Tuesday, 13 February 2018


When Radio Atlanta took to the airwaves in the second week of May 1964, Caroline, the first of Britain’s pop privateers, was already claiming seven million listeners. Anchored just fourteen miles from each other, both stations were aiming at the same audience. Talks ensued between Project Atlanta and Ronan’s Planet Productions and on July 2nd the merger between the two stations was announced. At 8 pm on the same day Radio Atlanta closed down for the very last time. In their joint statement Ronan O’Rahilly and Alan Crawford said: "The decision to merge was taken due to the enormous interest from the public and advertisers in parts of England outside our original transmission area. The merger means that we will now cover the most populated areas of Great-Britain and will meet the demands of advertisers in the Midlands & North and from existing advertisers who are already taking time on the two stations”.

The next day the original Caroline ship set sail westward towards The Channel, hugging the coast and broadcasting as she went. On board the dj’s tried to predict at what time the ship would be passing important coastal towns. I remember Tom Lodge announcing “This is Radio Caroline steaming West along the South coast”. I managed to pick up the transmission until the ship passed Penzance, just before Land’s End. It took some four days for Caroline to reach her new anchorage off the Isle of Man in Ramsey Bay. Radio Caroline North continued broadcasting on 197m and Radio Caroline South on 201m, both advertising their spot on the dial as ‘one nine nine’, because it rhymed so well with Caroline. With digital frequency read-outs still far in the future hardly anyone noticed -or cared about- this white lie for euphony’s sake. In Zeebrugge, where I lived, I could receive both Carolines. Caroline South obviously offering by far the strongest signal on the Belgian coast. 

More of AJ's radio- and other anecdotes.


  1. Trevor Goldsworthy
    I still remember well Sunday 5th July standing in the sun on the cliffs at Perranporth on the North Cornish coast with my transistor radio and watching her sail past. The crew were on deck flashing the sunlight to us with mirrors. My teenage years, only 15 at the time.

  2. Howard Bond
    That's a great memory, Trevor. I was at school in Manchester in the cadet force signals platoon. We had a comms receiver which easily picked up both Atlanta and Caroline pre-merger. We were allowed into school on the Sunday to track Freddie's progress and watched in amazement as the signal strength meter kept going up. On the Monday she was off Anglesey and by mid afternoon off Ramsey. The signal was so strong, we had to trim the aerial.

  3. Back in 64 I lived 200 miles from radio Caroline on Merseyside,it was just possible to pick up a weak signal .The signal got a lot stronger when one lunch time I checked to find it was now sai!ing off northWalesHAPPY DAYS.

  4. I remember seeing a program listing for Radio Caroline and Atlanta programs in the press. Curiosity and fascination of a thirteen year old boy got the better of me and I tuned along the dial of dads radiogram. Two very weak signal around 200metres, but just about readable. How can I improve this I thought. Taking a large drum of household wiring cable, I attached one end to a tree at the bottom of dads garden and the other end to the radiogram aerial socket. This only improved reception on shortwave and gave very little improvement on Medium wave. Not to be outdone, I opened the back cover of the radiogram and wound three turns of wire around the internal ferrite rod aerial and connected the free end of the cable to the radiogram chassis. Luckily all was safe as the radiogram had a mains transformer, so all was safe! The result, a wonderful clear signal from Radio Caroline and Atlanta and when dads anger had subsided over what I had done to his radiogram, the start of many happy hours of listening to all the offshore stations by my mum, dad and all the family. It also heralded the start of a long and sucessful career for me in radio, TV and telecommunications. Since thereafter I started building, reapairing and collecting radio sets.