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Sweden’s Radio Nord had perhaps the most sophisticated news gathering operation of any offshore station. The guiding light behind  the programme policy of Radio Nord was American radio entrepreneur Gordon McLendon, whose station in Dallas, KLIF, had successfully pioneered the Top 40 format – music programmes using material from the Top 40 chart with hourly news bulletins and weather reports..

KLIF was particularly strong on news with the slogan "Tomorrow's Newspaper Today". News was broadcast every hour, with headlines every half hour and no item was allowed to be presented in the same style twice. If nothing had happened to update a story since the previous newscast  then it was rewritten so that it sounded fresh to the listener. KLIF also employed mobile units to gather news around Dallas and for on-the-scene reports.

The use of this facility was obviously  impossible for an offshore station, but Radio Nord nevertheless managed to develop a very efficient news operation, possibly the most sophisticated of any offshore station.

News gathering

Negotiations with news agencies such as Associated Press and United Press International for a direct teleprinter feed to the radio ship came to nothing, but undaunted by this setback an ingenious news-gathering system was developed by the station.

The Radio Nord offices in Stockholm obtained early editions of the morning newspapers at 3.00am and edited stories from them for use on radio bulletins.

They also monitored other news outlets for more up-to-date information and made regular checks with control centres of  the various emergency services.

The edited stories were then fed to the ship via the ship-to-shore telephone link.

News staff on board the Magda Maria also used a teleprinter - an interface that could interpret broadcasts from various news agencies that broadcast on short wave - and monitored foreign news broadcasts, including those of the BBC World Service and Voice of America for additional material and background information.

Sports results

Sports results were obtained by station staff phoning the various arenas, while horse racing results from the track at Solvalla were broadcast shortly after each race. This amazing feat was achieved by correspondents at the track phoning details of results, odds and cancellations to Radio Nord's Stockholm News Department, who then relayed the information out to the ship.

Early editions of the evening newspapers were also delivered each afternoon  to the radio ship, enabling the onboard news staff to update stories and source local news items for broadcast during the remainder of the day.


The use of the ship-to-shore telephone facility to relay news in this way was eventually stopped in the autumn of 1961 when the Swedish Telegraph Board ordered the Stockholm Radio station at Stafsnos to handle only emergency calls to the Magda Maria.

The ship-based news staff were then forced to gather stories themselves from foreign station's hourly news bulletins. This meant that Radio Nord news bulletins had to be broadcast at a quarter past the hour and as a consequence the station suffered many jibes from the Swedish press about "presenting the latest news - 15 minutes later".

By the beginning of 1962, however, a radio telephone link had been established on board the Magda Maria and Radio Nord was once again able to present up-to-date news on the hour. Radio Nord news regularly beat the state radio service because, due to the influence of major newspapers, they were only allowed to broadcast brief details in anticipation that listeners would purchase a copy of the newspaper for the full story.

Radio Nord News

Let’s look at the diary of a Radio Nord newsman for a typical day,

(originally published in The Radio Nord Story by Jack Kotshack).

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