New Radio Caroline Book Documents Six Decades of DJs

There have been many books about Radio Caroline, the “pirate” radio station that brought 1960s pop music to Britain at a time when it couldn’t be heard anywhere else. But the new book, “Radio Caroline: Voices on the Air” does something different from previous volumes: It lists the voices of nearly 600 DJs heard on Caroline since it was launched at sea in 1964, up until now. 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. The biggest was Ross Revenge.

Paul Rusling

The book’s editor is Paul Rusling, a former UK radio DJ (including on Radio Caroline) and radio consultant. “I also worked for two regulators and my work included licensing, management, engineering and planning,” he told Radio World. “I own several restaurants and pubs and have written 15 books and many articles for newspapers and magazines – In other words a former DJ and engineer who did well, but prefers to make a living as a poor journalist. writer!”

“Radio Caroline: The Voices of the Air” is the rarest in any kind of history book, the history tries not to leave anything out while still telling and entertaining. This is exactly what Rusling had in mind when he put it together, after writing the first radio account entitled “The Radio Caroline Bible.”

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“This book was written to fill the gaps in the knowledge of many about who were the voices on the world famous Radio Caroline,” he said. “Many other books about Caroline are just the stories of individual disc jockeys, and they are often so self-centered that they don’t look at the big picture. Being a former DJ myself, I look at the big picture discussing how DJs are used, rather than talking about personal and life stories.”

Paul Rusling also wants to set the record straight which DJs have actually worked on Radio Caroline, and which have not. “There have been many claimants who have worked on the ship over the years,” he said. “Some of them are well-known, including one of the current parliamentarians in the House of Commons.”

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

The content of “Radio Caroline: Voices of the Air” comes from people who keep it online. “I’ve had the pleasure of finding, and helping from, the managers of all parts of Caroline’s history,” said Rusling. “Founder Ronan O’Rahilly was the PA and “right hand” in Oonagh Karanja for 17 years, he was succeeded by Ben Bode, then by Vincent Monsey and more recently by Peter Moore – all of whom helped in my research. .”

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

After writing this account of the voices of Radio Caroline, Rusling was impressed by “the great number of people who made up the staff.” He was also surprised by “the number of top stars and celebrities who made programs on Caroline’s stations – especially in the 1960s when such luminaries as Kathy Kirby, Charlie Drake, Cleo Laine, Marianne Faithfull, Vera Lynne and all the others fronted Caroline. .”

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To a large extent, Paul Rusling’s book helps to place Radio Caroline in context as the force that broke the BBC’s stranglehold on UK radio and started that country’s long journey to allow commercial radio on the air.

“When I joined Caroline, the UK only had the BBC. There were no radio stations, private and/or private at all, so boats like Caroline were the only way to work in radio if you didn’t have a bad accent,” he said. “Meanwhile, millions of listeners who were hungry for pop music had to listen to radio stations like Caroline or foreign stations like Radio Luxembourg, a bubble with 1.2 million watts on AM, as the BBC counted pop music for a few hours. week.”

The impact of Radio Caroline in changing this situation cannot be understated. The “radio revolution” it inspired in the UK over 50 years later changed the nature of British radio. “Today, the UK has around 600 stations, all with no limits on the amount of music they can play,” said Rusling. “Many local stations are on digital multiplexes and can be heard for a few miles, but there are also a dozen or more ‘near world’ networks. Plus, yes, our country now has over 100,000 online radio stations and there are over 2.5 million podcasters competing with the radio for our ears. Meanwhile, podcasts are just radio programs that listeners can schedule at will, right?

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For those who love the history of radio, or just want to know how we got to where we are today, “Radio Caroline: Voices of the Wind” is both an enjoyable read and a valuable addition to any serious library. But sadly the station that started it all – Radio Caroline – no longer carries what made it such a cocky, disruptive threat to state-controlled broadcasting more than 50 years ago.

“Caroline today is considered a relic of radio history by most people, except for a small group of die-hard fans who cherish her memory,” Rusling concluded. “Even though Radio Caroline is now being received on various bands and equipment, the narrow ‘Golden Oldies’ program he uses prevents him from gaining traction. During Caroline’s heyday, she attracted millions of listeners who still fondly remember her name.”

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

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