The forgotten Radio Caroline North

We have less than 2 months until it will be Radio Caroline North‘s birthday. Sadly, I fear this occasion will pass without murmur, when really there should be fanfares and public celebration. Or should there?

It was at 3.32pm on Monday 6th July 1964 when Radio Caroline North settled at anchor just off the Isle of Man’s Ramsey Bay. For the youth of the North-West of England, parts of Scotland and Ireland, music radio had arrived for the very first time. Indeed, it had actually started broadcasting off the Kent and Essex coast, and had taken three days to chug around to the completely opposite part of the country, broadcasting all the way.

Radio anoraks didn’t really exist back in 1964, but you can imagine if they had existed, how exciting it would have been as each day the signal got stronger as the ship slowly but steadily made its way further North.

Yes, it could just about be received in the days before, but its official first day in the area where it subsequently grew its audience was the 6th of July 1964.

Sadly, Radio Caroline North‘s 50th birthday will likely pass without notice. In Liverpool we even got caught up in the Easter broadcasts of some of the Birkenhead based pirates who decided to celebrate the ‘birthday’ of the southern based Radio Caroline with a ‘pop-up’ station calling itself Radio Caroline North.  Odd, but there’s nowt strange as folk.

It is with good reason that Radio Caroline North, the real one, is often referred to as ‘the forgotten Caroline‘ or ‘the other Caroline‘. So, cometh July 2014 will it remain the forgotten Caroline?

Very likely, considering that the world, including the mindset of the Birkenhead pirates, seems to orient itself around London and the South-East when it comes to births, deaths and anniversaries. If it didn’t happen ‘down south‘ it didn’t happen at all is often the way history gets re-written.

But, back in the 1960s it was the northern ship, Radio Caroline North, that worked to create a new kind of radio sound. At the same time the southern ship, Radio Caroline South, sounded like the BBC’s Light Programme, playing a lot of, well, rubbish, including the catalogue of one of the owner’s own ‘sound-a-like’ record company.

The real radio revolution owes a lot to the forgotten Caroline, Radio Caroline North, and it would be nice to see something done to celebrate its coming 50th birthday.


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