The diary, the final chapter.
Tales of the North Sea and roundabout, continued. (I
found the 1990 diary!)
Caroline's famous 100 Metre mast came down in storms
a month ago and they are broadcasting with a jury-rigged aerial between the
funnel and a castor oil pipe! Not surprisingly the signal is very weak. Laser's
ship is still reputed to be off the English coast somewhere but no signals have
been heard recently. The Irish pirates are still on the air from
- January 2nd 1988Very stormy. TX tripping,
off at 10-30am.
- January 3rd Very stormy, no
- January 4th Stormy, back on with a few
- January 5th Calmer, not on first-thing but
there when I listened at 1600.
- January 6th Storms again, lots of trips mid
morning, off for the rest of the day.
- January 14th Weather OK, 558 off,
presumably to put up a new aerial!
- January 24th Back on! Muffled audio but
slightly better signal.
- January 25th Peter Phillips said "we're at
reduced strength at the moment but hope to improve soon". Steve Conway is still
- January 26th They have put up an 80ft
Versatower at the back of the ship but I don't think it's in use yet as Peter
Phillips keeps climbing up it whilst they're on air. The aerial will run
between it and a 60ft exhaust pipe at the front!
- February 4th Peter Phillips on breakfast,
Mike Dixon morning. Still windy, no chance to put up a new aerial
- February 8th Storms across the UK from SW,
most damage on the West coast. 558 varying in strength a lot.
- February 10th Still windy. According to the
info-line the Communicator has been taken to a wharf in Essex due to anchor
chain problems so that's probably the end of it!
- February 13th 558 off air today and
yesterday, aerial work?
- February 14th 558 heard at 2am! Quite good
now, James Day on breakfast.
- February 15th Off at 9am to work on new
aerial, tuning heard at 8pm. Fortunes at 9pm, not too bad.
- February 16th There's a bloke called Robbie
Jay on and some yank in the evening. Peter phillips doing breakfast. Strength
is now comparable to the 576 days but not as good as the latter-day 558
- February 24th Caroline off when I listened
at 5pm, back on by 7... more aerial work?
- February 25th Yes! They're on 6210kHz as
well! Steve Masters on 5pm to 9pm, Peter Phillips has gone off and Steve Conway
- February 26th 6210 very good when checked
at 9am and lunchtime but blotted out by Radio Pakistan at 7pm.
- February 27th Robbie Jay, Steve Masters,
Chris Kennedy, Steve Conway, the yank.
- February 28th SW bad interference from
Radio Pakistan which is 1.5kHz off freq at 1600hrs. It seemed to be
broadcasting a voice programme, then went bzzzzt! and off! (a bit like
- February 29th Not a peep on medium or short
wave. Stormy in the North sea.... oh dear!
- March 1st 558 on, no SW. All seems
- March 3rd SW back on. I think the yank's
name is Alex.
- March 6th Special SW transmission in the
morning with lots of foreign IDs, then went off to listen for reports! English,
Irish, German and Dutch stations called. Came back after 1hr to acknowledge the
reports and then re-joined 558.
- March 9th SW IDs on 558 now.
- March 18th SW is unstable in freq, wobbly
- March 22nd Generator slowing down then
stopped at 11-30am. SW now has buzzy wobble on it, Mike Watts (engineer) is
working on it.
- March 23rd SW better, no buzz.
- March 27th No SW most of the day but on in
- March 29th 6210 only this evening but it
was still OK at 10pm!
- April 1st Report from Scotland; 558
virtually inaudible but 6210 is excellent all day except for early morning when
HCJB on 6205 was strong. RADIOFAX on 6220 was on all weekend with trade news,
professional and very good quality; also on 1611 at night, quite weak but just
audible on a tranny. Boyenside Radio, Sunshine and Q102 all heard on FM. Energy
and Q102 have merged so the same prog is on 738 and 819.
- April 10th No SW, 558 on about 10am.
Occasional comments about their position in the South Falls "nice to be back"
etc. Have they been for a drift? Peter Phillips, Paul Graham, and James Day
back. Off again at 1830 for "aerial maint to improve service".... 819
- April 13th SW is on 6215kHz!
- April 14th And sometimes on
- April 20th Still on 6205. There's a twit
called Richard Lee on.
- April 25th Back on 6215. Peter Phillips has
- May 1st World Mission Radio on 6215 with an
address in California, includes Johan Maasbach!
- May 21st Weak tests on 819.
- May 28th Tests on 819, not very strong,
relaying the 558 programme. Only 3 or 4 kW.
- May 29th I've still only heard Johan Mars
Bar on "WMR"
- June 22nd Evidently the 819 loaded-vertical
aerial has burned out under high power tests.
- July 8th Announced a Dutch service on 558
from tomorrow for about four weeks.
- July 9th Dutch 8am to 6pm. Caroline on 6215
- July 10th Dutch 6am to 6pm.
- July 11th A further encroachment into the
English service, Johan Mars Bar at 5-30am and 6pm for half an hour!
- September 3rd 558 off air, mast work.
Evidently a 180ft sectional mast is being put up.
- September 27th No 6215 this
- October 23rd 819 on same prog as 558, both
useless at night. Announced that Nov 5th is change-over date.
- November 5th 819 Dutch and religious. 558
Caroline. 819 joins at 9pm, 6215 joins at midnight.
- November 8th There's loads of yanks on 558
these days, "Chuck Reynolds" etc.
- December 18th Carrier on 819 from BBC
Hereford, at 90 degrees to caroline though..
- December 31st No Irish stations at
- January 4th No signals from Caroline on any
- January 5th Back on at 1830 when
- February 12th Radio Hereford and Worcester
on 819 is the same strength here as "Radio 819" in the daytime.
- February 19th I'm told that they've
re-started the late night rock service on 819 but it's too weak at night
- February 26th They are advertising for a
listeners all time top 1000 over Easter.
- March 1st They're supposed to be building a
new front mast to replace the cod liver oil pipe! When up at about 120ft it
will support a bigger top to the inverted L thus allowing about 15kW on 819 as
opposed to the present 4kW. Also an increase on 558 will be possible, not
expected before Easter but here's hoping...! (Later note, it's not an L, it's a
T! See pictures..)
- March 5th They're advertising an Easter
trip on the "Olau Brittannia" past Caroline to Holland and back.
- March 10th There's a crew from BBC Daytime
Live going out to Caroline!
- March 11th All TXs off air for about an
hour around 5pm for "maintenance". Really to allow the TV crew to shoot on
- March 12th Caroline saying "watch Daytime
Live on Monday next"!
- March 13th They're advertising a new video
with shots of the mast coming down!
- March 20th Caroline item went out on
Daytime Live, not too bad. Dave Asher has been on for 19 weeks!
- March 24th They started the "classic 1001"
you can get an autographed copy by donating to the RNLI and sending the receipt
- March 25th The ship is all lit up with
flourescent tubes on the aerials etc ready for the Olau Line special ferry
- March 26th Birthday celebrations on 558,
819 and 6215 all morning. Steve Conway and Caroline Martin played Imagine, and
LA band at noon. All sounded a bit emotional!
- April 29th Off during the day.
- April 30th Off all day for
- May 2nd Didn't even come on
- May 4th Back on today, no
- May 5th The music's good these days
- May 8th The front mast is now at 120ft so
presumably a new aerial will be slung to it soon....
- May 16th Very good reception late at night
on 6215 these days.
- May 17th They're off again.
- May 18th And again after the breakfast
- June 29th Some famous names on board at the
moment; Dave Richards, Nigel Harris and Peter Chicago (not DJ-ing). They go
off-air for the odd day now and again. The front mast is up and they're
building a back one. The signal is still crap but very good on SW from 11pm
when WMR goes off.
- July 3rd Nigel harris to a listener; "I
hope you're receiving us OK on your loop aerial, you won't need that shortly
when we're back on full power..." I'm waiting!
- July 5th The Nannelle has left harbour and
should be on soon. (later note; no it won't. As they sailed out their mast fell
down!... wouldn't have lasted long in the North Sea then!)
- July 26th Off 9am to 5pm for
- July 27th Again today, still no
- August 3rd Atlantic (new legal station from
Dublin) testing on 254 with tones, low power (I hope).
- August 12th Music and announcements on 254
"This is Atlantic 252 with tests in preparation for a new radio station
starting soon from 6am to 7pm".
- August 18th Atlantic is same strength as
Luxembourg on 234 here. It is reported to be testing with about 80kW, final
power to be 500kW!
- August 19th A BLACK DAY. The Ross Revenge
was boarded by Dutch officials and DTI and told to cease TX. News items on TV
this evening. It seems that 30 heavies from Holland boarded the ship and
removed or smashed all broadcast gear, took records and unused mast sections
away. Several people were injured, DTI officials were there too! Poss done to
discourage others from trying to start up.... that should put them off!
Nannelle outfit is reported to have given up anyway and may help with some
gear... however the hull of the Ross revenge is reported to be rather dodgy.
The Dutch embassy said they had a right to board the ship because it wasn't
registered! Knowing of Caroline's usual efficiency with paperwork, this may
have a grain of truth in it. It's still piracy though!
- August 27th Ronan O'Rahily is to get the
ship re-registered (it was true then!) and prosecute the heavy gang.
Transmissions to restart in 10 days or so...... (picture of a flying pig
- September 1st Atlantic 252 started at 8am.
Very loud too. Loads of famous voices inc. Andrew Turner and Charlie Wolf!
Music is top 40 and therefore absolutely crap! Very repetetive, some tracks
every hour or so.
- September 6th Well it's ten days now
- September 7th There's to be a demonstration
on Sunday 17th. The Ross is not yet being re-equipped. Masts being taken down
for renovation. Legal fund being set up. Peter Moore appealing for everyone to
turn up on 17th.
- September 17th The protest rally at
Waterloo Bridge House was attended by about 300 people who handed in letters.
Then 600 assembled at Lambeth pier and put supplies collected including 5000
records donated by fans on a boat to go out to the Ross. A marine injunction is
being sought to prevent the Dutch authorities doing it again so that the
station can return to the air. Two other ships are waiting on the outcome: the
Communicator and the Mi-Amigo2 (Nannelle).
- September 20th Atlantic had a studio
failure and lost mod for about 10 mins, then back to test tapes. Charlie Wolf
had to do his show from the transmitting station!
- October 1st Well who'd've thought it,
Caroline is back on 558! Weak signal with only Dave Asher and Caroline Martin.
they came on about 11am.
- October 2nd They're doing 6am to 6pm but
Caroline Martin is ill so only Dave Asher heard all day!
- October 4th Peter Chicago taking a turn at
DJ-ing too! " You ain't heard nothing yet" say Caroline. They are supposed to
be using the ex 6215 rig on 558.
- November 2nd They say they can muster about
10kW if they get some new valves.... go on then!
- November 6th Rumour that the IBA will
allocate 558 to a London commercial station.
- November 11th Some new jocks. 7pm "North
sea gold" 7-30pm Viewpoint.
- November 13th Steve Conway is back and
there's an ad for some health food.
- January 3rd It's definitely louder at last,
could even hear the religious crap at 8pm. Still audible at bed
- January 5th Evidently they've got new
valves and can run up to 8kW. Aerial improvements to follow.
- January 9th Back on, still quite good. Roy
Masters now audible at 1830... claptrap!
- January 11th Nigel Harris, Neil Gates,
Caroline Martin, Dave Asher.
- January 12th It's 4dB down on RTE at
midday, it should be the same. Roy Masters 1830, then Earnest O'Neil etc. Back
to music about 2230.
- January 21st Dave Asher and Caroline Martin
are in love.... aaah!
- January 25th Violent storms, roofs blown
off, trees down. 558 kept tripping then genny stopped about 11am. Nothing for
the rest of the day.
- January 26th Back on as usual!
- January 27th New bloke, Dave Taylor, good
music. Also Nigel Harris and Gavin.
- February 6th Reports of SW tests on 31 and
25m bands. I've not heard them yet.
- February 7th Gavin Ford, Nigel Harris,
Caroline Martin, Neil Gates.
- February 8th F-windy. Caroline off at
lunchtime, not on at 7pm. Was there at 11pm with someone describing enourmous
- February 9th Still on this morning. Break
at 8-30 ish back on at 10-45 with theme. Quite good. 90MPH gusts off Kent last
- February 26th More 90MPH winds around the
coast! Caroline off and on all day. Still on tonight.
- March 7th Crap adverts for "Dawn Valley"
nutritional convenience food.... eaargh! Also some firm flogging re-conditioned
- March 16th Neil Gates signed off at 9am
with a protest that Caroline was supposed to be a hit station and they'd had no
new records for two months! They were also short of basic supplies and he said
that this typified the attitude of the organisation toward the people on the
ship!...... He won't be returning..
- March 21st Ricky Jones, Dr. Jeckyl, Victor
- March 23rd "I'm Ricky Neville err.... Ricky
Jones with the news"!
- March 26th All the old favourites in the
evening from 6pm, Garner Ted Armstrong, Roy Masters etc.
- March 28th Excellent music this afternoon,
mostly old! Sent off for poster and sweatshirt.
- May 19th Spectrum Radio came on on 558
today. I can only just tell it's there in Birmingham, no problem.
- June 2nd Test transmissions from Spectrum
on 558 are slightly louder.
- June 7th Went to London, Spectrum over the
top in Shepherds Bush (curry music - IBA tests ) but more equal at Euston
- June 9th The Spectrum people are most
dis-chuffed about the interference on 558 and are planning to take the IBA to
court over it.
- June 16th Spectrum are to use 990kHz in
tandem with 558 for the launch.
- June 25th Caroline off about midday for
"essential maintenance". Spectrum launch day.
- June 29th Possible aerial improvements?
Possible frequency change? 576?
- July 5th Caroline testing on 558, early
- July 8th Caroline testing on 558, early
- July 9th Break in Spectrum 558 TX today.
They're still on both frequencies.
- August 16th An item in the Guardian
indicated that Caroline was among the interested parties bidding for one of the
three national radio franchises along with Capital, Thames etc. Fat
- September 13th Caroline are on in the
evenings again. 6pm to 6am.
- September 16th Caroline off at midnight, a
"planned closedown to prepare for the future.." Evidently they were boarded
again by the DTI recently.
- October 6th Caroline on 819kHz from 6am.
Started with "Hello" by Neil Diamond, "Fool if you think it's over" by Chris
Rea then "Caroline". "With three decades of good music, this is Radio Caroline"
Rico on the mike.
- October 7th PO box 491, Fort Laudadale,
- October 11th Reception on 819 is crap due
to BBC Herford and Worcester and sidebands of WM. Caroline Martin
- October 13th Off for essential maintenance.
"should be even stronger when we return"
- October 17th 1990Back but still
Over the next month it was a sad story of decline,
with a poor signal and interference, I couldn't always hear Caroline and the
enthusiasm waned. By November 1990 things were very bad and the station closed
on November 5th. A year later the Ross Revenge ran aground in a storm.......
It's been a trip down memory lane for me to go
through all this old stuff again, I only hope some station will start up
eventually that will engender the same kind of devotion that Caroline did
amongst its' loyal listeners. Maybe even Caroline itself will return one day,
perhaps on the internet! (check the Caroline site!)
Wallow in 1984
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