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Britain (2)




Radio North Sea International (RNI)

(Anchored off Britain and The Netherlands, target audience Europe)

Radio Caroline (1970s)

(Anchored off The Netherlands and Britain, target audience Europe)

Radio Atlantis

(Anchored off Belgium, target audience Britain, Belgium and The Netherlands)

Radio Seagull

(Anchored off The Netherlands, target audience Europe)

Radio Mi Amigo

(Anchored off the Netherlands and Britain - target audience The Netherlands)


Radio Caroline (1980s)

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain and Europe)

Laser 558

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain and Europe)

Laser Hot Hits

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain and Europe)

World Mission Radio (WMR)

(Anchored off Britain, target audience worldwide)

Radio Monique

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Belgium and The Netherlands)

Radio 819

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Belgium and The Netherlands)

Radio 558

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Belgium and The Netherlands)


Planned & Short-lived  Stations

In addition to the stations which did broadcast there were often plans for stations which never materialised or only lasted a very short time - days or even just a few hours.

Click on the blue arrows to read more.



Radio Dolphin

Radio Ventura/Free England

Radio Phoenix

Radio Ursula


Stereo 531/Stereo Hits 576


Gold AM/Referendum Radio

 Floor 1

Back to

Floor 1

1970s Timeline   >>> Britain Timelines 70s and 80s

1980s Timeline   >>> Britain Timelines 70s and 80s

          1960’s stations

Radio Dolphin

In September 1974, following the introduction of the Dutch Marine Broadcasting Offences Radio Caroline and Radio Mi Amigo continued to broadcast from off the English coast. However, rumours persisted that the other former Belgian offshore station, Radio Atlantis, would return to the air although the station's ship Janine had been arrested shortly after arriving in port as part of a legal dispute over the ownership of transmitter equipment.

A number of ex-Radio Atlantis DJs took over the former Gunfleet Lighthouse off Frinton-on-Sea, Essex during September 1974 and  started work on refurbishing the long abandoned structure. Studios and living accommodation were constructed and a re-conditioned 10Kw Collins transmitter was acquired from the USA and installed in the lighthouse.

Their planned station, Radio Dolphin, was scheduled to start transmissions on 1232kHz (244m) on Christmas Day 1974, but in the early hours of 19th December 1974 a party of twenty four Royal Marines, Police, Home Office and Trinity House officials arrived at the lighthouse. Two Trinity House men asked for, and were given, permission to board the lighthouse (which although abandoned was still in the ownership of the lighthouse authority). On discovering the radio transmitting equipment which had been installed they called on the Home Office, Police and Marines to dismantle and confiscate it and as a result Radio Dolphin never came on the air.

Radio Ventura/Radio Free England

Planned to broadcast from the MV Manor Park, a 492ton cargo vessel, anchored in the Knock Deep Channel in the Thames Estuary. The project, which had planned to come on air in 1979, was eventually abandoned in August 1980.

Radio Phoenix

Plans were made by three men from Britain in 1980 to launch a new offshore radio station, Radio Phoenix. The driving force behind this project was Paul Graham (an engineer who had conducted English Service test broadcasts for Radio Delmare from the Martina (Aegir II) and had planned a Radio Mi Amigo 272 International Service from the Magdalena). He, together with Chris Cortez and Barrie Lancaster, planned to use the Shivering Sands Fort (home of 1960s offshore stations Radio Sutch and Radio City) as a base for the new station. Although transmitting and broadcasting equipment was available the Fort itself was found to be in a very dilapidated condition and plans to use it were quickly abandoned.

Shortly after this a number of ex-Radio Caroline DJs, including Roger Matthews, Stuart Russell and Richard Thompson, frustrated at the delays in bringing Caroline back revived the Radio Phoenix project. This time they planned to use a ship which had been located in Aberdeen - the Birchlea.

Dutch pop singer, Fred Bolland, who had plans to launch an offshore radio station of his own (Radio Monique), with backing from record companies and various religious groups, became interested in the Radio Phoenix project. An agreement was eventually drawn up between the two groups for the Dutch station to hire airtime during the day, while Radio Phoenix was to broadcast in English at night.

As soon as conversion work started on the Birchlea  it was discovered that the vessel was in a much worse condition than previously realised, with no functioning engine or generators. Eventually, however, a working generator was acquired by the group and installed on the ship in Aberdeen.

Despite this work it was apparent that the Birchlea  would never be suitable for use as an offshore radio station so another vessel was acquired, the Cedarlea (sister ship to the Birchlea). This vessel, which was also lying idle in Aberdeen, was in a much sounder condition and the project members transferred their equipment from the Birchlea.

Because the harbour authorities started paying increased attention to activities on board the vessel the Cedarlea was towed from Aberdeen in January 1981, heading for Sheerness. Here it was planned to pick up a telescopic aerial mast and then sail to a position in international waters where it would be erected and transmitters brought from Holland would be installed. Unfortunately during the tow the Cedarlea sustained damage to her steering gear and had to enter Middlesbrough for emergency repairs.

Later, off the Suffolk coast, the Cedarlea became fogbound and had to accept an offer from the Harwich and Ipswich Pilot Boats to guide her into port. She was taken to Ipswich where she docked, but shortly after this the project received some major setbacks.

The Cedarlea's owner started to demand more money before he would agree to take the ship back out to sea and the telescopic aerial mast failed to arrive as had been promised by its supplier.

Additionally, shortly after the Cedarlea had left Aberdeen a crew from Thames Television in London  arrived in Scotland. The television crew managed to trace the movement of the vessel along the east coast, possibly alerted by other members of the Radio Caroline organisation, fearful of the planned rival station making it on air before their own return. With subsequent publicity given to the Radio Phoenix project financial backers, including the key Dutch Radio Monique group, withdrew their support. The ship became the subject of enquiries and visits by various authorities and by March 1981 the Radio Phoenix project had fallen apart and was abandoned.

Radio Ursula

In November 1983 reports appeared in the British press about another possible offshore radio station planning to start broadcasts off the coast of Britain.

A group of American backers were proposing to operate Radio Ursula on three medium wave frequencies, and on shortwave from a ship (reported to be a former Norwegian coaster, Nordlys). The consortium planned to offer ten million shares in a company - Global Media Inc. - to finance the station. James Ryan, who had been involved with the original consortium to bring back Radio Caroline in 1980/81 and whose financial dealings had delayed and nearly killed the whole re-launch, was reportedly acting as financial agent for the new project.

However, after these initial reports nothing more was heard of Radio Ursula or Global Media Inc.


In mid-March 1984 plans were announced by John England, (a Briton who had emigrated to the USA), to re-launch Radio London. John England had made contact with former Radio London and Radio England/Britain Radio backer, Don Pierson, now General Manager of KVMX FM97 in Eastland, Texas. As well as some of the other people originally behind the same 60s offshore stations. Amongst these was Ben Tomy, formerly station Manager and Programme Director of Radio London who became President of a new project Wonderful Radio London International (WRLI).

The plan announced in March 1984 was to launch twin offshore stations from a ship off the British coast, capitalising on the renewed interest in offshore radio generated by the return of Radio Caroline and the arrival of Laser. One of the twin stations, The Voice of the Free Gospel, was to feature programmes emanating from American evangelists and provide the bulk of the income for the  whole venture. The second station would be WRLI, with an oldies format and carrying spot advertising. At that stage it was planned to launch WRLI on 15th August 1984, at 3.01pm - exactly 17 years since the original Big L had closed.

A company was formed by John England - Atlantic Charter Broadcasting Corporation -  and although at that stage no ship had been acquired it was announced that the project's vessel (when a suitable one was found) would be called Four Freedoms, after a keynote speech by US President, Franklin D Roosevelt in 1941 which contained references to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

Nothing more happened with this ambitious project and by early 1985 its failure was blamed on the fact that the religious station's backers had withdrawn their support. However ,on 13th August 1984 WRLI did begin broadcasting a 15 minute programme, aired five days a week, over the transmitters of station XERF, based just across the Texas border in Del Rio, Mexico.

Stereo 531/Stereo Hits 576

On 5th January 1986 the Mail on Sunday newspaper carried a report suggesting that a new offshore station - which had been widely rumoured since early 1985 - was to be launched off the British coast. The station, to be known as Stereo 531, was said to have been a Dutch backed venture and planned to introduce medium wave stereo radio to Britain. Former Radio Caroline DJ and Laser technician Paul Rusling was reportedly involved in the project, which also claimed to have secured American advertising contracts.

The Mail on Sunday report also indicated that the new station would be based on a 450,000 ton former oil tanker, Burmah Endeavour, which was then laid up in Southampton, although this was strongly denied by the  Burmah Oil Company.

Read more>>


Although Roy Bates had relocated all the BBMS (Radio Essex) equipment from Knock John Fort to Roughs Tower (Sealand) in December 1966 it was never used to establish another radio station from the new ‘Principality’.

However there were rumours of broadcasting projects being planned from Sealand and one almost happened in 1988. It was planned to use Sealand (Roughs Tower) as a base to relay Astra satellite transmissions of Chris Carey’s (Spangles Muloon) stations Radio Nova and Radio Radio, as well as Dutch cable services Cable One and Radio 10 Gold.  The Sealand base was to use transmitters retrieved from the former offshore station, Radio Paradijs and re-broadcast the programmes on medium wave in English and Dutch and on FM in English. There were also plans for a TV service called Star Channel, relaying the broadcasts of MTV.

However, the plans never came to fruition and broadcasts were never made from Sealand.

Gold AM/Referendum Radio

A company, Worldwide Broadcast Consultants, which included Paul Rusling (who had been involved in a number of offshore radio projects including the initial fitting out of the Laser vessel Communicator) was contracted to install radio equipment on a ship owned by a US born Bahamian resident.

The project (known as the ‘Barcardi Project’ or ‘Project Moon’ ) involved fitting out the ship, Kowloon/Shanghai Moon, in Florida and later Grand Bahama. A 100,000 watt medium wave transmitter together with  two operational studios and a newsroom were installed on the ship during 1987/88. However, although a crew, radio engineers  and team of DJs were retained on full pay for over six months the project never came to fruition after the wealthy owner was advised by British lawyers not to use an offshore radio station (Gold AM – named after Barcardi Gold) to advertise his drinks products.

The ship was mothballed but in 1996 it was discovered that it had been sold to British multi-millionaire James Goldsmith, who planned to use it to launch Referendum Radio, broadcasting political propaganda to Britain in support of his Referendum Party (which was campaigning for a referendum to be held on the question of Britain joining the European Monetary Union).

The ship was moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where more technical work was undertaken to update the radio facilities. However, the ship was prevented from sailing to Britain in time for the 1996 General Election and plans for Referendum Radio were abandoned.

Radio North Sea International (RNI) Radio Caroline 1970's Radio Atlantis Radio Seagull Radio Mi Amigo Radio Caroline 1980s Laser 558 Laser Hot Hits Radio Monique Radio 819 Radio 558

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