Rick Randall Rick Randall was the first presenter to be signed up for “Swinging” Radio England, having previously worked on various stations in Montana, USA. He remembers: “I was recruited by (station founder) Don Pierson to join Radio England and Britain Radio while the ship was still anchored in a harbour in Miami, Florida. Next came Ron O'Quinn who, in turn, hired Jerry Smithwick and Larry Dean. The four of us comprised the first American DJ crew on Radio England, beginning in May 1966. Jerry Smithwick and I sailed across the Atlantic on it in a voyage that took approximately 2 weeks and hit rough seas in a thundering storm our first night out. That caused our radio antenna to come crashing down to the deck, which added another two weeks in port in Lisbon while engineers rigged up a new one, and added finishing touches to our studios and transmitters for both stations. Don and Jerry and I took advantage of the delay by enjoying an unscheduled holiday in Portugal. Larry Dean and Ron O'Quinn came on board after we finally arrived in the North Sea and dropped anchor in the vicinity of Radio London and Caroline. I remember a wide variety of visitors who inevitably showed up just about every day. Since we were all males, and most of us single at the time, we generally relished most those visits made by what I soon learned were referred to in your country as ‘birds’. In fact, it became apparent to me, and I am sure my American comrades, that there are a number of distinctions between our separate versions of the language we share in common. I found myself stumbling over a few words, which I shall not recall here, which were simple slang in America but considered rude and vulgar in the UK, and perhaps in much of Europe as well. I'm afraid the four of us probably offended a large number of people without realising it because of our ignorance and careless slips of the tongue. Perhaps it is not too late now, five decades later, to offer our apologies?” Things did not run smoothly for Radio England and the four pioneer presenters did not stay long. Rick recalls: “I was the first American DJ to sign up with Radio England, and the first to leave, departing in August 1966 and returning to the United States. I first enrolled in a local junior college in Florida and soon thereafter resumed my career in radio at WLCY "Radio 138" Tampa Bay, after which I worked at various other stations in the bay area and around Florida, as well as in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado and California.” Rick's last job before retiring was scheduling music videos on a couple of Christian TV channels. In retirement he wasn't able to leave broadcasting entirely. In June 2016 he wrote: “This month, just about 50 years since helping to sign on Swinging Radio England from below the deck of the Olga Patricia in the North Sea, I am again engaged in signing on another brand new radio station. Unlike our pirate adventure however, this one is completely legal. Also, unlike a listening area that at various times captured large parts of your country, my current project barely reaches beyond the center of my home city - St Petersburg. My station represents a new class of very limited power FM stations now being licensed by the US government. So the radio bug that bit me a half century ago continues to keep me busy. Every now and then I turn my glance eastward across the Atlantic and ponder events back then, and as the song says, “the long and winding road” that followed, making up my radio career here in Florida and a half dozen states around the country. What was really odd about being part of the so-called pirate radio invasion in England is that virtually nobody I ever talked to about it here over the years ever had any idea what I was talking about. Moreover, I had no idea how radio evolved in your country, or what the impact of our presence there was, until more than a quarter of a century passed, and world wide communications became as simple as sending an email, or clicking on a website. My home now looks out directly across Tampa Bay, a large body of water that opens up into the Gulf of Mexico on Florida's west coast. There is a small community on the far side of the bay that often reminds me of watching the shoreline from the deck of our ship off your coastline. Thanks for keeping the dream alive with The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame and remembering those days on the high seas that touched all our lives in different ways.” Since writing that in 2016 Rick's station has merged with another local venture and in August 2022, at the age of 80, he hung up his headphones and retired from broadcasting. (Many thanks to Rick for getting in touch and bringing us up to date. He also contributed this photo, originally given to him by Steve England. Rick has also written about his memories of British offshore radio for our feature on Radio England and Britain Radio. Rick attended the Offshore 50 reunion in August 2017.)

click to hear audio Rick Randall from very the first day on the air for “Swinging” Radio England, 3rd May 1966 (duration 2 minutes 8 seconds)
click to hear audio Rick on the ‘Randall Ramble’ on “Swinging” Radio England from the afternoon of 23rd June 1966. The advert for Smiths Crisps features the voice of former Caroline DJ Simon Dee. Both recordings courtesy of Svenn Martinsen (duration 4 minutes 59 seconds)

Rob Randall Rob Randall was born in London and trained as an actor. As a youngster, he appeared in the film Escapade which starred John Mills and Alastair Sim, as well as featuring a young Peter Asher, later to be half of singing duo Peter & Gordon. He toured the nation's theatres, appearing in various stage shows, but in 1965 was working as a disc-jockey in Surrey when Mike Raven approached him about joining the offshore station he was running, King Radio. This operation had virtually no money and, when Rob discovered how little he would be earning during his time at sea, he turned the job down. A few months later King Radio was taken over and, with major backing now in place, Mike began recruiting for the replacement station, Radio 390. He came back to see Rob with a better, if not over-generous, offer and this time it was accepted. Rob joined the team on the Red Sands Fort in time for the launch of Radio 390, presenting “Eve, the woman's magazine of the air.” He was working on the station when, in February 1966, a television crew visited to film for ITV's Danger Man series. (Photos from the episode, called Not So Jolly Roger, can be found in Edward Cole's photo album.) Rob stayed with 390 for about a year but left after a disagreement over his shore-leave entitlement. Following his time at sea he was heard on the south London land-based pirates Radio Jackie and Radio Sovereign but, in 1988, went legit when he joined Guildford's County Sound AM Gold service. He later worked as a show-business publicist for many years. On 8th June 2016 The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame received this sad news from John Kenning: “You may like to amend your entry for Rob Randall. He died last weekend. I worked with him on County Sound and Radio Sovereign.” (This entry was written with information provided by Rob. Our thanks to John Kenning for his assiatnce. The photo was taken by The Kent Messenger and is reprinted from “Offshore Radio”, published by Iceni Enterprises.)

click to hear audio Rob Randall starting a Sunday night edition of Stateside '65 on Radio 390 (duration 1 minute 5 seconds)

King Radio car sticker

Mike and Mandy Raven Mike and Mandy Raven Born on the 15th November 1924, Mike's real name was Austin Churton Fairman. Prior to getting involved with offshore radio, he had worked as a photographer, conjuror, ballet dancer, interior decorator and flamenco guitarist, among many other things. A cousin of Oliver Smedley, the chairman of Radio Atlanta, Mike joined that station from its start in May 1964 and presented a programme called All Systems Go. His theme tune was The Kid by Johnnie & the Hurricanes. From Atlanta, Mike moved to King Radio where he was Programme Controller. Based on Red Sands Fort off the coast of Kent, this sweet music station suffered from severe under-funding. It was never able to put out a strong enough signal to get sufficient listeners and sadly did not last long. It was taken over. The new investors installed a more powerful transmitter, better equipment and relaunched it in September 1965 as Radio 390. This was a much more successful operation and quickly won a huge audience for its middle-of-the-road programmes. On both King and 390 Mike presented programmes with his wife, Mandy. He also hosted a fondly-remembered R&B show every evening. Although somewhat serious in his presentation, Mike's love for the music was apparent and, at a time when this genre was all but ignored by mainstream media, he won a devoted following. An article in Offshore Echos magazine listing DJ theme tunes says that Mike used Liverpool Drive by Chuck Berry as his theme but Hans Klomp has been in touch from The Hague to say that Mike used the Phil Upchurch Combo's You Can't Sit Down too. In October/November 1966 Mike wrote a series of articles in The News of the World called “Lid Off The Pop Pirates” which gave a previously unavailable insight into the story of British offshore radio (see here). Mike's last programme on Radio 390 was on 28th November 1966 and he then presented EMI-sponsored soul shows on Radio Luxembourg. He also released two compilation albums called The Mike Raven Blues Show on Transatlantic Records. When Radio One opened in September 1967 Mike was part of the original team. His Sunday night R&B series was essential listening for every self-respecting blues fan. He also briefly presented a religious chat show on television. However Mike had a fascination for the occult and, in 1971, gave up broadcasting to become an actor in horror films. Tall, bearded and normally dressed all in black, he had the perfect appearance for the genre and featured in a number of movies, one of which, Crucible Of Terror, used to crop up occasionally on late night television. He lived on a Cornish farm for many years where he took up sculpture. This excellent website includes examples of his art. Sadly Mike died on 24th April 1997. One of his sons, Ben Fairman, has posted some of his father's R&B shows, mainly from his time on offshore radio, on Soundcloud. You can see some letters from Mike, kindly provided by Grahame Joyce, here. (Photo from a ‘News of the World’ cutting, kindly provided by Wendy Haberl. Thanks also to Mike Davis, Hans Knot, Hans Klomp and the Radio London website.)

click to hear audio Mike Raven from the very earliest days of British offshore radio, on Radio Atlanta. The precise date in uncertain but it is from some time in June 1964. The recording has been generously donated by Harm Koenders of The Offshore Radio Archive (duration 1 minute 28 seconds)
click to hear audio Mike Raven's R&B Show on Radio 390. Recording courtesy of Martyn Webster (duration 2 minutes 46 seconds)
click to hear audio Mike Raven's Radio 390 R&B Show on 7th May 1966 was a Sun Records special, featuring the music of Johnny Cash in particular. This wonderful recording was made by the late Jeff Hamer and has been kindly provided by his friend Gary Critcher. Listener Graham Sanders commented on Facebook: “I remember that Raven show very well. I was in the studio at his flat in Chelsea when it was recorded! And I went and saw Johnny Cash at the Hammersmith Odeon as encouraged by M.R. It is often forgotten that his show worked as follows: Mon - Fri: Soul and R&B. Sunday: Blues. But EVERY Saturday: Rock'n'Roll, so there was nothing exceptional about this edition, except, being a Sun special, it was a bit more country and rockabilly than most. And nobody else was playing this stuff at that time. At all.” (duration 4 minutes 11 seconds)
click to hear audio Mike and Mandy on their Saturday lunchtime show, also on Radio 390. Many thanks to Martyn Webster for the recording (duration 1 minute 45 seconds)

press advert for Mike Raven's R&B Show

Earl Richmond Earl Richmond Real name John Dienn, he was born in Highgate, north London, in December 1926. Earl first worked in radio in 1948 with British Forces Broadcasting in Trieste. He was also heard in Cyprus before moving to America to study television. In July 1959 he joined ITV as a transmission controller and, before becoming a pirate, had also worked for Southern TV in Southampton. When Radio London started at the end of 1964, Earl presented the 9am-noon show and was the ship's administrator. He was known as “The Earl Of Richmond” and his theme tune was a piece of library music called Potato Chips. Earl left the ship during the spring of 1966 but continued to make the occasional promotional appearance for Radio London on land. After his pirate days, he was with Yorkshire TV and Thompson International before moving to Thailand where he worked on English language radio and became involved in the hotel trade, at one time owning and running a restaurant called The Beefeater. His son Chris Dienn tells The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame that he also taught English to the daughter of the Thai king. Earl died of an aneurysm in May 2001. Both the Thai king and princess attended his funeral. Richard Buckle wrote from Thailand: “John worked out here in Bangkok for almost 30 years in radio and in the hotel management business. We were on the same Bangkok radio station, 95.5FM, for a couple of years in the early nineties. John was a bit of a loner and sadly passed away last year.” There is a fuller obituary of Earl Richmond on the Radio London website and there is another picture in Gordon Sheppard's photo album. (Many thanks to Chris and Richard, also to Kenny Tosh and Mary Payne for the theme tune information. The official Radio London press office biography said Earl was born in 1928 but Chris informs us that Big L had knocked a couple of years off his age. He was actually born in 1926.)

click to hear audio Earl Richmond on his morning show on Radio London from March 1965. Recording kindly provided by Hans Knot (duration 4 minutes 2 seconds)
click to hear audio Earl Richmond on Radio London, sitting in for Dave Cash on the 3-6pm show, 21 August 1965. Tape kindly provided by Chris Baird (duration 2 minutes 35 seconds)

Radio London car sticker

Bill Rollins Bill Rollins was first heard during test broadcasts for Tower Radio / Radio Tower, the short-lived - and ultimately unsuccessful - station which broadcast intermittently from Sunk Head Tower off the Essex coast in late 1965 and early 1966. Bill was then 17 years old. Tower never achieved a full broadcast service. After his time at sea, Bill became an electrical engineer, later joining East Anglian Productions in Frinton-on-Sea, a company that released a number of offshore radio nostalgia products. Bill produced the acclaimed Radio Caroline album box and the Laser 558 story. He became involved with Radio Caroline during the late seventies, often working with the disco version of the Caroline Roadshow, the Radio Roadshow, alongside the likes of Brian Martin and Roger Mathews. During the eighties Bill was involved in the shore-based support for Caroline and was heard on air, in pre-recorded form, during the ‘Viewpoint-963’ service where he provided continuity for the sponsored religious programmes. During the nineties he was a DJ on Mellow 1557 and its successor Dream 100. Now retired from full-time broadcasting, he can still be heard on the internet station Caroline Flashback. (For more about Tower, see this interview with Bill's colleague Chris Gosling. The photo shows Bill at the microphone with “Dynamite” Dave Simser behind him in the hat. Photo taken by Martin Stevens and kindly provided by Martyn Webster.)

click to hear audio Bill Rollins on a low powered test transmission for Radio Tower in 1966. Apologies for the poor quality. This clip is taken from a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum by Hans Hendriks. Our thanks to him (duration 2 minutes 50 seconds)

Mark Roman Mark Roman was a marketing concept before he became a real person. In 1965 Radio London Programme Director Ben Toney decided he was going to hire a DJ who would be known as “Mark Roman” and whose programme would be called The Roman Empire. Senior DJ Tony Windsor suggested Tony Blackburn, who was then working on the rival Radio Caroline South. Blackburn was desperate to move but, having established a reputation for himself, did not want to change his name. Some of the other Radio London DJs recommended Graham Wallace. He had previously spent a week on Radio City, using his real name, but was now working at the Wimbledon Palais. This was a regular venue for Radio London promotions and Graham had met a number of the presenters there. He was only too happy to change his name if it gave him his big break and, in October 1965, “Mark” assumed leadership of The Roman Empire. His catch-phrase was an echo-laden “hail citizens” and each show ended with the fervent hope that “in the words of my old Aunt Matilda: from ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver us.” Correspondent Roy Kennedy also remembers him saying “mark the Roman words, because the Roman knows.” Mark's theme tune was Wipeout by The Ventures. Mark stayed with Radio London until the station close-down and then joined the new Radio One, where he hosted a series of Saturday afternoon shows. He also released a single Cuddly Toy but it was not a hit. Mark did not stay with the BBC for long and in 1968 left to work in Australia. After some time on Sydney station 2UE, Mark returned to the UK to work as a freelance voice-over. He was one of the people behind the re-creation of Radio London which took place for a month during the summer of 1997 (see the Radio London site for further details). Mark has now moved to Spain where he continues to do his voice-over work. For more pictures, including one of Mark in full Roman regalia, see Gordon Sheppard and Willy Walker's photo albums. (Photo from ‘Who's Who In Pop Radio’, published by The New English Library. We previously said that Mark's theme tune was by The Surfaris. They did record the original version of ‘Wipeout’ but research by Kees Brinkerink has revealed that it was the version from ‘The Ventures On Stage’ album that Mark used to open and close his shows. Our thanks to Alan Field for the information.)

click to hear audio Mark Roman on the Radio London Breakfast Show from 9th August 1967, less than a week before the station closed down. The recording is from Martin Lynch's collection and has been kindly donated by Lynne Sims (duration 4 minute 46 seconds)

The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame needs your

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.

Emperor Rosko Emperor Rosko Real name Michael Pasternak, the Emperor was born on Boxing Day 1942, the son of Hollywood film producer Joe Pasternak. Rosko got his first taste of broadcasting while serving in the US navy and, after leaving the service, took a broadcasting course in San Francisco. He moved to Europe and worked on French radio before joining Radio Caroline South in 1966. He brought with him a personality which combined a number of the gimmicks and techniques he had heard while growing up listening to American Top 40 radio. They might not have all been totally original but they were new to a British audience and he immediately won a large following. He also had a mynah bird, Alfie, who joined him on the air. In late 1966 he left Caroline to return to France, where he hosted a hugely successful afternoon show on the French Radio Luxembourg, this time not as an “Emperor” but as “Le President Rosko.” His “Rosko In Exile” shows, taped in Paris, were heard late on Saturday nights on Caroline South for a time and included the novelty of listeners on the telephone discussing the issues of the day. With the launch of Radio One in September 1967, Rosko continued to send weekly taped shows from France, later joining the station full time. During the seventies he was a major radio star and made hundreds of personal appearances but in 1982 he returned to the States. Since then he has provided pre-recorded shows for a number of stations including Virgin, Classic Gold and the satellite stations EKR. In 2008 he was inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame. He can now be heard on Radio Caroline again, as well as other outlets. His website is emperorrosko.net. Emperor Rosko's DJ Book, a combination of autobiography and guide to being a broadcaster, was originally published in paperback in 1976. A new updated digital edition is now available, featuring the original contents plus a second part bringing the Rosko story up to date. It can be purchased from his website. There are some pictures of Rosko on Radio Caroline here and some more recent ones, taken in 2007, here. There is an interview with the emperor here. (Photo issued by the Caroline Club. Thanks to Rosko for the email. He says: “Keep up the good work, Emp.”)

click to hear audio Rosko with Alfie the mynah bird on Radio Caroline South (duration 1 minute 30 seconds)
click to hear audio It is midnight on a Saturday in December 1966 on Radio Caroline South, time for Rosko In Exile. Recording kindly provided by Alan Hardy (duration 4 minute 13 seconds)

John Ross-Barnard John Ross-Barnard John's first broadcasting experience was on the early pirate station Radio Invicta. This low-powered sweet music station had only the most rudimentary equipment and the living conditions on the anti-aircraft fort, on which it was based, were extremely basic. There is a fascinating chapter by John describing his life at sea in Keith Skues's book Pop Went The Pirates. On Invicta he broadcast under numerous names as well as his own. He was also JRB, Larry Pannell, Pete Ross and Peter Barraclough. Radio Invicta was replaced by the slightly better-equipped King Radio, then by the much better Radio 390. With a decent transmitter, proper studio equipment, not to mention habitable living conditions, Radio 390 was an enormous success. John stayed throughout these various incarnations but, in 1966, he moved to Britain Radio, your “hallmark of quality” station. He also read the news on its Top 40 sister station, “Swinging” Radio England. From there he joined the BBC as a television continuity announcer. He then held a number of posts including head of BBC video, chief executive of Coventry Cable Television, managing director of Satellite Media Services and was a broadcasting consultant. John was also heard on the various Radio London restricted service revivals. Sadly he died on 2nd November 2022 in Coventry University Hospital. Our tribute to him is here. There is a recording of one of John's Radio England news bulletin from 1966 in the John England collection and a studio quality recording from the previous year on the page of Mark Hammerton's tapes. We also have some photos taken at the Radio England/Britain Radio 40th anniversary reunion, Radio Day 2014 in Amsterdam and the Offshore 50 reunion in August 2017.

click to hear audio John Ross-Barnard on two different stations: presenting Melody Hour on King Radio in 1965 and reading the news on “Swinging” Radio England the following year. Many thanks to Stuart Russell for providing both tapes (duration 3 minutes 45 seconds).

Radio 390 car sticker
Thanks to Hans Knot for this Radio 390 car sticker.

Sheena Russell Sheena Russell. David Gibson writes to point out that Sheena should be included in The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame. He says: “Sheena Russell may not have been a deejay but, having a beautiful broadcasting voice, she did most of the station pre-recorded links and voice-overs for all commercials made by Radio Scotland's associate advertising agency, TV Shields Publicity. When the station ‘sank’ she went to work as a columnist for five years for the UK-wide Weekly News entertainments newspaper owned by DC Thomson, which sent her to the US, much of Europe and all over Britain. She moved to the Sydney Morning Telegraph then went on to work for radio station 2UW in Sydney, Australia, back home to Radio Clyde (as head of commercial traffic, those very important people who schedule the advertisements), to Broadcast Marketing Services, London, and to Southern Television, as commercials coordinator. Sadly Sheena died in October 1999 but, as a real mainstay of the station, between administering the advertising, recording the links and the commercials, if anyone deserves a mention in the Hall of Fame, she does.” (Many thanks to David for writing and for providing the photo.)

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