Caroline broadcast from the Mi Amigo for many years from 1964 as Caroline South until, after an eventful life, it sank in 1980.
In the early seventies some of the Caroline crew thought that there was a need for a "heavier" (as we used to say back then) music service. This first saw the light of day as Radio Seagull broadcasting from 9pm through the night.
Reception was very poor here in the midlands and I didn't get much opportunity to hear it properly so when I was working in Norfolk I made some recordings. The (very laid-back) DJ is Norman Barrington who has quite a web presence these days.
The transmitter was on radiating carrier long before the start of programme at 9pm, I've got half a tape of it! This particular evening they started with Strawberry Fields Forever...
Start of transmission
We move on to another evening, Alice Cooper's "Hello Hooray" was the opening track that night.
The spirit of love was much in evidence during that time, they were even advertising a book on the subject.."The purpose of Love" (mental love we hasten to add!).
The Purpose of Love!.....
The Radio Seagull concept was incorporated into Caroline's format when they got two transmitters running later on. "Caroline Overdrive" in the '80s was a similar idea.
In 1983 Caroline returned to the air for the first time since the Mi Amigo sank. Their new ship, the Ross Revenge (re-named "Imagine" after the John Lennon song) was equipped with an RCA "Ampliphase" transmitter capable of excellent audio quality on a new frequency of 963kHz (known as 319 Metres although it actually works out at 312, still, that wouldn't rhyme would it!?). With a 100 Metre mast this gave a stonking signal throughout South East England by day and over most of Europe at night.
The following recordings are from the 20th August 1983 which was the official start of broadcasting from the Ross Revenge. The strength of the signal can be heard from the quality of the recordings made here in Birmingham, about 150 Miles from the Ross Revenge.
Continuous music was heard until the following announcement, prior to it we heard, Hotel California by the Eagles followed by Is That Love from Squeeze and Caroline by the Fortunes, we then got Imagine from John Lennon and a couple of tracks from the wretched "Loving Awareness" album that they would insist on playing! Now, the opening announcement......
Tom's "musical journey" commenced in fine style only to be let down by playing Jackie by Scott Walker, I can only assume that this was a cock-up as he faded it after about 30 seconds and gave the Los Angeles mailing address before going straight into Love Will Tear Us Apart from Paul Young, which he forgot to mention in the following, laid back, link!
Listen to that generator rumble!
Last link from Tom Anderson who wasn't being exactly animated during this opening hour, lots of pressure I expect!
Tom's Third link
We re-visit the Ross Revenge 10 days later, Tuesday 30th of August, and hear a bit of Tony Garrett, an Irish DJ who I don't remember so maybe he didn't stay long.
Someone I do remember well is Andy Archer, veteran of the Mi Amigo and RNI, who you will hear next, he stayed with Caroline for a long time and played some good stuff!
Now we skip forward about 6 months to February 1984 and hear a bit of Peter Quinn starting the broadcasting at 6 am with, of course, Caroline by the Fortunes. You will also notice that by this time they seem to have rediscovered a recording of that famous bell!.
The one thing that I noticed whilst digitising these Caroline recording is the sheer quality of the transmission, it was clear and crisp with a decent amount of treble. Licensed stations in Europe are limited to an audio bandwidth of 4.5kHz on medium and long waves, Caroline used about 10kHz and an Optimod processor to make the most of it. Maybe if medium wave transmissions could use a bit more bandwidth the AM stations wouldn't sound so grotty and be so unpopular!
In 1988 there was a need to improve service with the lack of the big mast and a short wave transmitter was opened up. It had been on the air for about a month when, on Sunday March 6th this extraordinary event took place. A separate programme was broadcast on 6210kHz with announcements in many languages asking for reception reports. At half past one in the afternoon the transmitter was switched off and they listened for reports from other pirate stations on 6210 and adjacent frequencies!
Here's the announcement before the close down.
Asking for calls!
Needless to say there was no shortage of replies! Here are a few of the clearer ones...
Caroline returned to the air at half past two having obviously been busy listening around the frequency.
Acknowledging the reports
Back to see the Captain