Jump ship to:
The offshore scene now seems to have settled back into its more usual mode of relative inactivity. There are, as usual, rumours abound, plus a number of connected broadcasts. Radio Caroline broadcasts regularly, for the time being, via Astra digital satellite and the Web, while Radio London was rocking in a caravan at the end of Clacton Pier in the autumn of 2000. Further projects from the LV18 at Harwich were planned, and broadcast under the names of Radio Mi Amigo and Radio Northsea International, both using 1503 kHz medium-wave. The RNI signals were even heard weakly and briefly here in Macclesfield, underneath the dominant 1kW BBC Radio Stoke-on-Trent just down the road on the same frequency.
Jimmy and myself, plus Liam who declared his intention to join the expedition party, remained on the lookout for further special broadcasting events, especially those with an offshore connection. After all, Marianne did promise that we could have another boys camping trip in the summer of 2001! There was nothing quite so spectacular this time around, but a Radio London event from a hut on Clacton Pier was reason enough for us to head back down to Essex for another camping holiday.
This time, armed with a new, bigger tent and extra sleeping bag (and toys) I again took the opportunity to log new and interesting stations on the journey down. As we headed between Derby and Leicester, Oak FM from Loughborough and Rutland Radio from Oakham were noted. These in fact were not new stations for me, but no QSL replies were received from my past reception reports, so I decided to try once more. Also from Loughborough were two LPAM (Low Power AM) long-term RSL
stations. These were the hospital station Carillion Radio on 1386 kHz and the student service LCR (Loughborough Campus Radio) on 1350 kHz. Progressing down the A14 it was a 28-day RSL, HCR from Huntingdon on 87.7 MHz, and then Star 107.9, Cambridge. This is the same station as that originally launched as Cambridge Café Radio, and heard by me as Cambridge Red Radio on the previous Essex trip, and has been recently renamed again.
The next log, and undoubtedly the most valuable of the whole holiday, was X-Cel FM from Ely, using two parallel frequencies, 107.1 and 107.5 MHz. As I was continuing to cruise eastwards on the A14, X-Cel FM Travel reported a major incident and horrendous traffic jam, ahead of me on the A14. I pulled into a lay-by and consulted the atlas. I plotted an alternative route along a B-road through Newmarket, to resume on the A14 on the other side of the racing town. Less than one mile after leaving the A14, I could see the problems on it, with all cars stationary for miles ahead, engines of and people out of their cars, many on deck chairs on the carriageway in the blazing heat. When I picked up the A14 again, it was clear. I later heard on BBC Radio Suffolk that some vehicles had been blocked for as much as six hours. Thank you X-Cel FM!
The final station logging made en route was that of the Bury St Edmunds hospital radio station, Radio West Suffolk. This was continuously relaying the programmes of the local commercial station SGR FM. This was also happening on the return journey three days later, and hence I am still unsure of exactly when the locally produced programmes are aired. We arrived at the Strangers Home campsite in Bradfield, pitched the tent, showered, and headed out in search of some food for tea. Following a fine meal at an Indian Restaurant in Walton-on-the-Naze, it was back in the car with BBC Eastern Counties and the legend himself Keith Skues providing the entertainment. This being the 14th of August, a highly significant day in offshore radio history the anniversary of the Marine Offences Act 1967 Keith Skues had been busy during the day, and he told his BBC Eastern Counties listeners about his visit to Clacton Pier and the interviews given to various media about his offshore memories. Keith also played several recordings of note from his own time on the original Radio London, including the infamous practical joke where it seemed the Big L signal had been swamped by a new landbased pirate operating on the same wavelength Radio East Anglia! It was really a stunt dreamed up by the Radio London jocks including Skues himself using the voices of the ships crew members. For further reading about the sixties offshore era, and the further developments up to the early nineties and the end of Radio Caroline as on offshore pirate broadcaster, I would definitely recommend the book "Pop Went The Pirates", written by Keith Skues himself, and available from the Radio Active Bookshelf.
The following morning we relaxed in the tent with Radio London on 1134 kHz providing a fine daytime signal into North-East Essex. The same format as four years previous was employed, with the Big L Fab 500 (music from The Who, The Monkees, Carly Simon, Chairman Of The Board and Lindisfarne amongst others), and news at 30 minutes past the hour (" Radio London News tells you more, says it better! "). The website at www.bigl.co.uk was mentioned, and heavy promotion was afforded to the Big L Fab 500 posters that were on sale from Clacton Pier at £9.99 each. The old Radio London theme song "London My Home Town" had been re-recorded with a new vocal line to become "Clacton My Home Town", and was played regularly on the station.
We drove down to Clacton-on-Sea and walked along the pier to check out this years Radio London project. This time it was broadcasting from one end of the hut that houses the Radio London shop. This RSL broadcast was also being simulcast via the internet via the website mentioned above, and it was said that the webcast would be becoming full-time 24 hours, 7 days, beyond the MW restricted service licence. The all-important photographs were taken, and the remainder of the holiday was given over to other pressing matters such as walking, boating and sandcastles.
Here is a summary of the stations heard during our 3rd Essex holiday and journeys.
1134 Radio London ("Big L")
1350 Loughborough Campus Radio
1350 R West Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds
1386 Carillion Radio, Loughborough
87.7 HCR, Huntingdon
103.9 BBC Eastern Counties
104.6 BBC Eastern Counties
107.0 Oak FM, Loughborough
107.1 X-Cel FM, Ely
107.2 Rutland Radio, Oakham
107.5 X-Cel FM, Ely
107.9 Star 107.9, Cambridge
I am unaware of any further offshore commemoration projects, but would imagine and hope that plans will be at an advanced stage by the time we are planning our camping holiday for next summer! Radio Caroline continues on Astra digital, as well as seeking out RSL opportunities. A planned Caroline RSL for August 2001 had to be shelved because Swale Sound had already been granted an RSL for the same period from the same part of Kent, and Radio Authority rules allow only one such operation at a time from a location. A project called "Pirates For Peace" is supposedly continuing preparations for an operation off the coast of Northern Ireland. The plan is to produce programmes aimed at encouraging peace in the province, and uplink and deliver via satellite. Radio London is intending to go full-time from Clacton Pier via webcasting. However, the only "genuine" offshore broadcasting at the current time appears to be Arutz 7 (announced in Hebrew as "Arutz Sheva") off the coast of Israel, sometimes audible in the UK on 1539 kHz after midnight. Lets see what the summer of 2002 brings