Part Two: New neighbours in the Knock Deep

After an unusually mild Christmas, January 1984 was a blustery and stormy month. Scotland and the north of England were snow-bound and, around the coast, a number of vessels hit trouble. In the North Sea on Friday 20th January the Ross Revenge dragged her anchor. After drifting some way, she came to rest on a sandbank. The station suspended programmes at 9.20pm because the ship was listing at an alarming angle. Fortunately the next day as the tide rose, the ship lifted, undamaged, and Captain Bradley was able to steer her to a position off Harwich where an emergency anchor was dropped. The station was off the air on the 25th as the ship steamed back to the Knock Deep escorted by a Dutch tug which remained alongside until a new main anchor could be fitted. Caroline returned to the air and broadcasting hours were extended again to a 2am closedown.

click to hear audio Grant Benson starting to count down the new Album Top 30 on Radio Caroline, 15th January 1984. This clip is taken from a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum by Hans Hendriks. Our thanks to him. You can see the full Top 30 here (duration 2 minutes 27 seconds)

On 27th January the station's first commercials were aired. Jordache Jeans, Newsweek Magazine, Priority Air Freight, Wifa ice skates and the Christian Children's Fund were all running ads, although not all were paid for. Some, like those for the Priority courier service were in return for services (in that particular case, for flying the station's post across the Atlantic from their American mailing address). The programme schedule was now extended to 24 hours a day at weekends.
In February Laser, just a couple of miles away, began test transmissions. Although the quality of the signal at the time was vastly inferior to that of Caroline, the programmes, even during the tests, sounded pretty good. It looked as if Laser might provide some strong competition if their engineers ever managed to sort out the technical difficulties.

click to hear audio Carl Kingston playing three of the new adverts on his morning show, 6th February 1984. This clip is taken from a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum by Hans Hendriks. Our thanks to him (duration 3 minutes 16 seconds)
Jay Jackson Peter Quinn Carl Kingston Brian Allen
Jay Jackson.
Peter Quinn.
Carl Kingston.
Brian Allen.
Photos from ‘Caroline 319 - Into The 80s’, published by Seagull Press.

New names continued to be heard on Caroline. In January Jay Jackson began reading the news. Although an unfamiliar name, his was not a new voice. He had been on Caroline before, as Crispian St. John. In February Australian Tony Whale joined for one stint as did Steve Phillips, a friend of Carl Kingston's. In March we heard the American Diane Lauren for the first time and, in April, Dave Richards. In May a voice familiar from the Laser test transmissions, Blake Williams, switched allegiances and came aboard. In June Stuart Russell, who had been heard on Caroline in the late seventies, joined the team. Engineers Stuart Vincent and Andy Moorcock, as well as the ship's captain, also took turns behind the microphone.

click to hear audio Diane Lauren on her first show for Radio Caroline, 12th March 1984. This recording is from the collection of Golden Radio Flanders courtesy of Jean-Pierre Legein. It was shared on the Internet Radiocafé, now known as the Radiotrefpunt (radio meeting point) forum, by MartinJA. Our thanks to them both (duration 1 minute 57 seconds)

In April one of the backers pulled out. A Canadian company had been feeding money into the station, and advertising Wifa Skates. They now decided to call it a day. With no salary, programme controller Annie Challis left.
The original Radio Caroline had begun broadcasting at Easter 1964 and at Easter 1984 the new Caroline celebrated its twentieth anniversary in style. A listeners' Top 500 record chart was broadcast and some beautiful sunny weather combined with the fine music to produce four days of joy and celebration. It had been a considerable achievement for, although Caroline had not broadcast continuously throughout the two decades, it was still there - despite having been illegal for all but three and a half of those years. The world's longest surviving offshore station was on good form that weekend.

click to hear audio Simon Barrett playing numbers 13 to 2 in the Top 500, then it's Jay Jackson with the 6pm news and Tom Anderson revealing what is number 1, Radio Caroline 23rd April 1984. This clip is taken from a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum by Hans Hendriks. Our thanks to him (duration 4 minutes 28 seconds)


Numbers 1-20
John Lennon
Stairway To Heaven
Led Zeppelin
All You Need Is Love
The Beatles
The Fortunes
Riders on the Storm
The Doors
Derek & the Dominos
Nights In White Satin
The Moody Blues
All Along the Watchtower
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Radar Love
Golden Earring
Lynyrd Skynyrd
A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Procol Harum
The Rolling Stones
Bohemian Rhapsody
Baker Street
Gerry Rafferty
Born To Run
Bruce Springsteen
Rock 'n' Roll
Status Quo
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
The Rolling Stones
Your Song
Elton John
House of the Rising Sun
The Animals
Hey Jude
The Beatles

click to hear audio Dave Richards on Radio Caroline from the morning of Friday 4th May 1984. This is an edited version of a recording shared on by Lawrence Scordellis. Our thanks to him and Ray Robinson (duration 1 minute 10 seconds)

During May Caroline belted out as much power as possible. Laser was about to start regular programmes and Caroline's bosses were naturally worried about the competition. Unfortunately using more power consumed more fuel in the generators and, when rough seas prevented a tender from delivering supplies, the Ross Revenge ran out of diesel. At 6pm on 21st May Caroline was forced to close down. This meant that the station was off the air when, at 5am on the 24th, Laser-558 began programmes. Caroline returned to the air later that day. For the first time since 1968 there were now two radio ships operating off the British coast.

click to hear audio Radio Caroline is back on the air, 24th May 1984, with former Laser man Blake Williams behind the mic. This recording was shared on the Radiotrefpunt (radio meeting point) forum by Hans Hulswit. Our thanks to him (duration 1 minute 32 seconds)

Diane Lauren, Grant Benson, Andy Johnson

Left to right: Diane Lauren, Grant Benson and Andy “Cosmic” Johnson in the mess. Photo by Stevie Lane. More of her photos here.

It was a particularly bad time for it to happen but, throughout the rest of May and most of June, while Laser was gaining ground, Caroline continued to experience problems with the generators, the transmitters and the fuel supply. Broadcasting hours were erratic and frequently reduced to just twelve hours a day or fewer.
The arrival of Laser was obviously worrying for Caroline but one beneficial result of the new competition was a great improvement in its programmes. Just as had happened in the sixties, when the start of Radio London had prompted Caroline South to refresh its output, Laser had a similar effect on the eighties version of Caroline. Somehow the disc-jockeys seemed more energised. This was helped by the arrival of Blake Williams who was appointed Programme Controller. Even if the station was not able to return to full power until the end of June, those programmes that were transmitted during this period sounded excellent. There were even some new advertisers: a holiday company, a Saudi recruitment agency and a travellers' magazine. At the end of July Caroline changed broadcasting hours to match those of Laser, 5am to 1am.

One of the changes Blake made became apparent in July. The Album Top 30 chart show was replaced by Radio Caroline Top Tracks, a chart which included a mix of album tracks and singles. (There is an example of one here.)

click to hear audio Tom Anderson on Radio Caroline from the afternoon of Sunday 29th July 1984. This is an edited version of a recording available from Our thanks to Ray Robinson (duration 3 minutes 10 seconds)

During July some occasional night-time test broadcasts went out on a new frequency 594 kHz, 505 metres and on the 27th, for the whole day, Caroline's programmes went out on both 963 and 594 kHz. However this latter frequency turned out to be badly affected by interference from a German station and the transmissions were discontinued. On Sunday 5th August programmes began on yet another frequency - 576 kHz, 521 metres, just two channels away from Laser. Caroline was now using the small transmitter in an effort to attract Laser's listeners while the main transmitter duplicated the output on 963 kHz.

29th January - 9th February 1984 21st March - 4th April 1984 2nd - 13th July 1984
6.00am Peter Quinn
10.00 Carl Kingston
2.00pm Brian Allen
6.00 Tom Anderson
10.00 Dixie Peach
2.00am weekdays: closedown
       weekends: Stuart Vincent
Sun, as Mon-Sat except:
10.00am Brian Allen
2pm Carl Kingston
   (incl. 2-5pm Album Top 30)
6.00am Peter Quinn
10.00 Tony Gareth *
2pm Diane Lauren
6pm Tom Anderson
10.00 Andy Johnson
2.00am closedown or
       Andy Moorcock (Fri)
6.00am Diane Lauren
10.00 Peter Quinn
2.00pm Simon Barrett
  (incl. Sun 3-6pm: Album Top 30)
6.00 Tom Anderson
10.00 Tony Gareth *
2.00am Andy Moorcock
* On 25th March Tony Gareth was taken ill and left the ship. His place was taken in the schedule by Simon Barrett (weekdays) and Andy Johnson (Sat-Sun).
6.00am Dave Richards
10.00 Stuart Russell
2.00pm Blake Williams
6.00 Tom Anderson
10.00 Stuart Vincent
12.00am (or occasionally 2.00) closedown
as Mon-Sat except:
6.00pm “Top Tracks”
9.00 Stuart Vincent
12.00am closedown

Many thanks to Monitor magazine, the Caroline Movement Bulletin and Offshore Echos.
Press cuttings about Caroline and Laser can be found here and following pages.
Back to the previous page.
To be continued.

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