Over the years I have presented many different types of programme from Top 40, Gold, Country, Classical, magazine but mostly AOR. Which although I have very wide tastes in music is the one I resonate with the most.
The stations I have worked for reflect that diversity.
My first adventure in real radio came when I was posted to an RAF base near Ipswich which had its own cable network called WFN (Wattisham Forces Network), OK so it didn’t have a vast number of listeners but it did have a very professional attitude and all the equipment a young DJ needed to cut his teeth on. It had a mixed format of Top 40 and specialist shows.
As well as being a DJ at various times I was also the program controller and the station engineer.
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Once I had decided radio was the thing for me in my civilian career it had to be offshore radio as the BBC and upcoming ILR stations seemed to totally lack any sense of adventure in Comparison. Also Radio Caroline was breaking new ground, it was pioneering freeform album oriented radio (AOR) in Europe similar to the FM stations in the US. We were the only station playing album tracks day and night.
The fact that it had become a legend in Radio and broadcast from a ship were added bonuses.
In all I spent 3+ very happy years on the Mi Amigo, it was a great station to work for and I saw both the good times and the bad times of the late 70’s. However Radio Caroline has always had the capacity to overcome the most daunting of obstacles, this is due to the fact that to those people who work for it and fall in love with it, it is more than a radio station, much more.
After Radio Caroline and involvement in one or two abortive projects my good friend Paul Graham suggested going to Ireland where there was a lot happening. We made contact with a local businessman Ian Walmsley who had an electrical business and set up on his land three quarters of the way up the side of a hill. The station was a mixture of Pop & Country.
They were fun times, but not without their trials and tribulations like the mast collapsing during a storm and being whisked off by the Irish Special Branch for interrogation, fortunately we did not get locked up. It has to be said that the one issue that probably led to the demise of the station was losing the tall mast.
ARW (Alternative Radio West)
This station had been set up by a group of local businessmen with a lot of good intentions and not too much imagination The format was Pop and chat with specialist programmes. This lasted until the project finally ran out of steam and the presenters involved, myself included went off and set up in business together.
We broadcast Top 40 and Album Tracks from the Beleek Castle Hotel just outside Balina using one of the old ARW transmitters. It was fun but not very lucrative and we all knew the Irish pirate era was coming to an end. Around the time the authorities started raiding stations out east we decided to pull the plug. Several of the presenters moved on to the community and regional stations that were formed shortly after. I on the other hand decided to see what was going down back in the UK.
It was one of those great coincidences that Paul graham, who I had not seen for a year or so returned to England at the same time as me and we made contact again. He mentioned that a land based pirate station was setting up in Shropshire with the intention of broadcasting 7 days a week, something that had not been done before.
I kicked off the 7 day service by presenting the breakfast program Monday to Friday, it was good to be back on the air! The station proved hugely popular and many listeners were unaware of its legal status (or lack of it). Of course there were the usual rounds of dodging the authorities when they came visiting, we were fortunate that we had a well informed contact and I always managed to remain one step ahead. As with all good things it had to come to an end and the pressure from the authorities was getting intense. My life at that time was also taking a change in direction with an impending marriage. It was time to live a sensible life for a while.