Wednesday, 14 February 2018


In late Spring 1964 the papers in the Netherlands and Flanders were awash with news about an offshore TV-project that was being prepared by a Rotterdam-based ship builder. Cornelis Verolme had set up a company called ‘Reclame Exploitatie Maatschappij’, which he floated on the stock market. As a result of the massive media-hype surrounding the project, in just a few hours the REM share-issue was heavily over-subscribed. Thousands of ordinary Dutch men and women proved eager to invest 20 guilders per share in the company. Within 10 days, the value had leaped to 143 guilders

In the meantime the artificial REM-island, built in the Irish port of Cork, was lashed on to the massive lifting vessel ‘Global Adventurer’, and transported to a position off the Dutch coast. Soon afterwards work started in earnest on ‘The Thing’ -as the Irish workmen called it- in international waters some 6 miles off the seaside resort of Noordwijk. Fifty two meter long steel piles were inserted into each of the six leg segments and subsequently hammered into the seabed. Working day and night Dutch, Irish, Belgian and Spanish workmen assembled the offshore construction in just eight days.  

Subsequently Radio Noordzee was heard testing on a number of frequencies. On Wednesday July 29th 1964 –the middle of my Summer hols- the station settled on 214m Medium Wave. At the time I was again spending a few weeks at the house of my mother’s eldest sister in Beerzel. Whilst there I often went on long bicycle jaunts with Ronald Hazelrigg, an American friend of mine. Ronny -as we called him then- was at his grandparents for the Summer. The boy -he was a year younger than me- was mad about bicycles; at the time a most uncommon mode of transport in the States I understand. As there was hardly anyone else in the village who could speak English, Ronny and I, having met watching the dodgem cars at the Summer fair, spent a lot of time together. 

If I was baffled over Ronny’s dreams of becoming a professional cyclist, he was even more bewildered by the fact that I made such a song and dance over some radio station going on the air. In Wheelersburg Ohio, where he then lived, one could tune in to any number of commercial stations, many of them from nearby Portsmouth. It took some time to explain that things were totally different in most of Europe. Hence -on Noordzee’s on air day- it was at near breakneck speed that we cycled back to catch the first proper wireless transmissions from the REM-island on his grandmother’s set. Reception was excellent but the music was somewhat disappointing. The station was no match for either Caroline or Veronica. 

More of AJ's radio- and other anecdotes.

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