April 2001

Our #1 Man in San Diego!

Howie Castle reports:

The winter ratings were released yesterday and once again KOGO is #1!! And our breakfast show – "San Diego's First News" – has finally become #1 in its time slot.

Clear Channel just purchased an FM station in Temecula in Riverside County, just to the north of San Diego, and it's simulcasting KOGO 24 hours a day. We even changed the FM station's call-letters to KOGO-FM. This helps fill in the one area of signal weakness we have due to our directional antenna.

And, speaking of Clear Channel, all the FM stations (7) are now in the new building, and the 4 AMs are due to move around the end of May.

Congratuations to Howie and all at KOGO. Imagine how much more popular the station would be if the listeners could see Howie in his orange suit! (See Tony L's message below.)

Unfortunately, the KOGO net feed, mentioned elsewhere on this site, is currently unavailable. This is the case with many other US stations, due to a dispute with voiceover artists. The VOs argue that they are paid only for the transmission of their voicework over the airwaves, and are demanding extra payment for Internet broadcasts.


Beam Up to the New Offshore Forum

Hi there!

First of all let me say I'm a regular visitor to your website which I consider to be one of the best. In fact it has been listed on my humble website's links page for many months.

Recently, I set up a brand new offshore radio message board: http://members4.boardhost.com/laserbeam/
which I truly hope will become a lively forum. However, at the moment it needs many more visitors.

Any help you can give me in promoting the board will be very much appreciated.

Many thanks, Nick Wythe ("Laserbeam")

Thank you too, Nick. Here's hoping you get a good response.


Sixties Stewpot

From Record Mirror, w/e July 17th, 1965:

"Eddie Stewart, a 24-year-old Londoner, joins Radio London as a disc jockey on Monday, July 19th."

Big L's 'Eddie' Stewart celebrated his Sixtieth birthday on April 23rd, 2001, so Radio london joined in the party with a photo-tribute.


Seven More Clips We've All Heard Before

Seven More Days That Rocked the World, BBC Radio Two, 88-90.2 FM, Thursday, 19th April, 22.00 BST, presented by Stuart Maconie.

From the Radio Times 14 -20th April...

In the 'Choices' side panel for Thursday 19th's listings, Jane Anderson says "..On 14th August 1967, the British government began its attack on the nation's most popular pirate radio station," and goes on to mention Radio Caroline. What, the government attacked only ONE station? Would that have been Caroline North or South? Statistics may be disputed, but surely Radio London was the most popular station by 1967?

Then: "Tony Blackburn jumped ship in Sept 1967." Tony had actually 'jumped' in July 1967 and from the Galaxy NOT the Mi Amigo!

Worst of all, the 'Choices' panel listed the programme as being on at 10.00am not 10.00pm!

The actual programme description on the same page says that, "On 14 August 1967 the government targeted British DJs working on pirate radio stations, a timely event for the BBC's new Radio One.' This implies that the 'new Radio One' had already commenced broadcasting, although it did not launch till the end of September. Don't they mean the Beeb's forthcoming new station, Radio One?

It gets worse. A trailer for the show had said the offshore stations closed on August 14th 1968.

After all the above, Radio London awaited the programme's transmission with interest.

Disappointing though it is to have to do this to any documentary about offshore radio, 'Seven Days' must be relegated to the, "We've heard it all before" category. The programme held nothing fresh, sounding as if all its interviews had been trawled from existing archives. How refreshing it would have been to hear the views of someone from the watery days other than Tony Blackburn or Johnnie Walker. It's not as if there is a shortage of ex-offshore interviewees.

So many important aspects of the significance of offshore radio were missed at the expense of trivia.

Why was there no mention of the Texan KLIF connection and Ben Toney's innovative introduction of PAMS jingles? Both KLIF and PAMS made an enormous and lasting impact on broadcasting in the UK on all the stations following in the wake of the one aboard the Galaxy - including Radio One. Instead of this, we got a repeat of the tired old rumour, recently refuted by both Ben Toney and Tom Danaher, that Lady Bird Johnson might have been one of Radio London's backers.

There was nothing to indicate the effects of offshore radio on the advertising world, where major companies, quick to spot the potential of a new market, launched huge advertising campaigns.

The programme failed to convey the point that has been made to Chris and me time and again by offshore jocks. What made the stations so popular was the 'sense of family' they shared with their listeners, when no kinship was to be found in the stiff, formal presentation delivered from Broadcasting House.

The worst omission, was that although Radio Atlanta was mentioned in passing, nothing was said about the merger of Atlanta with Caroline, which resulted in the Fredericia sailing north. In fact, there was no mention of Caroline North at all. Despite discussion of the politics surrounding the demise of the pirates, the grand issue of the Isle of Man's battle with Westminster, over their imposition on the island of the unwelcome Marine Offences Bill, was ignored. This was of great political significance. Tynwald, the most ancient of parliaments, took a stand against Wilson's removal of the offshore stations and the Isle of Man subsequently came close to declaring independence from the UK.

Neither did I like the implication that Johnnie Walker eventually succumbed and 'jumped ship' out of choice, rather than because the ship in question had been towed into Amsterdam harbour and Caroline could no longer broadcast.

How many more times do we need to hear the opening of Radio One? The missing significant fact here was that, despite there being a large number of ex-pirates on the new station, it was impossible for them to emulate the offshore atmosphere and sound in Broadcasting House. Not only were shows much more formally structured, with designated producers, but immediacy, flexibility and spontaneity was lost by having technical operators playing in the records rather than DJs being allowed to self-op. Radio One was also forced to share its air-time with the MOR Radio Two. Not conducive to the 'swinging young sound' with which the Beeb aimed to replace the pirates. Needle-time restrictions greatly reduced the number of records that were allowed airplay and some of the substitute live band covers of current hits, were laughable.

Why was so much of the half-hour wasted in sneering at Tony Blackburn? Well-known to ex-listeners of the two top offshore stations in the south, Caroline and London, Tony rated highly in popularity polls and would have been considered the perfect choice for the Pied Piper with the potential to drag disgruntled watery listeners over to 247MW. Stuart Maconie can sneer all he wants at TB's 'sound-effect dog', but one time when Tony tried to drop Arnold from his show, he was inundated with protests from Arnold-lovers!

The only nod in the direction of the continuing popularity of the offshore stations was the phrase, "Caroline still exists today". Had anyone bothered to look, they would have realised from the proliferation of websites devoted to the subject, that in the Twenty-first Century, over 30 years after the Marine Offences Bill, the Sixties offshore stations will never be forgotten. They have not only their original devotees, but have gained a new generation of enthusiasts, fascinated by the concept of non-format radio coming from a ship or a fort.

Please, Radio Two, if you want a programme on the subject of offshore radio, ask Radio London to produce it!


Ray Reaches a Milestone

Before we had offshore radio, there was Radio Luxembourg. I'll never forget my discovery of the station, aged around ten years old and on a primary school trip. Our coach driver had his radio tuned to Luxy and I'd never heard commercials on the radio before, let alone constant pop music! As soon as I got home I purloined my parents' radio, installed it in my room and retuned it from the Beeb to 208 metres MW.

One of the personalities I remember from Luxy in those days is Ray Orchard, who will be celebrating his 70th birthday on April 25th. Ray was born in Victoria, BC, where he made his radio debut in 1943. He moved to London in 1957, and began his career with Radio Luxembourg. Ray also broadcast on Radio Nederland and Hilversum and made TV appearances on ITV's Thank Your Lucky Stars and the Beeb's Juke Box Jury. Having freelanced his way around the world, Ray now resides back in his birthplace of Victoria.

Many congratulations, Ray, from Radio London!


Update for Soundscapes

Hans Knot tells us:

We've opened a new site on in our internet magazine on Media and Music, Culture, Soundscapes.www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes telling the story of the ill-fated Radio KING project in the seventies, a story of dreamers.

But there's more: some exclusive 270 pictures on that site too.

With the addition of the last photos and illustrations, the Radio London file in Volume 3 is now complete.

In our new Volume 4 we've also opened some new editions in our series of RNI Memories. One of them features an interview with Graham Gill, including soundtracks of him on five of the offshore stations he worked for.


The Deejays Sing?

Chris Edwards says:

I have just put together a new website - The Deejays sing, (some people say there should be a question mark after that). Check the site at www.offshoreechos.com/deejays-sing/deejays-sing.htm


'Site of the Week'!

Our thanks go to Martin van der Ven, famous for the Offshore Radio Guide site at www.offshore-radio.de, for making us 'Site of the Week' for April 8th to 15th. We are humbled to think that we should be considered worthy of such an honour. Thank you.


Mick's Mates

Over the past couple of weeks, Radio London has been busy assisting Mick Luvzit, who now lives in Canada, with contacting his old pals from the days of Radio Caroline. Sadly, Mick did not know that Tony Windsor had passed away in 1985, but he was delighted to renew other offshore friendships. The full story is told on the new 'Who Found Whom' Page Four.

Yes our 'Who Found' section has attracted so much interest that it now runs into a fourth page!


Suits you, man!

Tony L writes from Southampton

What a wonderful site. I have spent ages catching up on news of old jocks. I was a big Caroline fan in the 60's and am just discovering all the information on the Internet. I already had a nice e-mail reply from Steve Young, whose deep voice I remember well.

I notice your request for any photos of Bud Ballou. I have just e-mailed him to thank him for appearing at our school disco in 1967! Unfortunately I have no photos of the event but I do remember him wearing a vivid orange suit, much in keeping with his outgoing radio personality. Also attending that event was Jason Wolfe (later heard on Radio Free London).

At the time of the aforementioned school disco I think I too was wearing orange, namely an orange paisley shirt from John Stephen in Carnaby Street (with matching loud kipper tie). I gave the shirt to my girlfriend when geography forced us to part, but I still have the tie!

Thanks again for the site and all the work you must have put into it. I am glad to find that many of the personalities involved in the difficult job of bringing music to us in those days also look back on them with some of the fondness that I do.

That's funny, Tony, Bud Ballou has kept very quiet about owning a psychedelic suit! Does anyone from Tony's old school have photos from that memorable disco? Tony also has also prompted a new entry in the 'Lost Jocks' section.


The Radio Currie Story

Tony Currie, a star of Big L '97, RNI 99 and RNI 2000, and recently heard on Radio Two, now adds to his triumphs, the launch of a new book! The Radio Times Story (Kelly publishing, rrp 18.95) was the subject of a two-page feature in the Daily Express, for Saturday, March 24th, and relates the history of the Beeb's most famous publication, from its first appearance in 1923.

The book's publisher, Len Kelly lenkelly@eclipse.co.uk can also supply back issues of Radio Times. Any copy of the magazine provides a fascinating 'snapshot' of events in the UK during a particular week, making it an unusual gift to commemorate a special occasion.

As Tony has his sights on the Radio Times editor's chair, we feel it's a great pity he isn't sitting in it already. A bit of accuracy wouldn't have gone amiss in it this week's issue, as the following story relates...


Radio London's Chris Payne rescues a pirate station!

Chris writes:

As regular viewers of the Radio London site will know, I provide a rescue service for people with ancient tapes that need transferring to a potentially more-permanent medium, namely MiniDisc and CD.

It was a bit of a surprise to be contacted by Pat Edison, and to find that he was a prime mover in what was arguably one of the top three UK land-based pirate radio stations of the 70s – Radio Kaleidoscope!

Unlike Big L, Big K's Final Hour had not been available to enthusiasts before, primarily because the original 10" reel has been languishing in Pat's house since 1976!

It was, therefore, with some honour and a lump in the throat that using the studio's trusty Revox B77 (in the foreground of the picture), I carefully remastered the tape to the Mac, did some digital surgery to get over a couple of dropouts, and their Final Hour was rescued for posterity.

Over lunch, Pat reminisced with stories of piracy on the high hills of south-east England. I won't spoil it – you'll have to look at the Radio Kaleidoscope website to read the full story.

Now another radio station has a well-deserved place in radio history – www.radiokaleidoscope.co.uk

Pat will have the Final Hour available on CD via his website very soon.


The Fate Of So Many In The Hands Of So Few!

It was with a sense of irony that we read in Geoff Baldwin's Radio Review magazine, (details below), that out of the 65 million population of the UK, 6,768 people have now determined the fate of the nation's radio and TV.

The story, briefly, is that the BBC had a public consultation on whether the nation wanted three new TV services and five new radio stations. We were too busy with the web site at the time, but you know what we would have put in 'any other comments'... The 6,768 who didn't have web sites effectively enthused the BBC into going ahead with their proposals, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports agreeing with the committee of 6,768. This number amounts to one-hundredth of the population, (0.01% to be precise), much less than one-tenth the capacity of Wembley Stadium!

Know what's coming next? Isn't it ironic that when a third of the population in the UK wanted a music station or two, playing songs they really wanted to hear, that the mood of our Government in 1967 was that they didn't want to know?

Estimates at the time put 1,000 people at Liverpool Street station when the train carrying Radio London jocks arrived on 14th August 1967. There were probably another 5,000 outside!

Information on how to subscribe to Radio Review can be obtained by emailing Geoff at: review@radio.fm, or sending an SAE to Radio Review, PO Box 46, Romford, Essex, RM7 8AY.


Only Fools and North Sea ...

Jonathan writes from Pirate Radio Hall of Fame

Just to let you know that I have carried out a first anniversary update.

More names have been added, more audio - including Mick Luvzit on Caroline North, Keith Skues' April Fools Day spoof news bulletin from Big L in 1967, a very ancient clip of John Junkin on Caroline and Bob Spencer on Radio Scotland. I've also replaced some of the photos with better quality ones. There is also a new link to Robbie Dale's web-site for his holiday complex in the Canaries and we have a page of Guy Hamilton's Radio 270 photos.

Hope you enjoy it.

We certainly will, Jonathan!


Memories are Made of Pics...

Mike Corrigan asks:

Do you know what happened to Martin Stevens the photographer? I have several collections of his photos, including Big L, which I got from the Free Radio Association in the early 70s, but I've never found any mention of him on the web.

Can anyone help? All information gratefully received


Radio Caroline Closes Down Yet Again...

Radio Caroline's analogue Astra satellite service came to a close on March 31st. Chris Payne looks at what the future holds for the station, gives some first-hand insights into the development of satellite radio, and wonders whether their fate is already sealed. You can read the article in our Radio Caroline section, here...


"April Fooled. More at 12."

On Sunday, April 1st, at around 11.30am, listeners to Peter Clarke's show on High Wycombe's ElevenSeventy AM suddenly experienced breaks in transmission, as a pirate station burst in to take over the airwaves on that frequency. Even more bizarrely, the station was calling itself Radio London and the voices that could be heard were those of Kenny Everett, Dave Cash, Duncan Johnson and Tommy Vance!

Around noon the pirates faded away, and soon after, Peter confessed to having perpetrated a little April Foolery on his audience. What they had heard very cleverly transposed over the normal transmission was, in fact, a double spoof. It was a recording of Kenny and Cash on London's Capital Radio on April 1st 1974, pretending to be Radio London from 1966!

Peter reports:

In all we had eleven phone calls which included one caller who sussed it immediately, but they were all saying how fondly they remembered Radio London from the 1960s.

A little later, Peter had a telephone chat with Mary, who admitted to having assisted in attempting to make April Fools of the people of her home town. She was also able to get in a plug for the Radio London website and the forthcoming Big L 2001 RSL.

Thanks to Peter for an enjoyable bit of fun, bringing back some great memories.

It did occur to us that some people might have thought there was some April foolery associated with the somewhat unusual green-hued Galaxy in Paul Graham's picture, but no! The ship was painted that colour shortly before Radio London went off the air in 1967. Now if we'd have coloured it purple...


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