A day without fun

May 29, 2011

Atlantic 252

May 26, 2011

In the 1980s I used to exchange cassette tapes of radio shows with a friend in the States. She would send me stuff from New York and I would send her our “best”. For some reason she loved Steve Wright in the afternoon and Simon Bates with his mid-morning “Our Tune”. (Amazing to think both of them are still presenting 30 years on…). I think it was probably the accents of the English DJs she liked most. I failed to convert her to John Peel or Boothby Graffoe though !!

When the radio station Atlantic 252 first began on Long Wave in September 1989 I sent her a few tapes. She wasn’t impressed. It just sounded like the constant-rotation Top 40 she could hear on any number of local stations. Here Atlantic 252 must have been a big hit if they eventually achieved an audience of 4 million. It seems odd that initially they only broadcast daily until 7pm but I guess they wanted people to re-tune to sister station Radio Luxembourg in the evenings. I was surprised to find that Atlantic 252 lasted until as recently as 2001 after a steady decline in audience share and a failed attempt to re-invent themselves as a more trendy “dance music” station. One problem was that they only broadcast in mono. The 1990s saw a rise in popularity in “oldies” stations. BBC Radios 1 and 2 improved. Local commercial stations had local news as well as Top 40 rotation. Perhaps Long Wave was simply not a very “hip” place to visit anymore. Before filing this particular cassette tape under B(1)N I’ve decided to salvage the contents for my audio archive.  Here is an extract from Charlie Wolf’s early evening show from October 1989 . In hindsight the radio station doesn’t sound as bad as I thought it would….it sounds quaint and even the music (which I probably didn’t much like at the time) now sounds nostalgic.

Charlie Wolf


May 20, 2011

In the 1970s and 1980s Fanzines and Newsletters were the means of communication for info about hobbies/interests etc. “Monitor” was one of a number that specialised in the (even then) minority interest that was dubbed Pirate Radio or Free Radio or Offshore Radio.

Issues 1 – 9 have already been posted on the Internet by others and you can find them quite easily with a quick “google”. As slightly more recent issues haven’t yet been made available here are five issues from 1976-1977. Originally typewritten on coloured foolscap paper hence the hazy reproduction quality.

Monitor 10

Monitor 11

Monitor 12

Monitor 13

Monitor 14

PS: Much of the above concerns Radio Caroline when the station was broadcasting from the Mi Amigo. Of course Radio Caroline continues today from the Eurobird 1 Satellite (at 28.2 degrees east and possibly alongside the Movies4Men channel).  Living on board a satellite must be worse than being 3 miles out to sea for weeks at a time. Instead of a rusty old tender I suppose they commute via the space shuttle ??  I was amused to read that as the nation prepares to migrate to digital radio, Radio Caroline would like to return to the Medium Wave. Sounds like a good plan to me. I’ve always had difficulty in getting my Sky Decoder Box out onto the back lawn and setting up portable satellite dishes on the beach is tedious.


May 1, 2011

Back when I acquired the first issue of Kookie I decided to collect the full set. As there were only two issues ever printed I thought it would be a straight-forward task. Years later I still haven’t found issue No 2…although perhaps to be truthful I haven’t been trying that hard. In fact I was only reminded of the Kookie comics a few minutes ago when I noticed I already had just one of the stories from issue No 2 on my hard drive which I repost here.

Kookie No 1 Feb-April 1962 Dell Publishing

In this kookie pre-hippy period of the “Beat Generation” as written by John Stanley (1914 – 1993) and drawn by Bill Williams all the guys have shortish hair but scruffy beards. They slouch around, lounge about, are into jazz and “hip” talk. Mr Stanley was most famous for writing (and sometimes drawing also) Little Lulu. He was also responsible for another teen title for Dell called “Thirteen going on Eighteen”. Bill Williams provided the art for numerous comics including a period illustrating Millie the Model.

Dell comics were ubiquitous in the States. Their odd numbering, short runs and often bi-monthly or quarterly frequency must have made tracking down every issue of your favourite title quite complicated without subscribing. Their (wholesome) output covered Disney and other cartoons, films, TV shows ad-infinitum. Sometimes they produced interesting new stuff like Kookie though.

In the 1940s/1950s Dell were producing millions of comics each month. In 1962 they lost the rights to many of the licensed characters that featured in their comics when Gold Key Comics began. Dell then began a steady decline with comics featuring second-rate TV shows and a number of short-lived and frankly rubbish titles such as Frankenstein (as a costumed superhero), Nukla (a rip-off of Captain Atom?) and The Superheroes (Dell were a bit late jumping on this particular bandwagon), producing their last comics in 1973.

PS: Actually there are a few Dell Comics I bought in the 1960s that I’m still quite attached to. “Bewitched”, “The Monkees” and “Flying Saucers Comics” which depicted comic-strip re-tellings of the more bonkers alien abduction stories that featured so often in the cash-in paperbacks of the time.

PPS: It’s interesting to note that Dell comics of the 1950s cost 10 cents each, the same price as charged by pretty much all the comic book publishers. Circa March 1961 Dell increased the price of their books to a massive 15 cents each. Their only saving grace was that their comics contained little, if any, advertising. By the mid 1960s Dell seems to have come in line with all the other publishers and reverted to 12 cents per issue. Other eccentricities of the company were their refusal to sign up to the Comics Code or display the Code Seal of Approval stamp and their placing of the issue number of each comic inside rather than on the front cover !!