There have been many books about Radio Caroline, the ship-based “pirate” radio station that brought 1960s pop music to Britain at a time when they couldn’t hear it anywhere else. But the new book, “Radio Caroline: Voices on the Air” does something different from the previous volumes: It documents about 600 DJ voices that have been heard on the Caroline since its inception at sea in 1964, until now when it could be. heard on DAB+ and AM in parts of the UK, online and via smart speakers and smart apps. For the record, there were five ships that played home to Radio Caroline’s studio, AM transmitter and mast over the years. The biggest was Ross’ revenge.
The book’s editor is Paul Rusling, a former UK radio DJ (including Radio Caroline) and radio consultant. “I also worked for two regulators and my work covered licensing, administration, engineering and programming,” he told Radio World. “I have owned several restaurants and bars and also written fifteen books and many articles for newspapers and magazines – In other words a former DJ and engineer who did well, but prefers to live as a poor journalist/author!”
“Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air” is that rarity in any kind of history book, an account that tries to leave nothing out while remaining engaging and entertaining. This is exactly what Rusling had in mind when he put it together, after writing an early history of the station entitled “The Radio Caroline Bible.”
“This book was written to fill the gaps in the knowledge of many people about who were the voices on the famous offshore radio ship, Radio Caroline,” he said. “Many of the other books about Caroline are biographies of individual DJs, and are often too self-absorbed to ignore the bigger picture. Although I am a former DJ myself, I focus on the wider picture discussing how DJs are employed, rather than individual opinions and stories of life.
Paul Rusling also wants to record live which DJs worked at Radio Caroline, and which didn’t work. “There have been many claimants who say they worked on the ship for many years,” he said. “Some of them are well known, including one current MP in the House of Commons.”
[Related: “Radio Caroline Returns to Its Roots“]
The content of “Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air” comes from the people who put it on the air. “I have enjoyed the access to, and support from, curators of all phases of Caroline’s history,” Rusling said. “Founder Ronan O’Rahilly was the PA and ‘right-hand man’ at Oonagh Karanja for 17 years, who was replaced by Ben Bode, then by Vincent Monsey and most recently by Peter Moore – all of whom have contributed to my research .”
After compiling this history of Radio Caroline’s voices, Rusling is impressed by the “great number of people who made up the staff. He was also surprised by “the number of top stars and celebrities who hosted programs on Caroline’s stations – especially in the 1960s when stars such as Kathy Kirby, Charlie Drake, Cleo Laine, Marianne Faithfull, Vera Lynne and others all hosted Caroline’s shows .”
To a large extent, Paul Rusling’s book helps to place Radio Caroline in context as the force that broke the BBC’s iron grip on British radio and began the country’s long, slow journey to allowing commercial radio to air.
“When I joined Caroline, England only had the BBC. There were no commercial, independent and/or privately owned radio stations at all, so ships like the Caroline were the only way to work in radio if one didn’t have a bad accent,” he said. “Meanwhile, millions of listeners who were hungry for pop music had to listen to radio stations like Caroline or foreign stations like Radio Luxembourg, a border blaster with 1.2 million watts on AM, as the BBC rated pop music at a few hours. a week.”
The impact of Radio Caroline in changing this situation cannot be underestimated. The “radio revolution” that started in Britain over 50 years eventually changed the nature of British radio. “Today, the UK has somewhere close to 600 stations, all with no limit on the level of music they can play,” Rusling said. “Most are local stations on digital multiplexes and can be heard for a few miles, but there are also a dozen or more ‘nearby national networks’. And then, of course, our world now has more than 100,000 online stations and there are more broadcasters 2.5 million competing with radio for access to our ears Meanwhile, podcasts are radio shows that listeners can schedule however they want, right?
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For those interested in radio history, or simply curious about how we got to where we are today, “Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air” is a fascinating read and a necessary addition to any essential library. But sadly, the station that started it all – Radio Caroline – no longer carries the energy that made it a disruptive, disruptive threat to Britain’s state-controlled broadcasting monopoly more than 50 years ago.
“Caroline is today considered a relic of radio history by most people, except for a small group of die-hard fans who perpetuate her memory,” Rusling concluded. “Although Radio Caroline can now be received on a wide range of bands and equipment, the narrow format of the ‘Golden Oldies’ program it uses limits its appeal. In Caroline’s heyday, she attracted millions of listeners whose name still evokes good memories.”
Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air is available for purchase through Amazon.com as a Kindle eBook or paperback. Members of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited service can read it for free.