Radio Center – another failed project

Radio Center never came on the air. I take you back to the month of April 1965 and the country of Sweden. There, Britt Wadner, the owner of Radio Syd, had been in a women’s prison since the 22nd of March to serve a month’s sentence for being the person ultimately responsible for the said radio station, which provided programmes aimed at Swedish listeners from international waters.

Britt Wadner and crew – picture: archive Conny Wadner

During her sentence period and thus absence from Radio Syd, her programmes were presented by her daughter Connie. It was expected that when Britt was released and resumed presenting her broadcasts herself, she would be immediately prosecuted by the Swedish National Prosecutor. The broadcasting ship Cheeta 2, located in international waters and the Sound delighted many listeners in southern Sweden.

But was Radio Syd still only actively targeting Sweden in the following months? Indeed, on the 13th of  April 1965, the Dutch newspaper the Telegraaf reported that a certain Björn Sesam, a well-known figure in the showbiz world at the time, had planned to start a second offshore station off the coast of Sweden. It was his wish to launch Radio Center on the 1st of July. He claimed to have bought a scrapped lightship for the sum of f 35,000, with which he wanted to actively broadcast programmes from the Baltic Sea. He also planned to use another, smaller, ship to rebroadcast these Radio Center programmes with an auxiliary transmitter in order to reach a larger part of Sweden. 

Talking to journalists, Sesam claimed not to be afraid of the little law than had been passed in 1962, which made it possible for the authorities to prevent these programmes being cared for from international waters. According to Sesam, it was a law full of holes and, moreover, he claimed that he was financially supported by a large number of businessmen. Moreover, it was known that the business community in Sweden was big supporters of commercial radio. Radio Center, however, never got there.

After Britt Wadner was released, after a month in prison, a large crowd was there to welcome her and gave her a sea of flowers. She said in a comment that should the government try to thwart the station again in a subsequent trial by her and the lawyers would be beaten much harder against the government.  Moreover, Britt felt that the legislation in place at the time regarding the offshore stations was in large measure against human rights. She spoke of a miscreant, and a disgrace to democracy in Sweden.

Hans Knot, April 2024

1965-04-13 De Telegraaf