Kevin Nelson Kevin Nelson was an Irish DJ who joined Radio Caroline in November 1988. The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame asked him to tell us his story: “I came to Caroline from a background in Irish pirate radio, starting when I was still a lad on a station in Ardee, Co. Louth called East Coast Radio, with the very random pseudonym of Andy Devine. My first proper gig was in Limerick in 1987 when I joined a newly established outfit called Hits 954, set up by a bunch of English lads including Stuart Clark and Dave Shearer (Dave Ellis on Caroline). It was pretty revolutionary for the wilds of the west of Ireland, using a rotation, multi-tracking, carts, etc. Some of the lads were ex-Caroline and I suppose that's how I got the connection, heading to London in the dying months of 1988 after our sales guy buggered off with all our money and the station went belly-up. I spent a couple of weeks sleeping on floors and couches in Highgate before heading for the coast and a clandestine journey to the Ross Revenge with ‘Dave The Fish’ on his trawler out of Ramsgate. It was a particularly poor time of year to take to the North Sea but that winter demonstrated to me that I had fairly decent sea legs (and stomach!). I did a variety of shifts, for a while closing and opening the broadcast day. I was also put in charge of the short wave religious station World Mission Radio which pumped out pre-recorded programmes by a variety of preachers. I suppose it was an attempt to generate some income stream and I do remember getting a wad of Dutch guilders at some stage for my troubles. The audio clip (below) of a ‘sponsored fast’ was actually a bit of a dig at our colleagues on land who had left us unsupplied for quite some time, although probably through no fault of their own. The authorities were mounting a bit of a crack-down meaning the supply routes were essentially closed. My recollection is that we were down to scraping rock-hard sausages out of the ice at the bottom of the freezer in the days before Christmas and had taken to childish stunts like the fast and playing Black Sabbath songs in between the religious programmes. As it happened I was on deck in the early hours of Christmas Eve when I spotted a light coming toward us. It was Dave with a load of supplies (including beer) and I took great pleasure waking up my sleeping colleagues with the good news. It was treacherous getting the stuff on board, given the heavy swell – but I didn't care. If I remember rightly, Dave also brought out our cranky engineer's girlfriend, which made him slightly less cranky for Christmas! Others I remember from that time were Dave Asher and my compatriot Steve Conway. I thoroughly enjoyed my winter on the ship and my exit was suitably dramatic and clandestine, spending about 18 hours pulling in cod on Dave's boat as he played cat and mouse with boats and helicopters. In fairness, he paid me for the help and I was at least able to buy some new clothes to replace the fishy ones. I went back to Ireland, did a course, and ended up on legal radio, in the form of Live 95FM in Limerick. After doing various shows, including breakfast for a while, I made the transition to the newsroom and began a new career in journalism. That led to time in newspapers, back to radio, working as a freelance for RTÉ, and then to television, as a reporter, cameraman, editor, producer and director. It was a time of change in that industry and I guess I broke new ground, in terms of multitasking. I was involved in making quite a lot of documentaries abroad and then, in 2012, I took my first actual job in 20 years, working with the international aid agency Concern Worldwide. Based in New York City, I now travel the developing world, filming, photographing, and writing about the lives of some of the poorest people on the planet. It's fascinating work, and leads me to places like Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Philippines – places I probably would never otherwise have the privilege to visit. I am single once again and proud father to ten year old Hugh.” (Our thanks to Kevin for his assistance and to Ian Palmer for the photo.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio A hungry Kevin Nelson on Radio Caroline, joined in the studio by some of his colleagues, on 23rd December 1988. They were nearing the end of a 24 hour fast. It was supposedly in aid of charity although there was also a hidden agenda - see comment above. Thanks very much to RetroRadio for this recording (duration 3 minutes 52 seconds)

Alec Newman Alec Newman was heard on Radio Caroline during January/February 1985. Paul Graham tell us “Alec was born in 1949 in Burnley but moved to the midlands in the sixties. He started out as a club/pub DJ in Leicester in the early seventies. His first venture into radio was with Radio Free Midlands on AM in 1975/76 and other Leicester area pirate stations of that era. He had a brief spell at Radio Jackie in 1984 before joining Radio Caroline in January 1985 for a two week stint. He was in the preparation stages at the time of emigrating to Florida which he did a few months later. He had already done a stint or two at South Florida's classic rock station WKGR (The Gator 98). At the end of Caroline's offshore days he ran the PO Box address in Florida (I looked after the mail at the UK end and made sure it reached the ship). Alec joined WKGR full time in 1986 and after about three years moved to other Florida stations. He left the radio game in the nineties and now runs his own business there.” John Ford told The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame: “I have not seen Alec Newman in about fourteen years. The last I heard he was living in Naples, Florida, with his wife Laura.” (This photo, kindly provided by Paul Graham, shows Alec in the studio of WKGR in 1990.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio Alec Newman on Radio Caroline from the evening of 29th January 1985. This is an edited version of a recording kindly shared by the Offshore Radio Archive (duration 3 minutes 55 seconds)

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The site is updated regularly and we are always on the look-out for new material to add. If you have any information, photographs, recordings or contact details for any of the disc-jockeys we haven't been able to trace, please get in touch.

Night Owl The Night Owl was a familiar voice from the seventies who made a brief return to the Radio Caroline airwaves in 1985. As Martin Fisher he had worked on the Mi Amigo between 1977 and 1979 as an engineer and DJ (see entry in The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame ‘Seventies Supplement’). By the eighties he was employed as an engineer for a commercial radio station on land but he visited the Ross Revenge during his summer holiday and presented a few shows as The Night Owl between 25th July and 6th August 1985. At the end of his time on the Ross Revenge he returned to his regular job but he recalls how he very nearly didn't make it back in time: “The night before I was due back at work the sea was quite rough and a tender was looking unlikely. I was beginning to think the worst when, amazingly, in the early hours of the morning a tender did turn up. I could not believe my luck as I set off on a very bumpy trip back to Ramsgate. Arriving at the harbour I was in for an even bigger surprise as I was greeted by my wife, who then proceeded to pay the skipper. It turns out that she had organised my rescue, and drove me straight back to work. What a commute I had that day, via the North Sea! I arrived at work having had no sleep, and no doubt stinking of diesel, but amazingly nobody noticed - or did they? I had indeed had a close shave and although I enjoyed my brief return and was pleased to be able to add this short stint on the Ross Revenge in the mid-80s to my Radio Caroline CV, I was relieved to return to the proper job.” Now retired from that proper job, he continues to broadcast on the internet incarnation of Radio Caroline as Martin Fisher. (Thanks to the Night Owl for his assistance and this photo.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio A studio recording of the Night Owl from one night in July or August 1985 kindly provided by the man himself (duration 2 minutes 36 seconds)

Laser sticker
Laser car sticker.

Craig Novak Craig Novak reputedly a distant cousin of the late Diana Princess of Wales - they shared a great great great grandfather - Craig joined Laser while the station was off the air with a damaged aerial in April 1985. His first broadcast was when the station returned on 7th May and he stayed until the closedown in November. The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame asked Craig about his career: “I grew up in Bath, Maine and started in radio there when I was in high school at the local radio stations WJTO and WIGY. I was a board operator and then a disc jockey. I went to college at Syracuse University. Ironically I met another former pirate at Syracuse my freshman year - Charlie Wolf! He transferred to another college the next year but it was quite a reunion when I boarded the Communicator in April 1985 and saw Charlie again. I have many great memories of Laser 558 and life on the Communicator. The day I arrived (in the UK) I had to stay in a hotel for a few days because the weather didn’t allow for me to get out to the ship. That storm also caused one of the (aerial) towers to collapse. So when I finally got on board, the station was off the air. That worked out for me because I needed to get my ‘sea legs’. I was sick for the first few days but once we got back on the air I was ready to go. I really enjoyed meeting all the ‘anoraks’ who came to see the ship on the weekend. Some who came from the continent did not speak much English so that made it interesting. It was fun working with Ric Harris, Tommy Rivers, Chris Carson, Erin Kelly, Charlie, Jay Mack, Chuck Cannon, John Leeds, Jeff Davis and Jonell. I probably have forgotten a couple of people. The ship's crew was great too. In London John Castle and Robbie Day kept things going as best they could. One of my best memories was when Charlie and I did the first birthday party on the air. It was done totally as theatre-of-the-mind. We had sound effects running in the background so it sounded like we were having a huge party on board (see clip below). It sounded like a real party. Obviously the Eurosiege and subsequent sailing in was a huge memory. The British authorities brought dogs on the ship after we brought it in and searched it from stem to stern. After they discovered we were not a threat, they asked for our autographs. We were grateful to Richard Branson for providing very inexpensive airfare so we could get back to the US. I sold the rights to the videos that were taken on board by Chuck Cannon to come up with that money. We were all out of money when we came off the ship. I now own 9 radio stations in upstate New York. Ironically we use ABC radio news on some of our stations and their London reporter is none other than Tommy Rivers so I hear his voice quite often.” Real name Alan Bishop, you can hear Craig discussing his offshore career in this interview. (Thanks to Craig/Alan for his assistance and to John Burch for putting us in touch. Photo from ‘Monitor’ magazine.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio Craig Novak celebrating Laser-558's first birthday on 24th May 1985 with some help from Charlie Wolf. This clip is edited from a recording shared by Hans Hendriks on The Offshore Radio Club Forum. Our thanks to him (duration 4 minutes 15 seconds)
click to hear audio click to hear audio Craig Novak on the final breakfast show from Laser-558 on the station's last day on air, 5th November 1985. This is an edited version of a recording shared on the Internet Radiocafé Forum by Vincent. Our thanks to him (duration 4 minutes 22 seconds)

Shawn O'Neill
Shawn O'Neill
A deckhand on the mv Communicator, Shawn was heard occasionally on Laser-558's Mariners' Hour. Photo taken by Michael Dean and kindly provided by Hans Knot.


Dave Owen had broadcast on Radios Atlantis and Caroline during the previous decade (see entry in The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame ‘Seventies Supplement’). He was Programme Controller of the London landbased pirate Radio Jackie but that station closed down in February 1985. Dave returned to Caroline after a break of 11 years, 31 weeks, 6 days and 17 hours (calculation courtesy of Monitor magazine) for a two week relief stint during October/November 1986. He then joined Severn Sound as Head of Music, Fox FM, Choice FM as Head of Production, then Virgin as Head of Production and Capital FM as a producer. Shortly after that, he became Deputy PC at KFM in Kent. He then set up his own radio production company, Complete Production. In March 2003 the original management team of Radio Jackie bought out Thames FM in Kingston. Radio Jackie re-launched on October 19th 2003 on 107.8FM and Dave took up the positon of Programme Controller and presenter.

click to hear audio click to hear audio A short clip of Dave Owen on Radio Caroline from 19th October 1986, an extract from an aircheck posted on www.azanorak.com. Our thanks to Ray Robinson (duration 1 minute 5 seconds)



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