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Hi my name is Jeff Martin and I live in a village, in Derbyshire, England. I was turned off radio as a young boy, having to listen to the BBC Light Programme. Don't get me wrong I brought my first record at the age of five. I loved music, but could not find any to listen to. Then one day in the summer of 1964, I was sitting on Margate beach with my Grandma. She had her brand new tranny with her. It was playing The Hollies, The Beatles, The Searchers and others. She pointed out to sea and told me, that the Radio station was on a ship. "Out there" she said, and it's called Radio Caroline. My life was changed forever. All this seven year old wanted for Christmas that year was a radio. Living in Derbyshire had it's good and bad points. You could get most of the stations, Caroline North & South, Big L, Swinging Radio England and Radio 270. Most of the time on my cheap tranny, none came in that well. I felt so let down on 14th August 1967. Then Caroline went, I was forced to try that new Radio One by day. At least we had good old 208 at night.
Then one spring night in 1970, again thanks to my Grandma I discovered RNI. My Grandma was away on holiday and I had managed to persuade her to let me borrow her expensive, good quality portable radio. That night I tuned around the dial and came across Alan West, broadcasting on Radio Noordzee International. Offshore Radio had returned and Christmas had come early that year.
That summer, me and my radio could not be parted. I followed all the frequency changes because of the jamming. I did not get to the London free Radio Rally, but had all the "Fight For Free Radio" posters and stickers all over my wall. I even got my Dad to put one in the car. You can image how let down I felt, arriving home on that September afternoon to find RNI gone. So it was back to the great 208 I tuned.
Then in February 1971 a school mate told me he had heard RNI testing. I thought it must be a wind up, but still ran all the way home from the school bus. I shot straight upstairs and within minutes I heard Stevie Merike was telling me, RNI is back and on full power".
I was thrilled by the return of Radio Caroline, but somehow the sixties magic was never recaptured. Radio Atlantis was fun pop radio at it's best but the signal in Derby was usually poor. So I stayed faithful to the guys and girls, (Yes I did wake at 4am some mornings, just to listen to Louise on Skyline) of the Mebo II. When it became clear the Dutch Marine Offences Act was going to silence the station, I was devastated. I listened to the last evening and recorded it. I remember tears stinging my eyes as Peace by Peter Played and RNI's International Service said Goodbye. I had lost a friend. I listened to the final day of the Dutch and DX Service on that Saturday. It must have been a month till I even turned on a radio again. It was nice to know Caroline was still there and tuned every so often. Again I turned back to Luxy.
RNI THE END. The Mebo Comes In
The next station I was fond of was Radio Trent. This was the ILR station for Nottingham. The station was really fun, with lots of personality. It was probably due to the station employing many former offshore staff. I got to meet Stevie Merrike many times when he joined in 1976. (Is it still on air ? Yes but don't get excited, it is run by GWR.)
Like most true radio fans, the news of the sinking of the Mi Amigo made me very sad. I thought that we had seen the last of offshore radio. Then as I arrived home from holiday in August 83. A mate rang and said "watch News At One, and get a video ready". Radio Caroline was about to return. I waited with radio/cassette at the ready, but found the restart a bit of an anti climax. I did not tune away though. It was fantastic to have the lady back.
If the return of Caroline was a surprise, a second radio ship in the North Sea was a total shock. When the tests in February came and went, I gave up tuning around the dial after a month. I thought this was another radio station that would not make it to the air. So I missed the start of Laser 558. It was early June in 1984 that I had the car radio on search mode. I found the station towards the end of the dial. I left it one, and heard Holly Michael's proclaim." This is All Europe Radio Laser 558". That was it I was hooked. One listen and I was hooked. This was such an exciting station. The arrival of Laser also forced Caroline into a better overall sound. The arrival of Charlie Wolf in the North Sea was one of the best things to happen on British radio in years. His "Fever pitching" late night show was never to be missed.
I sent off a postcard to Madison Avenue with a funny holiday stories and was surprised when about a month later a huge poster of the Laser Jocks hanging over the back of the Communicator arrived. With Caroline and Laser out there it was radio heaven. Then came "Euroseige 85". The governments Marine Offences Act seemed powerless against the two ships. So out came the spy boat. Charlie gave me some of the best radio ever. Yet again though we the listener were to be let down by the station management. I called home from work in November 85 to be told by my Dad. "Laser is on it's way in to Harwich. This was confirmed by Andy Johnson aboard the Ross Revenge. The next weekend I was on my way to Harwich to find the Communicator. When I found her I was so sad to see her sitting silent in the river. The first radio ship I had ever seen. As I came away I had the great pleasure to meet for the one and only time, the late Buster Pearson. The greatest friend of offshore radio. Caroline was once again alone. It was great she was still there.
With Laser off air and the Communicator up for sale, I listened to Caroline, who took over the 558 frequency and it seemed Laser's format. The Communicator was sold and rumors began to circulate about the return of Laser. "Surely not" I thought. Then moving around the dial as I set off for work one morning I heard a Laser blast. Later that day I tuned around to hear John "Rock N Roll" Anthony. His message was, Laser Is Back. Laser 558 had been replaced by Laser Hot Hits 576. On the first official day of the station I listened to nearly all the first day. It sounded great and I was convinced it would be a big hit with the listeners. However it was soon gone. I kept listening for their return. In February I got my wish. The station had sorted out the problems and were back. Two new DJs Brandy Lee and D.L Bogart were really entertaining. I had flu in March and it was a great chance to stay in bed all day and listen. The old Communicator problems returned to put the station off air forever.
In Derby we were hoping for our own ILR station. What we got was RadioTrent 945. Instead of getting a new station we got a branch of Nottingham's. To be fair at first it was a fairly good listen
In 1990 I went on the brand new Oula Britannia ferry to Holland and saw the Ross Revenge for the very first time. It was a fantastic trip as the Fortunes were also onboard the ferry.
By 1990 I thought it was about time I tried doing some radio, now I had finished with the mobile disco. A chance meeting with an old colleague took me to the local hospital station Radio Link. I joined the station in February 1990. After my training I co-presented the stations, Thursday night request show with Alice Preston. we had such great fun presenting these shows and we were very sad when we were given our own shows. I went on to present firstly the "Thursday People" show the after a short while I moved to Mondays. I presented "Monday People" till 1999. I the presented the "Tuesday People" show for the station until May 2001.
On of my best days out ever came in July 1995. On that hot summers day myself and three mates, Ian Perry, Chris Baird (of Big L 97 fame) and Graham Hughes went to see Ross Revenge in Backwater, on the River Bradwell. We met Peter Moore onboard and have a fantastic time. We shot a lot of film and video that day. As I climbed off the Ross I said I will be back. I haven't been back yet but I still intend to soon.
Over Christmas and the millennium I worked for an RSL station in Derby called PRIDE FM. I presented the "Sold Gold Sixties Show" on a Sunday evening. The final show was dedicated to the golden age of SIXTIES RADIO.
The station Pride FM returned for another broadcast in May 2001. I was even more involved this time. I again did the Solid Gold Sixties Show, as well as some Afternoon Shows. The Solid Gold Sixties Show and Pride FM returned to the air in July 2002 for another 28 day broadcast.
You can also hear me on the internet station "Golden Radio International"
I'm afraid to say I listen to very little radio these day. I feel it has become bland and boring. I would like to say thanks to all those far sighted people who recorded the great days of radio while it was still on air. Although I don't find as many recordings as I used to, the JM Tape list keeps growing.
Happy Listening !!!!!!