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Laser 558 - Key Dates

** February 1983

The idea of launching a new  English language offshore radio station is explored by British, Irish and American businessmen

27th August 1983

An ex-trawler Gardline Seeker left Lowestoft, Suffolk for Florida to be fitted out as a radio ship

28th September 1983

The ship, now renamed Communicator arrived in Port Everglade, Florida

17th November 1983

The Communicator left Florida and sailed for Ireland, with a full team of American DJs on board

8th December 1983

The Communicator docked in New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland to have work undertaken on her anchoring system.

17th December 1983

With a temporary wire aerial slung between her masts, a test transmission was carried out from the Communicator in New Ross Harbour during the early hours.

20th December 1983

In the early hours, the Communicator left New Ross Harbour and sailed towards the Thames Estuary

22nd December 1983

The Communicator dropped anchor, one mile off Margate, Kent

29th December 1983

After lying at anchor during the Christmas holiday period the Communicator sailed northwards two and a half miles south of Radio Caroline's vessel, Ross Revenge.


19th January 1984

The first test transmission from the Communicator was planned using a helium balloon aerial tethered to the ship, but when the transmitter was switched on high voltages melted through the nylon rope and the balloon floated away.

21st January  1984

Test transmissions successfully broadcast using a second balloon aerial with the call sign Laser 730.

22nd January 1984

During the early hours of the morning the second helium balloon broke from its tethering rope and floated away, putting Laser 730 off the air.

12th February  1984

Weak test signals were transmitted intermittently for about two hours using a new hastily built temporary T aerial strung between the Communicator’s masts

14th February 1984

Test transmissions started once again shortly before 1.00pm

19th February 1984

Test transmission using the temporary aerial system stopped and it was decided to commission a permanent aerial structure for the Communicator.

16th March 1984

A new telescopic aerial system being built in Queensborough, Essex was seized by British authorities in a raid

6th May 1984

Test broadcasts using the newly installed aerial system started again at 12 noon on 558kHz (538m).

24th May  1984

Official programming for the new offshore radio station - Laser 558 - started at 5.00am

October 1984

An audience survey  showed Laser 558 having five million listeners in the UK - 11% of people over the age of 15.

23rd - 25th November 1984

Laser 558 was off the air for  two days after the aerial mast had been damaged.

December 1984

Generator and fuel shortage problems affected Laser 558 resulting in various periods off the air.


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