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Radio England - History (2)

Radio England also brought with it jingles which had been custom made for the station by Promotion and Marketing Services (PAMS) of Dallas, Texas, based on their Series 27 package. These jingles were intended to give the station a clear identity and help to establish it in the increasingly competitive British offshore radio market.

Somewhat naively Radio England played these jingles without voice over interruption from DJs during test transmissions. Most other contemporary offshore stations then recorded the jingles, edited them to include their own identification and then used them during their own programmes before the new station was able to begin regular broadcasts. When it did begin regular transmissions Radio England sounded as though it was using the same jingles as all the other stations and had nothing original of its own, when in fact the reverse was true. To combat this Radio England quickly acquired another jingle package from Spot Communications in Dallas, using the "Batman" theme,(sung as ‘That man’ to avoid copyright infringement).

Radio England's format never really caught on with audiences, advertisers or even its own English DJs. There was constant ill feeling between the English and American staff  on board the Laissez Faire - the Americans thought the English naive and inexperienced in broadcasting matters, while the English accused the Americans of misreading British audience tastes and trying to impose undiluted American format radio.

This conflict eventually resulted in the 'resignation' of four of the original US "Boss Jocks" in September 1966 after they became totally disillusioned with the operation of the station. Initial commercial contracts were by and large not renewed by dissatisfied advertisers and as a consequence the American backers decided the station was not generating a sufficient return on their investment.

Coupled withSwinging 66 Tour poster this slump in advertising revenue the station mounted a huge nationwide tour - "Swinging 66", with artists such as The Small Faces, Crispian St. Peters, Neil Christian, Dave Berry and (in the London venues) Wayne Fontana. The tour was hosted by Radio England DJs Larry Dean, Jerry Smethwick and Roger Day, but after two disastrous London concerts Roger Day was left to compere the rest of the venues alone.

 "Swinging 66" was booked to appear at venues (mainly cinemas) across the UK, including towns and cities well outside Radio England's transmission area, - highlighting yet again how the station's American backers had misjudged the British market. They claimed, and probably genuinely believed, that the twin stations operating from the Laissez Faire gave national coverage, but in reality Radio England’s (and Britain Radio's) daytime signals hardly reached beyond the Midlands. As a consequence people turning up, by chance, at venues in the north of England or even Scotland, knew little or nothing about Radio EnglaSwinging 66 Tour brochurend and any on-air promotions were completely wasted because the station's signal did not reach those areas.

The Bill to outlaw offshore broadcasting stations - the Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 27th July 1966 and received its formal First Reading. The provisions contained in the Bill applied to all structures, floating, fixed or airborne, which could be used as bases for broadcasting and prohibited any British citizen or company from owning, operating, working for, supplying, advertising on or in any way assisting an offshore station.

The initial reactions from the offshore stations to the Bill were defiant, containing general expressions of determination to fight its introduction and continue broadcasting. Bill Vick of Radio England/Britain Radio said "our ship is American owned and crewed, and the DJs are American. I have already been approached by several continental businessmen about advertising."

By coincidence on the day of the Bill's publication Radio England/Britain Radio held a champagne party at the Hilton Hotel in London, attended by over 600 guests, including many contemporary pop stars. It was a public relations exercise designed  to demonstrate  support from the world of show business for offshore radio stations in general, but the hotel’s bill was never paid.

After some weeks of speculation and rumours an announcement was made on mid-20th October 1966 that Radio England's frequency was to be leased to a Dutch language broadcaster, initially named as Radio Holland, but this was subsequently changed to Radio Dolfijn.

Radio England had not been the commercial success its American backers had hoped - the programming format was too brash for British audiences and, with a declining listenership, advertisers could not be persuaded to buy airtime on the station. In addition there had been constant professional friction between the American and British DJs on board the Laissez Faire.

Radio England ceased transmissions at midnight on 13th November 1966 and the following day the Dutch language station, Radio Dolfijn took to the air.

Pier Vick Ltd., the managing company behind Radio England (and Britain Radio) was in severe financial difficulties and went into voluntary liquidation in March 1967.

Above Swinging 66 poster

Below the Tour Brochure

Radio England aboard Laissez Faire (Olga Patricia), 1966.

Soundtrack - Roger Day closing the station’s transmissions

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The advertising Rate Card for Radio England/Britain Radio

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The Times

21st October 1966

Some of the original Radio England  PAMS jingles which were ‘hijacked’ by other offshore stations

R England jingle - out of sight.mp3 R England jingle - where the action is.mp3 R England jingle - you get a positive charge.mp3

Some of the Radio England ‘Batman’ jingles

Radio England jingle Batman Johnnie Walker.mp3 Radio England jingle Batman SRE.mp3 R England jingle - 'batman' Roger Day.mp3


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Left: a staff pin badge for the party at the Hilton Hotel.

Courtesy Ron O’Quinn

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