New Radio Caroline Book Documents Six Decades of DJs

There have been many books about Radio Caroline, the ship-based “pirate” radio station that brought 1960s pop music to Brits at a time when they couldn’t hear it anywhere else. But the new book, “Radio Caroline: Voices on the Air” does something very different from the previous books: It records around 600 DJ voices that have been heard on Caroline since its inception i at sea in 1964, until now when possible. heard on DAB+ and AM in parts of the UK, online and via smart speakers and smartphone apps. For the record, there were five ships that played home to Radio Caroline’s studio, AM transmitter and mast over the years. Ross’s Revenge was the biggest one.

Paul Rusling

The editor of the book is Paul Rusling, a former radio DJ in the UK (including on Radio Caroline) and a radio consultant. “I also worked for two governors and my work covered licensing, administration, engineering and programming,” he told Radio World. “I’ve owned a couple of restaurants and pubs and I’ve also written fifteen books and several articles for newspapers and magazines – In other words, an ex-DJ and engineer who did well, but he prefers to live out life as just a poor journalist/writer!”

“Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air” is that rarity in any kind of history book, an account that tries to leave nothing out while still talking and giving hospitality. This is exactly what Rusling had in mind when he compiled it, after writing an earlier history of the station titled “The Radio Caroline Bible.”

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“This book was written to fill in the gaps in many people’s knowledge about who the voices are on the world’s most famous radio ship, Radio Caroline,” he said. “A lot of other books about Caroline are just autobiographies of individual disc jockeys, and they’re often so self-centered that they don’t give the bigger picture. While I was a DJ myself, I focus on the bigger picture talking about how DJs were hired, rather than individual ideas and life stories.”

Paul Rusling also wants to set the record straight on which DJs worked at Radio Caroline, and which didn’t. “There have been a lot of advocates who have claimed to have worked on the ship over the years,” he said. “Some of them are famous, including one current MP in the House of Commons.”

[Related: “Radio Caroline Returns to Its Roots“]

The content of “Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air” came from the people who kept it on the air. “I’ve enjoyed having access to, and being helped by, managers at every level of Caroline’s history,” said Rusling. “Founder Ronan O’Rahilly had a PA and ‘right-hand man’ in Oonagh Karanja for 17 years, who was replaced by Ben Bode, then Vincent Monsey and most recently by Peter Moore – and all added to my research. .”

Front (R) and back (L) cover of Paul Rusling’s book.

After putting together this history of Radio Caroline’s voices, Rusling has been impressed by the “huge number of people who made up the team. He was also struck by “the number of high-profile stars and celebrities who hosted programs on Caroline’s stations – especially in the 1960s when luminaries such as Kathy Kirby, Charlie Drake, Cleo Laine, Marianne Faithfull, Vera Lynne and others all before shows on Caroline. .”

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On a larger scale, Paul Rusling’s book helps to place Radio Caroline in context as a force that broke the BBC’s iron grip on UK radio and started that country’s long, slow journey to allows commercial radio on its airwaves.

“When I joined Caroline, the UK only had the BBC. There were no commercial, independent and/or private radio stations at all, so ships like Caroline were the only way to work in radio if you didn’t have a strong accent,” he said. “At the at one time, millions of listeners hungry for pop music had to listen to radio stations like Caroline or foreign stations like Radio Luxembourg, a frontier blaster with 1.2 million watts on AM, while the BBC rationed music pop to a few hours a day. week.”

The impact of Radio Caroline on changing this situation cannot be underestimated. The “radio revolution” that started in the UK over the last 50 years changed the nature of British radio. “Today, the UK is home to nearly 600 stations, all with no limits on the amount of music they can play,” Rusling said. “Most are local stations on digital multiplexes and heard for a few thousand, but there are also a dozen or so ‘near national’ networks. And then, of course, our world now has over 100,000 online stations and over 2.5 million podcaster fighting with radio to get to our ears. At the same time, podcasts are just radio programs that listeners can record at will, right?”

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For those who love radio history, or are just curious about how we got to where we are today, ““Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air” is both a fascinating read and an essential addition to any serious library. But unfortunately, the station that started it all – Radio Caroline – is no longer a -now carrying the effects it made such a false, disruptive threat to the UK’s government-controlled broadcasting monopoly more than 50 years ago.

“Caroline is now considered by most people to be a relic of radio history, except for the small number of dedicated fans who live on in her memory,” concluded Rusling. Radio Caroline is now available on a variety of bands and devices, the narrow ‘Golden Oldies’ program format she uses limits her appeal. In Caroline’s heyday, she attracted millions of listeners does her name still bring fond memories.”

Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air is available for purchase through Amazon.com as a Kindle eBook or as a paperback. Members of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service can read for free.

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