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Radio Paradijs - History

Shortly after the Mi Amigo sank in March 1980 plans for a new offshore radio station were put together by some people who had been involved in the Dutch side of Radio Caroline. These included Ben Bode and Danny Vuylsteke who joined forces with A J Beirens, formerly a presenter on RNI's World Service in the early 1970s and who since then had been involved in various Italian land-based radio stations. Danny Vuylsteke and A J Bierens had also jointly operated the Mi Amigo Drive-in Disco in Belgium and Holland and together with Patrick Valain they also subsequently became responsible for selling advertising on the Dutch Service of Radio Caroline and for tendering the Mi Amigo.

The proposed station - Radio Paradijs - had Belgian and Dutch backers to help its launch.

Through a broker they purchased a ship, the coaster, Hoheweg, which at that time was moored in Krausand, but later moved  to Cuxhaven, where she was berthed and re-registered in Panama under the name Lieve. However, it was not long before police and harbour authorities at Cuxhaven began to take  an interest in the ship and the activity surrounding it.

Because of this intense interest it was decided that  the Lieve should sail from Cuxhaven and she headed for Ireland to be finally fitted out as a floating radio station. The Lieve eventually  arrived in Dublin on 11th March 1981.

It was intended that the ship should be used to broadcast three separate programmes - Radio Europa, an easy listening service on FM; Radio Paradijs - a Belgian progressive hit format station on medium wave and a second medium wave service in the a Dutch language - Radio Monique, operated by Fred Bolland.

Three transmitters arrived from the USA at the beginning of July 1981, and were installed on board the Lieve, but by then there was increasing press interest in what was going on with the mysterious ship in Dublin Harbour. Because of this interest arrangements were hurriedly made to finish equipping the Lieve and get her out of port before the Irish authorities had an opportunity to act.

These panic-stricken arrangements included erecting and rigging the aerial system. However, such was the pressure to leave port, the contractors had only rigged half mast before the Lieve left port on 15th July 1981  because press reports were about to be published revealing her location and true purpose. (See cutting left)

Only five hours into the voyage from Ireland the ship encountered storms and the top sections of the hastily erected aerial mast came down. The Lieve battled on through the English Channel into the North Sea, but was eventually forced to anchor temporarily five miles from the former REM Island (home of Radio Noordzee/TV Noordzee in 1964)  off the Dutch coast on 20th July 1981.

After repairs had been carried out to the damaged aerial mast at sea some night-time test transmissions took place on 24th and 25th July 1981. Official tests started on 26th July 1981,when, as well as  playing tapes of Irish landbased pirate, Radio Nova  a Dutch language music programme was also presented. Announcements were made that regular programmes would start on 1st August 1981, (later changed to 15th August) , but the station was never to broadcast again after these early tests.

An aerial photograph of the new radio ship published in  the Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf on 29th July 1981 concerned and disturbed the authorities because it appeared to show the vessel was carrying a satellite dish. Questions were raised in the Dutch Parliament and the Minister of Telecommunications ordered  a police and Navy raid on the radio station's vessel. This action was supposedly justified on the grounds that there were Dutch nationals on board the ship - notwithstanding the fact that she was a foreign-registered vessel anchored in international waters.

The radio ship, byDutch police board the Magda Maria now known as the Magda Maria, was raided at 5.30am on 1st August 1981 by Dutch police and marines and three crew members were arrested. Although the radio station was not broadcasting at the time of the raid the authorities discovered two irregularities with the ship herself - there was no qualified Captain on board and the name on the bow of the vessel (Magda Maria) did not correspond with that on the ship's registration documents (Lieve) -the name had been changed during the voyage from Ireland.

On instructions from  the Dutch Public Prosecutor the Magda Maria was then towed into port and searched by the Navy  who later moved her to Amsterdam, where the radio equipment was removed and put into storage.

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Dutch police board the Magda Maria, 1st August 1981

Television news reports about the arrival of Radio Paradijs and the towing in of the Magda Maria.

July/August 1981


Click on picture to enlarge

Sunday World (Dublin)

19th July 1981