Part five: “Radio Northsea is voluntarily closing down”

After the attempted hi-jack of the Mebo II had been thwarted, life returned to normal and RNI had a short period of uneventful and stable broadcasting.

RNI   23rd -24th September 1970
(UK times)

23rd September
06.00 Mark Wesley on leave, Alan West presenting
(06.30-07.00 Johan Maasbach, sponsored religious show)
09.00 Andy Archer
12.00 Spangles Muldoon
15.00 Alan West
18.00 Mike Ross
21.00 Michael Lindsey on leave, Stephen Ladd due to present
24.00 Carl Mitchell on leave, Dave Rogers due to present
02.00 Scheduled closedown
as above except
10.00-12.00 Alan West
(10.15-10.45 Johan Maasbach)
14.00-16.00 Stephen Ladd
18.00-20.00 Andy Archer
20.00-21.00 Stephen Ladd, jazz
21.00-22.00 Alan West, sweet music
00.00 Closedown
The planned programme schedule was interrupted on all frequencies at 21.00 when Spangles Muldoon took over. He announced that RNI would close down at 11.00 the following day. He also announced that the schedule would be amended for the remaining hours of the station's life:
Between 23.00 and 01.00 it was Andy Archer and Alan West then...
24th September
01.00 Stephen Ladd
03.00 Mike Ross
04.00 Dave Rogers
05.00 Mike Ross and Dave Rogers
06.50 Johan Maasbach
07.20 Spangles Muldoon
09.00 Stephen Ladd
10.00 Andy Archer and Alan West, The Final Hour
11.00 Closedown.

At the beginning of September 24 hour a day programming was suspended but the news coverage was increased to hourly bulletins between 7am and 8pm and, on 22nd September, RNI's output was extended further. At certain times during the day, middle-of-the-road music was broadcast on the ‘World Service’ (31 metre short wave and FM outlets) while the usual pop programmes continued on the ‘European Service’ (medium wave and 49 metre short wave bands).

click to hear audio Alan West runs down the programme schedule on the RNI World Service at 10 o'clock GMT, 11 o'clock BST, on 23rd September 1970. Recording kindly provided by Ian Biggar (duration 1 minute 7 seconds)

On the 23rd of September Mario Welman, a Dutch hairdresser, arrived in a rented boat and requested permission to come aboard the Mebo II. Despite the Captain refusing, Welman climbed up anyway and said he was going to take over the ship. He was grabbed by the crew and locked in one of the cabins. The Captain contacted the office on land. RNI boss Erwin Meister came out to find the unwanted guest claiming that he had heard the station was about to close down and was trying to stop this happening. He told Meister that he had an offer to buy the radio ship on behalf of Freddy Heineken, the multi-millionaire owner of Heineken Breweries. Meister was not interested. He ordered Welman to return to land on the Dolfijn, a small boat which had arrived with a journalist aboard - presumably following a tip from Welman.
RNI's split service was extremely short lived. It lasted just two days because, at around 9pm on 23rd September, this statement was read out on all the RNI frequencies:
“Radio Northsea is voluntarily closing down tomorrow morning at eleven o'clock. Due to pressure in the Dutch Parliament to close down the offshore stations, our directors in Zurich feel it would be better for us to suspend broadcasting so that the Dutch Government will not attempt to close down Radio Veronica, so dearly loved by the people of Holland for the past ten years. Radio Northsea International thanks you for your support in the past months during our times of drama and struggle. Thank you for being faithful to us. We close tomorrow morning at eleven o'clock.”
This shock announcement took the listeners completely by surprise. Back in 1967, when most of the previous generation of English-language offshore broadcasters had closed down, there had been some advance warning. No one was expecting this.

click to hear audio Spangles Muldoon on the last evening of broadcasting from Radio Northsea International in 1970. This clip is made up of a number of extracts from a longer recording made available by The Offshore Radio Archive (duration 4 minutes 35 seconds)

The programme schedule was not exactly as announced by Spangles. We think it was as listed in the box, above. If you can provide further details, please get in touch.

click to hear audio Dave Rogers and Mike Ross end their programme at 6.50am on 24th September, tape kindly provided by Ian Biggar (duration 2 minutes 55 seconds)

Record Mirror headline

Click on the cutting above to see how ‘Record Mirror’ reported the station's closure.

At 10am on Thursday 24th September 1970, Andy Archer and Alan West began RNI's closing show. The disc-jockeys on board at the time (Andy, Alan, Spangles, Stephen, Mike and Dave) said their goodbyes, as did the engineers and some crew-members. Andy also said farewell on behalf of his colleagues on shore-leave (Carl Mitchell, Mark Wesley and Michael Lindsey). Alan read out the list of advertisers and the names of all the station's disc-jockeys and, at slightly after eleven o'clock, the theme, Les Reed's Man Of Action, faded away to silence. It was a sad and professional close to a popular station but the RNI story had often taken unexpected and dramatic twists - and another one was coming soon!


The last song to be played on RNI in 1970 was ‘Peace’ by Peter. Label scan kindly provided by Munro Jack.

Andy Archer

Andy Archer. Photo published by the Free Radio Association from the archive of Rob Olthof, kindly donated by Hans Knot.

click to hear audio Andy Archer and Alan West start the last hour, Alan lists all the disc-jockeys and advertisers who have been heard on the station (duration 2 minutes 17 seconds)
click to hear audio Andy recaps some of the “unique happenings” from the previous nine months and plays the RNI “Boom Tune”, a jingle produced by Mark Wesley from a piece of soundtrack music (South American Getaway from the film ‘Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’). Some of the backroom boys get a chance to say their goodbyes (duration 4 minutes 56 seconds)
click to hear audio The onboard disc-jockeys say their farewells (duration 4 minutes 38 seconds)
click to hear audio It is Andy and Alan's turn to say goodbye. They play the last record, Peace by Peter, and close the station down. These clips are from a cassette originally issued by CM Leisure Sales, now available from GJB Sales, and used with kind permission (duration 1 minute 3 seconds)

Carl Mitchell, Alan West, Andy Archer

Carl Mitchell, Alan West and Andy Archer. Photo published by the Free Radio Association from the archive of Rob Olthof, kindly donated by Hans Knot.

Back to part four.
On to part six.

With thanks to Ian Biggar, Chris Jameson, Alan Milewczyk and Peter Barber.

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