©   2014-2021 Offshore Radio Museum

Home Basement Ground Floor 1 Floor 2

Radio Atlanta - History (4)Mi Amigo leaving Falmouth, April 1964

Riggers were brought to Falmouth to carry out the repairs and once this work had been completed, the Mi Amigo set sail and arrived at her destination in international waters off Frinton-on-Sea on the Essex coast, approximately 14 miles from the MV Caroline.

However, the planned test transmissions for Radio Atlanta did not take place immediately - rough weather preventeRadio Atlanta stickerd radio technicians getting aboard the ship and it was not until 9th May 1964 that tests were able to start, using the same frequency as Radio Caroline after that station had ended its days broadcasting. This first transmission was presented by Australian DJ Colin Nicol, but the broadcast was something more than just a technical test, it was also a listener awareness exercise, attracting Radio Caroline's audience just as that station had closed for the day.

Regular programmes from Radio Atlanta eventually started at 6.00pm on 12th May 1964 on a slightly different frequency a mere whisker away from Radio Caroline and it is certain that many people happened on Radio Atlanta's early broadcasts accidentally whilst intending to tune their radios to Caroline. Project Atlanta letterhead

The station's opening day was punctuated with "Good Luck" messages from contemporary pop stars and Allan Crawford launched his long awaited station, which had been almost four years in the planning, at a press conference held in London's Waldorf Hotel.

Following theRadio Atlanta programme schedule same pattern as the Scandinavian and Dutch offshore stations Radio Atlanta's programmes were largely taped on land for later re-broadcast from the Mi Amigo, although some programmes were presented live from the ship. Presentation was slicker than the initial Radio Caroline programmes but lacked the spontaneity of live broadcasting which by mid-May filled almost all of Caroline's daily output. As well as presentation style the format of Radio Atlanta also differed significantly from that of Radio Caroline. The station programmed different types of music in individual time segments throughout the day - Rhythm and Blues, Latin American, Film Music etc., rather than the general mix played all day-long by Radio Caroline, whose programme changes, usually every two or three hours, were really only a change of DJ or announcer.

Radio Atlanta transmitted its first commercial - for Luxol Paints -  on 25th May 1964,  less than two weeks after the station was launched.

With the history of close links between Radio Caroline and Radio Atlanta since their inception and the fact that they were both targeting the same audience in the south and east of EnglanMerger announcement from Radio Atlantad it is not surprising that by early June 1964 rumours began to circulate about a merger between the two rivals. At that time Radio Caroline had  been on the air for two  months and  Radio Atlanta for  just three weeks, but  it  took nearly another month of negotiations before the directors of both stations agreed to a formal merger at a meeting in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. A joint press release announcing the merger was issued on 2nd July 1964

Without any ceremony Radio Atlanta ceased broadcasting from the Mi Amigo at 8.00pm the following evening (3rd July 1964). During the day the M V Caroline  had sailed to within a mile of the former Atlanta vessel, Mi Amigo.

Arrangements were then made to enable Radio Caroline to commence transmissions at 6.00am the next morning as scheduled, not from the MV Caroline as it had since the end of March, but from the former Radio Atlanta ship, Mi Amigo. The intention was that it should not have been obvious for Radio Caroline's listeners that overnight the station had completely transferred operations to what had formerly been a rival radio ship.

Because Radio Ronan O'Rahilly and Allan CrawfordAtlanta's programmes were mostly taped on land the Mi Amigo had only a minimal DJ crew and no on-board record library, although there were turntables and a microphone in the studio which had been used in the days of Radio Nord. In order to retain some programme continuity and familiar voices for Radio Caroline's listeners in London and the south east, DJs Simon Dee and Doug Kerr, together with a small supply of records and tapes,  were taken in a tender from the MV Caroline across to the Mi Amigo to prepare for the next days broadcasting under the new call sign, Radio Caroline South.

The merger agreement was that Crawford’s Project Atlanta would continue to operate Caroline South (from  the Mi Amigo) while O’Rahilly’s Planet Productions would be responsible for Caroline North (broadcasting from the MV Caroline).  Although the two stations broadcast as the Caroline network they were in most respects separate operations. This situation continued until late 1965 when Project Atlanta, which was in severe financial difficulties, was finally absorbed into O’Rahilly’s Planet Productions.

However, the merger was not universally popular within the Radio Atlanta organisation - a number of on air and landbased staff left  rather than work under the new arrangements. Also two of the founding shareholders, Kitty Black and Oliver Smedley felt they had been ‘sold out’ by the merger and continued to pursue a role for Project Atlanta - a strategy that would have far reaching consequences in the years to come.

Announcement about test format for Radio Atlanta, May 1964

R Atlanta Test broadcast announcement May 1964.mp3

Tony Withers on Radio Atlanta’s opening day

R Atlanta ID announcement, opening day Tony Withers.mp3

The Mi Amigo leaves Falmouth after repairs to her mast, 23rd April 1964

First test broadcast for Radio Atlanta, 9th May 1964

First test transmission announcements.mp3

Radio Atlanta programme schedule

Click to enlarge

Merger announcement from Radio Atlanta

Click to enlarge

News Stand

Click on picture to enlarge

Trade press advert for Radio Atlanta staff

Programme schedule for the rest of the day -Tony Withers

Programme rundown - Tony Withers.mp3

News of the World

News of the World  advert.mp3

Beachams Powders

Beachams Powders advert.mp3

The Times

13th May 1964

The Times

9th June 1964

Where       next ?


Key Dates

Ship and Location




Key Dates Ship and Location Technical Staff Programmes

          Back                                   1    2    3    4

British Movitone News film about Radio Atlanta showing DJs in studio and life on board the Mi Amigo

Ronan O’Rahilly (left) and Allan Crawford after the merger announcement

Back to Britain Gallery


Back to Radio Atlanta

Radio Atlanta