25th March 2001 – Our Second Annkneeversary!

"It's smooth surfing with the highly successful site at..."

Let me at it! Chris can't wait to get his teeth into the Big L bubbly!

When Chris and I launched the Radio London website on March 25th, 1999, it was known as the Studio Anorak website. As it was mainly dedicated to our all-time favourite radio station, we acquired the Radio London domain name on October 13th 1999. Even we have been surprised by the rapid expansion of the site over two years, and the number of flattering and heart-warming messages that have come from our 'Big L Audience' has been overwhelming.

Probably the only negative comment received during that time, arrived fairly recently from someone who was 'disappointed' that the site did not contain more sound files. Perhaps we should explain that, much as we would love to include all sorts of 'added extras', this simply isn't possible. Chris and I always have a backlog of ideas for items that we would love to include. There are plenty of exciting new projects in the pipeline, but only the two of us available to be Webmaster and Webmistress in whatever 'free' time we have. To borrow a title from Booker T and the MGs, 'Time is Tight'! The site has certainly taken on a life of its own, but unfortunately has not yet reached the stage where it has evolved into a life-form capable of running itself! Most of our spare time is already used up by the huge amount of work required to maintain it to as high a standard as possible, not to mention the additional task of dealing with all the knee-mail we receive. Now, if someone would like to PAY us to run the Radio London site for a living, what a spectacular job we could do with it!

March is an appropriate month to launch an offshore radio site. March 28th, 1964, saw the arrival of Radio Caroline during an unforgettable Easter weekend. On March 3rd, 1968, just weeks before she celebrated her fourth year on the air, Caroline was silenced as the Mi Amigo was towed to Holland. March 20th 1980 marks the sad day when the Mi Amigo finally sank.

Our original intention was to dedicate a site to Radio London, both the original station and the subsequent RSL revivals. This site, however, has become much more than that. Over the past two years we have been delighted by the input received from so many ex-offshore personnel from a variety of stations.

It's 'wonderful' to know that the majority of people from the era of watery wireless are prepared to share their memories and personal photographs from the days of real radio. So many who were involved in broadcasting in adverse conditions from ships and forts, still view the experience with affection. Almost without exception, they take pride in having been pioneers of the radio revolution in the UK. The feeling is best summed up by a quote from our interview with Caroline South's Keith Hampshire:

"I honestly believe it was the greatest radio the world will ever know. It was what radio was meant to be – all things to all people, but above all else, communication."

Keefers – one of the many 'ex-Offshore Ones' who was kind enough to share his memorabilia (including this pic) with our audience

When I first encountered Keefers via the Net, I promised that a feature about him would be published on the Radio London site. It took many months for us to get that feature together, but when it finally hit the site in December 2000, Keefers was knocked out by it. That was just one of the year's highlights. Here are a few more, with links to the appropriate pages for anyone who may have missed them when they first appeared.......

As well as Keefers, the Emperor Rosko and Graham Webb got their own features....

New snippets of information, features and photos continued to be added to the Chuck Blair saga....

Contact was made with Colin Nicol, Mick Luvzit, Norman St John, Jerry Smithwick and Ian MacRae.....

Raoul Verolleman scanned his wonderful collection of Radio Scotland memorabilia for the enjoyment of our audience....

A 'thank you' message arrived from Rod Argent for our review of his concert with Colin Blunstone at the Stables.....

The summer of 2000 was a magical one. In August, Big L was back, broadcasting from Clacton pier. Star guests included Ian Damon, Keith Skues, John Ross-Barnard, Bud Ballou, Alan West and Peter Young. For those who've 'gotta catch them all', what could be better than a photo featuring 'offshore originals', Bud Ballou, Greg Bance, Ian Damon, Keith Skues and Dave Rogers?....

We investigated Big L anthem, 'Craise F(r)inton Kirk', and discovered an intriguing story.......

Our first Big Lil's Christmas Annual was extremely well received and continues to gain regular hits, months after the festive season.........

Radio London assisted in reuniting old friends. Many good wishes were passed on both to Bob Stewart and Graham Webb; Steve Young has found Mike Ahern and Raoul Verolleman, Tony Allan......

Duncan Tuesday?

Alan Field came up with an intriguing theory that Duncan Johnson might just have been the Beatles' 'Tuesday Man' in the lyrics of 'I Am the Walrus'.......

And finally, these are a few of MY favourite things......

The ultimate Anorak experience of sharing a breakfast table with Keith Skues and Bud Ballou (and of course, the wonderful Chris Payne).... havingthe honour of producing Bud Ballou's first show on British radio since 1968.... making a Coffee Break appearance on August 28th, the final day of Big L 2001, to talk about the life of Chuck Blair.... and finalknee persuading Ray Ennis of the Swinging Blue Jeans to take down his trousers, display his knees and thereby become the new Knees Club President!

Chris and I heartily and kneesily thank all our supporters and contributors, who have been such an enormous source of help and inspiration: Per Alarud, Ray Anderson, Geoff and Maggie Bull, Howie Castle, Tony Currie, Ian Damon, Di and Hugo, Emperor Rosko, Alan Field, Paul Graham, Alan Hardy, Victor Hartman, Ben Healy, Lars Holm, Duncan Johnson, Keefers, Geoff Killick, Hans Knot, Brian Long, Jon Myer, Carleton Penn III, The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame, John S Platt, John Preston, Pauline Miller, Dave 'Cuprinol Knees' Miller, John Sales, David Skeates, Keith Skues, Bob Stewart, Martin Van der Ven, Raoul Verolleman, Graham Webb, Steve Young and Peter Young. Their written contributions and/or incriminating photographs and memorabilia have been invaluable. Great appreciation must also go to everyone who offered assistance in finding missing jocks. It's amazing how each little shred of information received at Radio London leads us to exploring another new avenue. We are also grateful to everyone who has been kind enough to place links from their own sites to ours.

I cannot review the year without mentioning the sad loss of our dear friend and fellow Anorak, Jenni Baynton. Jenni's funeral was the sort of Big L send-off of which she would have greatly approved. It began with the 'Big Lil' theme and ended with, 'Always Look On the Bright Side of Life', from Monty Python's Life of Brian, a track that summed up Jenni's personality perfectly. Jenni's Tribute Page will always remain on the Radio London site. She will never be forgotten.

Here's something we know would have appealed to Jenni's sense of humour:

The Radio London 'We don't 'arf get 'em' Award, 2000/2001!

Radio London receives some strange and difficult-to-decipher queries, but the following, reproduced exactly as it arrived, wins the award for the most incomprehensible query of the past twelve months:

Hi There,
Could you please tell me the name of the web site that was talk about earlier today. All I know is it was called something like, good looking or not .com.

Thats if you know What I am talking about,Thanks.

We have absolutely no idea a) who sent this or b) what they are talking about! Maybe it was intended for another site?

Chris and I want to express our gratitude to all those who take the trouble to write and tell us how much they appreciate the Radio London site. We continue to receive new 'hits' and encouraging comments from around the world. Believe me, we would not keep spending so much time working on the site, were it not for you!

I'll finish by quoting the inscription on the thirtieth wedding anniversary gift that I gave to Chris on August 29th, 2000. Constructed from hardware such as nuts and bolts, it's a figure of a bespectacled man at a desk, bent diligently over a computer keyboard and monitor. The inscription reads:

"Chris spends yet another weekend at the Mac, wondering, "whose stupid idea was it to start a website?" and then remembers it was his. DOH!"

Happy Annkneeversary to all our listeners – we wish you 'many happy returns' to the site!

Mary Payne

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