story and that's why they came to me. I helped them with some of the information missing. The guys are very interested in the 1970 election and how it changed history of Great Britain radio. It seems that Ronan O’Rahilly is interested in a feature film on the Caroline story. I will keep you and your readers informed on this project.
I also get tapes from time to time and some photos from listeners from the early 70's and they are fun to listen to. If there is anyone who has videos or books, I would love to share them with the crew doing the movie and give credit to those that made the memories. If any of the former DJ's have some fun stories they want to share, they can email me or write me C/O the art gallery in Beverly Hills. Thank you, Larry Tremaine aka Larry Steinman Carol Lawrence Fine Art Galleries, 9470 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills, Ca. 90210
Don Stevens has asked me versus the report to give greetings to all his radio friends. Recently his computer collapsed and all his e mail addresses were lost. But here his is new e mail address so please drop him a line if you think this is necessary: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our monthly view on Jon’s pages: Just a quick note to let you know that I have updated The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame. This month we go, way back - back to the birth of British offshore radio as we hear Keith Martin's story. Keith was involved in a number of the earliest offshore projects, as well as broadcasting on Radios Caroline and Radio 390. He has provided us with a unique insight into the formative years of the industry as well as some rare memorabilia.
Sadly, we also have two offshore radio related deaths to report: Radio Scotland's Mike Speake passed away at the end of April and organist Jimmy McGriff, whose recording of 'Round Midnight was Radio Caroline's first theme tune, died on 24th May after a long illness.
Finally there is news of a new book. When the British government acted against the offshore stations in 1967, the BBC was persuaded to launch a station to satisfy the pop-deprived listeners - and Radio One was born. Former station controller Johnny Beerling worked for the BBC for 36 years and has just published ‘Radio 1, The Inside Scene’. Details on how to order the book are on the web site. Back next month with more of Keith Martin's memorabilia and, hopefully, the next page of the 'Seventies Supplement'. All the best, Jon
The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame www.offshoreradio.co.uk
As editor of the Hans Knot International Radio Report I can tell you that the interview with Keith Martin on The Pirate Hall of Fame is an excellent read.
Keith Martin in Mi Amigo Studio Archive Keith Martin
There are also some stories about the GBOK, the ill fated project I wrote about earlier and promised to come back to the subject this month. It was Colin Nichol who did the interview with Keith Martin and who also wrote to me: ‘Hans, This is an extract from my 1984 interview with Allan Crawford, where he describes his activities around the time of his involvement with Radio Nord / MV Bon Jour and the Texan investors. The full interview is on Pirate Radio Hall of Fame and was published some time ago. Allan starts and he is talking about his meeting with the BBC board. He was a little confused about dates, but you will know what they are. His involvement with Radio Nord had to be that 1962 period, didn't it?’
Thanks Colin and with permission by him and the Pirate Hall of Fame here is an extract of that interview with Alan Crawford:
Alan Crawford (AC) ‘Having said this, Mr. Farquarson listened and he wrote out in his hand-writing - I don't know if I've still got this, I probably have amongst my volumes of stuff - the address of a committee that was meeting to take evidence about radio - the future of radio. I – I don’t know.
Colin Nichol (CN): That would have been the Pilkington Committee.
AC: It was probably the Pilkington, in fact I'm certain it was.
CN: They were set up in 1960.
AC: That’s right, and he described how they were going to have housewives and what not be on this committee and I thought my God, we're going to get some sense out of this, aren't we! And I took it from him and said: ‘would you please repeat what you said to them’, and I said I’ll think about it. I left that thing and I stood outside in Portland Place looking up at the BBC building where I'd just been and I said to myself, "I'll be dammed if I'll do this - I'm not going to play your game to make Radio Luxembourg black so there'll never be commercial radio in England, I will do it myself.” And that was that same day that pirate radio was born. I then started working on the idea.
CN: When you said that you'd do it yourself, did you know how you were going to do it?
AC: Not quite. I started to look into how it could be done.
AC: My attention was drawn to the fact that there was a Radio Nord operating in the Baltic, off Stockholm. So I called the people up, found out who they were and went and paid them a visit.
CN: How did you find out about them?
AC: Well, you ask people questions - I'm very good at research. I forget how I did it in detail, but I ended up meeting the owners, who were Americans, Texans, and very nice people, and eventually had them visit me also in London.
CN: Do you know why they chose to broadcast to Stockholm?
AC: It was an idea somebody came up with, and that was it - they were doing it.
CN: But why Stockholm - why not somewhere else?
AC: Well, everything starts in one place - it doesn't matter where, and anyway, the Baltic, I suppose, was more sheltered that the open North Sea and, there it was. They were doing it and doing it successfully, against the Swedish Government's wishes.
CN: And there was no commercial radio in Sweden at that time either, was there?
AC: Oh, obviously not, otherwise - I don't even know if it's come about since. I wouldn't be surprised if it had. Anyway, they were having some difficulty here and there, and eventually the ship came up for sale because they were closing down business - I suppose because of suppressive Government acts, I forget now. And therefore I could see that there was an opportunity. I tried to persuade them that they could remain owners and I could operate off England, but they didn't like that idea, and while I was busy with my forming of the formula under which we could successfully operate in England, they got scared, as money men often do - they took it all back to Houston - Houston, I think is a sea port isn't it, in Texas.
CN: Yes, Houston in the state Texas. It was Houston, not Galveston?
AC: So, to my great disappointment, they withdrew the ship all the way back across the Atlantic to the USA.
CN: It was Houston, not Galveston is that right?
AC: Houston, I think. It might have been Galveston. Galveston is the sea port of Houston, perhaps. Anyway, it was there in a sea port in Texas. So, in the meantime, I was having great difficulty in getting people, even lawyers, to talk to me about it - I know that we went through twelve sets of lawyers – twelve sets of lawyers - to find out how to do this, and many of them wouldn't even talk to us. I know that I had a meeting set up once with - oh, I'm so bad on names - but this man was a famous man through having escaped from Colditz - he was a politician and a very nice man, and he was the one that was murdered by bombs driving out of the House of Commons one day. I met him, and the first words he said were, "Are we speaking legally?" He wouldn't discuss it unless we were, you see. Very nice, very helpful, beautiful man and I was so sorry to hear later on. He couldn't help, but he would have been willing to help had it been legal and so on, you see.
CN: What was his position in the Government at that time?
AC: Oh I forget. Actually he must have been in Opposition then because it was Labour Government that was in power.
CN: Still in 1960, are we?
AC: Yes, no, wait a minute, no, it must have been Tory because the thing started in 1963 and I think that was still Tory then. But I forget.
CN: It was still Tory in 1963.
AC: Yes, yes. And, in fact, I must say this - my Texan friend who, himself, had seven radio stations in America and was considered one of the bright executives of America. He rang me once and said we've got it from the horse's mouth that you'll never be able to get away with opening a ship there and he withdrew his ship to Texas. I was broken hearted, because you know I depended on getting that damned ship the Mi Amigo for us, because it was already equipped with radiostation.
CN: Ready to go. Was it broadcasting on medium or VHF?
AC: Medium Wave. VHF wasn't even considered yet.
CN: No, it wouldn't have been at that time.
AC: And people didn't have radios capable of receiving it anyway. We would have been forced, even had there been VHF, to go on to medium wave anyway.
In the meantime, I had got hold of a man who was a retired Chief Engineer of the BBC and he only took a shine to help us because his son, who'd been a pilot, had been killed in the war. I'd been a pilot, and the relationship and the sort of substitution factor made him generous enough in his retirement to help us where he didn't need to. A beautiful man whose name also escapes me.
CN: It's a Welsh name.”
It was in one of my book publications, ‘(Historie van de zeezenders 1907-1973’) History of Offshore Radio 1907-1973, which was released in the mid nineties of the last century, I also wrote a chapter about stations relating to Thompson. Here some abstracts from that chapter.
Cover of the 1993 book publication
Just like in Holland in England there were early plans to start a commercial offshore radio station. Not all those initiatives were successful. It was in the early sixties that John Thompson came with the idea to start his station ‘ The Voice of Slough’ not long afterwards followed by the Canadian Arnold Swanson with his plans for the station with the working name Great Britain OK (GBOK). I can reveal that both plans were very serious, but unlucky both projects failed before a real signal came into the air. It was on October 10th 1961 a short message could be read in The Times about a new British offshore station that would start very soon. A journalist of the newspaper mentioned that the 42 year old John Thompson from Slough had plans to starts his own radio station from international waters. For this purpose, so Thompson told the journalist, that he had bought a 70 ton motor vessel with a length of 65 feet, which was originally used as a small fishing boat. He also told that the future anchorage for the ship would be in the surrounding of the light vessel The Nore, three miles from the coast near Southend on Sea.
Another detail was mentioned in the newspaper and that was that the station would start transmissions with a power of 1 kW on 980 kHz in the mediumwave.
Thompson had found cooperation with a guy called Robert Collier, who he appointed to co director within the project. The company was registrated as The Voice of Slough Ltd with as address 35 Beechwood Gardens, Slough, Buckinghamshire. Also it was mentioned that there would be a mobile studio in a caravan as well as a second studio in a house in Aylesbury. The plan was to start operations on December 1st in 1961. Thompson added the next: “Our ship still is in a harbour in Scotland. It’s there were the transmitter will be built into the hold of the ship. Elsewhere we would have to do it under the nose of the Postmaster General. As you see in our company ‘carefulness’ plays an important role.”
Thompson found in the person of the then 56 years old Arnold Swanson technical support as well as a guy who could co-finance the project. Swanson originally was a Canadian and who made a fortune with the development of nowadays normal product safety belts. Next to that there was a fourth person in the game with the name Leon Taylor. No details can be mentioned next to that he was the fourth co director within the radio project. In the next following weeks the name of the project of the radio station would re-appear several times in the newspapers. But there were some changes as next to The Voice of Slough the name of GBLN was used which stood for Great Britain Radio. Also the names Radio LN (Radio Ellen) as well as Radio Elb turned up in the newspapers.
Regarding transmissions nothing happened yet. The official start of the project was moved to January 1st 1962. From one of the newspaper cuts could be learnt that the station would start at 6.30 in the morning with the sounds of seagulls and the waves from the sea. After that the first announcement would follow: "With studios in Slough, Buckinghamshire, and transmitters at sea, the Voice of Slough brings you a brand new day. Dial 980 kcs, 306 metres for the Voice of Slough at the Nore." Unlucky the station wasn’t heard but elsewhere it would have made history as the very first commercial British Offshore Radio Station. In the same newspaper it was mentioned that during peak hours commercial time prices would be around 3 Pounds for 25 words. Programs would consist of music and news. In the newspaper the announcement was ended with the words that the station would make the washing up more pleasurable.
In the newspaper was mentioned that Thompson had left Britain after World War II to earn his money with playing saxophone. One of journalist made an interview: I’ve come back last April and I have the idea that the station could become a profitable project. Also it will be a special way of communication between us the station and the listeners. For instance we will bring a special radio program for the inhabitants of Southend on Sea and her surrounding. We will show what community radio means. A meeting with the mayor has already been taken place and he backs our plans. The Postmaster General is aware of our plans. The situation at the moment is that we are allowed to have a transmitter but there’s a restriction that, when it is completely built into the ship it has to be controlled by the authorities (GPO). “
The interview also brought information of those aboard the ship: “When the ship is on sea there will be always a crew of three young men, all married. They will have the task to guard the ship and will be responsible for playing the programs, which will be recorded on tape on shore. Presenters will do the technical part of the program themselves and will try there utmost to do if the programs are live from the ship. All presenters are in training at the moment as none of them has any broadcasting experience. Some of them are still to fast in presentation or speak banal words in the experimental programs, they’ve made. But I will them to do it in their best way.” The journalist saw some exclusive memo’s in the studio whereby slogans were read: ‘watch out for hackneyed phrases’ and ‘do you think burping was needed.’
Something everybody could expect happened, a reaction from the authorities. In this case it came from a spokesman from the GPO. He told a newspaper that they didn’t know yet how to handle with this till then unknown problem: “Broadcast of a radio station is regulated by official rules given by the International Communication Union, including a frequency they have to use. When transmitting from international waters from a ship this rules are broken. We think that the country, which gives a registration to the ship, can be made aware of the fact that rules are broken and can send a request to withdrawn the registration.
The day after the reaction from the GPO came into the newspapers Thompson solicitor came in the press to explain that he had looked at the rules and concluded that the organisation didn’t need an official registration as the ship was officially a fishing vessel. Also he announced that there were enough countries, including Monaco, who hadn’t backed the international frequency rules. Therefore it would be possible to get legal registration in such a country. Thompson told a journalist that the decision to break the law and go into international waters were taken due to the fact there were far more frequencies available than allocations were given. This brought the idea to him that all those international rules were a big farce.
The same journalist also spoke to the GPO spokesman: “As long as the station is not on the air we can’t do anything against them”. The next weeks several short pieces appeared in the British newspapers and one of the phrases were again from Thompson: “Nobody else has tried to start such a project off the British coast. Off the Swedish and Dutch coast are also such radio stations and they are very successfully. I hope that we can say in not too long time that we are the wining party. Several industrials, we talked to, have promised us to be a sponsor for our station. In the shows of The Voice of Slough there will be a maximum of 6 minutes commercials each hour. We will be on the air 24 hours a day and that during 7 days a week”.
In another newspaper Thompson had very high thoughts about his project by stating: ‘Next to the promised music programs there will be comprehensive news and current affairs programs, which will be hearable on the radio for about 9 million inhabitants of our country. In April 1962 it could be read that a test transmission was heard in the surrounding of the Thames Estuary from a station called Radio LN, transmitting for a very short time on 306 metres.
It’s not sure if the tests had something to do with Thompson’s project. Why The Voice of Slough never came on the air probably always will be a mystery. Probably some explanation can be found in the letter from The Voice of Slough, received by Lars Ryden in 1962. In those years Ryden was working for the company releasing the yearbook ‘World Radio and TV Book’. Next to writing to all official stations about changing in the organisation Ryden also tried to publish the most accurate information about the offshore stations in the yearly publication.
The 306 metres, concerning the Voice of Slough, stayed silence and the only thing I could find back at a later stage was a short mentioning in a DX bulletin, from Radio Sweden, whereby it was mentioned that on August 30th 1962 a ship, the MV Ellen, was seized by the British Authorities.
Here a photo taken by John Platt in the early nineties. This is the ship which was once planned by Thompson and his friends for their radio project.
Thompson and Swanson, two long time forgotten names. But what in the case they hadn’t failed? Could we also remember the name Voice of Slough or GBOK of GBLN like we do with the names of Radio Caroline and Radio London?
Copyright: Hans Knot 2008.
Early this month we heard the news that broadcasting veteran Tony Blackburn will get more listeners. Since February this year he presents the morning program on Smooth Radio during weekends. From June 7th the show can also be heard on the senior networks in the Midlands, the North West of England and in Scottish Glasgow. Tony Blackburn, who started his career in the sixties with Radio Caroline as well as Big L, also Works for KMFM, KUFM and BBC Radio London.
Let’s go back to an earlier question in the report from Fons van Winteraeken who asked more information about Captain Harris, who was mentioned in the Christmas program on Caroline in 1979. Well I sent a couple of emails to some of the people involved on the Mi Amigo during that period and Marc Jacobs responded directly with the surprising answer: ‘We didn’t had at all any captain on board in those days so it was one of those fake messages we brought on air to show the listeners and authorities that all was well organized on board the MV Mi Amigo.
www.radiotalent.co.uk Radiotalent.co.uk lists only the most committed professionals in the radio industry. We are proud to be the ‘who's who’ of the greatest talent there is. But sure, if you dress as a chicken on roundabouts we might not be for you.
Martin at the Offshore Radio Guide www.offshore-radio.de received a very new photograph from Tony O’Neill which was taken at 2130 hrs on June 5th as the tug 'Kingston' arrived at the new mooring in Harwich Harbour. This is the first picture of LV 18 since the filming. As written before the ship, earlier used for several RSL as well as BBC Pirate Radio Essex transmissions, is subject in one of the movies which are planned about offshore radio.
On Wednesday June 4th John Michael, one of the presenters from CNBC Radio (Veronica) passed away as result of a heart infarct. It’s Jan van Heeren who brought the news after one of his family members did send him the announcement. On the next links more about John his career can be read:
Another Press Report came in from the people at Red Sands Radio: Tower gets Tower. Once fitted with an impressive 200-foot mast topping the Red Sands Fort towering 117 feet from the seabed the Pirate Radio 390 antenna could be seen for miles. That was when British territorial limits extended just 3 miles.
Brought within British waters by legislation the Fort Pirate Radio stations found them selves outlawed & closed down by early 1967.
Now in 2008 sees a new and highly efficient transmitter antenna being installed on the Fort. Replacing the temporary mast a new giant sectional purpose built structure is being erected for Red Sands Radio. Said senior technician, Tony Pine overseeing the installation of the new system: “It’s an incredible structure, being both light and exceptionally strong.” Riggers will step the mast in sections before a special top hat is fitted to match the transmitter out put to the antenna”. For more information contact Red Sands Radio, PO Box 299, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2YA Radio Red Sands returns on 4th July 2008, for more information telephone 07961 601 893 Bob Le-Roi - Programme Director
Well that rounds up this June 2008 edition of the Hans Knot International Radio Report. Hope you had fun reading it and all memories and news can be send to HKnot@home.nl if you have photographs or other attachments please use the other e mail address Hans.Knot@gmail.com
Till next month I wish you all the best from Groningen.
Offshore Deejays' Nicknames
Female Offshore Radio Deejays
Radio London Commercials
Offshore Radio Programme Names - Programmanamen Zeezenders 1958-1990
Read Hans Knot's former report