Radio Caroline North returns

(Juice FM’s studios on the first floor overlooking the Planet Bar light vessel)

Driving past one of the best radio stations in Liverpool and looking in through the cool inviting window that gives direct vision of the main studio, it’s always a radio anorak pleasure to see the presenter sitting or standing there. Juice FM is a truly local youth-oriented radio station and fair play to owners UTC Radio, they have, for now, made a radio station with echoes of what used to attract people to listen and give loyalty to the early commercial radio in Britain.

Juice FM sounds good on air, and it looks good through the window.

Looking out of the Juice FM studios or associated first floor offices, the River Mersey can be seen in the distance behind a modernised trendy area known as Albert Dock. Albert Dock contains various ships and boats from time to time, and one of these is the ‘LV23‘, also known as ‘Planet Bar‘. The ‘LV23‘ has been sitting in the dock for a good few years and has been used for quite a few different purposes since retiring as an offshore light vessel. Most of the time it just sits there looking pretty, but from time to time it opens and serves drinks and has a tiny museum on board.

Being a boat, it obviously also attracts radio anoraks, who love boats almost as much as they love radio stations. Indeed, these days, some of them love boats more than radio stations. Well, the ‘LV23‘ has been hired by some people who want to mark the 50 year anniversary of the start of Radio Caroline North, by pretending they are Radio Caroline North.

The original Radio Caroline North operated from mid-1964 through to early-1968 from an anchorage just off the Isle of Man, providing the only radio outlet for the growing pop music, especially the brand new Merseybeat, of the day. With absolutely no competition, it wasn’t long before Caroline North was a part of every teenager’s day. In many ways it was far more successful than the more famous Caroline South broadcasting to Essex, Kent and parts of London. Indeed, Caroline North is often referred to as ‘The other Radio Caroline’ or ‘The forgotten Radio Caroline’.

87.7 FM is the frequency the tribute station will be using throughout an area of the Wirral Peninsular called ‘Birkenhead’ (check the article here for an explanation of the Scouse meaning of ‘Birkenheader‘), and the 1960s oldies will be played using very old radio studio equipment which will be housed on the ex-light vessel between March 31st and April 27th to allow the imitation Radio Caroline North to take place. The signal will be beamed from the Liverpool studio and off to the other side of the River Mersey in order to reach the main transmitter.

The Wirral Peninsular is home to a weekend oldies pirate radio station known as Merseyland Alternative Radio, and we can expect a number of the more regular voices to cross the river and head into Liverpool to give us their take on radio from before they were born, or whilst they were wearing nappies.

No indication has been made that any of the actual Caroline North radio DJs, well, those that are still alive, will be wheeled out for the occasion, but it’s sure to be a fun anorak-fest for the North-Western radio enthusiasts usually forgotten when all Caroline festivities tend to be London, Essex or Kent centric.

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