Radio Caroline: Wikis


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Radio Caroline is an English radio station that originally commenced transmissions as an offshore radio station broadcasting from a ship anchored in international waters off the coast of South East England. Originally unlicensed by any government, for the majority of its early life, it was labelled as a pirate radio station. Founded in 1964 by Ronan O'Rahilly, to circumvent the tight hold the record companies had on the broadcast of popular music in the UK.[1]

The station continues today, as a satellite radio station, with additional RSL broadcasts from time to time.



Radio Caroline North (original) and Radio Caroline South (former Radio Atlanta)
Broadcast area United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, parts of continental Europe
Slogan "Radio Caroline on 199 your all day music station"
Frequency wavelengths announced as "199" metres (1485/1520 KHz) and later changed to "259" (1169/1187 KHz).
First air date Easter Sunday, 29 March 1964 at 12 Noon GMT to 14 August 1967
Format variety, religion, news and popular music
Power Radio Caroline North = 10kW (later 20Kw). Radio Caroline South = 10kW (later 50 kW).
Owner Planet Sales Ltd

Radio Caroline first began test broadcasts on Friday, 27 March, 1964, commencing full time transmissions at 12 noon 2 days later, Easter Sunday, from a former Danish passenger ferry, the M.V. Fredericia, now renamed "Caroline". The ship was anchored 3 Miles off the coast of Felixstowe, Suffolk, England just outside British territorial waters.

A month later, a second organisation anchored the M.V. Mi Amigo, a former coaster, converted to a broadcasting vessel, and began broadcasting as Radio Atlanta from a position off Harwich, Essex, England.

Both stations continued to operate completely independently for several months, but by July, following a merger of their respective sales operations, they had all but united.

The M.V. Caroline then moved to an anchorage off the coast of the Isle of Man and broadcast as Radio Caroline North while the M.V. Mi Amigo remained off the coast of Essex broadcasting as Radio Caroline South. The British government classified both operations as pirate radio stations, 'though at that time, both were legal.

The two radio ships remained under independent ownership but shared a common sales organization until December 1965 when the owners of Radio Caroline North bought up Radio Caroline South.[2] In 1966 the British Postmaster General, Anthony Wedgwood Benn, introduced a law that rendered the existing arrangement illegal. Even after the Marine Offences Act came into effect, on 14 August 1967, the two Radio Caroline ships continued to broadcast, albeit with operations controlled from outside the UK. The Act removed the main source of the stations income, and eventually they were towed to the Netherlands (in March 1968) to secure collection of unpaid bills, for servicing, by the Wijsmuller tug company.

After two years of inactivity, Radio Caroline broadcast very briefly from the radio ship Mebo2, home of offshore station, Radio Northsea International, during the 1970 British General election campaign. Although its declared stance was politically neutral, Radio Caroline did, perhaps less than overtly, attempt to influence voters in the UK to vote against the incumbent Labour Party. It may have been politically naive of Caroline to imagine that a change of party would lead to a change in policy, however.

The MV Mi Amigo, the vessel used by Radio Caroline South (1964-1967), was put up for auction in 1972 and was rescued from the scrapyard for the price of 20,000 Dutch Guilders (about 2,400 GBP). Her sister ship, the MV Fredericia, was later scrapped. Following various shenanigans and contradictory accounts, the ship re-hoisted the O'Rahilly flag. The second era of Radio Caroline was about to commence.

To begin with, Caroline was off air more than it was on, but after one or two false starts, including a relaunch in 1973 as the trippy Radio Seagull, Caroline resumed broadcasting in February 1974 on a more-or-less full-time basis, and by the autumn of that year, as new legislation by the Dutch government saw off RNI and Veronica, the again defiant Mi Amigo was the last radio ship broadcasting to Europe. No longer a pop playlist station, Caroline was re-launched as an LP-based rock music channel on which DJs could play pretty much whatever they pleased. This reflected the attitudes of the majority of European record buyers at that time and was a great success for Mr O'Rahilly, who had noticed that album sales far exceeded those of singles. By the mid-to-late-seventies, Caroline had regained a UK audience of millions, with many more listeners around Europe.

After several years of neglect, the M.V. Mi Amigo sank during a very severe storm in 1980, bringing Caroline's golden era to a close with the decade.

The Mi Amigo was eventually replaced by a new vessel, the MV Ross Revenge, which operated once more as a pop music station from 1983 until, following a controversial government-backed raid, it ran aground in bad weather in 1991.

For the "authorities" at that time, the silencing of Caroline (ironically, through an act of piracy) was the final act of media control but to many, the passing of O'Rahilly's free (i.e. unlicensed) offshore Radio Caroline was an occasion of great sadness. It is often argued that most modern mainstream broadcasting suffer from a homogeneity that cannot be good for culture, even if (perhaps because) it is only popular culture. Undoubtedly, the "pirates" were cultural pioneers.

Due to the history of the Caroline operation from 1964 onwards, the company now responsible for operations in the UK has no direct legal or financial connection with the original company, Planet Productions. However, Ronan O'Rahilly has worked with the current management, to keep the name alive and the station on air. As such it is a direct descendant of the 1964 operation. It currently broadcasts via the Eurobird 1 satellite at 28.5°E as part of the Sky package on channel 0199, via the Internet, and by occasional Restricted Service Licence. This company also licenses other stations around the world to use the Radio Caroline name. Caroline has lost its "Jolly Roger" background,and finally joined the establishment.


Radio Caroline origins

The MV Mi Amigo, c. 1974, which had been used as the home of Radio Caroline South from 1964-1967

Financial backing for the original venture came from six investors, one of whom was Jocelyn Stevens. The original home of Radio Caroline shared space in the editorial offices of Queen magazine, then also owned by Stevens.

Ronan O'Rahilly has declared that he alone had created Radio Caroline and that he named it after Caroline Kennedy, daughter of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. O'Rahilly claimed that when he flew to Dallas, Texas to buy the transmitters for the radio station, he was reading a copy of Life magazine that contained a now-famous photo-essay depicting the president and his children in the Oval Office. However, O'Rahilly stated that the essay pictured Kennedy's daughter Caroline and that this had inspired him to name both the ship and station after her[3]. After O'Rahilly's claims were re-examined recently, it is possible to say the photos of the three together exist, and one of John Jr under the desk exists [4].

Original transmissions

Radio Caroline's original theme tune was Jimmy McGriff's "Round Midnight" (a jazz standard composed by Thelonious Monk which was an LP track on I've Got a Woman, Sue ILP 907 1962 UK; Sue 1012 USA). During March 1964, Birmingham band The Fortunes recorded the song "Caroline" on Decca F11809, and this later became the station's theme song, with "Round Midnight" confined to close down on Radio Caroline North after the The World Tomorrow programme.

The original Radio Caroline (MV Caroline) announced a wavelength of "199" metres, which rhymed with "Caroline". In reality the station was on 197.3 metres (1520 kHz) at the low end of the medium wave band. The Dutch offshore station Radio Veronica was on 192 metres (1562 kHz) and when Radio Caroline was joined by Radio Atlanta which became Radio Caroline South, it chose 201 metres (1495 kHz).

The original transmitter power of the MV Caroline was almost 20 kW, and this was achieved by linking two 10-kW Continental Electronics transmitters together. Broadcasting hours were initially limited from 6 am to 6 pm daily under the slogan "Your all-day music station", because Radio Luxembourg came on the air in the English language at 6 pm and direct competition was avoided. Later after its first close-down of the day the station decided to return to the airwaves after 8 pm and it continued until just after midnight. In this way Caroline saved its fuel by avoiding direct competition with the most popular television programmes. The use of radio sets at work was an uncommon practice and most commuters used public transport. Consequently most of its pop music programmes were aimed at housewives and later in the day they were targeted towards children arriving home from school. Because of the lack of daytime music radio competition during the first six months of transmission, Radio Caroline soon commanded a daytime audience of several million listeners at a time when all-day pop music broadcast in English was unknown in Europe.

For more on the history of offshore broadcasting before Caroline, see the article Pirate radio.

Creation of Radio Caroline North and South

When the original Radio Caroline merged its sales operations with those of Radio Atlanta, the second station was re-branded as Radio Caroline South while remaining in independent (from the original Caroline) ownership. When Radio London arrived off the coast of England, there was an attempt to merge the sales operation of this station with the Caroline organization before Radio London commenced transmissions. However, these talks came to nothing. Another unsuccessful attempt was made to bring Radio City within the Caroline branding.

Radio Caroline North (MV Caroline), anchored off the Isle of Man, and Radio Caroline South (MV Mi Amigo), anchored off South East England, became a network for sales purposes, although initially the programming of each remained independent of the other. The two ship stations were thus able to cover most of the British Isles and the western-most parts of continental northern Europe. Later, some programmes, pre-recorded on land, were broadcast simultaneously from both ships.

Tom Lodge

The first programme heard on Caroline was presented by Chris Moore [2]. Caroline DJs who went on to national fame included Tony Blackburn, Roger Day, Simon Dee, Tony Prince, Spangles Muldoon, Keith Skues, Johnnie Walker, Robbie Dale, Dave Lee Travis and Andy Archer. There were also a number of DJs from the USA and Commonwealth countries, such as Graham Webb, Tom Lodge, Emperor Rosko, Steve Young, Keith Hampshire, Colin Nicol and Norman St John. DJ Jack Spector, of the WMCA "Good Guys" in New York, contributed a show, taped specifically for Radio Caroline on a regular basis. Syndicated shows from the US as well as prerecorded religious programmes were also broadcast. BBC Radio 2 newsreader Colin Berry and Classic FM's Nick Bailey started their careers reading the news on Radio Caroline South.

In mid September 1965, the crew and DJs on board Radio Caroline South were joined by a stowaway for the weekend. 60's pop singer Sylvan Whittingham, who had arrived on board to promote her single "We Don't Belong", was unable to leave on the tender and "Marooned with 15 men" when a storm sprang up. She was the only singer to stay overnight in those early days and helped to present the programmes, make jingles and close the station down at night.

Mi Amigo runs aground

In January 1966, in the first of many such incidents, the Radio Caroline South ship MV Mi Amigo drifted in a storm and ran aground - on the beach at Frinton-on-Sea. Transmissions ceased as the boat entered British territorial waters, and the crew and broadcasting staff were rescued unharmed, but the ship's hull was damaged and it had to go into dry dock for repair. While the repairs were being carried out, Caroline South broadcast from the vessel Cheeta II, owned by Swedish offshore station Radio Syd, which was off the air at the time owing to severe weather in the Baltic Sea. The Cheeta II was equipped for FM broadcasting, so to enable Caroline to return on 199 it was fitted with the 10-kW transmitter from the Mi Amigo, fed through a makeshift antenna system. The resulting signal was low-powered, but ensured that Caroline South's advertising revenue would not dry up.

The repaired and refitted Mi Amigo attempted a return to the air on 18 April, broadcasting on 259 metres (actually 252, but called 259 to rhyme with Caroline and enable use of the same jingles as Radio Caroline North on 1169 kHz), with a redesigned antenna and a new 50 kW transmitter. The increased power initially proved too much for the antenna insulators, and it was not until 27 April that the Mi Amigo was fully operational. The Cheeta II continued to relay Caroline South programmes until 1 May.

The move to 259 metres meant that Caroline's channel was now just a notch away from the highly popular pirate radio station Radio London on 266m (1133 kHz), also with 50 kW, on the one side of the dial, and the BBC's Light Programme mainstream music and entertainment service on 247m (1214 kHz) on the other. This gave Caroline a higher profile and helped the station capture new listeners away from these other two channels. Radio Caroline North subsequently moved to 257m (1169 kHz) but also called it 259. Caroline would continue to utilise the "259m" (1187 kHz) wavelength until the late 1970s.

On 3 May 1966, two new rival stations, Swinging Radio England and Britain Radio, began test transmissions from the MV Olga Patricia (later renamed Laissez Faire). Both of these stations also used 50 kW transmitters, and the British government expressed concern about potential interference to foreign radio stations from the proliferating pirate ships.

Killing of Reginald Calvert

In June 1966 Radio Caroline embarked on a joint venture with rival pirate Radio City, which broadcast from a Second World War marine fort off the Kent coast, seven miles (11 km) from Margate. One of the directors of Caroline, Major Oliver Smedley, agreed to pay for a new transmitter to relay Caroline's programmes from the fort, while Reginald Calvert, the owner of Radio City, would continue to run the operation but this time on behalf of Radio Caroline.

However, Radio Caroline then withdrew from the deal when it was heard that the government intended to prosecute those occupying the forts, which were still Crown property. Smedley, however, had received no payment from Calvert for the transmitter.

A raid on the Radio City fort was subsequently launched by Smedley, and the station's transmitter was put out of action. Calvert then visited Smedley's home to demand the departure of the raiders and the return of vital transmitter parts. A violent struggle developed during which Smedley shot Calvert dead. During the subsequent trial, Smedley was acquitted on grounds of self-defence.

Marine Broadcasting Offences Act 1967

Radio Caroline International
Broadcast area Southern England, western Europe, Northern England, Ireland and Scotland
Frequency wavelengths announced as "259" metres
First air date 15 August 1967 following passage of the Marine Offences Act
Format popular music and news
Power 50 KW
Owner Legal status unclear due to a need to legally conceal actual ownership.

The British government responded to the burgeoning popularity of Caroline and the other offshore stations in 1967 by passing the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, which made it an offence to advertise or supply an offshore radio station from the UK. However, a rearguard action was attempted by the Manx parliament Tynwald to exclude the North Ship from the legislation with an appeal to the European Court on the legality of the act being applied to the Isle of Man. All offshore stations off the British coast closed, with the exception of Radio Caroline, which moved its supply operation to the Netherlands, where national laws had not made unlicensed offshore broadcasting a criminal offence.

Upon the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act becoming law after 14 August 1967, Radio Caroline was renamed Radio Caroline International and six weeks after the Act was passed, the BBC introduced its "Radio by Numbers" and a new national pop station Radio 1, modelled largely on the successful pirate radio competitor station to Caroline, Radio London. The old BBC Light, Third, and Home programmes became Radios 2, 3 and 4, respectively.[5] Though the pirates had clearly made an impact on the state-owned broadcaster, evidenced also by its hiring of many of the pirate DJs, it was to be another six years before the first on-land commercial radio stations began to appear in the UK.

Several justifications have been posited for the passage of the act, including:

  • the pirate ships were a danger because of RF interference to emergency shipping channels,
  • the act was adopted for the benefit of the recording industry,
  • the UK authorities could not accept the existence of an entity that was not subject to their control.

In any case, a mere seven months later, on 3 March 1968, the original two ship stations now known as Radio Caroline International were towed away by a salvage company to secure unpaid bills for servicing by the Wijsmuller Co.

The original era of Radio Caroline had come to a close.

1970: Radio North Sea International

Radio Caroline International
Broadcast area Broadcasting from various locations offshore to Western Europe
Frequency various on AM, FM and SW
First air date 1970
Format popular music and news
Power 105 kW MW
ERP 90 kW MW
Affiliations A brief name change from Radio North Sea International during the British General Election, after which the station reverted back to its original name.
Owner Mebo Ltd

In 1970 another radio ship named Mebo II anchored off the east coast of England in time for the British General election under the call sign of Radio North Sea International or RNI. This station was jammed by the UK Labour government and this resulted in RNI campaigning for the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom general election 1970 under the call sign of Radio Caroline International. With cooperation from Ronan O'Rahilly this temporary manifestation of Radio Caroline began to lobby against the Labour Party, and for the introduction of licensed commercial radio in the United Kingdom.

The government had perhaps failed to recognise that newly enfranchised 18-21 year olds (RNI's & Caroline's main audience) were disgusted by Labour's treatment of offshore radio.[6]

Following the election, the MV Mebo II reverted to its original name of Radio North Sea International but jamming continued under the "new" Conservative government for which the pirates had lobbied and the Marine Offences Act remained in place.

Caroline Television

There were several major news stories in the European press announcing the start of Caroline TV from two aircraft using Stratovision technology. One plane was set to circle over the North Sea in international air space near the coastline of the United Kingdom, while the other one was kept on standby to take over duties. Presentations were made to US advertising agencies. Although these stories continued for some time and included details of co-operation by a former member of the Beatles and a sign-on date was given, nothing more was heard of the venture once that date came and went.

1972-1980: Mi Amigo rescued from scrapyard

Radio Caroline and related stations
Broadcast area Broadcasting from various offshore locations to Western Europe
Frequency various
First air date 1972
Format album rock
Power 10 KW later 50 KW
ERP 27 KW (highly variable)
Owner Status unclear and mainly operated by supporters
Sister stations Radio Atlantis 1973 and Radio Mi-Amigo 1974-1978

Caroline made a comeback in 1972, this time from the smaller of the two ships, the MV Mi Amigo, anchored off the Dutch coastal resort of Scheveningen and serviced and operated from the Netherlands. The ship had restarted broadcasting as Radio 199, but soon became Radio Caroline once again with a Top 40 line up that included DJs Chris Carey, broadcasting as Spangles Muldoon (who was also station manager), Roger 'Twiggy' Day, Andy Archer, Paul Alexander (Paul Rusling, who later set up Laser 558), Steve England, Johnny Jason, and Peter Chicago. The ship carried programmes for Radio Veronica for a short time (while the latter's ship, the Nordeney, was on the beach, thrown there in a violent storm) and at one stage in summer 1973 broadcast two separate stations (English and Dutch) simultaneously, on 773 and 1187 kHz. Two aerials were deployed at the time, the twin transmitters were on air for about six weeks until the aerial mast failed. To accommodate the second aerial, a second short mast, positioned just in front of the bridge, was employed as the other end for the main mast.

Around this time, Ronan O'Rahilly decided that Caroline should adopt an album format similar to that found on "FM progressive rock" stations in the USA, as this potentially very large radio audience was not catered for at all in Europe. This service was initially broadcast using the name Radio Seagull.

Radio Atlantis and Radio Seagull

Since Radio Caroline could not find adequate advertising revenue it shared it's 259 metre frequency (actually 1187 kHz, corresponding to a wavelength of 253 metres) with Dutch language pop stations, the first of which was a Belgian station called Radio Atlantis. It used the frequency during the daytime to broadcast pre-recorded programmes and Radio Seagull broadcast live (and somewhat anarchically) from the ship's studio during the evening.

Radio Mi Amigo

When their contract with Radio Caroline came to an end, the crew of Radio Atlantis moved to their own ship, the MV Janine. Daytime programmes were then provided by another Belgian station, Radio Mi Amigo, which was officially launched on 1 January 1974. In contrast to Caroline in the early 1970s, this station was a commercial success, with a wide listenership in Dutch-speaking Belgium and the Netherlands, but also with a surprisingly large following in the UK. Radio Seagull changed its name back to Radio Caroline on 23 February 1974. The Album format was still followed, however. Throughout most of the 1970s, Radio Caroline itself could be heard only at night, under the banner "Radio Caroline — Europe's first and only album station".

Caroline's daytime partner station Radio Mi Amigo was run by Belgian businessman and Suzy Waffles magnate Sylvain Tack[7]. The station's offices and studios were based on Spain's Playa De Aro Costa Brava resort, where it produced programmes for Dutch-speaking holidaymakers. Most of the programmes of Radio Mi Amigo were taped and rebroadcast from the Caroline ship by day and were a mixture of Europop/Top 40/MOR together with native Dutch language popular music, presented by Belgian, Dutch and occasionally English DJs with frequent commercials. Land-based commercial radio was prohibited in Belgium at that time; thus Radio Mi Amigo had little competition and so enjoyed a wide popularity in Belgium and, to a lesser extent. in the Netherlands. For the first few years there was a big demand for advertising space on the station. After the closure of the Netherlands' Radio Veronica, Radio Mi Amigo gained a number of Veronica presenters and shows.

Loving Awareness

Caroline's chosen format of album tracks rather than top 40 now meant that, although the station served a market gap, overall listenership was smaller than in the 1960s. Caroline also promoted O'Rahilly's new concept of "LA" (Loving Awareness), a far-eastern inspired philosophy of love and peace. Some of the station's DJs were embarrassed at the idea of promoting love and peace on air, but some were fascinated by the challenge of promoting an abstract concept in the same way that they might promote a brand of detergent. Imagine a radio station running advertisements for love! At least one disc jockey was an enthusiastic supporter of the concept. Tony Allan developed a cult following among listeners as he also combined his promotion of "Loving Awareness" with a professional style, humanity, deep knowledge of music, and rich radio voice. The much-loved Allan died in 2004 aged 54 from cancer, and the cult around him has grown.

In 1974, O'Rahilly set up a group called The Loving Awareness Band, comprising John Turnbull (guitar) and Mick Gallagher (keyboards) (both former members of Skip Bifferty and Bell and Arc) and two session musicians, Norman Watt-Roy (bass) and Charlie Charles (drums). In 1976, The Loving Awareness Band released their only album, Loving Awareness on More Love Records (ML001), a label set up by O'Rahilly. The album was - and still is - promoted heavily on the station, and was re-released by the Caroline organisation in 2006 on CD with a replica of the original sleeve. The Loving Awareness CD was released by SMC ( Foundation for media communication in the Netherlands.) The band broke up in 1977, Watt-Roy and Charles played on Ian Dury's New Boots and Panties!! album, and Turnbull and Gallagher joined them on the Stiff's tour, becoming The Blockheads.[8]

Caroline's constant plugging of "LA", together with the progressive rock album music it played — bands such as Pink Floyd; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Led Zeppelin; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Barclay James Harvest and Hawkwind - gave the station an unusual and distinctive sound which began to grow increasingly popular as the decade progressed. Another feature of Caroline at that time was the "Personal Top 30" where listeners sent in their 30 favourite all-time tracks usually of the prog/heavy rock genre and one was selected to be played over a three hour show on the station.

During this time, the theme tune of the station changed to "On My Way Back Home" by New Riders of the Purple Sage, a track from the Gypsy Cowboy album which included the words "Flying to the sun, sweet Caroline". Also frequently played was "Climb Aboard the Love Ship" by Fox, as well as the original version of the song by (Fox founding member) Kenny Young, which he had recorded prior to his version with Fox. This was used by Tony Allan as the music for the 'climb aboard the love ship and sail away' jingle.

Dutch Marine Broadcasting Act

In 1974 the Dutch government passed laws to prohibit pirate radio which came into effect on 1 September. However, Caroline continued broadcasting, this time moving its headquarters and the servicing operation to Spain and its ship from off the Dutch coast to a position in the Knock Deep Channel, approximately 30 km from the British coast. On 1 September a small motor launch ran into difficulties in rough seas and tied up alongside the Mi Amigo until help could arrive. Radio Caroline broadcast appeals for help, giving the ship's position as 51° 41' N, 1° 35' E. A coastguard vessel was sent to escort the boat back to shore, but the authorities were unhappy that Caroline fans had jammed the emergency switchboards.

After 31 August, pre-recorded shows for Radio Mi Amigo were delivered on cassettes which were much smaller and lighter than reels of tape although the sound quality was greatly inferior.

It was claimed that the stations were tendered from Spain. In practice the Mi Amigo was tendered clandestinely from ports in Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Tenders and small boat owners were warned and in some cases prosecuted for ferrying staff and provisions out to the ship. Belgium had outlawed offshore radio in 1962 and its authorities took action to prosecute the advertisers. This cut the station's revenues. In addition, Belgian courts sentenced the owner and a number of DJs to fines and jail terms in absentia — although the prison terms were later cancelled.

Wavelength changes

The two stations experimented with several different broadcast frequencies. After a short test on 773 kHz in late 1975, May 1976 saw Caroline beginning a daytime service on 1562 kHz (192 metres, the old Radio Veronica frequency) using one of the 10 kW transmitters, while its existing overnight service continued to share the 50 kW tx with Mi Amigo's daytime programming on 1187 kHz (253 metres, announced as 259).

In December of that year Mi Amigo moved onto 1562 kHz on the 50 kW tx, leaving Caroline on 1187 kHz 24 hours a day on the 10 kW. The reduction in power caused Caroline to experience greater interference at night, and in an attempt to improve the signal it was decided to move Caroline to a new frequency. On 3 March 1977 (coincidentally the 9th anniversary of the Caroline ships being towed away in 1968) Caroline closed down, announcing that it would return six days later on an improved wavelength of 319 metres. To allow Radio Mi Amigo to continue broadcasting by day, the engineering work necessary for Caroline's move had to be carried out at night after the 50 kW transmitter was switched off, accounting for the six day closure.

Caroline returned on schedule on 9 March on a frequency of 953 kHz (actually 315 metres but called 319, again because 319 rhymed with Caroline). This frequency produced very strong heterodyne interference because the transmitter crystal was off-channel, and Caroline soon moved to the adjacent channel, 962 kHz (312 metres but still called 319). this was a relatively clear channel that had previously been used by Radio Atlantis, and Caroline's reception in the UK improved.

Meanwhile Radio Mi Amigo was experiencing interference on 1562 kHz (as had Veronica before it) and announced another frequency change. The 1562 kHz service closed on 23 July 1977 and Mi Amigo reopened on 1412 kHz (212 m) two days later.

Finally, it was decided to move Radio Mi Amigo onto 962 kHz (the same frequency as Caroline) and this happened on 1 December. Generator trouble meant that two services could no longer be broadcast simultaneously, and so Radio Caroline was once more relegated to a night-time only service. The upside was that both stations were once more sharing the 50 kW tx, which meant that Caroline began to receive an increase in mail from all over Europe. At times one of the 10 kW transmitters was used to save on fuel and relieve stress on the generators. The 10 kW transmitters could be run on the Henshaw generator that was available beside the two main Man units and also a Cummings that was positioned on the aft deck behind the wheelhouse.[9]

To the chagrin of fans, Caroline then began broadcasting sponsored evangelical programmes in order to supplement its income. Such programmes had been a staple of the 1960s pirates, but Caroline was broadcasting as many as three hours of them each night after Radio Mi Amigo closed, pushing the start of music programmes back to 9 p.m.

On 20 October 1978, a combination of technical and financial problems put the Mi Amigo off the air. This was compounded by a serious accident on the Mi Amigo on 19 January 1979, when the ageing ship took in water and the lifeboat had to be called to take off the last remaining crew members.[10] Unhappy at the loss of advertising revenue, Radio Mi Amigo terminated its contract with Caroline in November and set about equipping its own ship. Caroline finally returned to the air on 15 April 1979. The first record played being Fool (If You Think It's Over), by Chris Rea, dedicated to the British Home Office, whose mission to close the station had not abated since the MOA.[11] Broadcasting was in Dutch and English under its own name by day and in English at night, although for the first few months broadcasting finished at 10pm each evening. Radio Mi Amigo began broadcasting from the MV Magdalena later that year, but this was short-lived.

Mi Amigo sinks

By the end of the 1970s, conditions on the MV Mi Amigo had deteriorated. The ship was now 60 years old and had been used to house offshore radio stations for almost 20 years, since her original use as Sweden's Radio Nord in 1961. The ship had drifted and run aground on sandbanks in the North Sea a number of times.[citation needed]

One particularly serious grounding occurred in September 1976 when the ship broke her anchor chain in heavy seas, the studios were flooded, the antenna feed cable broke and the hull was breached below the water line.[citation needed] On that occasion the crew had managed to patch the hull and keep the ship afloat until a tender arrived with welding gear and a new (and according to some reports, stolen) anchor. Six days after the grounding, and in spite of serious damage to the ship's record library, the stations were back on the air almost as if nothing had happened, but it was not to be the last such incident.

As early as 1972 serious doubts had been voiced as to the ship's seaworthiness, but by the end of the 70s some of the boat crews that visited the Mi Amigo were describing her as a floating death trap, so badly rusted that she was only being held together by her paint.[citation needed] Many of the DJs learned to paint during their time on board.

Finally, just after midnight UK time on 20 March 1980, the Mi Amigo foundered in a severe storm after once again losing her anchor and drifting for several miles. She began taking in water and the crew were rescued by lifeboat. The generator had been left running to power the pumps, but these could not manage the inflow of water and the Mi Amigo sank only ten minutes after taking off the four-man crew, three British nationals and a Dutchman, and their canary, named Wilson, after the former Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. In sad and dramatic circumstances, the last words broadcast from the Mi Amigo were by Stevie Gordon and Tom Anderson, as follows:[citation needed]

Well, we're sorry to tell you that due to the severe weather conditions and the fact that we are shipping quite a lot of water, we are closing down, and the crew are at this stage leaving the ship. Obviously, we hope to be back with you as soon as possible, but just for the moment we would like to say goodbye. "It's not a very good occasion really, we have to hurry this because the lifeboat is standing by. We're not leaving and disappearing, we're going onto the lifeboat hoping that the pumps can take it, if they can, we'll be back, if not, well we really don't like to say it. I'm sure we'll be back one way or another. For the moment from all of us, goodbye and God Bless."

The Mi Amigo's 160-foot (49 m) mast remained erect, pointing skywards out of the sea for a further six years in what some fans called a gesture of defiance.[12]

1983-1990: MV Ross Revenge

Radio Caroline
Broadcast area Geographic areas bordering upon North Sea
Frequency 963 kHz (wavelength announced as "319" metres) later moving to 819KHz with additional transmitter in 531-594 KHz range (principally 558 KHz)
First air date August 1983
Format album rock and news
Power 50 kW (second 10 kW transmitter later added)
ERP 27 kW (highly variable)
Owner Ownership was hidden due to legality of operation.

"MV Imagine": U.S. Fraud

In 1983 a fraud case was heard in the United States, whereby the perpertrator used the "Radio Caroline" concept to defraud investors. This venture had involved a major media company based in New York City, Wolfman Jack, his manager in Los Angeles, and a man with a criminal history of fraud from New Jersey. The net result was a United States federal criminal trial in Philadelphia. When this venture was first proposed and money was raised the working name of the ship was the MV Imagine, so-named after the John Lennon song. Unfortunately the investors discovered too late that the MV Imagine was a phantom intended to deceive American investors as shareholders in a new U.S. broadcasting company holding the rights to broadcast as Radio Caroline from the North Sea. This was all revealed in sworn testimony during the trial in Philadelphia.[citation needed]. There was no legitimate connection with the Caroline operations

MV Ross Revenge

When the station finally returned to the airwaves, it did so with an impressive antenna system radiating from a 300 foot mast (90 m) high and the tallest on any ship in the world, and well over 100 ft (30 m) higher than the mast of the Mi Amigo. The new ship was the MV Ross Revenge, a sturdy ex-North Sea factory fishing trawler and built during the Anglo-Icelandic Cod War for Ross Fisheries. The station commenced somewhat hurriedly having left port in Spain to avoid further legal entanglements, but at that time the studio was not completed and when this new Radio Caroline took to the air on 19 August 1983, unwanted mechanical sounds were also broadcast each time the microphone was opened by dj Tom Anderson who had said "goodbye" from the sinking Mi Amigo in 1980.[13]

Officially Caroline was managed from offices in North America with most of the advertising coming from the US and Canada. In practice, day-to-day servicing of the station was carried out clandestinely from France and the UK. From the ship's original anchorage in the Knock deep the Mi Amigo's mast could be seen on the horizon.

Ronan O'Rahilly acted as the spokesperson for the new station and said that he wanted an oldies station. This met with opposition from some DJs and crew who had previously served on the Mi Amigo. Caroline returned to the air with the former album format as on the old ship, along with the return of some of the former presenters such as Andy Archer, Samantha Dubois and Simon Barrett.

The MV Ross Revenge was considerably larger than the old vessel and was to be fitted over the years with more elaborate transmitting equipment than the Mi Amigo had seen. In 1983 two 5 kW RCA transmitters were available besides the RCA 50 kW unit. One of these was initially regarded as not serviceable. When Radio Monique hired the main transmitter, sufficient spare parts could be taken from a fourth transmitter that was brought on board from Ireland, to rebuild the third transmitter into a working 10 kW unit. (the RCA 5 and 10 kW transmitters are similar in many respects).[14] The remaining 5 kW transmitter was later converted for short wave use.

The availability of four studios enabled the ship to transmit a number of other services for the first time. As in the 1970s Caroline tried out several frequencies, among them besides 963; 576, 585 (briefly), 558 (after Laser 558 closed) and later 819 kHz. (By this time European mediumwave channels had been reallocated to exact multiples of 9.) In the evenings on 963, in addition to the main Radio Caroline service on 576 or 558, some alternative music programmes were tried, including the reggae-oriented "Jamming 963", and then throughout 1986 and early 1987, a separate programme of progressive and indie rock called Caroline Overdrive. This service can be considered as more in line with the album format.

On 9 August 1985 it was announced that an official vessel was anchored one hundred and fifty yards from the Ross Revenge (day one of "Eurosiege"). It was the period that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) put out a permanent watch on all activities in the Thames Estuary regarding the movements of ships in the neighbourhood of the MV Ross Revenge and the MV Communicator, which was at that stage the radio ship for Laser 558. Caroline DJs on board the ship at this historic time included Susan Charles, Peter Philips, Johnny Lewis, Dave Collins and David Andrews. On 3 September 1985 at 24:00 hours the Dioptric Surveyor departed owing to a force nine storm.

Radio Monique

Once again, Caroline had a Dutch operation. From December 1984 the Ross Revenge broadcast the taped and live programmes of a Dutch music radio production company by day under the name Radio Monique using the 50 kW transmitter. These programmes featured mainly Pop and Euro-Pop style music, aimed at the mainstream Dutch radio listening audience, which gave Radio Monique wide appeal throughout the Benelux.

In addition, Caroline transmitted paid-for programmes of various Dutch and American religious evangelist broadcasters such as Johan Maasbach and Roy Masters. These were broadcast on medium wave (and later on short-wave as well) under the name "Viewpoint 963/819" (or "World Mission Radio (WMR)" in the case of the SW service).

In November 1985, the competitor offshore station, Laser, dragged its anchor in a storm. Laser broadcast a Mayday (distress signal) call, which the DTI answered and escorted the Communicator into harbour, where they impounded the ship. With Laser off the air, Caroline moved from 576 kHz to Laser's 558 kHz frequency, now broadcasting a Top 40 music format somewhat similar to Laser's (albeit with a higher proportion of oldies) under the name Caroline 558. Thus when Laser briefly returned as Laser Hot Hits, it was in turn forced to use Caroline's former (and somewhat inferior) frequency of 576.

The mast collapses

In 1987 the British Government passed the Territorial Sea Act[15] which extended the UK maritime limit from three to twelve nautical miles. In order to remain in international waters, the ship moved to a new, less-sheltered anchorage. Initially this was regarded as a minor inconvenience as the 300-foot (91 m) ship—the largest ever used in offshore radio) -- was thought sturdy enough to operate at this anchorage. However, in October a massive storm hit southern England, causing loss of life and severe damage to buildings and trees. Unable to take shelter inside territorial waters, the MV Ross Revenge was forced to weather the storm in the North Sea.

The following day Caroline was one of the few stations in the South East of England still on the air. However, unbeknown at the time, the storm had severely weakened her 300-foot (91 m) antenna mast, which collapsed in another storm some weeks later (a video taken aboard the ship at the time by Nigel Harris, known as Stuart Russell in earlier times, is widely available). Caroline quickly returned to the airwaves, initially with a makeshift aerial which gave a less powerful signal (and as a result, a much reduced audience). For several months only one transmitter could be used, leading to the loss of the crucial income-generating Radio Monique, although a substitute Dutch daytime service, Radio 558 (later Radio 819), was eventually established.

1989 Joint Anglo-Dutch Raid

On land, the UK Thatcher government sharpened the 1967 anti-offshore broadcasting law further, this time to permit the boarding and silencing of stations operating in international waters, if their signal could be received in the UK, even if their vessels were foreign registered and operated. Lord Annan, author of the 1977 Report of the Committee on the Future of Broadcasting, spoke in defence of the pirate in the House of Lords at Report Stage on the Broadcasting Act 1990, saying "Why break a butterfly upon the wheel?" [16] In an article written for the pressure group Charter 88, Steve McGann added "Whether Caroline was right to maintain her defiance for so many years is irrelevant. Her story illustrates how uniquely dangerous government regards an independent voice transmitted over unrestricted airwaves and to what ends it will go to silence it." [17] This legislation, which some see as Draconian, remains in force today.

During mid-August 1989 (months before the new law had even made it through Parliament) Authorities in several European countries carried out a coordinated series of raids on houses, recording studios and offices believed to be used by the Caroline organisation. On 18 August a British government chartered ship pulled up alongside the Ross Revenge and requested permission to board in order to "discuss the future" of the Ross Revenge and the stations operating from it. This request was declined, as was a request to cease transmissions on 819 kHz. (Surprisingly, no request was made in respect of 558 kHz transmission). However, a request to cease broadcasting on the short wave frequency 6215 kHz was complied with, and after several hours the British government chartered ship returned to port.

However, the following day James Murphy, an investigator for the UK Office of Official Solicitor acting on behalf of the UK Department of Trade and Industry, joined colleagues and counterparts from the Netherlands Radio Regulatory Authority to carry out an armed raid on the Ross Revenge in which vital equipment was wrecked or confiscated.

It was claimed that Caroline's use of a marine "supplementry distress and calling" frequency 6215 kHz for the transmission of paid-for religious programmes was causing interference to maritime communications (although the shortwave transmissions had stopped on the day prior to the raid). That station was called World Mission Radio and its on-air announced address was in California.

The main reason though, according to most people, was that 1.5 million people were listening each day to Radio Monique, transmitted from the Ross Revenge. The Dutch state radio station discovered this and complained to the authorities to do something about it because, they argued, they were losing potential advertising money.

The interference on short wave, however, did exist; and several times Caroline was warned about this by officials and offshore-radio fans.[citation needed]

Part of the raid was broadcast live before officials finally cut off the transmitters. Dutch nationals onboard, were arrested and taken back to the Netherlands, together with most of the broadcasting equipment. Non-Dutch staff were not arrested but were given the option of staying on the ship or returning to the Netherlands - most chose to stay on board.

The legality of the raid (as well as accounts of what actually took place on board that day) is still hotly disputed between the Caroline Organisation and the authorities. Caroline claimed that the boarding of the ship and removal/destruction of equipment was an act of piracy on the high seas under international maritime law (a crime which at the time still carried the death penalty). The Dutch claimed that as the ship's Panamanian registration had lapsed in 1987, it was not under legal protection from any country and that its transmissions were a breach of international radio regulations which since 1982 have prohibited broadcasting from outside national territories. Several years after the raid some of the seized items were returned to the station.

Photos taken of the Ross Revenge just one day after this raid are available to see at

1990-1991: After the raid

Six weeks after the police raid, on 1 October 1989, Radio Caroline restarted from the Ross Revenge . Although initially using makeshift equipment and on very low power, Caroline's return was seen by its staff both as a gesture of defiance toward the raiders and a necessary measure to retain the 558 kHz frequency (which at the time was regarded as one of best available on the medium wave band due to the low level of night-time interference). One of Caroline's most faithful people of all time, engineer Peter Chicago, had hidden parts during the raid. In six weeks he managed to put these into good use and restored the 5 kW transmitter previously used on short-wave to 558 kHz.

Over the following months Caroline's signal quality improved as transmitting valves were donated and programming returned to normal. A new challenge occurred in June 1990, when Spectrum Radio, a new multi-ethnic community radio station for London, was allocated 558 kHz, the same frequency as Caroline. This was seen by many of Caroline's fans as an attempt by the British authorities to jam Caroline.

In the event Caroline's signal caused more interference to Spectrum's than vice versa. Caroline broadcast regular apologies to Spectrum and its listeners but refused to vacate the channel. Spectrum threatened to sue the Radio Authority, which relented and allowed Spectrum to temporairly use a second, clear frequency of 990 kHz (despite earlier claims that no alternative frequencies were available) alongside 558 kHz. Eventually, however, Caroline did leave 558 kHz and moved to 819 (the former Dutch frequency).

This continued until 5 November 1990, when lack of fuel and supplies finally put the station off the air. The final song played being "Pilot of the Airwaves" by Charlie Dore,[18] which turned out to be (unintentionally) poignant. Most of the previous broadcasting staff had by now left. A skeleton staff of volunteers remained on board for a year as caretakers, whilst fresh funding and equipment was sought on land.

In November 1991 hurricane force storms caused the ship to break anchor and drift onto the Goodwin Sands, a notorious "ships' graveyard" in the English Channel. The crew were rescued by RAF helicopter. The Ross Revenge was later salvaged and brought into harbour in Dover.

Radio Caroline ceased to be an unlicensed, offshore pirate radio broadcasting operation.

Radio Caroline
Broadcast area  United Kingdom:
Europe (Eurobird 1);
Worldwide (Internet)
Frequency Sky Digital: 0199
UPC Ireland: 927
Eurobird 1: 11390V
First air date 1999
Format AOR (Album/adult oriented)
Owner Radio Caroline Ltd. and Caroline Support Group (originally called the Ross Revenge Support Group).

1991 onwards: Licensed Support Group era

Following the near shipwrecking of the Ross Revenge and subsequent harbouring off the south east coast of England in 1990, the ship has been maintained by an association of enthusiasts called the Caroline Support Group (originally called the Ross Revenge Support Group - this way they could support the ship without getting into any legal trouble with regards to supporting the station). As of 2007, following numerous moves, the Ross Revenge has been docked at Tilbury and is undergoing repairs and maintenance by a volunteer crew. The ship still has working radio studios aboard, from which both Caroline and BBC Essex have occasionally broadcast

Licensed Radio Caroline via Restricted Service Licenses

Radio Caroline was off the air for most of the 1990s, with the exception of occasional low-power broadcasts of one month's duration. A number of these licensed 28-day RSL (Restricted Service Licence) broadcasts took place from the Ross Revenge during the 1990s, with the ship anchored off Clacton, in London's Canary Wharf, Southend Pier and off the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

The most recent and, reportedly, most successful RSL ran from 7 August until 3 September 2004, from the ship moored at the cruise liner terminal jetty at Tilbury in Essex. On this occasion the medium wave frequency authorised was 235 metres (1278 kHz) and an ISDN link enabled the programmes created on-board to be routed by landline to their Maidstone studio and thus to web streams and the satellite broadcast. The retailer ASDA and English Heritage, guardians of Tilbury Fort, were amongst the backers for this short duration event, intended to mark the 40th anniversary year of Radio Caroline and promote awareness of the continuing legalised digital and satellite programmes.

A broadcast on 531 kHz is taking place over the holiday weekend of 28/31 August 2009

Via satellites and Internet

Originally using legal and landbased studios leased from [1]EKR in Kent, UK,Radio Caroline began broadcasting via satellites from 19.2° and Eurobird 1, covering Western Europe, first with an analogue, and then later with a digital service. Astra transmissions temporarily ceased in November 2002[19]. The station is also heard on the Internet.

Former offshore broadcasters who continue to broadcast on the land-based Caroline are Roger Mathews, Nigel Harris, Martin Fisher, Marc Jacobs, Johnny Lewis, Doug Wood, Dave Foster, Cliff Osbourne, Bob Lawrence, Jeremy Chartham and Ad Roberts. Evangelical programmes are broadcast, together with a number of sponsored specialist music shows. Easter weekend 2008 saw 3 days of live broadcasting from the Ross Revenge in Tilbury featuring 10 presenters from the Mi Amigo of the late 70s. Those aboard for the 90 hour reunion were Roger Mathews, Mike Stevens, Bob Lawrence, Brian Martin, Martin Fisher, Cliff Osbourne, Jeremy Chartham, Marc Jacobs, Ad Roberts, Dick Verheul and Kees Borrell.


In 2002 Caroline took a channel with the WorldSpace satellite radio system. This was a subscription-based satellite which carried only radio services and covered a third of the world from South Africa across to the western tip of India and northern Europe. A special dedicated WorldSpace receiver was required in order to receive WorldSpace stations, together with an annual subscription to descramble the broadcasts. This gave those living outside of the Sky Digital broadcast footprint (principally the British Isles), the chance to hear Caroline on a radio set. In 2007 Worldspace announced it would no longer offer services on its current platform of radios and would instead concentrate on its new Hybrid Satellite system.


From summer 2006 Caroline has purchased an EPG slot on Sky channel 0199. No subscription is required, so this is available using both the regular Sky subscription and the non-subscription Freesat from Sky service.[20]

Other Caroline operations

Radio Caroline in Dutch

In January 2002, Sietse Brouwer, a DJ with Caroline in the 1980s launched a Netherlands-based Radio Caroline operating from Harlingen and broadcasting on the Dutch cable network with coverage in the northern Netherlands. This operation was run largely independent of UK Caroline. This was intended to be a prelude to obtaining an AM frequency from the Dutch authorities in 2003, when Dutch medium wave frequencies were reallocated. However, Dutch Caroline failed to secure a high power AM frequency and the cable network service has been discontinued for the interim, owing to lack of funds. In the meantime, the Dutch station is broadcasting in the interim on 1602 kHz every evening and via internet streaming technology, using the resurrected name of Radio Seagull, presenting a progressive rock format as broadcast from the MV Mi Amigo in the early 1970s. From Nov 2009 Radio Seagull can be heard periodically on 558 kHz in London.

Caroline South (Mediterranean Riviera)

The current licensed British Radio Caroline has a broadcasting partner based on the French and Italian Mediterranean Rivieras. Presented under the name Caroline South, this operation provides weekend evening programmes for Radio Caroline which are also broadcast on local FM radio stations on the Riviera. Veteran Caroline DJs Grant Benson and Tom Anderson are among the presenters.


Caroline can also be heard in the Republic of Ireland on channel 927 on the NTL cable service in Dublin, Galway and Waterford.


In spring 2004, Caroline concluded a contract with RTL 102.5 to broadcast as part of the national DAB system in Italy where it can be heard in Rome, Milan, Turin, Bologna, Florence and Naples. Its programming is a mix of Caroline's UK-produced and locally created material.

Radio Caroline - New Zealand

Radio Caroline in New Zealand received permission to begin relaying Radio Caroline UK programmes on a trial basis every evening and overnight from 1 August 2009. The radio station can be heard in Dunedin and surrounding area and broadcasts on AM 756 and on 87.7 FM

Additional Material

See also


  1. ^ Harris, Paul (1977). Broadcasting From The High Seas. Paul Harris Publishing Edinburgh. ISBN 0904505073. 
  2. ^ a b "Radio Caroline North". Selling the Sixties by Robert Chapman, ISBN 0-415-07817-2. Routledge. 1992. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  3. ^ "Don't Get Mad, Get Even" Radio Caroline Retrieved 2 February 2010
  4. ^ Life Photo Archives, available online
  5. ^ Imogen Carter (27 September 2007). "The day we woke up to pop music on Radio 1". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  6. ^ "Defiance, Defeat and Retribution," Radio Caroline Retrieved 5 December 2009
  7. ^ Tribute to Sylvain Tack
  8. ^ Allmusic biography of the Loving Awareness band Retrieved 18 February 2009
  9. ^ This site is put together by Johnny Lewis, an engineer and presenter who worked on the station at the time.
  10. ^ The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame: the seventies
  11. ^ STATIONS 1
  12. ^ Firsthand account - During a training mission on a HH-53 rescue helicopter from the 67th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron out of RAF Woodbridge, UK in 1983, we flew over the mast of the MV Mi Amigo as identified by the aircrew --~~~~
  13. ^ The wet and wild history of Radio Caroline (4)
  14. ^ Photos of the transmitters can be found here
  15. ^ Territorial Sea Act 1987
  16. ^ Hansard June 5th 1990
  17. ^ Charter 88 - Why break a butterfly upon the wheel?
  18. ^ First & last
  19. ^ Where is Caroline's place in the new millennium?
  20. ^ Lyngsat Eurobird 1

Further reading

  • Radio Caroline, by Venmore Rowland, John - Landmark Press, UK, 1967 - The original book about Radio Caroline. Contains interesting information about the stations
  • When Pirates Ruled The Waves, by Harris, Paul - Impulse Publications, UK, 1968 - The first book published in the wake of the Marine Offences Act of 1967
  • History of Radio Nord, by Kotschack, Jack - Forlags AB, Sweden (Swedish), English version published in 1970 by Impulse Publications, UK - Radio Nord used the MV Mi Amigo which was later used by Radio Atlanta which merged with the Caroline Organization to become Radio Caroline South. This ship sank in 1980
  • From International Waters, by Leonard, Mike - Forest Press, Heswall, UK, 1996 ISBN 0-9527684-0-2 - An encyclopedia about the history of offshore broadcasting until 1996. Contains extensive coverage about the history of Radio Caroline
  • The Beat Fleet: The story behind the 60's 'pirate' radio stations, by Leonard, Mike - Forest Press, Heswall, UK, 2004 ISBN 0 9527684 1 0 - A look at the business operations behind Britain's offshore stations
  • Last of the Pirates, by Noakes, Bob - Paul Harris Publishing, Edinburgh, 1984, ISBN 0-86228-092-3 - This book is written by an engineer and DJ who worked on the MV Mi Amigo during the last phase of life prior to sinking. It is a tale of makeshift equipment, disorganization and severe personality clashes amongst the DJs and office staff. According to Noakes some of the station's equipment was acquired on unpaid credit, tenders changed ports to avoid inspection and the station had a high turnover of DJs, partly due to personal conflicts. Noakes describes days of back-breaking radio engineering work in appalling weather for DJs who were high on marijuana
  • Shiprocked - Life On The Waves With Radio Caroline, by Conway, Steve - Liberties Press, Dublin, 2009 ISBN 978-1-905483-62-4 - This book tells the story of Steve Conway and his career with Radio Caroline in the late 1980s, covering the final years of the station at sea, including the recovery from the collapse of the 300 foot broadcast tower in 1987. Conway was newsreader and DJ on board at the time, and also one of the final crew rescued when the Ross Revenge went aground on the Goodwin Sands in 1991. The move to satellite in 1998/99 is also covered briefly in an epilogue

References in other media

  • The Golden Age of Wireless album by Thomas Dolby, Track: "Radio Silence" - reference to a woman named "Caroline" and lamenting a lost love like an empty radio frequency
  • Freeze Frame album by Godley & Creme, 1979, Track: "Get Well Soon" - reference to Radio Caroline
  • Rock and roll track by Status Quo - "Waiting all the time to find radio plays on Caroline"
  • Pirate Radio track by Ska band The Toasters - Reference to Radio Caroline
  • Hearthammer by Scottish Folk Rock band Runrig - "Lying under the covers. Radio on. Settle down with Caroline as she sailed all summer long"
  • Walking down the King's Road track by Squire - Reached top 75 - "In a Chelsea drug store with some friends of mine, mini skirts, dolly birds and Radio Caroline"
  • The Goodies episode Radio Goodies, made at the same time as the pirate stations were broadcasting, spoofs the pirate radio concept, although it does not mention Radio Caroline by name.
  • The Boat That Rocked 2009 movie is set in 1966 and uses vessel similar to 1983 MV Ross Revenge, but according to producer the movie is pure fantasy and not a depiction of true events or of any actual radio station.

Additional external links

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