This is the story of how the
Radio London 'Lost DJs Bureau' began in 1999.At the infancy of the internet, we began seeking out and connecting ex-offshore radio personnel worldwide, some
of whom hadn't contacted each other for decades. The following pages form archives of searches, connections and subsequent reunions.
By 2017, when we organised the Offshore 50 Reunion with our friends Jon Myer of the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame and Alan Hardy, there were very few 'Watery Wireless' personnel remaining on the 'Missing Offshore' list.
January 27th 1999
Chris spotted Howie Castle (Bud Ballou) and Ben Healy's names in a guest book on the web. I knee-mailed both of them, mentioning how good the Net was proving for tracing long-lost broadcasters, and hoping that they might be able to assist me in my Chuck Blair search.
Howie replied, agreeing with my comments on the usefulness of the Net. He had recently rediscovered Johnnie Walker, whom he had last seen in March '68 when they were aboard Radio Caroline as the Mi Amigo was towed into Amsterdam harbour.
Howie suggested that, as Radio England's first Programme Director, Ron O'Quinn might still be in contact with Chuck, and he kindly supplied Ron's knee-mail address and website details. Ron's site contains some terrific pics of him with the Beatles, taken when he represented Radio England on the Fabs' 1966 USA tour.
Howie mentioned to me that he still hadn't been able to trace Roger Day. I iKNEEdiately sent him Roger's knee-mail address.
Ron O'Quinn replied to my message. Unfortunately, he had not heard of Chuck for many years. I'd mentioned to Ron, Howie's comment about how much he enjoyed anoraking. It transpired that Ron was unfamiliar with the term 'Anorak', so I took it upon myself to educate him. It must be pretty disconcerting to be suffering from anoraxia, but not to know the name of the disease with which you have been stricken! Ron also updated me on his present location and career:
"You asked where I am based. After I got out of the 'Big
Market' radio business I decided to come 'home' to Georgia.
I live in Glenwood, a small town about 100 miles northwest of Jacksonville, Florida and about 50 miles east of Macon, Georgia. I still do a weekly 'Oldie' show called Memories Unlimited on a 50,000 watt fm station, but my full-time job is managing a group of retail stores in 4 different towns for Alltel Corporation. Alltel is a Wireline, Cellular, Wireless, PCS, and Internet provider. We now have a 'footprint' in about 25 States."
Howie was delighted to have been able to contact Roger Day again. They had now worn their fingers down at their keyboards, in the course of exchanging 31 years' worth of news! Howie was still hunting Jason Wolfe, who was a Caroline North (later RNI) jock and involved with Howie in the setting-up of Radio Free London. So far, no word of Jason, whom Howie thinks might be in the San Francisco area.
I knee-mailed another Radio England jock, Larry Dean aka Frank Laseter, whose name appeared in the Log Book on Jim Murphy's Caroline North site.
A message arrived from Frank Laseter addressed to 'Mary Radiolondon Payne'. I contemplated changing my name by deed-poll IMMEDIATELY! Frank reported that he was the morning newsman on country-format station WSOC in Charlotte, North Carolina. (There's a pic of him on their site www.wsocfm.com). Frank said he still hears occasionally from fellow Radio England jocks, Jerry Smithwick and Rick Randall.
Receiving Frank's message was rather like being in the Twilight Zone, as not much earlier that day, we'd rung our friend Mary to wish her a happy birthday. Guess where she lives? Charlotte, NC!
It seems the 'Twilight Zone' incident gave Howie quite a chuckle. His best friend Jim Sellars is Promotions Director on WRFX (The Fox) in... Charlotte, NC!
With a little assistance from Radio London and others, Howie finally managed to get in touch with his old pal Steve Merike and wear down his typing fingers even further.
Jim Murphy's guestbook yielded another ex-Radio England/355/Caroline jock, Errol Bruce, now living in Toronto. I knee-mailed Errol to tell him about all the other guys I'd found during the course of my search for Chuck.
Errol replied that he couldn't help me as regards to Chuck, but said:
"O'Quinn - jeez when he left England/Britain I inherited his old army-fatigue jacket which I brought to Canada with me in '68 and wore till I lost in while working radio in Tucson. I've spent time trying to track him down via the Net - how'd you manage that?
Was looking for Ron Rose for a while, but gave up. When I first arrived in Canada I met up with his ex-wife (a one-time listener to Radio England, whom he married) she was working for WXYZ in Detroit. But that was almost thirty years ago!"
I was happy to supply Errol with Ron O'Quinn's details, and also knee-mailed Ron with Errol's.
9th June 1999
In response to seeing our news regarding Bob Stewart's health problems, ex-Caroline South DJ, Steve Young, sent us good wishes to pass on to him. Steve, whom Emperor Rosko nicknamed 'The Curly Headed Kid in the Third Row', was aboard the Mi Amigo in 1966/67. Steve has himself recovered from a serious illness, and is now semi-retired. He wrote:
"I'm still living in Canada, in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I pursued my career in broadcasting until about 10 years ago working in both radio and television, on and off the air. I'm now semi-retired and pursuing other interests. I keep in regular contact with Keith Hampshire (Keefers [see below]) and to Mick Luvzit. Keefers is in Toronto, Mick, in Vancouver. I spoke to Emperor Rosko about a year ago. He's still in Beverly Hills and has his own recording studio where he produces syndicated radio shows for stations in the UK and in USA.
Keep up the good work and good luck with your next adventure
Andy Wint wrote, after seeing Mike Hayes on our "Lost Jocks" list, "I used to listen to Mike with wonderment in my brain. However, I think you may be a little too late. Whilst working in Luxembourg in the 70s, Mark Wesley told me that Mike had died in Holland. Please tell me I'm wrong."
Delighted to be able to do so, Andy. See November 18th, below.
Jon Myer has asked us to add Carl Mitchell to the list, and Keefers asked about Rick Dane (The Great Dane) and Ian MacRae. The last Keefers saw of Rick was way back in the seventies, posing with the Pet of the Month in a Penthouse pictorial shot somewhere in the Med. Keith says he recalls envying Rick at the time! We do know (courtesy of Cardboard Shoes's book) that Ian returned to Australia and became a Sydney radio star. Is he still in Sydney? Maybe someone will send a report from Down Under.
Loads of updates! Mike Portas has kindly sent the following:
I love the 'where are they now' slot and being a subject very close to my heart in relation to 270 jocks, I thought I might pass on a little bit of news. One of your correspondents was enquiring about Mike Hayes and I was somewhat dismayed to read of his demise during the 70's particularly as I was in a bar in Amsterdam with him in 1996! He was at that time working for a computer company based in Holland, and was very much alive and working in his spare time on the fringes of the music scene there. Unless some disaster has befallen him in the meantime he is still with us!
For other Radio 270 information,
David Salmon has a
Dave Williams (ex-Caroline North) and Mike Luvzit have both asked us to add Caroline's Jerry Leighton (real name thought to be something like Lebowitz) to the list of missing jocks. Jerry reported for the station from the 1966 Beatles USA tour, when Ron O'Quinn went on behalf of Radio England and Kenny Everett represented Big L. Dave recalls that the Beatles knew Jerry and Kenny and asked for them specifically. According to Keith Skues, Jerry left Caroline in 1967 and joined his wife's antique business in Southampton. It seems nobody has heard of him since.
Mike Luvzit also enquired about Tony Prince and Robbie Dale. We know that Tony is in Florida, and Robbie is in the Canaries, so if either of them see this and would like us to pass on messages to Mike, we'd be happy to do so. We'd like to hear from both of you too.
Castle mentioned New Zealander, Glenn Adams,
who was with him aboard the Mi Amigo in '67. He says,
"Glenn used to call his show the 'Two Ton Yellow Mustard Seed', although
he played the same music we all did. There was nothing psychedelic about it
nor was it album-track oriented. Nothing like the 'Perfumed Garden' John Peel
had on Big L. Glenn just kind of disappeared never came back from shore
leave shortly after my arrival."
Was it something you said, Howie?
Further to our search for pictures of Howie
taken aboard the Mi Amigo, George
Saunders informs us that
Ray Glennister Snr. worked for Caroline and
Ray Jnr. worked for Radio 390. Ray Snr. is
sadly, no longer with us, but George believes Ray Jnr. to be living in retirement
in Whitstable, Kent.
If you are Ray, know Ray, have any pictures of Howie or know anyone else who has, please tell us by clicking on: I've found a staggeringly historic pic of Bud Ballou!
Peter Young has enquired about RWB from Radio City, who later appeared as Ross Brown on Caroline.
Talking of Caroline which we were Buzby (aka Richard Thompson, aka Bob Laurence) who is currently to be heard on the weekend Caroline satellite service, is looking for anyone who broadcast on the station during the Seventies. Sounds like a list as long as your yardarm! Maybe we can narrow it down a bit in the future to those who are currently 'missing'.
Jon Myer says:
I've been following your search for old
pirate people with interest. The following isn't much help but it's the
best I can offer...
Ian MacRae: Has worked for a number of stations in Australia, including 2SM Sydney and 5AD Adelaide. As you've no doubt seen, Keith Skues' book mentions that he worked for 2WS Sydney at the time of its publication but I've checked out the 2WS website and there's no mention of him now. I did a web search for his name and got a link to a 1998 programme schedule for a station called 4LG in Queensland. Unfortunately the link no longer exists and when I looked at the current 4LG web-site there was no sign of his name. When I interviewed Alan Clark for my pirate documentary a couple of years ago he mentioned that he was still in touch with "Monstrous Macca" so it might be worth contacting him. (Alan was then political correspondent for Meridian TV and I presume still is.)
Martin Newton: When I was working at the start of the short-lived Century Radio in Dublin (about ten years ago), Martin was there helping to install the gear. At the time he was working for a studio equipment company carrying out such installations all over the British Isles but I can't remember the name of the company, I'm afraid. I do remember sitting in the local pub hearing his tales of the North Sea.
Noel Miller: In the 1984 book "Pirate Radio: Then And Now" there is an interview with (ex-Radio 270) DJ Pete Bowman. He is quoted as saying that "Neddy" Noel quit the radio business and became a butcher in Australia much to the disgust of his wife who divorced him!
(I would have done too! Mary).
Thanks for that, Jon. It prompts me to add Pete Bowman's name to the 'Missing Persons' list.
John Preston in Brisbane has found Ian McRae for us!
Ian McRae works on 2SM in Sydney an AM station
on 1269. The station can be picked up in Brisbane at night-time, even though
we are 1000k's from Sydney. It is the only station in Australia on that wavelength.
I happened to tune in a few weeks ago and Ian McRae was presenting an evening
Hope this information is of use to you.
Well you've found me! Yes, I'm at Radio 2SM in Sydney which is currently going through big changes as the station has just been sold. We are moving to brand new studios in a brand new building and will become key station in a 30 station network. I am currently doing the Drive-time Show (3pm - 7pm).
It's quite strange being back with this station as I was there doing the breakfast show for 15 years after I returned from the U.K., but hadn't been in the building since I left in 1984.
I've actually written a screenplay based on my dramatic time with Radio City off the Kent coast in the mid-60's where we had a boarding party hold us hostage and the manager was murdered. I've had a bit of interest but the problem is the lead character is based on myself and, as it would need to be a Aust/U.K co-production, it's more acceptable commercially for the lead role to be British.(I am told!)
No, I'm not in touch anymore with other ex-pirates but I would suggest you e-mail Greg Newman who is publisher of Jocks Journal which goes out fortnightly to just about every radio station in Australia. I'm sure he'll be pleased to run a story and who knows who'll turn up?
Lovely to hear from Ian and great to know that his career is still going great guns. We shall certainly be in touch with Greg.