Radio Caroline... Announced wavelenght: 199 metres... Location: On board motor vessel Caroline, anchored in international waters off Fellixstowe, Suffolk... Owners: Planet Productions Ltd... Hours off transmission: Various...

Picture: The Caroline at Greenore...

Listen to Radio Caroline

On hearing of the Dutch station Radio Veronica, Ronan O'Rahilly thought that if it worked off the Dutch coast, the same would apply to a station anchored off the English coast... While looking for a suitable office in London he met Allan Crawford who was also involved in setting up a station, Radio Atlanta... O'Rahilly started to raise money to finance his station, and with Irish, British and Swiss money obtained from a Swiss company, Alraune, a 702 tons gross ex Danish passenger ferry, Frederica... She had been built in 1930 by the Frederikshavns V & F A/S in Frederikshavn... She left Rotterdam on 13th February 1964 for Greenore in the Irish Republic... Here the ship was fitted out with radio equipment including a 165 ft high aerial mast, and a specially constructed anchor with a two ton chain...

Picture right: Ronan O'Rahilly

The equipment was installed under supervision of Arthur Carrington who had done similar work for the BBC and the Marconi Company... Radio Atlanta was also being fitted out in Greenore, but the port being owned by Aodhogan O'Rahilly, Ronan's father, meant that the Caroline as the Frederica had been renamed, had preference... In revenge for the Atlanta ship being asked to anchor outside the harbour, the Caroline organisation was given false information regarding the suitability of some radio technicians who proved to be inexperienced... This was discovered when a half hour test broadcast of Ray Charles organ music was transmitted, while still in port, which blotted out TV sound over much of the Republic... To avenge this the Spotmaster machines 'disappeared' from the Atlanta studios... The Caroline set sail from Greenore on 26th March 1964 and at 7:00 pm the next evening dropped her anchor off Felixstowe... At five minutes to Midnight the first transmissions were heared, on 1495 kHz (201 metres), the first record being Jimmy McGriff's Around Midnight... At Noon on 28th March 1964 Radio Caroline started regular transmissions on 1520 kHz (197 metres), with Chris Moore playing as the first record Can't Buy Me Love by The Beatles... Regular transmission hours were 6:00 am to 6:00 pm... Within two days claims were being made that interference was affecting Trinity House, lightships and lifeboat radio communications, and the Post Office asked Panama, where the Caroline was registered, to investigate the situation... Chris Moore said... "We would be the last to endanger life, in fact our main transmitter is available for help in an emergency... We are transmitting in the broadcasting band and all we want to do is to entertain people."... The radio telephone service was withdrawn from the ship... By the fourth day of broadcasting the agent at Harwich had 300 letters for the station and many thousands more had arrived in the London offices... The weather was not particularly good and as the result of minor damage there were several short breaks in transmission on the 5th April 1964... Two days later Panama withdrew the ship's registration, and the main advertising agencies were said to be boycotting the station... The ship moved a mile further up the coast so as to be further away from the shipping lanes... Despite threatening noises from the authorities nothing happened, and in responce to the growing audiences demand for more, transmission hours were increased, 6:00 am to 10:00 pm changing again to 6:00 am to 9:00 pm and Midnight to 3:00 am... Advertising was now coming in, the first had been on 1st May 1964, for Woburn Abbey...

A Gallop Poll revealed that out of a potential audience of 20,000,000, some 7,000,000 had tuned to Caroline at one time or another... On 11th May 1964 in written replies to questions the Postmaster General said, ' I have received complaints from the Belgian Government that Radio Caroline is causing interference to the reception in Belgium of the authorised broadcasting service from Brussels on 198,5 metres... Transmissions from Radio Caroline caused interference to British and Belgian maritime services during the first few days that she was broadcasting... Interference to maritime services since then has been negligible... Serious interference to maritime radio could recur at anytime if the powerful transmitting equipment on the ship is not properly maintained.'... By the start of June reports that the ship was to sail to the Isle of Man appeared in the press... Mr. T.H. Colebourn, a member of the house of keys said that if Caroline did not turn up soon he would start his own 20 kW station, Radio Vannin on the island... As it was, Radio Atlanta merged with the Caroline organisation... The Caroline up-anchored and with here tender escorting she sailed to the Mi Amigo to put some of the DJs on board, and then sailed off broadcasting as she went...

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