An RNI jingle

The famous "Radio Nordsee International" broadcast from the ship Mebo 2 to the UK and Europe on Medium Wave and Short Wave in the early '70s.

1970, an eventful year...

Radio Nordsee International started transmissions early in the year amongst much controversy. There were all sorts of rumours of spying and other dark dealings behind the venture. We didn't care though, they filled a gap during Caroline's absence and had a good signal on medium and short wave bands.

In the run-up to the British general election the Postmaster-General, the infamous John Stonehouse, decided to jam the station. Caroline's boss Ronan O'Rahilly allowed the station to change it's indentity to Radio Caroline International for the duration of the election campaign.

Click on the RNI graphic to get streaming audio if your connection is good enough. Click on the link below to download and play.

This clip is from before the Caroline period and illustrates the severity of the jamming. From where I was listening, in the midlands, RNI and the jammer were in different directions so I could use a highly directional aerial to (nearly) null the jamming. The recording may not sound too good at the start on the loop aerial but wait 'til it switches to a non-directional aerial towards the end, you'll notice the difference!

Hear the jamming!

The jamming continued and the cat and mouse game between the jammers and the ship's transmitter engineers gave us much entertainment! The station would move a few kilocycles from time to time leaving the jammer behind, it took them quite a while to realise the first time it happened but they soon got the hang of the game....

This next recording sees RNI appearing as Caroline, it was recorded with the jamming nulled-out with the receiving loop antenna to rather greater effect than in the first recording.

RNI as Caroline

The next recording mentions the publicity campaign that was in full swing and contains the song "Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Wilson" by the Opposition, a sort of anthem for the free radio campaign.

RNI/Caroline and that song

The election was won by the Conservatives, Labour blamed Caroline for its loss, but the jamming continued. RNI reverted to it's normal identity and moved from UK coast to the Dutch coast. The jamming stopped but the drama continued, due to some dispute between the owners of RNI and some other "business men" some piracy of a non-radio kind was afoot......

Piracy on the high seas

More drama as the tug boat crew prepare to fire their water-cannon at the Mebo 2, desperate appeals for assistance from their management are made. All the transmitters are fired up in order to give the maximum deterrent to anyone firing a water-cannon! The tender "Tripp" finally comes into view. Here's a recap of the situation at that point.

Here come the Cavalry

Lots of boats came out to assist, telephone lines to the management offices were jammed, and the highjackers retreated! It's three O-clock by this time, here's the ID.

Three O-clock ID

Coolness under pressure, the mark of a professional! A final summing up as the launch and the tug disappear into the mist, then it's back to the music.

It all ends happily

That's all on this one, sorry about the poor quality but the links were so long that I did most of them in RealAudio 2.0 at 8Kbits/sec to save download time. They were pretty muffled recordings from 3.75IPS tapes to start with!

Another Drama. The fire of 1971.

On May 15th 1971 at 10:50pm the MeboII was fire-bombed by some men in the pay of Radio Veronica who wanted RNI off the air. After RNIs move back to the Dutch coast they had been paid by Veronica to stay off the air. When the period of paid-for silence was over RNI started broadcasting again, Dutch during the day and English at night. The popularity of the Dutch service put Veronica's position in jeopardy, they were losing advertising revenue to RNI and the increased pirate activity was pushing the Dutch government toward a "marine offences act".

Some of this new material is encoded using RealAudio 5 so you may need the latest player. Good job it's free!

We join Spangles Maldoon a few minutes after the event.

SOS! mayday! help! etc.

The fire spread to the bridge of the ship and they had to remove all the ship-to-shore radio gear to keep it from being damaged. This meant that the only communication they had with land was over the broadcast transmitters. Alan West came to the mike to give the position... sounds a bit nervous doesn't he?

52 degrees err, where are we?

Smoke was now enveloping the ship and the sense of panic is rising as you can tell from this short clip where the announcer is lost for words. From here on, only Dutch is heard.

Heavy smoke.

By midnight the news of the fire was spreading. Here's some extracts from the Radio Luxembourg news reporting the event.

Midnight News on 208

The event was all over the news the next day. Here's a typically cynical report from the BBC morning news, with the now famous Roger Cook getting some of the facts wrong (Mebo was named after the owners Meister and Bollier) and barking up the wrong tree by suggesting that RNI had set fire to their own ship!

Report on BBC news next morning.

RNI told the story itself the next day. Here is Spangles Maldoon on the RNI news bulletin.

A summary of the events.

The recordings of these events were made by Nick Gascoigne who very kindly lent the tape to me for inclusion in the Pirate's Cove. Thanks Nick.

If you have any recordings of the pirate ships from the sixties, seventies or eighties that you would like us all to hear please get in touch. I promise to treat them with due care and return them promptly!

Mail the Captain

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