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TUCoPS :: Radio :: caroline.txt

A history of Radio Caroline; one of the best known pirate stations

Dear Caroline friends,

Some readers have recently enquired about the current
activities of Radio Caroline. Since I haven't read any answers that tell
what I have learned from reliable sources, I will relate briefly what is
happening to the station at present.

The Ross Revenge is currently anchored on the river Blackwater, near
Bradwell. She is still under a detention order after the 1991 shipwreck on
the Goodwin Sands. At present, no broadcasts proceed from the ship. Even
the taped shortwave broadcasts have stopped following (you won't believe
it) an erroneous bomb attack on the Irish transmitter site.

However, from December 10 till January 6 (inclusive) Caroline will be
broadcasting live from the ship on 1584Khz. (Medium Wave) with probably 1
watt output. The opening programme will be around noon (GMT), presented by
ex Capital Radio DJ Randell Lee Rose -- formerly Caroline DJ Chuck
Reynolds. From Jan 3 to Jan 6, they intend to present a new Radio Caroline
Listener's top 300. Anyone who wants to cast votes for this should ring
0881 102090 and leave their top 10 tracks, also a dedication if they
wish. This line will probably be active very soon.

1584KHz medium wave is not ideal as there is a 40KW Spanish station on
it plus KCBC, a local radio station in Kettering, Northants.

For Caroline, the broadcasts are a means to collect money to repair the
ship. The latest reports are fairly optimistic: it seems that the Ross only
needs to pass through the dry docks before she can be inspected (and
RELEASED!) by the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry). But this
operation is quite costly.

For anyone who wants to give Caroline a Christmas present, the address to
write to is: Radio Caroline, PO Box 963, London SW20 8XL, England.

As a post scriptum I add a small history of the station. It is, after all,
still Caroline's thirtieth birthday, a birthday worthy of being

        ----  A Short history of Radio Caroline ----

When Ronan O'Rahilly started with a record company in the early sixties, he
immediately faced a major difficulty: no radio station wanted to play the
records of his artists. The playlist at Radio Luxembourg 208, the only
radio station in Europe that broadcasted popular music at that time, was in
total control of a few record companies and in the so-called
light programmes at the BBC, which were small in number, only "established"
artists were allowed. "Looks like I need to start my own radio station",
Ronan thought and that is exactly what he did. On Easter 1964 at twelve
noon Radio Caroline was born.

The adapted ferry Federica arrives off the Essex coast. Using studios and
transmitters on board, Simon Dee announces "This is Caroline, your all day
music station". Caroline soon absorbs rival organisation Radio Atlanta
producing Caroline South covering London and the south of England and
Caroline North covering Ireland, Scotland and the North of England.

Caroline is joined by Radio London, Britain Radio, Radio 270 and a host of
other offshore radio stations. For the first time, listeners have a variety
of commercial radio stations to choose from. UK bands and fashion take off
throughout the world. Everyone is very happy apart from the government who
produce new legislation. All the offshore stations close down apart from
Radio Caroline.

With a massive audience but few advertisers due to the new law, Caroline's
finances go from good to terrible. The money runs out and the ships are
towed to Holland.

Caroline buys back one of its ships at an auction. The Mi-Amigo is repaired
and taken back to sea. Playing all album music, Caroline's second era

After surviving many dramas and seeming to have a charmed life, the
Mi-Amigo sinks in early 1980.

The large trawler Ross Revenge has been converted in Spain. She has the
world's largest tower ever built on a ship. In August, the Ross drops
anchor in the Knock Deep Channel. Caroline returns again.

The Ross Revenge is joined by floating station Laser 558 on the
M.V. Communicator.  Territorial limits are extended to 12 miles. The ships
must now anchor in much rougher waters in the South Falls Head. Government
surveillance ships mount a siege aimed at starving both ships into
submission. Laser gives in, Caroline does not.

In November a hurricane weakens the ships masts. Soon after, it collapses
into the sea and Caroline is silenced. Using ingenious means and taking
many risks, new towers are smuggled on board and constructed. Caroline
starts up again and all is well ... but not for long.

On an August afternoon an Anglo/Dutch raiding party boards the Ross
Revenge, some have guns. The crew are unable to resist. The raiders from
the English and Dutch authorities ransack the ship taking away all records,
studio equipment and transmitter parts. Some items are smashed. The crew
manage to hide some vital components. Well-wishers send out replacement
records, food and equipment.

In spite of all hostile efforts, Caroline is back on air but the
authorities have told new London station Spectrum International to use
Caroline's 558 frequency. Spectrum sue the relevant authorities. They are
given an additional frequency to broadcast on. For the authorities,
Caroline is now "The beast that will not die", clearly only draconian
measures remain.

A last minute clause is slipped into the Broadcasting Act. It goes through
Parliament mostly without being noticed. The UK government can now use the
army, navy or air force against Caroline even in international waters and
with immunity from counter prosecution. This is very heavy indeed. Caroline
switches off but remains at sea. Possibilities to return to air are
researched but in late November the anchor chain breaks. The Ross Revenge
is shipwrecked on the Goodwin Sands.

Against odds of 250 to 1, the Ross, though badly mauled, has been salvaged
and towed to Dover. Supporters pay the salvage costs but the ship needs
much work and is now subject of so many restraints, distraints and
detention notices that it is generally though she will never sail
again. Caroline nonetheless starts broadcasting on 6295 Khz shortwave from
a remote transmitter and also via the new technology of satellite radio.

Volunteers correct most of the ship's defects. As her engines, lights,
accomodation and services are all repaired, morale improves. After complex
negotiations, the ship is released from Dover for a winter mooring at

Caroline's 30th anniversary is commemorared with a weekend party on March
26-27. Those who attend are given the opportunity to visit the ship. A
local station in Essex broadcasts from the Ross at Easter. In May-June,
Caroline is granted a restricted service license that allowed them to
broadcast (legally) over a period of 30 days. A new RSL is planned for the
period of Dec. 10 - Jan. 6.


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