My own tribute to Pirate
Radio - In Memory - Don Allen
Thanks to other Caroline Sites
Disc Jockey Biographies
Caroline on The Net as at Aug 2020 - History
Caroline Flashback - streaming radio
Created on 20th August 2000. Updated: 10 May 2013
Before I start, let me show you the face of the visionary who re-wrote the history of radio broadcasting in the UK and possibly Europe - forever. The founder of Radio Caroline South and Radio Caroline North - Ronan O'Rahilly, an Irish American.
Before Ronan came along with his revolutionary idea of "free" radio, we in the United kingdom had to suffer the pains and stiff collars of the "dear old beeb - the BBC". To say this organization was stuffy, upper class and very very stale is an understatement - a lot of it still is now in the Y2K year. BBC tried to fight the pirate radio stations off the shores of the UK for 2 years before the Socialist Government of Harold Wilson and his "Postmaster General, Communist Tony Wedgwood Benn", former Viscount; under pressure from the BBC, decided that pirate radio was illegal and promptly declared them illegal. The fact that these stations had over 32 million listeners was of no interest to the government - all they cared about was that over 32 million people were NOT listening to the BBC, which was the station that the government "controlled".
Radio Caroline North and Radio Caroline South claimed 32 million visitors between them, there were also stations such as Radio City, Radio London, Radio Scotland, and many others which had followed caroline onto the high seas. One radio station took over a disused Anti Aircraft Battery in the Thames Estuary. The immense popularity of these stations prompted almost universal support from the pop stars of the day, including the Beatles. Here were stations that played all the hits of the day, without paying royalties to the stars, yet the stars supported them wholeheartedly. Much to the annoyance of Harold Wilson and his Labour Government who used royalties as one of the "excuses" to ban these popular stations.
For those of you who have never heard these stations, imagine a BBC "music" channel, they only had one! They were playing Band music, like "Dead" Loss & His Orchestra, people like Frank Sinatra and that band that used to back him - AAAGGGHHH!! Whilst the newsreaders had to wear "dickie bows" and dinner suits (external link) to read the news - ON RADIO!! The BBC did have a children's request show on a Saturday morning which was still playing "children's records" (like Tommy the (bloody) Tuba) but was gradually being inundated with requests for Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys etc. That was the limit of "pop" music on "good old auntie beeb". Therefore these "pirate" stations filled a huge niche in the market and quickly drowned the BBC into the backwaters of broadcasting like sea pirates stealing all their gold. This should have lasted forever, Harold Wilson thought otherwise. The BBC, fearful of losing their monopoly on broadcasting in the UK, pounded the government to do something and consequently these pirates were declared illegal on false charges and condemned to customs and government harassment. Most disappeared under the pressure, others got supplies from a more liberal minded Netherlands and in caroline North's case. Eire, and struggled on. A lot of info I got personally from Don Allen.
My own "local" radio station was Radio caroline North, moored off Ramsey Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea. I lived then on what is now Merseyside, then Wirral part of Cheshire. First ever record was "Not Fade Away" Rolling Stones. The memories that flood back when thinking about those days. Jerry Leighton, Bob Stewart, Tony Prince, Mike Ahern, Don Allen, Johnnie Walker and more. Sitting on the sand dunes on Leasowe shore, those midnight beach parties with bonfires of driftwood. I recall one particular sunny, warm, Sunday afternoon, lying on those dunes, listening to Radio caroline North on a 6 inch by 4 inch by 2 inch tinny sounding transistor radio. Gina Johnson was lying by my side. She was a real beauty in every sense of the world. Long golden blonde hair, long legs, mini skirts - a real catch and we had been lying there talking most of the day. I asked her out and she agreed!! As we had arranged to meet later, I had to go home first to get changed then walk to her home in the opposite direction. As I waited I realised something had gone wrong. When she eventually did turn up, she had a heavily bandaged foot. She had split her foot open on some glass on the way home! So she was in a lot of pain and bedridden for days. Never did get that date! I wonder if history would have been changed if I had that date?
Anyway, BBC's answer to the "radio and music revolution" was to introduce Radio 1, a pop music channel on 247m am. They employed ex pirate disc jockeys and the first show hit the air in 1967 with Tony Blackburn (ex - Radio London) kicking off with "Flowers in the Rain" by The Move. It filled a "music" gap but never the hunger of the true fans for the thrill and informality of "pirate" radio. Even in those days of revolution and expression, never once did I hear the lads on caroline abuse their position of power nor did they "blue" the air - gentlemen all (well, at least ON the air!!). The BBC was even then, governed by the stiff upper lip brigade, whose starched shirts still stifled the natural thought patterns of the day. Radio 1 DJ's had to conform - or else! Few survived the BBC regime, those that did were Dave Lee Travis, Noel Edmonds, Tony Blackburn and that nutter Kenny Everett amongst others. Mind you, some got sacked, at least once a year, only to return later!!
2014 link http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk/index.html#history.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGo_gbuKmUg Restoration of the Ross Revenge
A lot of this
information is "copied" from various sites and is not exactly intended as
such but as an extra source for people to refer to. Quite a few people
come into my sites and, as a consequence, find these pages. Therefore I
refer to those sites as a form of back reference in case you wish to see
their sites too for, possibly, some more comprehensive details. The aim of
my "version" is to commemorate what was an brilliant era is the history of
radio broadcasting. A fair bit came to me from Don Allen who presented the
Country & Western Jamboreeeeeeeee on Caroline North.