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Radio Caroline North - History (2)

With this background of a long-running dispute between the Island Government  and the British Post Office over the issue of a high power medium wave broadcasting licence it is easy to understand the initial  feeling of antipathy towards Radio Caroline when its powerful northern transmitter was positioned off the Manx coast.

Radio Caroline North, however, soon became accepted by the Isle of Man Government and the Manx people in general. Constant on-air references by the DJs to the "wonderful" or "beautiful" Isle of Man together with, at one stage, free promotions for the Manx Tourist Board undoubtedly boosted the Island's tourism figures for the three and a half years the station was anchored in Ramsey Bay.

The Island and its people did not forget this  in 1967 when the British  Government tried to impose legislation on the Manx statute book outlawing Radio Caroline and a bitter constitutional dispute ensued.


Radio Caroline North started the new year with some problems caused by rough weather on the night of 13th/14th January 1965 when the starboard anchor chain snapped. With the other anchor unable to hold in the severe storm, the MV Caroline began to drift, but eventually the Captain managed to manoeuvre the ship so that she remained outside territorial waters and rode out the storm.  Within a week a new one and a half ton anchor and four and a half ton chain were installed on board the radio ship.

A milestone was reached at Easter 1965 when Radio Caroline celebrated its first birthday. To mark the occasion the station introduced four 'Bell Awards' which were presented to various artists for their contribution to musical entertainment during the preceding twelve months. Recipients were -

Birthday messages and greetings from over twenty artists were also recorded and included in programmes on both the North and South Caroline stations during the Easter weekend.

Nationally Radio Caroline's advertising income fell dramatically during 1965. Radio London was picking up all the lucrative commercial contracts  to the detriment of Caroline South. The bulk of the Caroline network's revenue was coming as the result of national campaigns, which included the coverage area of Caroline North - in effect Caroline North was subsidising the operation of its sister station. Record Shop sticker

Caroline North itself was highly successful at this time and in fact throughout its entire life. There are a number of reasons for this, but it must always be remembered that Radio Caroline North held a unique monopoly position and although other stations were planned to compete for northern audiences none ever materialised. Caroline North experienced some minor competition in 1966, but only on the fringe of its coverage area, from Radio Scotland (particularly while that station was anchored off the west coast of Scotland and off Northern Ireland) and Radio 270 (anchored off Yorkshire). However, neither of these smaller stations made any dramatic impact into Caroline North's primary area and the station always attracted a large and dedicated audience not only in the north of England, but in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and along the east coast of Southern Ireland.

The programme outpCaroline booklet coverut from Caroline North was always far more suited to its audience than that of Caroline South. Ronan O'Rahilly had maintained direct control over Caroline North after the merger with Radio Atlanta and gave DJs the freedom to play the music they knew listeners wanted to hear. Geographically, too, the station covered an area of the country which in the mid-1960's was the home of pop music - Liverpool and north west England. It is hardly surprising therefore that the DJs were able to relate closely to what their audiences wanted to hear and the station's programming reflected this close contact. Zowie 1 poster

Caroline North also benefited from a talented team of DJs and in particular the first Programme Director Tom Lodge, who was responsible for deciding the station's programming style. It is no coincidence that in 1966 Tom Lodge together with another successful Caroline North DJ, Mike Ahern, were brought south to help re-launch Caroline South and build up its audience figures.

Airtime sales - the lifeblood of any commercial radio or television station - were also more successful in the north. Although Caroline North benefited from the large national campaigns, indeed its very existence made that national advertising possible, the station also carried a huge volume of 'local' advertising. This local advertising was sold by a team based in the station's Liverpool offices, but covered the whole of the north west of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and many businesses in these areas soon became household names through advertising on Caroline North. By contrast direct sales for Caroline South by the stations's own staff were only bringing in a few hundred pounds a week by the autumn of 1965.

First birthday greetings from the stars, March 1965

RCS First Birthday greetings from the stars, March 1965.mp3

News Stand

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The Times

30th March 1965

Radio Caroline North promoted a live concert - Zowie 1 -  in December 1965 with a line-up of big name stars

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Promotion for Radio Caroline Record Shops

RCN Caroline Record Shop promo.mp3

Caroline North DJ line-up promo

RCN - Men of a new breed.mp3


Weetabix advert.mp3

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News footage showing the DJs and tender in Ramsey Harbour and life on board MV Caroline

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Casino Car Sales

Casino car sales ad.mp3

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