May 2003
(April 2003 is here...)

Mary's back in the Top Ten!

Mary was thrilled to hear that one of four songs she had entered in the 'Lyrics Only' section of The Great American Song Contest, 2002, had been a top ten finalist! The judges whittled the many entries received down to ten, finally choosing one outright winner and four commendations. Mary didn't make the final five, but was thrilled to have been selected as a finalist. Even her three songs which failed to reach the Top Ten were awarded high marks. The adjudication was very thorough and the comments made by the judges, (all professional songwriters) extremely constructive.

Mary is now looking for an Elton John or an Andrew Lloyd-Webber who needs a lyric-writer. If you should happen to be such a person, do please get in touch!

Right: 'She writes the songs' – Mary works beside her famous Big L '97 sunflower. Photo by Steve Young

...and talking of that Top Ten Hit...

...Steve Szmidt sent us an item from the Daily Mail in which industry sources claim that the era of 'manufactured' bands may be over, because encouragingly, sales of pap-pop albums are now being overtaken by those of rock bands. The spokesperson concludes that the public has had enough of the music scene being dominated by production-line pop centred on TV talent contests and bought by young girls.

The main problem, however, is that the public is only permitted to buy what the shops think it should. When John Otway's hit single, 'Bunsen Burner' was at #9 in the national chart last October, Woolworth's, W H Smith and other chain stores refused to even stock it. The Woolies spokeswoman revealed on national TV news that the reason for the store's failure to sell the Otway single was that their main customers were young girls who would not be interested in purchasing it. In other words, the youngsters would not be given the opportunity of buying 'Bunsen Burner', even if they had seen Otway on Top of the Pops and decided they liked it. As I pointed out to the store at the time, there were 1,000 people on the B-side of that single, most of whom are likely to have had at least one youthful female relative.

They lost a lot of sales, and serves 'em right. But how can any bands other than those perceived to be appealing to little girls, ever manage to sell their singles if even achieving a top ten hit does not mean that shops will stock it?

...and talking of Otway – Ot-TV hits Sky!

...The latest project from our favourite 'manic chemist' is a pilot series of 15-minute TV shows. Says John:

If you have access to Sky I have made a short TV series called The Cube which is going out on Channel 687 from 8:00 to 8:15 pm for four Wednesdays starting 14th May - just on the satellite - I'm afraid. Such shows are commonplace in the USA, but 'public service broadcasting' is only just getting going over here. I have always been keen on exploring new ways of getting the music across to people, and this seems to be an excellent and exciting way of showcasing the band and myself on the small screen.

With limited audiences for most of the programming that goes out on Channel 687, we could well top the ratings pretty quickly.

More comprehensive Info from my Website.

John intends the pilot series to be followed by an extended set of programmes to be broadcast in the Autumn.

Chris in the Radio London studio which he designed and built. Photo by Steve Young
Praise for Chris's War Effort
The Radio London studio and Macintosh computer system was put to full use recently when Chris was asked to assist with British Forces Broadcasting Services' dedications for troops serving in the Gulf War.

Following a massive national publicity campaign, the BFBS telephone voicemail system became overwhelmed with thousands of messages from families and well-wishers in the UK. The major headache was that all of those dedications had to be transferred in real time, via a phone line, from the system and edited for broadcast.

Chris spent days in the Radio London studio, recording and logging over four thousand messages, saving them as audio files and transferring them to CD ready for editing back at BFBS.

He says:

Listening to all the messages brought me very close to services' families who went through very emotional times during the conflict. BFBS staff were very stretched with such a situation, and it was a privilege to be able to help.

Having worked with BFBS for several years, I have become very aware of how important radio is to people on detachment throughout the world. TV has its place, but the reaction to the offer of sending dedications direct to forces in the Gulf shows what a big part radio still has to play in the welfare of our troops.

In an email to BFBS staff, Alan Phillips, Managing Editor BFBS UK said:

I'd like to offer a big thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make our escalation service such an effective and flexible response to a testing time. Whether you became a mainstay of sustaining the network at weekends or overnight, were part of the news team, or were involved in other, less high-profile ways – thank you!

Caroline, Vanessa, Marcus, Amy and Chris Payne also deserve a mention in dispatches for their work in processing the many thousands of dedications to and from the Gulf that have come our way.

Well done, and thank you.

The most obvious title would be 'Dave Takes Five' but that would be too easy...

Even those who are not particularly jazz fans will recall the Dave Brubeck Quartet's 'Take Five', a Top Ten hit in 1961. Two subsequent singles made the Top Twenty in 1962.

When Paul Andersson, Chief Engineer of Hemel Hospital Radio, asked the Dave Brubeck Quartet's promoters for permission to broadcast one of their UK performances to Hemel Hempstead and St Albans hospitals, from the DeMontfort Hall in Leicester, he was staggered to find that it was 'all systems go'!

With a couple of days to go before the broadcast, Paul was at home wrestling with a big water leak in his house, and was not in the best of moods when the phone rang. He says that he answered it with a somewhat curt, "Hello!".

"Oh, hello. Good morning. Dave Brubeck here. Can you tell me a bit more about what this Hospital Radio is all about, please?"

You can imagine how Paul felt! A wonderful conversation ensued and Dave was very pleased at having spoken to Paul. The feeling was mutual, needless to say!

Pictures taken during the jam session. © Paul Andersson 2003

Of the Dave Brubeck Quartet's performance, Paul says,

Dave played at the DeMonfort Hall five years ago during the middle of very wet weather, so wet in fact that the audience had to wait outside while the fire brigade pumped out the auditorium before Dave could play. Even then they had to enter through the stage door and down the side of the stage past his piano – five-and-a-half thousand people! His first number was 'Sunny Side of the Street'!

On this occasion, in the OB truck we were joined by Russell Gloyd, Dave's Manager. Russell was giving me tips on when he thought solo parts were coming up. Asking Russell what tune was coming next, he gave me a blank look and said, "I've known Dave for 30 years and we have planned this tour very carefully. That said, I can honestly tell you I have no idea, and what's more neither do the rest of his Quartet!"

Paul also says that during the afternoon's soundcheck, Dave sat down at the piano and started playing and, for some reason, carried on for much longer than he usually does. Before you could say 'Raggy Waltz', the Quartet were jamming! Russell Gloyd said, "In thirty-odd years they've never done that!" The resulting spontaneous jam session has been recorded by Paul for posterity.

The other members of the Quartet were Randy Jones on Drums, Michael Moore on Bass and Bobby Militello on Sax/Flute.

1966 Graffiti – tells you more, says it better!

Hans Knot tells us that he has been donating blood regularly since 1967, and every time he visits the blood donation centre, he passes a piece of 'offshore graffiti' which has survived since 1966.

Hans says:

On the Gorechtkade in Groningen are fire corridors. One of them has a shed and there are two words painted on this shed with green paint – 'Radio London'. And to make this all the more interesting, 250 yards further on is the famous Oosterhamrikkade. That's the place where the MV Cito and the King David of Capital Radio have been for many years. At 500 metres to the East of the Oosterhamrikkade, the Veronica ship has been rebuilt into a grand cafe in 1994.

Thanks, Hans. Does anyone else live near long-standing offshore graffiti?

Millions for Memories

Mike Terry drew our attention to an item in the Sunday Times by Jasper Gerard revealing that John Peel has been offered £1.5m for his autobiography by the Transworld publishing company.

The book should make great reading. Peelie is an excellent and witty writer, as we who used to leap upon the latest copy of Radio Times in anticipation of enjoying his column, can witness. Sadly, the John Peel column has long-since ceased and the once-excellent RT becomes increasingly trivial and tacky in content.

We look forward to reading Peelie's book and discovering if there are any new revelations concerning life aboard the Galaxy.

Hal's pics in the Hall
Among the latest additions to The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame there are some photos taken on board Radio 270's Oceaan 7 by DJ Hal Yorke, a supplement from a wireless magazine of 1965 listing all the stations operating on the AM band at that time (and showing which pirates were on channel and which were off), sad news of the death of a Radio Caroline boss, a few more broadcasters have been added to the roll of honour and there is even more audio - including Tommy Vance soon after joining Radio Caroline South and Tony Allan on the last night of Radio Scotland.
"Play something different or I'll bomb the station!"

The Radio Wave newsletter, issue #16, contains stories of rating wars in Auckland, NZ and PPM (Portable People Meters) and an unusual tale of terrorism from Japan. It seems a listener was so desparate to hear something on his local station that was not on the regular playlist, that he threatened to bomb the station or fly a plane into it!

To enjoy these stories in full (and much more) subscribe to the newsletter:

Andy bows out
After almost 13 years of penning his Off The Record feature for Short Wave Magazine, Andy Cadier (right) (aka ex-offshore jock, Martin Kayne) has decided to quit.

I took up the page in July 1991, when the then editor Dick Ganderton suggested I did a few articles on a temporary basis to see how things went. I never dreamed it would still be going 12 years later, particularly as at the time the magazine seemed to be read by amateur radio enthusiasts rather than broadcast radio listeners. At one point the feature even attracted a written warning from the DTI's Radio Communications Agency for allegedly giving publicity to illegal short wave broadcasts!

Andy's final Off The Record feature will appear in the August issue of Short Wave Magazine.

Bob's new look
Bob le Roi's website has a new look. Bob says the editorial page is now up and running to report visitors' feedback and he is happy to include editorial and picture features of your radio station and programme.

'One Subject One Link' covers that favourite topic of British conversation, the Weather, and in the Scrapbook, you'll find a new feature on Radio Northsea International during Robin Banks's time on the Mebo 2.

Bob points out that constructive views, comments, and contributions from visitors are always welcome.

Kute Keefers
Caroline South's Keith Hampshire has launched his own website, which includes a discography (as many of you already know, Keefers returned to Canada after his stint on Caroline and became a singing megastar) and a biography, containing some great photos. There are really cute pics of Keefers as a circus ringmaster, aged four, and a little older, but looking just as angelic, as a choirboy.

Left - Keefers in 2002. Still cute!

Keefers was proud to tell us that his daughter Laura has followed in his broadcasting footsteps and has just accepted her first radio gig as the morning show host on Country 96.3 in Kingston, Ontario, starting in June. Congratulations, Laura and 'break a leg'!

Steve Remembers Noel

Another of Caroline South's former jocks, Steve Young, wrote to say how sad he was to read of the death of Jimi Hendrix's bass player, Noel Redding. Steve said:

I just read that Noel Redding died. I kinda wished I'd looked him up when we were in Cork last year. I had the good fortune to emcee a Jimi Hendrix concert at the Chislehurst Caves when I was working for Caroline South. Although I never had much of a chance to talk extensively with them we had a bit of a "pre-concert chat" and I found them all to be very laid-back and approachable. I doubt that Noel would have remembered me anyway... That was so long ago and so far away

Stax of soul artists launch Memphis museum
The opening of a museum dedicated to Stax and its legendary artists was launched with three mega soul concerts, which included posthumous tributes to Stax powerhouses Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor (by his son Floyd) and Rufus Thomas. The building is on the original Stax recording studios site in the record label's home town of 'Soulsville, USA' – Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock n' Roll aka Memphis, Tennessee.

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is the world's first museum dedicated to the soul music genre, with over 17,000 square feet of exhibit space and over 2,000 artifacts.

For updates and more information please visit the museum website.

Surf's up!
We've mentioned before on the Radio London site, how much we enjoyed listening to one of the USA's few remaining independent stations, WVCO, The Surf, from North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. After all the hassle over net broadcasting fees, when many stations were forced to cease their streaming audio feeds, The Surf was obliged to introduce a subscription service for Net listeners. The Surf's 'Fessa' John Hook has now been in touch to say that the station is under new management and is currently available via the Net for free.

You'll enjoy listening to tracks such as 'Shut up and Shag', 'My Baby Sure Can Shag', and not forgetting 'Shaggin' the Night Away' – but the lyrics aren't talking about what you think they are – or so our friends in North Myrtle Beach tell us! The Shag, they assure us, is a dance. (Apparently, Tom Jones's 'Sex Bomb' falls under the 'shag' category. Make of that what you will!) However, there can be no disputing the meaning of one of the titles on the Surf's current playlist – 'Who's Been Rocking My Bed'. As PY says, "Very bold!"

At 949 The Surf, choose Listen Live at the top of the Home page. The feed has a tendency to 'drop out' as it's very popular and the server is having a job keeping up, so it is recommended that listeners change a Windows Media Player streaming audio setting for best results. Open Windows Media Player, choose the View menu, and then Options... Choose the Advanced tab. With 'Streaming Media (Windows Media) selected under 'Advanced options' choose Change... Under Buffering, click on Buffer. now enter 30 in 'seconds of data'. Click OK, then Cancel to get back to normal. Although the station will take at least 30 seconds to start, you are pretty well assured that you won't get 'buffering' gaps in the broadcast.

The quality is fabulous for such a low bitrate, but that makes it suitable for use via a modem.

It's great to have them back!

Radio's Dilemma – The Solution

Guy Zapoleon of Zapoleon Media Strategies, has added Part 2 to 'Will Radio Get Better?' (mentioned in a previous 'Happenings'), 'Radio's Dilemma – The Solution (Part 2) How do we get out of the current state of the industry and create truly compelling radio once again?'

Says Guy:

We need to be like the newscaster from (the film) Network and scream from the roof tops, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" All of us in programming need to keep on screaming until our owners and Wall Street listen or we'll all be working in another industry in five years.
Read Guy's full article here.

Another Top Ten – the worst Beatles covers
Will Young and Gareth Gates's version of 'The Long and Winding Road' was placed third in a top ten of worst-ever covers of Beatle songs. The BBC news website reports that digital TV channel Music Choice launched the poll to commemorate April 1963, the 40th anniversary of 'From Me to You' becoming the Fabs' first chart-topper. At number one was Star Trek's William Shatner, with his unforgettably awful version of 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds'. Voters decided that singing pig puppets, Pinky and Perky's cover of 'All My Loving' ought to have stayed covered, and placed it second.
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