A warm welcome to a kaleidoscope of the watery wireless era
This website is designed to evoke a variety of memories. This is best illustrated by Radio Caroline, the most famous of numerous offshore radio stations that played a crucial role in the European broadcasting landscape for over 3 decades. Caroline became known for its rebellious attitude towards the British government and was instrumental in the rise of rock and pop music.
Radio Caroline was founded in 1964 by the Irish entrepreneur Ronan O’Rahilly, who wanted to create an alternative to the state-controlled radio stations. From 1964 to 1990, Radio Caroline broadcast from ships in international waters to circumvent British and Dutch laws that prohibited commercial radio broadcasts without a licence.
In its heyday, Radio Caroline attracted millions of listeners who were drawn to its diverse music selection and charismatic presenters. The station played a key role in the success of bands such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other greats of rock and pop music. Despite constant efforts by the British government to suppress the station, Radio Caroline has remained active to this day and can be heard through various media.
“The reason for true ship based, and of course fort based, offshore radio has always been that it is free of governmental control and interference.” (Chris Edwards in Offshore Echo’s Magazine Issue 98)
“Als de autoriteiten tegen iets zijn begint het bij mij te kriebelen.” (Gerard van Dam, Radio Day 2012)
“I can’t understand the Government’s attitude over the pirates. Why don’t they make the BBC illegal as well – it doesn’t give the public the service it wants, otherwise the pirates wouldn’t be here to fill the gap. The Government makes me sick. This is becoming a Police State. They should leave the pirates alone. At least they’ve had a go, which is more than the BBC has done…” [George Harrison in an interview with Ray Coleman in Disc (August 6th, 1966).]
“Die deutschen Sender spielten alle solche Musik noch gar nicht, das kam erst später. Und in der Nordsee gab es auf Schiffen Piratensender, die strahlten nach England und Europa aus. Die konnte man bei uns auch empfangen, da habe ich nachts dann ganz tolle Musik gehört in den 60er Jahren.” (Peter Urban im Interview mit der Neuen Osnabrücker Zeitung, 18. November 2023)
Photo credits for this site: Theo Dencker, Helmut Slawik, Rob Olthof †, Rob van Dam, Jeroen Knot, Noam Tal, Kees Pronk and Hans-Joachim Backhaus