Thursday, March 16, 2006

Radio Caroline

[Psychobilly leads to 1980 leads to ...]

RADIO CAROLINE is a European radio station that originally commenced transmissions as an offshore radio station broadcasting from a ship anchored off the coast of South East England in international waters. Unlicensed by any government for the majority of its life, it was labelled as a pirate radio station.

A number of unlicensed radio stations have been located on ships anchored off Britain's coasts. Radio Caroline was the first such station to broadcast all-day using the English language. This, together with the station's tenacity in surviving for some forty years, has established Radio Caroline as a household name for offshore radio....

In 1974 the Dutch government passed laws to prohibit pirate radio. However Caroline continued broadcasting, this time moving its headquarters and the servicing operation to Spain. But in practice the Mi Amigo was tendered clandestinely from ports in Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Tenders and small boat owners were warned and in some cases prosecuted for ferrying staff and provisions out to the ship. Belgium had outlawed offshore radio in 1962 and its authorities took action to prosecute the advertisers. This cut the station's revenues. In addition, Belgian courts sentenced the owner and a number of DJs to fines and jail terms in absentia — although the prison terms were later cancelled.

The two stations experimented with several different broadcast frequencies. Alongside 259 (actually 253) metres, Caroline/Mi Amigo also tried out 192 (1562 kHz), then 212 (1412 kHz), before settling on 319 metres (actually 312 metres, 962 kHz — the "9" was again chosen because it rhymed with Caroline). In the later 1970s, a daytime service for Caroline was established, while Mi Amigo continued on its own frequency.

By the end of the 1970s conditions on the MV Mi Amigo had deteriorated. The ship was now 60 years old and had been used to house offshore radio stations for 20 years, since its original use as Sweden's Radio Nord in 1960. The ship drifted and went aground on sandbanks in the North Sea a couple of times in the late 1970s. Finally, in March 1980, the MV Mi Amigo floundered in a storm and began taking in water. The crew were rescued by lifeboat, but the Mi Amigo sank. Amazingly, as if in an act of defiance and following the tradition of Radio Caroline, the Mi Amigo's 200 foot mast remained erect, pointing skywards out of the sea for a further six years.


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