It was another two months, however, before things really started to happen. After receiving technical advice from engineers of the Danish offshore pioneer Radio Mercur, Oswald eventually succeeded in constructing a suitable transmitter. Despite a warning letter from the German Post Office, about the illegality of installing radio transmitting equipment on board a ship in a German port, work continued and fitting out of the Borkum Riff was completed by mid-
After two earlier attempts were thwarted by the authorities the Borkum Riff finally left harbour on 20th April 1960 and the following day she anchored off Katwijk aan Zee on the Dutch coast. The first test transmissions from the new station -
Programme tapes made in the station's Amsterdam studio were taken out to the Borkum Riff by a small fishing vessel for the first few days until Dutch customs authorities refused to allow any further such deliveries. With this lifeline cut the station resorted to using a light aircraft (as Radio Mercur had done in Scandinavia) to drop daily supplies and programme tapes to the ship.
Further obstacles were also placed in the way of Radio Veronica by the authorities once broadcasts had started –
Complaints of interference to coastal maritime radio stations began almost as soon as the Veronica test transmissions had started and when regular programmes commenced on 6th May 1960 the PTT jammed Radio Veronica's signal. Radio Veronica moved frequency, but this proved unsatisfactory, causing even more interference and being unobtainable on many domestic radio receivers. Consequently after just seven days on the air the station ceased transmissions on 13th May 1960 to adjust its equipment, returning two days later on 1562kHz (192m). This new frequency proved far more satisfactory, with the bonus that a stronger signal was achieved in the primary target area, despite transmitter power remaining at only 1Kw.
The Panamanian Government withdrew registration from the Borkum Riff in June 1960, but the owners were able to re-
Programming on Radio Veronica was amateurish at first. Programmes were pre-
Unfortunately despite this apparent success many of the early advertisers were companies in which Radio Veronica directors also had interests and they actually brought the offshore station very little revenue.
An audience of 5 million was claimed by Radio Veronica following a listenership survey in November 1960, but despite this popularity advertisers were still largely reluctant to buy airtime on the station. With high operating costs and little commercial income Radio Veronica quickly began to accumulate substantial debts. By the end of November 1960 a rescue package had been mounted by the three textile manufacturers from Hilversum, brothers Dirk, Jaap and 'Bull' Verweij, who took over responsibility for the management of the floundering station and injected much needed financial support.
The Verweij brothers -
An early QSL (reception verification) card showing the Borkum Riff
Click on picture to enlarge