Last words

August 1, 2017

At 11pm on the 19th March 1980 the numbers 59, 60 and 25 were announced over the air and not long after that:

“Radio Caroline broadcasting on 319m, 963khz. Well we’re sorry to tell you that  due to the severe (con) weather conditions  and also to the fact that we’re shipping quite a lot of water, we’re closing down and the crew are at this stage leaving the ship. Obviously we hope to be back with you as soon as possible but we’d just like to assure you all on land that there’s nothing to worry about. We’re all quite safe. Just for the moment we’d like to say goodbye. Tom?”.

“Yeah. It’s not a very good occasion really. We have to hurry this because the lifeboat is standing by. We’re not leaving and disappearing. We’re going onto the lifeboat hoping that the pumps can take it. If they can we’ll be back. If not, well I don’t like to say it”.

“I think we’ll be back one way or another Tom”.

“From all of us for the moment goodbye and God Bless”.

  • Caroline by the Fortunes.
  • Silence for the next three years……
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Top Fifteen

August 1, 2017

For the last twenty years Radio Caroline has been available first via the Astra satellite and then later via the Internet. They will shortly be returning (legally) to the Medium wave band, but you’ll only be able to listen using that “old fashioned” method if you are in the Essex area. I visited the Radio Caroline website and saw that they broadcast a Top 15 chosen by listeners each weekday morning. They give you a clickable list of their Top 500 albums to select your Top 15 from. I struggled to find much there. How many more times can people listen to “Dark Side of the Moon” or “Stairway to Heaven”? Anyway this was the list I ultimately chose:-

15 Janis Joplin – Mercedes Benz
14 Lou Reed – Perfect Day
13 Loving Awareness Band – Existence
12 Hazel O’Connor – Will You
11 John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth
10 Bob Dylan – I Want You
09 Alice Cooper – Poison
08 Love – Alone Again Or
07 Iggy Pop – Some Weird Sin
06 Argent – God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You
05 Beach Boys – Here Today
04 Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power Of Love
03 Earth & Fire – Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight
02 Elvis Costello – What’s So Funny ’bout (Peace, Love & Understanding)
01 Shakespear’s Sister – Hello (Turn Your Radio On)

It was only after I’d submitted that list that I discovered I could have chosen tunes not in the Top 500 albums, but they’d only be used if Radio Caroline had the songs in their library so I’m sure that would exclude most of my current favourites. I doubt they’d play Robb Storme’s version of “Here Today” if I’d asked them, much as that is the sort of variety they should be aiming for.

My Top 15 was played on Radio Caroline a couple of weeks ago. But given free rein and my very own radio station I would no doubt be subjecting people to stuff like this:-

Thirty Two

Thirty Three

Test Transmissions

August 1, 2016

A side

It’s almost a third of a century since Radio Caroline began broadcasting on 319m from the Ross Revenge. As Peter Moore wrote elsewhere on the Interweb, “So, from the best radio ship ever built, albeit painted the wrong colour, on the wrong date, wrong channel and with the wrong music policy, Radio Caroline had returned”. (Ronan had expected the new station to be transmitting on 558m and with a “Pop” format. The hippies on board had other ideas.) There was only a day or so of “test transmissions” beginning on Friday 19th August (having missed Ronan’s hoped for start date of the historically significant August 14th) before “official” programming began at noon on Saturday 20th August 1983. I couldn’t tell the difference. Most of the “tests” had consisted of near-continuous music/whole sides of live LPs along with announcements either twice or four times an hour. Normal programming was all too often the same. Three or four bland “Adult oriented Rock” tunes followed by an announcement or a tedious advert for a foreign lottery. So underwhelmed was I with this “new” Radio Caroline that I was pleased when they were joined in the north sea by the far jollier Laser 558.

B side

These Test transmissions of Caroline 319 are already available elsewhere on the Interweb (although they do suffer from the accompaniment of a most annoying mains hum) which saves me bothering to upload my recordings. But here’s a brief aircheck to add to my audio library before I chuck my tapes in the bin.

Rocking the boat

March 1, 2016

Rocking

Sometime around Easter 2014 when Radio Caroline celebrated her 50th birthday this (mostly correct) article appeared in a women’s magazine.

Booklet

June 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

Posters

February 1, 2014

Radio Caroline Poster


RNI Poster

For much of the 1980s The Ross Revenge had three transmitters on board although all three weren’t operational all the time. Two transmitters were for the Medium wave and one was for Short wave. The logic behind this was that a second MW transmitter could be used for Dutch and/or Evangelical programming. The income from that subsidised the running of Radio Caroline. Despite Ronan’s optimism in 1983 adverts on Radio Caroline itself varied between once an hour or none for months so the income stream there wouldn’t even cover the cost of toilet rolls. In the bad old days of 1989 even the small SW transmitter had to be adapted to work on MW to (just about) keep the station on air.

Radio Caroline spent a number of years searching for the “right” spot on the Medium wave.In the 1970s they moved around from 773kHz to 1562kHz, 1187kHz, 953kHz, 962kHz and 1412kHz and probably more. In the 1980s the main frequencies used were 963kHz, 576kHz, 585kHz, 558kHz and 819kHz.

rr

Consequently there were often days when announcements were made that they would be closing down for “maintenance” and would be back “stronger than ever” at a new spot on the dial a few days later. For a couple of days before 9th of July 1988 announcements were made that Radio Caroline would be closing for 4 weeks and during that period the english service would be replaced by a Dutch station (apparently called Radio 558). Surprisingly this period isn’t covered in AZAnorak’s extensive archive. Yours truly is always pleased to find an excuse to foist another lo-fi recording on the world at large. Here is Radio Caroline on the 8th of July 1988 and a few minutes from around 6AM on the 9th of July as Radio Caroline performs another closedown and hands over to the “new station”. I presume english programming continued in the evenings? Over the summer they were working on improving the aerial. Perhaps they needed “all hands on deck”?? Problems with the mast/aerial was something I don’t think they ever got satisfactorily sorted before the final final closedown a couple of years later

PS: And harking back to an even earlier age of Offshore Radio, I note that Wilfred Proudfoot died recently. He was a backer and later Managing Director of the Pirate Radio Station Radio 270. He was a vocal supporter of commercial radio in the early 1970s and at various times an MP, a Supermarket chain entrepreneur and a Hypnotist. You couldn’t make it up.