Anniversary of Famed Pirate Radio Station Radio Caroline

03/28/2011
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(Gibson) On this day in 1964, a second day of testing continued aboard a converted Danish passenger ferry off the English coast. Radio Caroline, the legendary "pirate radio station," would begin full-time transmission the following day at noon. Gibson takes a look back:

Imagine a world with no computers, no music television, no satellite radio – no place to hear new music except terrestrial radio. Now imagine that the radio only has one tiny family of interrelated stations and, with the exception of a quick Sunday afternoon chart show and a brief Saturday morning program, nothing of interest to anyone under the age of 40 makes it on the airwaves. That was the world of U.K. radio in the early 1960s. Yes, when they could pick it up, listeners could follow Radio Luxembourg, which programmed blocks of more popular content, though steered completely by the major labels. But for kids looking to dive into the full spectrum of pop music at the dawn of rock and roll, there was nothing… until Caroline.

Radio Caroline was the brainchild of Ronan O'Rahilly, a young Irish businessman from a family of means. By early 1964, the 23-year-old O'Rahilly had become a bit of a player in the London music scene. He ran the Scene club in Soho, specializing in his beloved R&B music. He then moved into band management, even co-managing The Rolling Stones for a spell before they moved on to Andrew Loog Oldham. But he did continue on with blues singer Alexis Korner and pop hopeful Georgie Fame. When he couldn't get Fame a recording contract, O'Rahilly decided to record the young Northerner himself. When he went to the BBC to get those recordings played, he was met with a flat refusal, as the Beeb only played "established artists." more on this story

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