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


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


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.


Radio Caroline Booklet

compliment slip


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.


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.


June 1, 2013


Ellen Kraal was a fairly regular Radio Caroline DJ on the Mi Amigo between 1973 and 1978 using the name “Samantha” and most often heard on the after-midnight shifts. Surprisingly she re-appeared on the Ross Revenge in September 1984 and again in late October/November 1984 for what would be her final offshore broadcasts. Sadly it was reported that she died in 1992 when she must only have been in her early forties.

Here is a recording from September 1984 featuring Samantha. Unfortunately when I began “project downsizing” five years ago one of the first things skipped was a box containing hundreds of cassette tapes of 1970s/1980s Radio Caroline. Somehow this cassette has survived. WARNING: The quality of this recording is poor I’m afraid and is only suitable for anoraks . Reception of Radio Caroline from the Ross Revenge on 319m was excellent here in the daytime but alas went downhill in the evenings due to the close proximity of Radio Tunisia. The fact that my “equipment” was an Amstrad Radio/Cassette didn’t help!

PS: They climbed Everest because it was there. I post these occasional lo-fi recordings because they are here. Having spent/wasted an hour copying another old cassette of Radio Caroline from April 1984 to mp3 why should I be the only one to suffer. Actually this hour may be unique. It is the only hour from the Ross Revenge in the 1980s I’ve heard that (in my humble opinion) doesn’t contain a single duff tune. (Duff quality recording again though….)


I came across part of an old Daily Mirror at the bottom of a wardrobe. Looking at the listings there was virtually nothing to watch on TV. BBC2 (which had started a few months earlier as had Radio Caroline) were showing an Evening’s worth of Open University programmes. At 7.30 you had a choice between Compact and Emergency Ward 10. BBC1 closed down at 10.55pm. There wasn’t much more to be found on the radio. Certainly no pop music in the evening unless you ventured to Radio Luxembourg. And there you found Jimmy Young!!! Is there any wonder that the first phase of UK pirate Radio became so popular so quickly.

Tuesday 28th July 1964

There was also an article about someone being rescued from Radio Caroline. Food poisoning? In these days of instant communication it seems quaint that appeals for help had to be made by Simon Dee live over the air. And news of the start of Radio Invicta. Programmes for fishermen probably meant the range of their transmitter only made it as far as the beach!!

28 07 1964