Prelude to regular UK Offshore Radio Broadcasting

Compiled and written by Dr Eric Gilder and Mervyn Hagger


DATE EVENT Relevant pages of Pirate Radio Hall of Fame
2nd APRIL Gaining inspiration from the Danish offshore station Radio Mercur, Australian born music publisher / record producer Allan Crawford and South African born theatrical agent / playwright Kitty Black, who are both living in London, register a new British company called C.B.C. (Plays) Limited. It is their intention to explore the legal possibilities of starting an offshore commercial radio station broadcasting from a ship anchored in international waters with a signal which can be received in London. Their project gains impetus after they have received legal advice. Allan Crawford Interview
Kitty Black Tribute
18th APRIL Radio Veronica commences broadcasts on 1620 kHz, 185 metres, from the Borkum Riff anchored off Holland.
DECEMBER At some point towards the end of 1960 (precise date unknown) Radio Veronica begins transmitting programmes in English under the name CNBC (‘Commercial Neutral Broadcasting Company’) . In the days before Caroline


DATE EVENT Relevant pages of Pirate Radio Hall of Fame
31st JANUARY A second Radio Mercur station starts from mv Cheeta II. Offering mainly duplicate programmes, it enables the station to cover a wider area.
21st FEBRUARY Radio Nord (‘North’) takes to the airwaves from off the Swedish coast. Financed by Clint Murchison, it is planned by Gordon McLendon, the developer of many US broadcasting formats. Radio Nord is managed locally in Stockholm by Jack Kotschack. The ship, formerly the Olga, then Bon Jour, Magda Maria and finally Mi Amigo, is owned on paper by Nord Establishments of Liechtenstein, a company financed by Clint Murchison. The ship is flagged in Nicaragua because Murchison is close friend of Anastasio Somoza whose family rules Nicaragua.
MARCH CNBC is discontinued. Radio Veronica continues in Dutch only.
15th SEPTEMBER DCR (‘Danmarks Commercielle Radio’) begins broadcasting on FM from mv Lucky Star, operated by disillusioned former staff of Radio Mercur.


DATE EVENT Relevant pages of Pirate Radio Hall of Fame
29th JANUARY DCR and Radio Mercur merge.
FEBRUARY Radio Mercur is now using mv Lucky Star as its second ship. The original mv Cheeta is sold to Mrs Britt Wadner.
MARCH C.B.C. (Plays) Limited: Allan Crawford; Kitty Black; Oliver Smedley and John Delaney try to buy a lightship in Scotland to serve as a base for an offshore radio station.
1st APRIL Mrs Wadner's Radio Syd (‘South’) begins broadcasting to Sweden on 89.62 MHz from mv Cheeta, anchored off Malmo,
30th JUNE Radio Nord closes down.
2nd JULY Allan Crawford wants to buy the mv Mi Amigo following the closure of Radio Nord and goes to Liechtenstein to negotiate.
10th JULY Radio Mercur closes down from the Cheeta II.
23rd JULY The mv Bon Jour/Magda Maria/Mi Amigo goes to El Ferrol, Spain for inspection and repairs.
31st JULY Radio Mercur closes down from the Lucky Star. The Scandinavian anti-offshore radio law comes into force. Radio Syd stays on the air.
13th AUGUST Radio Mercur resumes broadcasting from mv Lucky Star with old programme tapes.
15th AUGUST Danish police board the Lucky Star and silence the station. This raid causes John Delaney to drop out as financier of Allan Crawford's proposed station.
SEPTEMBER The mv Mi Amigo is moved to an anchorage at a sandbar off Brightlingsea, Essex where its Polish crew mutiny because they want to go ashore. Meanwhile John Thompson and Arnold Swanson (who have been planning stations GBLN and GB-OK) talk to Albrecht in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, who represents the owner of the ship. Ronan O'Rahilly is also there. Albrecht tries to bring all the interested parties together but none of the groups represent enough money and negotiations are broken off. In the days before Caroline
OCTOBER The Flemish Radio Antwerpen begins broadcasting on 1492 kHz, 201 metres, from the Uilenspiegel, anchored off Belgium.
NOVEMBER The continuing unrest by the crew of the mv Mi Amigo forces the owners to move the ship away from the UK coastline to a new anchorage across the Channel at Ostend, Belgium.
16th DECEMBER The Uilenspiegel goes aground in a storm. Radio Antwerpen never returns to the air.


DATE EVENT Relevant pages of Pirate Radio Hall of Fame
FEBRUARY The mv Mi Amigo puts to sea from Ostend but a storm causes its antenna mast to collapse and the ship encounters engine trouble; forced to dock at Brest, France. At the end of February mv Mi Amigo leaves Brest for Galveston, Texas, with its mast laying on the deck.
18th MARCH After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Mi Amigo enters the Gulf of Mexico and docks at Pier 37 in the harbour at Galveston island, Texas. Bill Weaver, General Manager of the McLendon station KILT in Houston, Texas, is placed in charge of the ship. He pays the crew off after trying to find an immediate buyer. The mv Mi Amigo is offered without success to the CIA for use in its continuing covert campaign against Cuba.
JUNE Ronan O'Rahilly arrives in Houston and checks into the Continental Hotel. He buys a pair of cowboy boots. He meets Bill Weaver at KILT. Weaver tells O'Rahilly that the mv Mi Amigo is being stripped of its broadcasting equipment which is being put into storage in Houston. The plan is to make the equipment available to stations in the McLendon chain, and to sell what is not needed. In Houston O'Rahilly also meets De Jong who is the McLendon shipping agent in Vaduz who is representing the mv Mi Amigo and, together with KILT Chief Radio Engineer Glen Cook, they travel to Galveston and see the ship. Because the mv Mi Amigo is no longer an operational radio ship, O'Rahilly asks De Jong for help in locating another ship that is already in European waters. De Jong contacts Allan Crawford and instigates a further round of negotiations. Crawford and engineer Arthur Carrington go to Houston and see Bill Weaver. Crawford wants to lease the ship and its equipment, rather than buy it outright.
5th NOVEMBER The mv Mi Amigo is moved from Pier 37 to Todd Shipyards for repairs and painting prior to its lease or sale.
21st DECEMBER The mast together with a main generator and other equipment is reinstalled on board the mv Mi Amigo by KILT transmitter supervisor Frank Maher, after it had been trucked down from storage in the Houston warehouse. Some new equipment is also installed. It is loaded hastily because the Galveston local newspaper has taken an interest. This press coverage gains the attention of the local office of U.S. Customs and too many questions are being asked about this former radio ship with rumours swirling around about a Cuban connection.
29th DECEMBER The mv Mi Amigo leaves Galveston for the Bahamas to pick up Albrecht after which the vessel will procede on a voyage for the next 27 days that will take it to El Ferrol, Spain.

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March 1964: The start of regular offshore broadcasts to the UK. See the UK Offshore Radio Timeline on next page.

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