Sunday, 19 September 2004

Avast There, Me Hearties!

And me Kidneys, and me Spleenies...

Screaming Lord SuchFor Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arr.

Shiver Me Timbers and Blister Me Barnacles, while traversin' the Radio Ocean Waves a-lookin fer Plunder, what do I see but the Old Flagship of Pirate Radio, Radio Caroline. Arr.

So today's interestin Link is the History of Pirate Radio. And to be sure, Jim Lad, as fine a tale of Swashbuckling, Murder and Mayhem is seldom encountered. Buckets of Blood. Arr.
Grumbling about unauthorised use of radio frequencies and the vague potential for cross channel interference cut no ice with the offshore radio listeners who perceived the government and the BBC to be grumpy killjoys. Legislating against the pirates was a vote loser and for some time there was a stand off where the authorities made dire threats but did nothing. As famous Radio London DJ Dave Cash recalled many years later ' they could not act against us for the reasons stated. They needed something heavy like drugs or murder, we gave them murder'.

One fort based station was started by the singer and self publicist David ( Screaming Lord) Sutch, a flamboyant rock star. Since offshore radio was news worthy, he founded Radio Sutch but when this had been milked for all possible publicity he sold the operation to his manager Reg Calvert who operated it as Radio City. The sea forts were a no mans land and control of them depended on who commanded the most muscle. After a business dispute another offshore entrepreneur Major Oliver Smedley hijacked Calverts fort.

In a fit of fury Calvert who was known to be a violent and irrational person burst into Smedleys home and hurled a heavy stone ornament at him. He also claimed to be armed with a tear gas pistol. Smedley took up his shot gun and killed Calvert. The image of the offshore stations as jolly buccaneers using spare radio channels to provide popular free entertainment was irrevocably shattered. Now the government could portray them as battling, murdering gangsters and, now that the Labour Government were secure in power for five full years, losing votes was not any longer an issue. It was proposed to silence the pirates using The Marine etc. Broadcasting Offences Act, which would deprive the stations of staff, supplies and most importantly of revenue.

Of the stations being planned no more was heard. Those on air began strident campaigning against the proposed law. Having previously embraced the term 'pirate radio' they now wished to be known as free radio stations. Most outspoken on the subject of freedom of the individual against the system was Radio Caroline.
But they be the 60's, and you had to be there. Arr.

The Dreaded Pirate Screaming Lord Such (Terror O' The Seven Seas)'s Monster Raving Loony Party do now be led by the ship's cat. But he still be vyin' fer election as a Zombie with the Guilty Party, if the BBC is to be believed.

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