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Radio Caroline, 49 years after

Radio Caroline went on the air forty nine years ago this weekend, broadcasting from the MV Caroline off the coast of England.  Why is this important?  Before off shore broadcasting was attempted, in Europe the only radio stations (and TV) were government owned.  As such, they had a monopoly over the air waves and were very restrictive on which groups or types of music they allowed to be broadcast.  Many of the so called “British Invasion” groups like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, etc got their first airplay on offshore radio stations like Radio Caroline or Radio London.

This video “Radio Caroline – A day in the life,” shows what it was like to be an offshore broadcaster:

By the haircuts and music, that appears to be sometime in the eighties.

Check out the Radio Caroline website for more information.  From 1983 onward, Radio Caroline was broadcast from the MV Ross Revenge. This is an overview of the Ross Revenge transmitter hold.  The movie “Pirate Radio” is loosely (very loosely, by most accounts) based on Radio Caroline/Radio London composite.

Radio London was the one of the other well known offshore radio ships.

I am sure that there are other tribute sites with lots of technical information on how they broadcast. Much of offshore radio was outlawed in the late 1960’s by several European countries. Radio London signed off August 14, 1967. Radio Caroline continued on in various iterations until about 1991 or so.

WBCQ is airing a radio ships special on Sunday March 31, 2013, 5,110 KHz starting at 6 pm eastern daylight time (2200 UTC).

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3 comments to Radio Caroline, 49 years after

  • Paul Thurst

    Thanks Brendan. I listened to part of the WBCQ special, however, 5,110 KHz does not come in very well this time of year. It always amazes me how much trouble and expense people went through to broadcast radio. How will the next iteration of free radio present itself. I have a few ideas…

  • Wesley Horton

    Most interesting program. Amazing how much things have changed over time. But you made a remark that highlighted and interesting fact.

    You stated that the “Labor party” finally succeeded in getting a bill to prevent the pirate radio ships from broadcasting.

    How interesting that the “socialist party” is/was responsible for censorship. It’s a shame the Brits do not have the freedom of speech.

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