The archived Happenings index is here...

Year end review

Site Updates
(Dec 15th) Caroline's land-based agent George Hare shares some terrific photos of both the Mi Amigo and the Fredericia and some fantastic memorabilia of the Cavern Club.
(Dec 15th) Wijnand Brak's wonderful collection of artefacts from the Galaxy.
Page three has an update to the 'Flight of the Phoenix' script story and some new photos.
Page two has feedback from someone who was named after a Big L commercial!
(Dec 15th) Robbie Dale shares two pages of personal pics from the Radio Academy Celebration of Offshore Radio in August
(Updated Nov 7th) Hans Knot contributes a news clipping about some new advertising deals for Big L to Page Nine of Mini-memories.
(New Nov 18th) Two pages of photos of the Radio Day 2007 in Amsterdam.
(We've noticed from our site logs that people have missed seeing the second page - the link is right at the top of page 1)
Comment on the Big L Fab 40 here!

And now, the news....

Congratulations Paul!

Listeners to BBC 7 were asked to vote on what programmes they would like to hear repeated to celebrate the digital station's fifth birthday. We are delighted to learn that Paul Rowley's excellent documentary 'Kenny Everett – The BBC Local Radio Years' is one of the top choices.

The poll-winning programmes were broadcast on Saturday 15th December, under the banner 'Now We Are Five'.

Many congratulations to Paul, shown left, phoning in news reports on August 14th about Pirate BBC Essex to local radio stations. He had a luxury office - a corridor outside the ladies' loo in the annex of the Pier Hotel, Harwich!

Paul has now sent some about repeats of the documentary over Christmas:

Thanks for the plug over the latest re-run of 'Kenny Everett : The BBC Local Radio Years' on BBC 7. I was delighted, especially as the programme was chosen by the people who matter - the listeners. It's a great honour to figure in such an historic schedule day - on the station's 5th birthday in this year of radio anniversaries.

In addition, the documentary was broadcast for the first time this Christmas on two more BBC Local Radio Stations, Radio Northampton and Radio Leicester.
This now completes the set. It means it will have been broadcast by EVERY BBC Local Radio station, 42 in total, which I think is a record. Many have repeated it, some have carried it five times! In addition, 'When Pirates Ruled the Waves' was heard on many BBC Locals this Christmas.

As well as commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Marine Offences Act, and the 40th anniversary of Radio 1, I was also busy on November 8 on the 40th anniversary of BBC Local Radio. I did 35 two-ways on BBC Local Radio stations across the country, providing them with bulletins and programme material, some of which was carried on 5-Live.
I also attended the annual Frank Gillard Awards on November 24 at Birmingham Town Hall. There were around 800 people there, including Tony Blackburn, who was part of the BBC London 94.9 team.
I wasn’t nominated this year. Not that I'm complaining. I've won three Gillards in the previous six years, which is hogging it a bit! Reporter of the Year - Bronze (2001), Reporter of the Year - Silver (2002), and the 'Outstanding Contribution Award' (2006).
But I did win the BBC Local Radio Quiz!. There were 10 questions in a knockout quiz. If you got a question wrong, you dropped out. After question 6 I was the only one still standing. It's made the media uk website discussion board.

Look out for results of your all-time faves
Mike Riccio writes:

Hi Mary,

I'm Mike Riccio, one of the "Survey Guys" from the MusicRadio77.com site.

As you may recall, for the last nine years we've been polling site visitors in order to compile the all time top 77 favorite songs of visitors. This year, we're doing it again, only this time around it's not hosted at the MusicRadio site, but instead at the BehindTheHits.com and RadioMaxMusic.com sites.

The voting is now over, so check the above sites for the results.

Radio Academy Honours Offshore Pioneers
On Monday December 3rd at the annual Patrons' Lunch, the Radio Academy of the UK honoured offshore pioneers for the second time in one year. Ronan O'Rahilly was given a standing ovation when he was awarded an Academy Fellowship in tribute to his role in revolutionising radio in the UK. The presentation was watched by some of his former watery wireless employees, including Johnnie Walker and Tony Blackburn.

One-time Radio City DJ, Adrian Love, was posthumously inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame alongside comedy legends of the airwaves June Whitfield and Kenneth Williams. See a full list of new inductees on the Academy's website.

Ronan with Johnnie
(photo: Alan Hardy)

Can Anyone Assist Max?

Max Venmore-Rowland writes:

I was browsing your site and noted that there were a number of references to the book "Radio Caroline". This was written by my father, John Venmore-Rowland, and there is a dedication to the three of us in the foreword. I wondered if there were any contributors who had pictures of themselves with my Dad at the time he was writing the book, I would love to hear any anecdotes or see any pictures that exist, we have very little of Dad so anything would be appreciated.

If you knew John and would like to get in touch with Max, please e-mail Mary

43-year-old request!

This month in The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame

Two pages of fantastic photos taken on board the original Radio Caroline ship, provided by Alan Turner (and there is more to come from him next month); a report from the recent Dutch Radio Day – where the PRHoF was honoured with one of the first Radi Awards; a correspondent hears his Radio Atlanta request via the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame site - 43 years after its original transmission; the sad news of the death of a Radio City DJ; and the site's traditional "Christmas in international waters" page has been updated.

Otway: Patron Saint of Losers!

John Otway must have been delighted to know that his name appeared no less than four times in the Radio Times for December 1st to 7th – and there was also a photo of him on Page 139! John achieved honourable mention on Page 5 (the 'Radio Times recommends' section) and is described as 'patron saint of losers' on the 'Spoken Word Choices' Page 129. Not bad, for a self-confessed world-class failure, who can be heard discussing how successful he has been at not being successful, on 'Off the Page' on Radio 4, Sunday 9th December at 2300. (The programme may be available on Listen Again after the second broadcast).

Here's the latest news from the man himself

After the rest of my 2007 gigs (more details http://www.johnotway.com) I’m taking a few months off and attempting to write the sequel to my autobiography. There are loads of great stories; the 2,000th Gig; The Royal Albert Hall; The Nation's Seventh Favourite Lyric; The Top Ten Hit Record; culminating with hiring Sydney Opera House and trying to fly there with my own audience in my own 747.

I had great fun doing some shows with Wild Willy Barrett this year and we filmed one of them in a lovely, intimate pub theatre. The Strung Together DVD catches Willy's wonderful acoustic playing and features less mayhem and more melody than is my normal practice, with songs like Murder Man, If I Did and Place Farm Way as well our Hit and B-side (Bunsen Burner/House of the Rising Sun). You can see one of the tracks here on youtube and you can buy a copy from my web shop.

Also note that you can now download the whole Rock Opera Cheryl for your MP3 player from this site as well as some other wonderful ideas for Christmas presents.

Hope you can make a show before Christmas, on either the Acrostic tour or the warm up to it!!

Cheers, Otway

Radio West Mid 40th anniversary RSL

The Radio West Middlesex 40th anniversary celebrations culminated in an RSL, broadcasting on FM between November 22nd and 26th. Former broadcasters on the station returned from far afield to present shows at the rebuilt West Middlesex hospital.

On Saturday 24th, founders Alan Hardy (right of photo) and Chris Payne co-hosted a special edition of Needle Talk, the very first programme to feature on the station. The show included embarrassing clips from their original demo tape!

Check the Radio West Middlesex website for more photos.

News from Nita
We were very pleased to hear from Nita Rossi, well-remembered by Big L fans for her Fab 40 Top Ten hit, 'Untrue Unfaithful'. She wrote:

Hi there, this is Nita Rossi in person. Thank you very much for remembering me after such a long time. I am in contact with Keith Skues and will be forwarding my CD very soon. I would love to be able to sing live to you all in England again one day.

Nita's website www.nitarossi.com is under construction.

Sunshine Radio
John Preston points us at the Sunshine FM website, in Australia, where there's a pic of our friend Graham Webb, who presents the Breakfast Show from home. If you peruse the programme schedule, you'll spot the name of another offshore jock – Mike Ahern.

Get Well Soon, Mick
In the summer, we reported that ex-Caroline North DJ, Mick Luvzit, had suffered a heart attack. His friend Adam has written to say that 'The Micker' has now undergone major surgery.

Just to let everybody know that Micker was taken into MSA Hospital and transferred to Royal Columbia Hospital in New West Minster British Columbia Canada on Nov 12 2007. He was only to have a double heart by-pass, but as luck would have it, he needed a quadruple by-pass.

After seven hours of surgery he pulled through and is recovering in ICU. Micker Is not yet out of the woods, but his daughter is by his side and he is being well cared for.

Having just got off the phone with him, he is full of hope for the future and is planning on restarting his Broadcasting Career to celebrate his new lease on life. Go Micker Go!

In the meantime, I will be providing Micker with a job at my office, looking after widgets and counting looperplatz's. I just like to have him around – he's a hoot

Update: Kenny Tosh informs us he has heard from Adam that Mick has now been allowed to return home

Thanks to The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame for sharing the story

Fifty Years in Radio and still a Pirate at Heart! (updated 23rd November)
Warmest congratulations to John Kerr on fifty years of radio broadcasting. John was in the UK in August for the Radio Academy Celebration of Offshore Radio and Pirate BBC Essex, where he enjoyed returning to his renegade roots, hosting the overnight programmes for the whole broadcast.

(right) John in the mess on the LV18

When he visited Scotland in 1966, John had already enjoyed the beneft of radio experience in Australia since 1957. Impressed with what he heard on Radio Scotland, he signed up for an adventure on the Comet and stayed till the station's sad demise in 1967, when he returned to Sydney and station 2UE. He has since worked on other stations Down Under, but eventually returned to 2UE, where he celebrated his 50th year of broadcasting on November 17th. John has hosted 2UE's New Day Australia programme since 1994.

Fellow Radio Scotland DJ Bryan Vaughan says:

John had a celebration dinner on Saturday for about 40 people. It was a great night at an excellent Italian restaurant and a good time was had by all. Jean and I were there and we spoke of John’s and my time on Radio Scotland in the wild waters of the Irish Sea and elsewhere! Fifty years in radio is a very good innings, especially as JK is still working for a very famous station in the most competitive market in Australia.

John himself wrote to thank us for our congratulatory card:

Yes, it's an amazing milestone isn't it? 50 years in such a competitive industry as radio. I would never have thought on DAY ONE that it would last this long and for the most part be as enjoyable as it's been.

We had a private dinner party for close friends, colleagues, members of the travel and country music industry last Saturday night and was delighted that Dermot and Jean came along direct from the airport. They'd flown in from a holiday on Dunk Island. Norman St. John couldn't make it from Brisbane but rang up.

Lovely of you to think of me from the other side of the world and we'll keep our fingers crossed we can show you around one day in the not too distant future.

Click here to hear an interview with John by John Laws, himself a radio veteran of 55 years. (Thanks to John Preston)

Waffling on a Different Frequency

The Wireless Waffler writes:

A short note to say that due to switching from ntl/virgin freedom to virgin cable, I no longer use the ntlworld web space - it took ages for them to delete it.  I am now on http://wirelesswaffle.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk.

Kenny Everett: Licence to Laugh...

...was the title of a tribute documentary, which aired on ITV1, Sunday 18th November. We were approached by the researchers for assistance with information regarding Cuddly Ken's early broadcasts on 266 and we did supply programme-makers Bellyache with archive audio. Sadly, there was no mention of Radio London in the finished programme, which mainly featured clips from Kenny's TV programmes and tributes from personal friends such as Cleo Rocos and Billy Connolly.
What we didn't need was current DJs Russell Brand and Chris Moyles, who had no connection to Ken and had never even met him, telling us how brilliant he was.

It Was Forty Years Ago Today

While visiting Amsterdam for the Radio Day, ex-Caroline DJ Bud Ballou, aka Howie Castle (far left, with Chris Payne), took us to Singel 160, the site of the former Caroline offices.

As we photographed him standing outside the building, it suddenly occurred to Howie that he was there exactly forty years to the month that he joined Caroline. Howie loves the city of Amsterdam. He was in town for only two full days, having travelled all the way from San Diego in California especially to attend the Radio Day!

Singel 160, formerly housed the Radio Caroline offices
Like most buildings in Amsterdam, Singel 160
rises for several storeys
Have I had too much beer or are these buildings leaning at an alarming angle?

You're a Winner With...The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame!
Hans Knot, Rob Olthof and Martin van der Ven are the tireless Foundation for Media Communication organising team behind the Annual Radio Day Festival in Amsterdam. We would like to thank them and their many assistants (especially Hans's wife Jana and Martin's wife Ulrike) for their hard work and the warm welcome they gave us. November 10th 2007, their 29th event, saw them achieve their largest turn-out and the most successful Radio Day ever. It was also the year they introduced the Radio Day Awards ('Radies'), which are planned to become a bi-annual event.

Our good friend and fellow webmaster Jon Myer from The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame (right) was the deserving winner of the Radi for Offshore Radio Writers and Historians. Presenting the award, Robbie Dale said, "We know (the writers and historians) for their enduring dedication to all things radio, especially offshore radio. One of this year's Radi awards goes to a true radio enthusiast who not only loves, listens, writes and records radio, but has also worked in the media for many years. He is the energy behind one of the great radio websites. Please join me in acknowledging the countless achievements of The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame and its founder Jon Myer."

Afterwards, The Admiral presented both Jon and Mary Payne with an MBF - member of the Beat Fleet - badge bearing a Jolly Roger.

Our photo gallery of the Radio Day is here.

A full report of the Radio Day, the Awards Ceremony and list of winners, with numerous photos and audio, is available on Martin's Offshore Radio Guide.

Next year's Radio Day date has already been announced as Saturday November 8th.

A Message from Mary and Chris

Because of the huge amount of work that Chris and I put into the Radio Academy Celebration of Offshore Radio, Pirate BBC Essex and of course the Radio London website, during the course of 2007, it was necessary for us to take a break from updating the website for a while.

Organised events aside, as you'll see from the stories below, offshore broadcasters are reuniting all over the world. Luckily, they have thoughtfully sent us reports and photos. Marshall Mike Lennox met Norm St John in Brisbane and then he contacted Steve Young in Victoria to say that they are now (relatively) near neighbours. Kenny Tosh went to to visit Ben Healy and met up with Lorne King. However, perhaps the most extraordinary meeting of all was a chance encounter between ourselves and Ben at Houston airport!

Chris and I had just cleared security and were putting shoes and belts back on. Chris stopped because he had something in his shoe and while he was sorting that out, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I was amazed to turn and see Ben standing there! He was on his way back from a golfing holiday in Mexico and was heading for his return flight to Edmonton, when he said to his golfing buddy, "I'm sure that's Chris and Mary!" Even with my new Stetson, he recognised me!

The three of us could not believe that we had managed to meet by accident. Had Ben passed a few seconds earlier or later, and had we not emerged from the security checks and stopped to adjust Chris's shoe just at the right moment, we would have been offshore ships that passed in the night! He was also surprised to hear that we had only a couple of days earlier received photos from Kenny Tosh of his recent visit to Edmonton. (See story below) There was little time to socialise, as Ben had to leave to catch his flight, but we stopped long enough to exchange a few hugs and to capture the extraordinary encounter for posterity.

USS Density Photo Album

The USS Density Reunion was held this year in San Antonio, Texas. A very moving ceremony on September 21st saw the ship's bell, which had been returned to the shipmates in 2003, courtesy of Ron Buninga, (who is the son of Captain Buninga from Radio London's mv Galaxy's days), presented to the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. The ceremony was dedicated to the families of deceased shipmates and a remembrance plaque was unveiled, which had been commissioned by the families of those who served aboard the USS Density, AM 218.

Chris and I felt extremely privileged to be included as representatives of the ship's second life in the 1960s as the mv Galaxy. Left, are shots of the statuette presented to us by the organisers' family, Laverne and Marie Bailey, their daughter Tanya and her husband R. V.

A photo feature of the reunion and the presentation of the bell is now on the Radio London site.

"RemembAAAARRR, RemembAAAARRR the 19th SeptembAAAARRR!"

Of course we didn't forget! Mary, Chris and Cousin Moosie celebrated International Talk Like A Pirate Day 2007 in San Antonio. Moosie has his own Radio London teeshirt, but outfits for minuscule mooses being somewhat hard to come by, we're still trying to obtain a suitable pirate outfit for him.

The 'Pirates for Hire' flag, by the way, glows in the dark!

Lorne and Kenny on Radio Six

Kenny Tosh, reports on his visit to Ben Healy in Edmonton.

I'm back home again after a wonderful trip to Canada - had a great time and Ben looked after me very well. The Rockies are beautiful. Ben took me out on a canoe on Lake Louise and said now we can say, ”Broadcasting on a whole lotta water!"

We also called in on Lorne King, who sends his regards. Lorne was looking well, he gave me a Canada “Hoodie” and a pair of Cowboy boots, with a really nice note, “Kenny, Welcome back to Canada” an extremely nice thought.

Good news! My Revival Show is back, on Radio Six International, Wednesdays 7am and repeated Saturdays at 11pm GMT. You can now hear Lorne King's voice every hour on the station. I got him to do some drops for Tony Currie and me.

I'm also on a new station in Hull, Seaside FM Sunday mornings 7am -10am.

Above, right, Kenny and Lorne, below, right, Lorne with Ben. Many thanks to Kenny for the photos.

'The Marshall' Mosies Down Under

Norm St John, back in Brisbane after his stint on Pirate BBC Essex, writes:

Dear Mary and Chris, I eventually got back to Australia in one piece. Thanks so much for your efforts at both the reunion and down at Harwich. I am sorry that I could not spend more time with you, but you both did a great job.

Norm also wrote to Willy Walker:

Last weekend I had the pleasure of catching up with Mike Lennox after over 40 years, he was in Australia doing some business and we were able to spend the day with him and took him to Queensland Gold Coast and later to a Japanese Restaurant for dinner with my family. We had a really great time and it was so good to see him again.

Mike was in Australia putting his new business together. It was so good to see him again after all these years. The BBC Pirate Radio gig in the UK was fabulous and I am sorry you were not there. It was hugely successful. Let's hope the Beeb does it again and that you are there.

I hope you are well and that business is brisk. I plan to Visit Florida next year sometime and I hope that we might be able to get together.

And we have to congratulate Norm on his golfing achievement:

Playing Golf in Las Vegas, I had a hole in one on a difficult par 3, 197 yards over water, 2 bounces and in the hole. Got a shirt, hat and a trophy, plus my name on the Honour Board.

Perhaps we should organise a Pirates Putting Trophy? Kind of amusing that back in the Sixties Norm and Ben Healy were offshore DJs playing in clubs and now they are ex-offshore DJs playing with clubs.

Mike Lennox in Brisbane

Norm in Essex

...then The Marshall Mosies over to Vancouver!

The Marshall also made a surprise phone call to Steve Young in Victoria, B.C.

I had a phone call from Mike Graham aka Mike Lennox yesterday (Oct 20th). We had a really enjoyable, long chat on the phone talking about those crazy days of Pirate Radio. I'd only ever met him once, very briefly on the tender on my way ashore from the Mi Amigo. He sounds like a really nice guy, and is now living just outside Vancouver... so now there are four of us living over in this part of the world! Anyway, Mike and I are going to try and get together next time I go to Vancouver. Robbie and Stella are going to be in Vancouver sometime in late November, early December so I might try to arrange it so all of us can get together at the same time. Funnily enough, about five minutes after I got off the phone with Mike Graham, my phone rang again and it was Mike Ahern calling to chat.

I was waiting for "number three" when I got an e-mail from Jonathan at PRHOF forwarding a request for an interview with me from some folks who're doing a documentary for Radio 4 regarding my involvement with Jimi Hendrix's appearance at the Chislehurst Caves back in 1967.

So, it was an interesting day!

'Pirate BBC Essex brilliant' says Willy

It was Willy Walker who kindly forwarded Norm St John's photos of Marshall Mike Lennox. He sent them to us at Radio London and to Alan Keen and Philip Birch. Willy wrote:

That BBC Essex broadcast was brilliant and I hope you all had plenty of listening time.............
All The Best, Willy

The Alan Bown Set – Before and Beyond by Alan Bown and Jeff Bannister

This new publication, already attracting 5-star reviews, was written by and about the band that emerged from the ashes of the John Barry 7. The Set (later renamed simply The Alan Bown) not only enhanced the Big L Fab Forty, but joined the Knees Club at one of the Radio London Afternoons at the Marquee in Wardour Street, in April 1966. (Alan was member 172, Jeff, member 192.)

Amazon review:
Luxuriously produced hardback book with many collector's images, some never before seen. Words from Sir Elton John, Phil Collins, Francis Rossi and Peter Stringfellow, the book focuses on the musical life of Alan Bown and the band but also touches on many other famous 'names' whose paths crossed the band's.

Click on the cover photo to read glowing reader reviews.

...and talking of Bryan Vaughan...

Dermot Hoy in Sydney, best known to offshore aficionados as Bryan Vaughan of Radio Caroline and Radio Scotland, has just retired from the Reader's Digest. He wrote:

Thank you for the wonderful card and your very kind thoughts. After 49 years at work, it will be a tremendous change and initially difficult to get used to but I am likely to do a little consultancy work for the Digest and others that will keep the old gray matter working! Still we do have a few plans in mind and are taking a two week New Zealand holiday early next year. We also plan to travel to Canada and the US in the northern late Spring/Early Summer and will return to Sydney via the UK and Europe. As you know, my wife Jean has lots of relatives in England and hopefully we will also be able to catch up with you both, as well as Keith Skues and others.

When you think of it, where would we be without all those fantastic experiences forty years ago and in more recent times. I plan to keep in touch. Keep up the good work.

Cheers, Dermot

News from Chuck Blair's Stepson

It's some time since we have had any news to update our pages devoted to the extraordinary story of Chuck Blair – the mystery jock from Radio England and Radio London who was also known as Rick Phillips and used numerous other aliases. We have just received the following from Rick's stepson Carleton Penn III:

Dear Mary,
Long time since I have contacted you. I received a surprise call today from one of the guys who worked with us at the Black Oak restaurant; he did not even know that my mom and Rick had died years ago. I have asked him to contact another co-worker and try to remember stories about Rick, the stories he told of Radio London, to send to you. He’s coming by to see me soon and I am sure that will generate new memories as well.

Hope you’all are well. CPIII

Pirates Won Me Money

Rece Porter from DeBary, Florida writes:

We play the lottery in Florida just as you do in the UK. We also have several additional more minor games each week, one of which is called "Cash 3" – self explanatory really. If your three numbers come up you win. Tired of NOT winning I hit on the idea of using the Pirates' frequencies as my selections!

In the last three weeks I have won with "199", "259" and yes you guessed it - "266"! Total winnings were about $500... So thanks mainly to Cardboard Shoes, for giving me the idea while I was reading his book (again!).

We do happen to know that for some time John Aston has been playing the National Lottery using the frequencies of the many offshore stations on which he broadcast, but so far, John has not been as lucky as Rece!

Radio West Mid at Forty
Chief Executive Tara Donnelly presented many members
with long service certificates
Founders Alan Hardy and Chris Payne with Mary Payne

Alan Hardy and Chris Payne founded Radio West Middlesex in May 1967, and as part of the year-long 40th birthday celebrations, a dinner was held on October 20th. VIP guests were the Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Andy Morgan-Watts and the Mayoress, his wife Linda and Chief Executive of the West Middlesex University NHS Hospital Trust, Tara Donnelly and her husband Robbie.

Appropriately for the anniversary year, Radio West Mid won a prestigious Hospital Broadcasting Association bronze Station of the Year award.

Check the Radio West Middlesex website for more photos of the dinner and RSL news.

Clap for the Wolfman

Doug Allen writes:

I run the Wolfman Jack Web page, with the help and blessing of the family of the late great Wolfman Jack. We are always looking for audio, airchecks, jingles, photos, etc., for archiving. Please let us know if you can help.
Thanks, Doug Allen

Websites: wolfmanjack.org; jinglefreaks.com. Doug's e-mail address, if you can assist him in his quest dawolfshow@comcast.net

Caroline Seventies Update

Offshore Echoes has updated the continuing story of Radio Caroline, with new pages for the 1970s, covering Radio Seagull, Atlantis, Mi Amigo, the Dutch MOA and the return to the English coast.

Complete with photos, audio clips, documents and press cuttings including large article from the "underground" paper International Times.

Visit www.offshoreechos.com

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