December 2001

500kW Longwave Station Gets Approval

Chief Executive Officer of IOMIB, Paul Rusling

After eight years of hard work and seemingly insurmountable hurdles that would have made many people give up much earlier, Isle of Man International Broadcasting PLC now have agreement in principal to build the UK's most powerful music station.

On 279kHz Longwave, it will transmit from the Isle of Man. Early in 2001, planning permission was refused for a land-based transmitter site, so where else would well-known ex-Laser radio entrepreneur, Paul Rusling, go next? To the sea, of course!

It can now be revealed that the Crossed-field Antenna and transmitter will be located on a platform about 5km off the Island, in Ramsey Bay, not far from the original anchorage of Radio Caroline North.

Bearing in mind that the Isle of Man is self-governing, (in fact it has the longest continuous government in the world), to construct a tower in the sea off the Island required the approval of its own Territorial Sea Committee. The tower will be built on what's known locally as the Bahama Bank, and would be in only twenty feet of water. It had to be proved that local fishermen who work the area should not have fears about losing any livelihood, and that underwater surveys should show no other reason why the tower could not be sited on the Bank.

Of the set-up cost of approximately £12m, Paul Rusling says, "We have offers of funding for the station from a variety of interested parties from the media and other businesses. Even after the recent downturn in advertising, people still regard radio and indeed media, as having lots and lots of potential for the future, but in particular radio as it's generally the media that people turn to in times of recession."

Naturally, with the station being based in the Isle of Man, it provides an ideal opportunity to promote the island, as indeed Radio Caroline did in the sixties.

"This radio station will reach literally millions of people across the Isle of Man's biggest markets, which is the UK and Ireland. We'll take news of the Island, and also mention of it directly into people's homes. There won't be a single adult left in the British Isles or Ireland, within a couple of years, who isn't fully familiar with the Isle of Man and what it offers," says Paul.

The length of time needed to get on the air is dependent on the building of the transmitter facility, with studios and offices in Ramsey. IOMIB already has planning permission for the studios.

"The launch will bring greater diversification to the Island's economy, helping the further development of the north by bringing a significant number of all-year-round jobs to Ramsey, while generating substantial revenue for the Treasury."

279kHz is an internationally-agreed frequency for the area, and the Island's Communication Commission has awarded IOMIB a licence to broadcast on it. The station will cover the UK, Eire and well into Europe, and the earliest it is likely to be on the air is the latter part of 2002.

We hope to bring you the full, fascinating story of the project in detail, some time in the future.

Top picture: Ramsey Bay, Isle of Man. Pictures © Chris Payne 2001

www.longwaveradio.com


'The REAL David Ballantyne is alive and well and living in North Carolina'!

Having come across a website devoted to our Discatron man, we sent a knee-mail to David and received the following reply:

"What a lovely surprise to hear from you just before Christmas! I DO remember the Knees Club. It was one of those flowerings of youthful innocence and silliness which couldn't really happen anywhere else except England.

I am so pleased to hear that you remember me in connection with David Bowie. I have been trying to contact Bowie for ages just to 'shoot the breeze' about the old Radio London/Marquee Club days, but as yet no luck. If you have any contact information for him, I would love to get in touch.

This is such a great surprise. If you ever want to listen to classical music, the station I'm on now plays the good stuff. WCPE-FM, Raleigh, North Carolina. We're 5 hours apart, so I should be on at morning drive time, your time, if you have a Net radio or a PC you can be bothered to start up at that time in the morning!"

It was a lovely surprise to hear from David after all these years too! He has kindly added a memory to our obituary for Earl Richmond.

DJ Culture on Radio Four

Saturday December 15th, 2001, BBC Radio Four, The Archive Hour: DJ Culture
"Mark Lamarr counts down a Top Ten of the greatest DJs ever and tells the history of such related themes as payola, jingles, corny jokes and silly voices." – Radio Times

Review
The programme contained some enjoyable clips, although few, if any, that had not received previous airings.

Kenny Everett's career, especially his Big L creations, should not have been glossed-over so lightly. In the uncredited Radio Times feature about the show (see Ten of the Best, below) Kenny and Cash received mention and Peel's Perfumed Garden did not. The programme, however, turned this about, featuring the Perfumed Garden, but ignoring all the wonderful material that Kenny produced using the meagre facilities available to him aboard the Galaxy . These were a much earlier influence on UK radio than The Perfumed Garden.

Even though the prog featured Tony Blackburn, Rosko AND Tony Prince, Caroline, surprisingly, escaped all mention, except for in the RT feature. Steve Wright seemed to have forgotten that Rosko had broadcast from the Mi Amigo when he spoke of him arriving on UK radio 'in the late Sixties'.

Hearing a clip of Jimmy Savile from his innovative Luxembourg days, reminded me of being a very proud member of his TTDC, (Teen and Twenty Disc Club) in the good company of member number 11321 – Elvis. I wonder if member number 11321 was prone to wearing his TTDC bracelet with the 'gold' disc attached, bearing the legend 'Dig pop'? Sadly, mine fell to bits.

Ten of the Best

An interesting tie-in with the above programme appeared on page 20 of Radio Times for December 15-21 – 'RT presents ten of the best' was an all-time DJ Top Ten. It was not explained how this 'chart', was compiled, but to select the ten all-time British top jocks would be a hard enough task; to pick ten DJs from thousands of them, world-wide, is impossible. Unsurprisingly, this Top Ten comprised an odd selection, where Jimmy Savile was placed number three, yet Fluff Freeman and Jack Jackson were omitted. There were, however, several pleasing inclusions. It was great to see three pirate entries in a row, with Big L's John Peel and Kenny Everett at numbers six and seven respectively, and Caroline's Emperor Rosko at number eight. It was also gratifying to note that the Kenny and Cash Show and Radio London were, for once, acknowledged as the launch-point of Kenny's career (although The Perfumed Garden, which launched John Peel's UK career, was not mentioned) and that Caroline and Luxembourg were cited as high-points in Rosko's. The Emperor's entry referred to John Dunn's sarcastic, 'Now here is the news... in English', remark, which was made half-way through Rosko's first Radio One Midday Spin. Rosko's opinion on the subject can be read here.

Peter Young also started the ball rolling by sending a personal DJ Top Ten. Maybe you'd like to add yours?

Rufus Thomas 1917 - 2001

"You don't get old when you are doing what you love and enjoying every minute of it in the process. Getting old is all in the mind."

Rufus Thomas, the man who until recent months was still doing the Funky Chicken and calling himself the world's oldest teenager, died on December 15th, aged 84.

Many British teens first encountered his music in 1964, when 'Walkin' The Dog' became the final track of the Stones' first LP. Keith Richards repaid the compliment when he joined an amazing line-up of musicians who backed Rufus during his performance of 'Dust My Broom' at his 1992 Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction.

Described by Sun Records' founder Sam Phillips as a "consummate showman" Rufus was the ultimate pioneer of black music in Memphis and in addition to carving his own successful recording career, assisted in launching those of many others, including B B King. He became one of the longest-standing DJ personalities at AM station WDIA, the first black-staffed station in the US. Rufus joined in 1951, and was presenting a regular four-hour Blues Saturday show there until only recently.

WDIA jocks appeared at Rufus's 80th birthday tribute alongside B B King, William Bell and Millie Jackson. The birthday was declared 'Rufus Thomas Day' in Tennessee and civic honours included the renaming of a Memphis street as Rufus Thomas Boulevard.

Rufus was a perennial favourite at the annual Memphis in May festival, making his final appearance there in 2000.

Says Howie Castle:

I saw Rufus many times while living and working in Memphis, but I never had a conversation with him. When I'd see him I'd just say "Good Morning" (or whatever) and go on my way. I saw him on Beale Street a number of times. It's the main thoroughfare of the city's entertainment district and was also home to the studios of WEGR, where I worked at the time.

Sunny Jim really does play Wax and Shellac!

Geoff Tyrell reports:

There was a bit in a Chelmsford newspaper about an RSL for the oldies (do they mean us?). Anyway, it's from 28th December on 87.7FM in the Chelmsford area and is aimed at people around 60 years old (that's next year for me) with an enthusiastic team led (it says here) by Sunny Jim a local builder.

They are going to be playing Anne Shelton, Billy Cotton and Max Miller, (maybe the latter, but not the other two for me) plus comedy from Hancock and the Goons! They say that they have "two turntables for playing 78s" but a lot of stuff is on CDs. Apparently they were on the air back in July and had over 10,000 listeners!

Otway at Abbey Road

Since our earlier report on the campaign to get John Otway a second hit as a 50th birthday gift, we admit to having been unable to keep up with full coverage of the 'Hit Squad' activities. This is to let all our Radio London viewers know that they can appear on Otway's birthday hit single by participating in a special recording at the famous Abbey Road studios on Easter Saturday, March 30th, 2002. Otway is famous for his audience-participation version of the Animals' hit, 'The House of the Rising Sun', which goes something like:

Audience: "Tell us about your mother, Otway!"
Otway: "Well, my mother, she was a tailor..."
Audience: "What did she do?"
Otway: "She sewed my new blue jeans..."
Audience: "What about your Dad?"
Otway: "Well, my father was a gambin' man..."

The Hit Squad aims to get an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the recording with the largest-ever number of 'backing vocalists'. (A term that will apply only very loosely to this recording.) The resulting masterpiece will be issued as a track on the October 2002 'Hit Single'.
Hit recording tickets, which include a Live Abbey Road CD and after-recording party are 20; Junior Hit Makers' tickets for under 13s cost 10.

(Left: Otway's ho-ho-hoping for a hit next year!)

www.johnotway.com


Ian MacRae for Radio Two Breakfast Show

No – nothing to do with the Beeb! Radio 2 is a new Oz AM station serving Sydney's Greater West. The station, which will provide news, information, sports and lifestyle features someone well-known to offshore radio – Ian MacRae hosting the Breakfast Show. Says the station presser:

'Radio 2 has developed a close association with the Club Managers' Association Australia, the NSW Leagues Club Association and Clubs NSW, which offers the club industry a strong voice in the West'.

A dedicated programme called The Club Show, will be presented by Ian MacRae and Mike Bailey.

Many thanks to John Preston for the info.

Keefers on Radio Two!

This is a recap of a story featured in November's 'Happenings'

On Radio Two's Sounds of the Sixties for November 17th, Brian Matthew played a request for ex-Caroline DJ, Keith Hampshire. The sender was Eric Williams of Liverpool, who had stayed on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. There, he had met Bob Andressen, a former DJ with American Forces Network. Bob was a friend of Keefers, who recalled him playing the Young Rascals' Groovin' on his final Caroline show and Eric had requested that Brian play the record in honour of Keefers' birthday (November 23rd). Happy birthday, Keefers!

Radio London sent Keefers a copy of their Absolutely Fabulous Show #2, and tacked the SOTS request on the end of it. Keefers has sent the following comments:

Today I finally had a chance to listen to the tapes of "Ab Fab" on Radio London for the first time. What joy!!! With almost every selection, the little gray cells were activated and the memories came flooding back! Thank you so much for sending me a copy. Your show was both informative and entertaining. I enjoyed myself immensely. I shall listen to it again and again, I know.

Thanks also for the kind words and for using one of my clips. I'm afraid mine really paled in comparison to some of the others. The other old-timers sounded great! They surely haven't lost their chops!!

The dedication clip you tagged onto the end was rather puzzling because I honestly cannot remember anyone by that name. Bob Andreson?? Do you think I may be able to get more information about my mystery friend? The suspense will kill me. It certainly was nice that someone remembered my birthday without any prompting, but it's a shame they could not remember the name of my radio show. Keefers' Kingdom??? Whazzat?

Thanks again for thinking of me. All my best, Keith.


We are trying to obtain some more info about the request from SOTS' Producer Roger 'The Vocalist' Bowman, but if Eric Williams or Bob Andressen would like to get in touch, we'd be delighted to hear from them.

Vintage Broadcasting

Frequent subjects of messages received at the Radio London site are fond memories of both the 'Big Lil' theme (aka the PAMS Sonowaltz), and of the station's final hour. Both of these and many other fascinating soundbites from Big L, can be heard via the Vintage Broadcasting site www.vintagebroadcasting.org.uk/biglrn.htm

Congratulations to webmaster Dave, on a great page of excellent-quality Radio London clips, which make very enjoyable listening. Vintage Broadcasting is well worth a long visit, to explore the many pages devoted to a variety of stations including London's Capital and early Radio One. Visitors can also place messages on the site Noticeboard. Updates are made regularly and the next is due January 3rd.

Recent additions have included two pages dedicated Radio Caroline and Radio Nordsee jingles.

Dave also runs a site selling broadcast memorabilia at www.flashbacksales.co.uk

'A man with no sense of embarrassment and no sense of shame' - Alison Graham, Radio Times

Trouble at the Top, Tuesday, December 18th, BBC 2, 2100 to 2200, told the tale of Torquil Silvanus Matthew Septimus Riley-Smith, founder of gay station, LBH. Said the Radio Times:

'Despite the fact that he knows absolutely nothing about running a radio station – or being gay – he plans to open Europe's first 24-hour radio station for gay listeners.
... He doesn't have any money... and yet he secures 500,000 from some City brokers for the station's first four months.
... He attempts to buy a mixing desk from a salvage yard in Yorkshire'

Apparently, however:

'Whatever his bizarre schemes, people can't help liking him.'

Morris Dancing – Jingle Jangle, Dingle Dangle!

Two-time sponsor of the Keith Skues Show on Radio London, Diana Lambing has found new fame as an accordion-playing calendar girl with Sompting Village Morris. The traditional dance troupe, decided to produce a unique calendar for 2002. With pages sponsored by local pubs and aided and abetted by The Beer Seller, the calendar is being sold in aid of a special unit at Southlands Hospital, in memory of the group's friend, Lyn Matthews.

Overseas visitors who are unfamiliar with the traditional British Morris dancer, should understand that they are usually renowned for their dangling ribbons and jangling bells. In The Morris Calendar, we find them displaying dangling ribbons and jangling bells plus DANGLY BITS! As it says on the front page, "They certainly have guts and most of them are on show!" The calendar's photographic uncoverage has naturally attracted a fair amount of press coverage.

Says Di:
"It's a bit scary at first, if you're not used to taking your clothes off in public, but once the morris dancers had been exposed to the elements for half-an-hour or so, they got quite blasé about it all and we ended up doing at least half-a-dozen sessions in different settings over the following two weeks! We've got a two-page spread in December's 'Sussex Life' glossy magazine!"

Next stop, Playboy?

(You can take the T-shirt off now, Mrs Woman!" Only one of these three people appears in the Sompting Morris Calendar)

The Radio London website highly recommends The Morris Calendar to make 2002 go with a giggle. Rambling Syd Rumpo would surely approve and to quote Cuddly Ken, "It's all done in the best possible taste!" Ankneeone for Knaked Knees 2003?

The A3-size SVM Calendar is available from, SVM Calendar, 93, Congreve Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN14 8EN. Price £6 plus £2 p&p. Make cheques payable to 'SVM Calendar'. Knee-mail enquiries: svmcalendar@yahoo.co.uk


Chris Baird, a huge fan of Cuddly Ken, is the proud owner of a set of jingles which Kenny recorded specially for him.

 

Radio London's Ben Toney – the man who gave Kenny his big break in radio.

Kenny Everett: The Local Radio Years

Known to Radio London fans as a popular star of Big L 97, aboard both the Yeoman Rose and the Ocean Defender, BBC Radio Derby's Chris Baird has assisted programme-maker Paul Rowley in unearthing a lost archive tape for his Kenny Everett documentary (previously mentioned in this November's Happenings) which is to be heard on BBC local radio over the Christmas period.

In a press release, Paul, a self-confessed Anorak, tells how he has been conducting a nation-wide search for recordings of BBC local radio shows which were taped by Kenny in the early Seventies at his home studio in Sussex. Many of the stations Paul contacted had no knowledge of the mischievous radio genius ever having been heard via their airwaves. Fortunately, the terrible crime of 'illegal home taping' and a few underhand tricks on the part of station personnel at the time, had ensured that some of these little-known programmes had survived. Chris Baird, for his part, assisted Paul in finding Kenny's 1972 Christmas Special, made for Radio Medway.

In Paul's documentary, Kenny's then-wife Lee, tells how, following his 'foot-in-the-mouth' sacking from Radio One, Kenny was desperate to be back on the airwaves. With commercial radio yet to make its debut, Lee pestered Beeb local station managers to accept shows made by the greatest broadcaster in the business for the massive sum of £12.50 per show! Bargain shows were subsequently recorded for Radios Solent, Medway (now Kent), Merseyside, Brighton (now Southern Counties) and Nottingham.


Help to 'Deck the Hall'!

...And speaking of Kenny Everett, which we were... In Jonathan's Christmas update to the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame you will find a new page devoted to Kenny, complete with soundbites and photos. There is news of ex-jocks from Radios 270 and Caroline, and a complete list of potential inductees to the HoF – if only Jonathan could discover their whereabouts. Maybe you can help?


Robin at the Museum of Commercial Radio recommends:

Check out this site – www.radio192.nl Dutch offshore radio lives on here - listen on-line.

We did, and this extremely well-designed site left us wishing we could speak Dutch!

As Radio Two's Sounds of the Sixties is prerecorded, it was too late for a tribute to George Harrison to be included in the show for December 1st. It did, however, seem fitting that, on that date, the programme's long-running A-Z of the Beatles feature reached its conclusion. The final track to be played was Thank You Girl.

Howie Castle in San Diego says:

XM is a new satellite-delivered (subscription) radio service that's become available in the US recently. It offers lots of different channels for just about every format available. One of the neat things they've done is brought back many of the classic PAMS jingles, re-lyriced. Check out the PAMS website at www.pams.com/pams/today.html and you can hear the "new" jingles in a stereo mp3 file or by streaming Real Audio.

Having listened to the six-minute mp3 high-quality stereo audio file on our big speakers, we have to say, "Wow!". It was eerie indeed hearing some of what we've come to know as the underlying themes of Big L (and other stations') jingles being brought right up-to-date and used to promote a new station. It will be interesting to see whether the 'sound' of the service fits in with what is essentially a jingle sound we identify with the sixties. Maybe we've been right all along; they are timeless!

XM Radio is a system of broadcasting many radio channels via satellite direct to car radios and home hi-fi units. Receiver manufacturers so far involved are Sony, Pioneer and Alpine. It's a very ambitious project as a visit to their website reveals. Find them at www.xmradio.com.


"Echoes of the Byrds and the Beatles" – The Unknown Mystery 60s Group

I Wasn't Born to Wonder

Dave Plum of record company Octopus Recordings was kind enough to send us a review copy of a recent release, The Unknown Mystery 60s Group, Vol II.

The Unknown Mystery 60s Group, Vol I, was released on the Distortion label in 1997. Having neither heard the sounds nor read the liner-notes of I do feel at something of a disadvantage. The information given on Vol II is so sparse that I was left wondering if everything that was known about the group had already been revealed on the earlier CD.

The story goes that the songs on Vol I originated from a reel-to-reel tape bought at a flea market (similar to our car boot sales) in Philadelphia. Nothing is revealed as to who purchased this tape and decided it was worthy of issue on CD. Requests for info about the unknown band were placed in Philadelphia newspapers and resulting responses enabled Octopus to trace the group's drummer and archivist, who now lives in Spain. "Missing details, photographs and tapes that make this second volume possible" were supplied to the record company on condition that the Mystery 60s Group remained a mystery. We are not even told how many members the band contained. The reasoning behind all this paranoia also remains a mystery.

What of the most important aspect - the music? We are not told if the band members penned their own material, although presumably they did, or copyright issues would have prevented the release of these two CDs. Echoes of the Byrds and the Beatles have already been mentioned in the record company blurb. Harmonies and tambourines prevail and many of the 19 tracks could grow on you. The singers' accents are distinctly American, although tracks like I Gave Up On You are reminiscent of tracks from the Beatles For Sale album. (I Want to Do Anything) But Look For a Job is the sort of tongue-in-cheek lyric that John Lennon might have appreciated. Interestingly, the track called When I Get Home is more reminiscent of Byrds than Beatles, while Duane would be a perfect track to enhance with phasing. Timothy holds touches of Eight Miles High and with its numerous drug references, may have been inspired by Timothy Leary.

All this secrecy becomes somewhat irritating, particularly in the way the numerous archive photographs decorate the CD liner devoid of captions, or of any explanations as to who is pictured or whether these people are even connected to the band. These could be photos from any stranger's family album. If there was nothing else available to add to the liner, it would surely have been more constructive to have included the song lyrics.

I can't help feeling that something about this doesn't ring true. If this is a band that laid down enough good material to issue on two CDs, why was none of it ever released at the time? The Mystery Group is rightfully proud of its musical abilities to the extent of wanting the tracks issued in the 21st Century, so what is the point of hiding its members' identities? What are they getting out of this? If there has genuinely been sufficient response to newspaper ads to lead Octopus to the drummer in Spain, then obviously, the group's identity is no secret in Philadelphia. Surely, if the little we have been told is real, there must be a great story waiting to be revealed!

This CD makes interesting listening, but is all this alleged paranoia an attempt at a 'work-it-out-for-yourself' publicity stunt? Were these 'Sixties' recordings perhaps made rather more recently?

Octopus Recordings are at www.octopusrecordings.com.


35,000 Anoraks Can't Be Wrong!

Radio London's Mr DUAC - Down Under Anorak Correspondent – John Preston, was the 35,000th visitor to our site. John, a sensible and level-headed man, uses the Radio London Home Page as his browser's default home page, so no-one could be more well-deserving of a 'Keefer', which is, of course, the offshore equivalent of an Oscar; a nicely moulded statuette made from seawater-corroded rusty iron and melted-down vinyl. Well done, John!


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