When Radio Northsea International began on the 23rd January 1970 it broadcast from a number of different Medium wave frequencies before finally settling on 220m. But its shortwave transmissions were always either 31m or 49m or both. The station closed on the 24th September 1970 and returned 19th January 1971. Within a few months the RNI “World Service” added to the one hour A J Beirens Northsea goes DX  shows on shortwave and began broadcasting in English all day every Sunday 9am to 7pm on 31m/49m with different programming to the daytime Medium Wave output (which was usually in Dutch). 

I recorded a number of the Northsea goes DX shows that featured A J. Beirens’  histories of earlier offshore stations along with airchecks. I also recorded some of the other shows broadcast by RNI on shortwave in English on Sunday mornings/afternoons until the SW signal began to fade. Of course the contents of those reels were mostly wiped when I became a musical snob and decided I preferred 1970s Radio Caroline “album” output rather than early 1970s RNI Europop. 

I have posted this short RNI World Service recording previously but I still find it interesting. Mike Ross (real name Colin Novelle) appeared on RNI on and off between September 1970 and January 1974. Sadly he died in 2017 aged 70. 

This RNI World Service recording from 14th November 1971 of Jane Ballantyne (her only live broadcast from the Mebo 2 unless you know otherwise) is longer than the version currently available to download at the Azanorak site. She had a great radio voice and an engaging personality. It’s a shame her stay on the Mebo 2 was so short.

Radio Seagull

Aug 1, 2018

The first version of Radio Seagull appeared quite unexpectedly from the Radio ship Mi Amigo at 9pm on the 24th July 1973. I recorded extracts over the next few days on my (t)rusty reel to reel tape recorder. But only having a 30 minute reel to spare I had to just record the DJs rather than the music. So a few years ago I was pleased to see someone else with more blank tapes/money than I had recorded an hour of Barry Everitt from 26th July 1973 of not just the links as heard on my recording but also included the music and placed it on the Azanorak site. Barry had been involved in the music scene, the underground scene and Radio Geronimo prior to his few weeks aboard the Mi Amigo (First Radio Seagull show: 24th July, Last show: 7th September). He would go to the States where he continued DJing. Later back in the UK he remained in the music business. He passed away in 2017.

Radio Seagull Barry Everitt 26th July 1973 

Barry is third from the left, arm raised, behind Andy Archer.

 

Here are a couple more copies of Monitor magazine covering the first period when Radio Seagull was broadcasting from the Mi Amigo. (Aerial trouble beginning 1st October would put the station onto low power and eventually completely off the air from 18th October 1973. Radio Caroline managed to return for a couple of days over the Xmas period. Radio Seagull would re-commence 7th January 1974 until 22nd February 1974 when the powers that be decided the station should once again be called Radio Caroline).

Monitor 04 Summer 1973

Monitor 05 Winter 1973

More Monitors

Nov 1, 2016

monitors

Roland C. Pearson, better known in Free Radio circles as “Buster” (1928-1985) was the man responsible (with help from others) for the fascinating publication known as “Monitor”. Begun in 1972 as coloured foolscap sheets, by the early 1980s it had progressed into an A5 booklet format. Always crammed with information about Offshore Radio these news-sheets have become even more interesting as time has gone on. There were 37 issues produced. (Update: I’m informed there were actually 38  or even 39 issues. Looks like they didn’t bother sending me the last ones!). Join me in my Time Machine as we revisit the first three issues published in those interesting times of 1972 and early 1973.

Monitor 01 issued Spring 1972

Monitor 02 issued Summer 1972

Monitor 03 issued early 1973

 PS: Monitor 01 was typewritten onto white foolscap paper. Monitor 02 was typewritten on dark blue foolscap paper. Monitor 03 was typewritten on multi-coloured foolscap paper for the full psychedelic experience. Do you remember typewriters? If you didn’t clean the keys regularly some letters got a bit clogged up with ink. My antique machine would make neat little holes whenever I used the full-stop key. Foolscap paper is longer and thinner than A4 which made copying these newsletters a pain. I apologise if some pages are difficult to read. Fuzzy typewritten text on blue paper doesn’t make for the greatest readability. I guess I could have spent a week or two tweaking things to improve them, but hey I’ve got a life, so they are what they are.

RNI World Service

May 1, 2016

rni

Radio Northsea International broadcast from International waters via the Mebo 2 from early 1970 until August 1974 (with a break between September 1970 and January 1971) on a variety of Medium wave frequencies at first before settling on 220m. They also broadcast on FM to Holland and often on 49m and 31m shortwave to the rest of the world. Interestingly, in 1971 and 1972 the daytime shortwave broadcasts on Sundays were in English supplied by the DJs on board, whilst 220m medium wave carried Dutch programming, only some of which was live. The rest of the Dutch daytime shows consisted of tape recordings prepared earlier on land as often happened with Radio Veronica. Evenings on 220m Medium wave usually reverted to live English speaking DJs from 7pm or 8pm onwards.

There are many many hours of recordings of RNI available around the Interwebs. If you click here or click the image below you can hear a recording of A.J. Bierens on RNI on Shortwave that I made on my (t)rusty Philips reel to reel tape recorder on a Sunday morning circa 1971/1972.

RNI

After August 1974 The Mebo 11 moved to the Mediterranean Sea and apparently ended it’s days being “used as target practice by the Libyan Navy in the 1980s and sunk in the Gulf of Sidra”.

Two more books

May 1, 2016

It was said five years ago that books would be obsolete in five years. I always thought that would be somewhat premature. Books are still being produced, although in smaller numbers than they used to be. In very small numbers regarding the two books I feature here!!

Weekly Music Charts

As the chart book says “Printed and Published by Amazon” I presume copies are only assembled as and when someone actually orders a copy. This book fails to address the main question I wanted answering. How and by whom were the Radio Caroline and Radio London charts compiled? Did they refer to charts published by the BBC/Musical Express/Melody Maker or just ask the DJs for this weeks favourite tune?? Or were records included in the charts by more sinister means? Perhaps money changed hands for the promotion of certain singles? It had happened in the States in the 1950s and it has been said that one of the main reasons Ronan started Radio Caroline was to give greater exposure to his roster of clients.

Radio Caroline Chart 8th April 1967

.

Radio London Chart 9th April 1967

I’m bemused by the vast differences between the Caroline and London charts through the mid 1960s. For example in April 1967 there are only a handful of songs (seven!!!) that feature in the top 30 of both charts. If you listened only to Radio London you would be exposed to dozens of songs that never graced the Light Programme or Radio Caroline.

Holding the fort

In this book “Prince” Michael gives a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes machinations that led to his whole family squatting on an ex-Navy fort three miles out to sea for decades. Perhaps if he hadn’t been a mere 14 at the time, with the Government fearful of potential negative publicity, they may have been removed by military force in 1968 and the Principality of Sealand may never have been created.

More Disc

Mar 1, 2016

I purchased the pop newspaper “Disc” every week from 1966 until the summer of 1975 when it was merged into “Record Mirror”. By 1975 I had also been buying the edgier and ever-improving “NME” for a number of years anyway.

Disc

Disc 16th February 1974

In the early 1970s “Disc” was useful for its pop pirate radio coverage and for classified adverts where you could send off for cheaply printed duplicated/photostatted newsletters from the likes of Crispian St John containing yet more pop pirate radio info.

Free Radio column Disc Feb 1974

A highlight for me was always J.Edward Oliver’s comic strip  featuring Fresco Le Raye. This always contained pop-related in-jokes and numerous mentions of JEO’s continued infatuation with Madeline Smith. Of course, writing this gives me the perfect opportunity to insert an image of MS (and JEO’s likeness of her too).

Madeline

Madeline Smith by J Edward Oliver

Episode 190

It’s worth a closer look at JEO’s survey.

JEO survey

Radio 270

Oct 1, 2015

Radio 270

Although it seemed to be for a much longer period when I was a youngster, the 1960s offshore pirate radio station Radio 270 was only on the air from June 1966 until August 1967. As was usually the case Radio 270 was more accurately to be found on 269m in the medium wave. Anchored 3 miles off Scarborough, it had a catchment area covering Yorkshire, the North East and into the Midlands. As perhaps the smallest pirate radio ship at the time being on the Oceaan 7 must have been pretty uncomfortable out there in the middle of the North Sea. One of the few “benefits” of being small was that when larger supplies such as diesel oil and water were required the ship just upped anchor and sailed into port (Scarborough or Bridlington) to re-stock in comfort. Presumably they had to cease transmission whilst they were within the three-mile limit though?

Pirate up for sale

The station proved to be popular and reasonably successful and was one of the handful of pirate stations that would continue to the bitter end of midnight August 14th 1967 which was just before the Marine Etc (Offences) Act became law.

Oceaan V11 derelict

Well, some of them anyway………..

Where the Pirates are

More Laser 558

Jul 1, 2015

What was happening 31 years ago today? It was a Sunday. From the looks of this tape I found recently in the shed (?!?) nothing very exciting was happening for me as I had resorted to listening to Laser 558. They don’t appear to have (m)any jingles yet. I believe they pretty much always played oldies on Sundays and chart stuff the rest of the week.

The offshore radio station Laser 558 officially began broadcasting from the Communicator (not the ship’s original name) in May 1984 after a few months of tests. It didn’t take too long before they had generated a far larger audience than Radio Caroline due to their very deliberate policy of heavy heavy rotation of the pop hits of the day.

Laser 558 cassette side 1

The inevitable decline began within months. By January 1985 they were experiencing generator and aerial problems. By August 1985 the government had begun a blockade trying to stop supplies reaching them (and Radio Caroline). Laser 558 went off air for good in the middle of a show on the morning of 5th November 1985.

Laser 558 cassette side 2

Laser 558 1st July 1984 5pm-5.30pm

PS: Only listen to this if you’re a fan of hissy medium wave static with some music in the distant background. I believe their output at the time was less than 16kw and my portable radio was a few hundred miles away from their transmitter. The only slightly interesting aspect for anoraks is that this was Charlie Wolf’s second show on the station. He had first appeared on air 30th June.

PPS: For the sake of accuracy I should mention that there was a short-lived return as Laser Hot Hits for 3 months in 1986 and then the ship passed through a few different owners before it was finally scrapped a few years ago.

Booklet

Jun 1, 2015

Compared to the organised chaos of its’ 1970s and 1980s versions, 1960s Radio Caroline presented quite a professional appearance with offices in central London and promotional material like this.

cover

Radio Caroline Booklet

compliment slip

Far out

Oct 1, 2014

The first half of the recently published book “Far out at sea” covers old ground about the history of offshore broadcasting from the 1950s to 1972. Then there is a an account of how the almost-scrap Mi Amigo returned to the North Sea in 1972. Then finally a few chapters about that brief period from July 1973 to February 1974 when Radio Caroline changed it’s name (and format) to Radio Seagull. They actually only managed to broadcast for about 3 months of that period due to the numerous aerial and generator problems that beset the ageing ship. Radio Seagull was in spirit (and briefly, people) a continuation of the bonkers (in a good way) Radio Geronimo. 

Far out at sea

PS: The rest of the book concerns the revival of Radio Seagull in name and format from a boat in 2003. So there is a (Dutch) incarnation of Radio Seagull broadcasting from a boat (mostly in harbour) via the Interwebs (and sometimes MW) this very minute. They say:-

Radio Seagull plays the best Progressive Rock, the coolest Album tracks and the finest Alternative music we also feature specialist music programmes which include Blues, Vintage Soul, World Music, Smooth Jazz, Country and Americana.

How much?

Oct 1, 2014

Whilst I was buying the “Far out at sea” book from Amazon I noticed this. There seems to be a growing trend of people trying to get outrageous sums of money for pretty average merchandise. Perhaps they hope someone will be browsing late at night and be too blind drunk to notice the price? If I could sell a few items from my bookshelves at those sort of prices I’d have enough spare cash to start my own offshore radio station…..

Offshore radio

Offshore Radio Board book – 1 Dec 1974

by Gerry Bishop (Author)

1 Used from £2,499.50
1 New from £2,499.50

1 customer review

HOW much? Review by LM on 2 Sep 2014

“I’m giving the book four stars for its quality. My only gripe about the book is that there’s no chronological index.However, as to its Amazon listing…
As I view this page on September 2 2014 the book is priced at £2,449. That is freaking INSANE. Yeah, I know it’s quite rare nowadays, but I’m pretty sure if you wait long enough you’ll find a copy on eBay for a fraction of the price. So unless you’re a recent lottery winner, or unless you’re reading this at a time when the price has dropped to something more reasonable, I suggest you just have a damn good laugh at this page.
Was this review helpful to you?” Yes No

vic

PS: And suddenly everywhere I look people are out to con me. There are 22 people parting with their 1988 Victor Annuals for pees and one clever-dick who hopes for substantially more. I know they say “Caveat emptor” but I really think Amazon ought to put a stop to these sharp practices before their image gets too tainted.