This article was originally written in the 1990s. I republish it here to bring you up to speed with the truth behind Radio Caroline. The real Radio Caroline. And to prepare you for another article about Radio Caroline’s DA Box.
I remember where I was when the MV “Mi Amigo” sank in March 1980. I lived in Tottenham almost in the notorious Broadwater Farm Estate, and Radio Caroline had been playing non-stop music “storm” tapes most of the day. On the top of every hour they’d come on the microphone live to relay a collection of number codes for the office. The signal was getting quite weak. Eventually the guys on board explained properly that the ship was taking on water, closed down, and were rescued by lifeboat whilst the ship went down to its final resting-place.
In those days, before cellphones were invented, communication from ship to shore was a bit hit or miss. The main method was at 8pm each night when the disc jockey would read out a collection of numbers. This would be from a pre-discussed list of many different phrases. One list was held on board and one was in the office. Phrase 12 (for example) might be “Diesel is low, but okay for three weeks”. To send this message to the office, the disc jockey would add the date. So, phrase 12 being read out on the 7th of the month would go out as “Tonight’s number is 19”. Obviously at the office they’d deduct the date, and read phrase 12 and act on it (or ignore it more often!). I never did understand why this date adding was needed, as even the authorities knew that the date was added even if they didn’t know what the codes actually translated to.
The times a tired person in the office has miscalculated the simple arithmetic and (say) “Diesel is low, but okay for three weeks” turned into “We are about to die of starvation so are abandoning ship” or something else equally alarmist!
Anyway, Radio Caroline’s first main ship sank and it was a good few years before a new ship (the M V Ross Revenge) was found for the mid-1980s.
However, a lot of very important items went down with the Mi Amigo apart from all the history. Obviously the most important item was the “D A box”. This was the often rumoured but rarely admitted to filtering system that fitted in-between the studio and the transmitter. Its sole purpose was to properly propagate the Loving Awareness vibe that was Radio Caroline. Any old anorak will tell you how Caroline had a purpose beyond playing records, and that was to tell the world about Loving Awareness (L A).
L A is what is needed to defeat the bad vibe of D A that is all around us. We all suffer from D A, but with Caroline being the voice of L A, there was hope. Loving Awareness goes beyond the conventional understanding of human kind, and in order to keep this pure it was important that at the heart of Caroline there was the D A box. I could tell a number of quite horrific stories about the times we tried to empty it and clean it out after it got clogged one time, but I am sworn to secrecy about the inner workings of the whole Loving Awareness part of the Caroline operation. It’s one of those 1970s things, and shrouded in the same mystery that surrounds the origin of the D A box.
All that is publicly known is that the box was handed down to Ronan O’Rahilly (the original founding father) himself from forces I dare not mention here.
Now, as you can imagine the original D A box went down with the Mi Amigo, and spent a long period of time under the sea. Programmes from the new Radio Caroline on board the Ross Revenge could never come out properly because the D A box was not in place. Anything broadcasting without the D A box could not be the true Radio Caroline. When transmissions as Radio Caroline re-commenced from the new ship there was no D A box in line. Anoraks will tell you how things were never quite right, and it was not the same as the much warmer days of the Mi Amigo.
At various times through the 1980s a number of substitute D A boxes were fashioned and secretly put in line. For a while they’d work very crudely, but eventually they would always break down and let the D A through.
The Ross Revenge later met a similar fate – it foundered on the Goodwin Sands and then got abandoned by the Caroline organisation but taken over by a group of ship enthusiasts known as the Ross Revenge Support Group.
Some argue this living hell is far worse than having the watery grave the Mi Amigo has. The Ross Revenge is now tied to the UK legally, never able to leave to resume its offshore activities. Now and again to raise funds the RRSG occasionally broadcast under Radio Authority Restricted Service Licences imitation Radio Caroline programmes mimicking the 1970s when the D A box was in line. These programmes have been subjected to so much ridicule, that one leading light from the enthusiasts has spent a fortune trying to find the D A box.
In the early 90s he commissioned a number of dives into the wreck of the Mi Amigo, paid for by unsuspecting radio enthusiasts who thought they were helping fund the day to day running of the Ross Revenge. His reasoning being that possessing the D A box and connecting it would make everything alright. He was desperate for people to take his group seriously when they used the Caroline name.
It came as a shock to him and his cronies to discover that the D A box was not on board the wreck of Mi Amigo. Divers reported that it had clearly been removed some time before, but definitely whilst the ship had been on the seabed.
There are those behind the scenes who just get on with things without looking for self-publicity. Whilst the RRSG people look for any and all photo opportunity, the real workers and the real work is done by others in secret. Recently the RRSG mounted commando style raids on these people and places they thought might be protecting the D A box. I myself was subjected to the indignity of being held hostage by the RRSG bullies for three days whilst they tried to force me to tell them what I knew. They got nothing from me despite all the torture.
I can never reveal how the D A box actually was removed from its watery grave. However, I will say it is protectively held by a sort of secret Loving Awareness closed order dedicated to protecting it from misuse by those who wish they were the real Radio Caroline. One day very soon it will be re-connected into the feed from some exciting new transmissions. That’s when I’ll get my revenge.
Then, and only then, will the voice of Loving Awareness, Radio Caroline, really be back for Europe.
If have had a problem with this article, then that just shows you how much the D A can really get to you and stop you from understanding the truth.