|THE SWEDISH RADIO ARCHIVES|
Here is the continued story which started
In his book, RADIO NORD KOMMER TILLBAKA, Jack writes about this in his foreword: When they wrote about me personally in the press, they often used the word naive. I admit that I didn’t quite understand what they meant - as a comparatively successful businessman, I considered myself to be a realist. And a realist, I am still to this day, but at one point, I give the papers right in saying that I was incredibly naive - when it comes to politics in general and politicians in particular: I had the naive belief that MPs were elected to effectuate the people's wishes - not oppose them.
Jack continued the preparations, and to the press he named the date when the new radio station would be launched. Unfortunately it was passed, and later there were several such dates stated - and passed.
Anyhow, to make a very long story a little less long, it was at the beginning
of March, 1961, when test transmissions were heard on medium wave 495
A minor frequency adjustment was necessary to avoid an interference, audible as a constant tone of 4 kHz caused by the intermediate frequency of the strong transmitter at 602 kHz in Lyon, France. A couple of days after this was discovered, Radio Nord made a small shift of the frequency, by a change of crystal, so that it became the same as Lyon, and the disturbing tone disappeared. This frequency change also meant that the wavelength was different from what they had planned. Instead of 495 meters it became 498.2, but in the programs they continued to announce "495".
A few days later it finally happened - the big premiere, starting at
at 10 am on March 8th:
Jack's speech was followed by a song for the day, The Radio Nord
waltz, composed and performed by Sweden's then, and still today,
most beloved poet and troubadour, Evert Taube
(search Google). It was an honor to the company Radio Nord that he appeared
with his dedicated composition, almost like a hymn or a poem, to the new
The response after the premiere showed that many had been surprised by the station's programming style. The audience and the newspapers had expected that Radio Nord would sound quite similar to what they had heard from Radio Luxembourg. Most music stations in those days used to have hours and half hours allocated to different musical preferences, rock music, old time, South American, etc. At this point Jack made something completely different in European radio. True, he had carefully studied Gordon's famous Policy Books on how to achieve success, but Jack had his very own views on how to format his station. His thesis was that no new entrant listener would get the time to be bored and shut off their radios because the entertainment he or she prefers was not heard soon enough in the program. Any listener would be able to go in and out of the program at any time - no programming times to keep track of and there should never be a programming content that referred to something that had occurred previously in the program.
Jack's idea was that each group of listeners really is a minority. The group that prefers to hear rock music is small compared with those who want to hear anything else. The same can be said about all other groups of listeners. It is always harder to make a listener to turn the radio on than to turn it off. If a listener has shut down the radio because of dissatisfaction with what was offered just then, it is much harder to re-gain that listener. It was important that no listeners would get to be unhappy with Radio Nord. The music should always, within a reasonable time, appeal to each listener.
Radio Nord had offices and studios in central Stockholm and became very popular with their mix of popular music, deejays and news 24 hours a day. In the earlier stages, the announcers often appeared as pre-recorded, rather stiff voice features. Soon enough they developed a more easygoing style on how the program was announced. I think Larsan Sorenson helped to ease up the sound of the station and how the announcers appeared. He had worked many years as a cabaret artist and as an early stand-up comedian, and he was a great inspiration source to the other announcers on the station.
At the autumn of 1961, after 8 months on the air, they introduced a growing number of live broadcasts from the MS Bon Jour. Radio Nord was the first offshore pirate to discover that it was possible to broadcast live out at sea from the ship - to actually use turntables. Before they examined it, everybody assumed that turntables could not be used in such a rocking environment, that the tone arm would helplessly lose track over and over again. What they discovered was that the rocking, even in fairly rough weather, was not that hard and jerky, and the tone arm remained on track mostly without any problems at all.
Radio Nord's most popular program was the Top 20 where they played the 20 most popular discs each week. In the first months it was hosted by Gert Landin, later by Larsan Sorenson. The listeners voted through letters sent to Radio Nord where they could choose up to three songs, later a maximum of five. No record store wanted to be without the important top 20 posters which also offered good publicity to the discs that were hot each week. Between about each other song, the host took some time to talk about the current week's sponsor of that program. Sometimes they also had a popular artist in the studio who was interviewed in the show.
From November 12 1961 they introduced De Tio, a Top 10 of popular songs in Swedish. The program had been suggested by two record dealers who had noticed the importance of the Top 20 list and asked if it could be supplemented by a list of Swedish recordings. The program came as a welcome change to the program menu on Sunday mornings where they, before, had been a little too afraid of being perceived as vulgar if they played popular music in the middle of the Sunday worship time. In order to not offend any opinion they had chosen to play a light and melodic selection of classical music, which really wasn't the right niche for Radio Nord. After they broke this caution and introduced this rather innocent chart program, it became a great success. A success that still remains after all those years, because Radio Sweden immediately competed with a full-alike program that still remain in their programming today.
Despite politics and religious issues being banned at the station, it
was forced to close down when the Swedish government introduced the "Lex
Radio Nord" of 1962, criminalizing the act of buying advertising
time on the station. It has a striking resemblance to the Nazi german
law of 1937 previously mentioned here, which made it illegal to give technical
or financial support in the creation or operation of a radio station,
or to transfer cargo to the ship. The adventure ended when Radio North
closed at midnight June 30, 1962. The Swedish offshore radio legislation
became a model for the British Marine Broadcasting Offences act of 1967
and to other European countries where their governments wanted to retain
The Swedish "Lex Radio Nord" came into effect
on August 1, 1962, but the company still chose to shut down a month earlier,
at midnight, June 30 / July 1. In an interview I did in 1981 with Jack
Kotschack he told me about this episode of Radio Nord's last days:
On July 4, 1962, four days after Radio Nord's closing, she left her former anchorage, with new-recruit Polish staff on board to take her out of the Baltic Sea. On Radio Nord her name had always been mentioned as Bon Jour, but since about seven months, her name had been re-registered "Magda Maria". All the studio equipment was loaded on board, including all the equipment used at the studios in Stockholm. She was also loaded with the entire grammophone archive, both the minor which had been on board and the much larger from the premises in Stockholm. All of the commercial value of the company were now gathered in the ship and its cargo. The owners felt concern that any further intervention from any authority would occur during the trip, not least on her passage through the narrow strait between Denmark and Sweden. But this time the ship had an easy trip all the way to the North Sea.
The owners were still Bob Thompson and Clint Murchison. Behind them was Gordon McLendon, who preferred a less official position, but he was in fact the foremost in the negotiations, and it was he who had invented the name of the new project; Radio Atlanta, as a tribute to the city in Texas where he grew up. A few years later he would also be involved in another business partnership with a certain Don Pierson (1925-1996). With him, he drew up the guidelines for a mirror image of the one of his radio stations that he was most proud of, the KLIF. In the Thames estuary it was agreed to be called KLIF-London. However, at the premiere on December 16, 1964 - and thereafter - it became known as Wonderful Radio London. But that's a different story.
During the negotiations between the owners and Alan Crawford, Magda Maria on August 2, 1962 arrived at the port of El Ferrol in northwestern Spain, where she would undergo some restoration work. On September 14, 1962, it seemed that the negotiations had ended successfully and that the transaction was made, and old Bon Jour, now renamed "MV Mi Amigo", sailed from El Ferrol bound for Dover in England.
However, the negotiations were not completed at all, and yet in January 1963, the future of the Atlanta Company remained uncertain. Mi Amigo's hull was repainted in a green color, and as a modern Flying Dutchman she sailed on the North Sea. She had a crew of a total of 8, the captain and the crew were Poles, but they knew nothing about what would happen next. As a gloomy memory of the days of Radio Nord, she was filled with her precious cargo, wrapped in plastic. She was usually anchored at sea off the Dutch coast, near her fellow pirate ship, Borkum Riff, used by Radio Veronica - which also was doomed to uncertainty until the Dutch authorities would take decision on her fate. An incident that had darkened the prospects for Radio Veronica, and even more for the Atlanta Project, was the heavy-handed police intervention, which had been made against Radio Mercur :
Radio Mercur had illegally resumed transmissions two weeks after the Danish 'Pirate Radio Law" had come into force on August 1, 1962. After three days of broadcasts, the ship was boarded by the Danish police, which then towed the vessel to the port of Tuborg, where she was seized and the transmitting equipment was smashed to pieces to ensure that it would never be used again. The measure was so disturbing to Crawford's financiers that they eventually withdrew their interest in the deal. In his desperation, Crawford tried to propose the owners that he would lease the vessel, but they turned his offer down. The future of offshore broadcasting seemed very darkened, not only to Alan Crawford and his investors who had abandoned him, but also to the Americans.
On January 26, 1963, the latter company took the Mi Amigo
to cross the Atlantic, to Galveston, Texas, where she arrived on March
9, 1963. Their immediate plan was to release her from her unfruitful broadcasting
adventures and convert her into a luxury yacht. The continuation of this
story tells us that the mast was demolished and all the radio equipment
was mounted out of her. The ship also brought some attention in the port
of Galveston. One Galveston newspaper noted the owners' great difficulties
in finding someone who was willing to buy her and the magazine called
her "Mystery Ship", as you can see here on
Ronan (1940) was trying to promote the R&B and mainstream-jazz
singer Georgie Fame. Ronan discovered that the record industry was dominated
by "the big four" - the EMI, Decca, Pye and Philips labels.
They also had dominance on the BBC, which completely ignored all the smaller
labels, as Ronan's. He tried on Radio Luxembourg, but found that their
programs were usually sponsored by the same four labels, who thus "owned"
the program. Ronan felt that the only way to get his artists played on
the radio was to start his own radio station. In Ronan's reflections on
his station, he soon started to call it Radio Caroline. He had been caught
by a photograph in a newspaper where the U.S. president John F. Kennedy
's daughter Caroline had a magical look that made her seem just so young,
free and fresh like Ronan imagined in his thoughts for the station he
wanted to create. A dreamer, he was perhaps, but still a lot smarter than
Alan. Ronan had been aware from the outset how to organize an initiative
of this kind. Alan had not understood anything of what had happened in
the past. In interviews, he said that he needed 12 lawyers before anyone
found out how one would do (ie, the usual procedure to circumvent the
law - the same as already had been used by other pirates: flag from a
country that was not a member of the International Telecommunication Union,
a holding company in Luxembourg or Liechtenstein, and so on).
Radio Atlanta needed another fortnight for preparations before test
transmissions could be commenced on May 12, 1964 from a position outside
Felixstowe, Suffolk, England. Radio Atlanta started their first
tests immediately following Radio Caroline's closing at 6 p.m. and on
the same frequency as Caroline on 1520 kHz (197 metres). Radio Atlanta's
intention was to take over Radio Caroline's audience and then make them
all tune to Radio Atlanta when they switched to a new, more permanent
frequency at 1495 kHz. Radio Atlanta carefully instructed the listeners
about the new frequency before switching over. The programmes of Radio
Atlanta were all recorded previously in London, with a few unintentional
exceptions when bad wheather made it necessary for DJs on board to present
However, the Radio Atlanta venture lasted for less than 2 months and was finally closed on July 2, 1964. They never managed to reach the audience figures and advertising revenue that the company had expected, and it all ended in a merger with Radio Caroline. The MV Mi Amigo remained off the coast of Essex as the new broadcast ship for Radio Caroline South and the MV Caroline was moved to an anchorage off the coast of Ramsey, Isle of Man, and was there broadcasting in the name of Radio Caroline North.
Two years had passed since Radio Nord closed but the adventures would continue. Through the years, from March 1961 to the same month in 1980, the 19th, she continued as a radio ship and survived all the other pirate ships, and over the years she became the oldest of them, before it all ended in a north-easterly storm, which first got her anchor chain broke and got her then drifting away for ten miles before she ran aground at Long Sands Bank off the Kent Coast, where she sunk. Her hull was damaged at the generator room and water was pooring in, but her mast remained standing upright as a proud and defiant memory. It wasn't until the ending of July, 1986, when it was reported that the mast had collapsed. A can buoy was placed at the location to mark where the wreck is.
Ove Sjöström (1938) was employed
at Radio Nord as a technician, starting December 16, 1960, and was promoted
a month later as Technical Manager with the responsibility for transmitters
and other technology on board Radio Nord’s MS Bon Jour. He also
showed a versatility when he through almost a week replaced the regular
news staff during their illness when they were out of ability to work.
The transmitter was made of 2nd World War radio surplus,
but it seems as if the broadcasts reached out quite widely - at least
they must have been heard as far as Sweden by a listener who sent a message
to the Radio Sweden (International) program "Sweden Calling
DX-ers". In their broadcast of June 20, 1967, they
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