©   2014-2020 Offshore Radio Museum

 
Home Ground Basement Floor 1 Floor 2


BEFORE RNI

In late 1967 two Swiss advertising entrepreneurs Norbert Gschwendt and Emil Lüthi (who owned an advertising agency - Gloria International, selling advertising space at football grounds) decided to launch an offshore radio station serving Germany. They planned to use the former Radio London ship, MV Galaxy, which had docked in Hamburg on 21st August 1967, following the station’s closure on 14th August. Shortly afterwards the vessel had been sold to a Greek ship owner.

Their plan, first announced on 17th April 1968, was to broadcast German-language programmes, initially under the name "Radio Gloria", but this was later changed to "Radio Nordsee".  The format was to be easy listening music during the day and pop music at night.

Six German-speaking DJs were recruited by the station’s Programme Director Klaus Quirini  who was head of the DDO (German Disc Jockey Organisation). Two press conferences were held aboard the Galaxy, where the proposed DJs posed for pictures in front of some dummy studio equipment and  a number of premature announcements were made in the German and Dutch press about plans for the new offshore station.

It was reported that "Radio Nordsee" planned  to start broadcasting for 20 hours a day on a wavelength of 266 metres  from an anchorage off Helgoland on 1st November 1968. However, this date passed, as did other advertised dates of .1st December 1968, 12th December 1968 and May 1969.

Also during this period the (West) German government had been in the process of passing new legislation, similar to the British Marine Broadcasting (Offences) Act, to outlaw offshore radio stations.

The threat of this new legislation, together with the fact that when the project’s ship, MV Galaxy, had been dry docked in Hamburg  it was discovered that parts of her hull were very thin  so she was unable to obtain a sea worthiness certificate, meant that  almost from the outset the Radio Nordsee project was doomed to failure.

A serious blow to the project came on 25th January 1969 when, with government legislation about to be introduced and the news about the  non-availability of the MV Galaxy, one of Radio Nordsee’s backers, Emil Lüthi  decided that the planned station was no longer viable and withdrew his financial support.










In an attempt to keep the Radio Nordsee Project alive immediately after the departure of his partner the other financier, Norbert Gschwendt, organised a champagne party and hired a number of small planes to allow news reporters to fly over  the proposed radio ship which was still docked  in Hamburg.  

The new legislation from the (West) German government, which had been ratified in 1968, finally became law on 2nd July 1969 and shortly afterwards the second financial backer, Norbert Gschwendt also withdrew his support.  Plans to launch the first German language offshore station from the MV Galaxy were finally abandoned.

However, two Swiss radio engineers, Erwin Meister and Edwin Bollier, who had been engaged by the Gloria/Nordsee Project, to maintain the technical facilities on board the Galaxy  decided that the idea of launching a new offshore radio station was indeed a viable proposition, so they planned to establish a station of their own and broadcast programmes in English and German from an anchorage in the North Sea.

They found and purchased a ship -  a coaster Bjarkoy - from the Trondjem shipyard in Trondheim, Norway .. The ship, which was renamed MV Mebo, sailed to the van De Groot and Vliet shipyard in Slikkerveer, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. and work started on converting her into a broadcasting station.

However, it soon became apparent that the ship was too small, so another, much larger, vessel was purchased -  a former Norwegian freighter, the MV Silvretta.

The MV Mebo was then renamed Mebo I and relegated to the role of station tender. Meanwhile the Silvretta had been renamed Mebo II and in September 1969, a start was made with the conversion of the ship to house the planned new offshore radio station.

All work on converting the new radio ship was carried out at the Groot an d Vliet shipyard in Slikkerveer, Rotterdam and Mebo II was to become the most luxurious and best equipped offshore radio ship ever.










FOOTNOTE

The mast which had been purchased for installation on  the Bjarkoy was subsequently given to Abie Nathan:who at the time was planning his own project for an offshore radio station anchored off Israel  - the Voice of Peace.

Do you have any other memorabilia about RNI which we could add to this Special Exhibition?

If you do, and you are willing to allow the Museum to use it, please contact

resources@offshoreradiomuseum.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you

Norbert Gschwendt

MV Galaxy dry docked in Hamburg, 1968

‘Radio Nordsee’ DJs pictured in the Galaxy studio

Photo: Hans Knot/Soundscapes

‘The first ship planned to house RNI - Bjarkoy (renamed Mebo and later Mebo I)

Photo: Hans Knot/Soundscapes

‘The second ship planned to house RNI - Silvretta (renamed Mebo II)

Left to Right: Captain William Buninga (Captain of the MV Galaxy during her Radio London days and whilst she was docked in Hamburg with five of the Radio Nordsee DJs - Udo Klein, Dieter Wilken, Pascal Posé (Hannibal), Roy West  and Horst Reiner

Photo: Hans Knot/Soundscapes

special exhibition

EXHIBITION INDEX

Introduction

The People

Before RNI

Press Reports

Pre-Launch

On the Air

Miscellaneous

         Back                                                                                                                    Next

 Ground

Back to

Ground

     Back to


                                                                     Index

Special Exhibitions


Where       next ? Special Exhibitions