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PRE-LAUNCH

On 22nd November 1969  the first photographs  of the Mebo II in Slikkerveer, Rotterdam appeared in a Dutch newspaper. together with information about the name of the planned new offshore station -: Radio Nordsee International - (Meister and Bollier had retained the name which the Gloria Project had intended to use and added the word ‘International’ to reflect the proposed wider coverage area and multi language presentation).

Another article a couple of weeks later said that the radio ship would be anchored off the Dutch coast, at Scheveningen and that programmes would be broadcast in German, Dutch and English. A  team of English, Dutch, German and Austrian DJs were reported to have been recruited.

A Continental Electronics 105Kw transmitter (the most powerful transmitter ever on an offshore radio station) was installed on the Mebo II,  together with an FM transmitter and two 10-KW shortwave transmitters.The former Radio 390  10-KW RCA transmitter was also  installed as a standby.

However, rising costs of equipping the radio ship to such a high standard (on top of the costs already incurred in the aborted conversion of the Mebo I ) began to cause financial problems for Meister and Bollier.

As a consequence they sought partners for the new offshore project and discussions took place  with the Verwej brothers (owners of Radio Veronica). Meister and Bollier had previous business dealings with the Verweijs when they supplied the 10Kw Continental Electronics transmitter installed on the second Radio Veronica ship  Norderney in 1965.

However, the Verweijs  refused to participate in the RNI project, but instead made  an alternative proposal, to which Meister and Bollier agreed. For a loan of 1 million Dutch guilders  MEBO Telecommunications  would give an assurance that the new offshore station would not broadcast programmes in the Dutch language, thus ensuring Radio Veronica would maintain its monopoly status in The Netherlands radio market. Another condition was that the Mebo II should anchor far away from the Radio Veronica ship Norderney.

In return for all this the Mebo II  was pledged  as surety for the loan - something which was later to cause serious problems for both stations..

On 11th November 1969, MEBO Telecommunications issued a press release  naming the planned DJ team for the German and English Services :-

GERMAN SERVICE - Horst Reiner, Axel, Hannibal and Elkie (Bollier)  (apart from Elkie Bollier the other three German Service DJs had been  part of the  original Radio Gloria/Nordsee team)

ENGLISH SERVICE - Programme Director Roger Day (ex-Radio England and Caroline South), Carl Mitchell (ex-Caroline South),  Alan West (ex-Radio London, Britain Radio, Radio 390 and Radio 270), Ross Brown (ex-Radio City, Radio Caroline North and South),  Johnnie Scott,  Andy Archer (ex- Radio City and Caroline South) and  Ed Moreno (ex-Radio  Caroline, Radio Invicta, Britain Radio and Radio City).

In addition Urs Emmenenger was named as Technical Director and Eva Pfister as Secretary of the company.

On 26th November 1969 Meister and Bollier held another press conference in Zurich at which they announced programmes would start by Christmas, with a full commercial service being launched in the New Year. They also hinted that if their plans to launch a new offshore station were thwarted by the Dutch government introducing legislation, they would consider using their new radio ship to provide a service to the African state of  Sierra Leone.

It was also announced that the station’s ship would not have a fixed anchorage because of the high mast (at 52m it was, at that time,  the highest on any offshore station, only exceeded  in 1983 by Radio Caroline’s Ross Revenge ), but it would instead sail up and down  the coast. Then, in a veiled reference to the financial agreement with the Verweij brothers (of Radio Veronica) they explicitly mentioned that no Dutch language programmes were now planned to be broadcast.

On 27th November 1969  newspapers reported that the management of Radio Veronica was not shocked by the imminent arrival of RNI (despite the secret financial agreement already concluded between the two stations). Veronica  Managing Director,  Bull Verweij  was quoted as saying:  "We have a free sea and Radio Veronica does not have the exclusive right on that sea. "

At the Nova Hotel disco in Zurich, the German Service DJs,  Horst Reiner, Axel,  "Hannibal" and Elkie Bollier, as well as  English Service Programme Director, Roger Day had started to produce and record some test transmission programmes.

Meanwhile, press reports started to appear about the business activities of Meister and Bollier indicating that they traded  with controversial Eastern bloc states,  Syria, the GDR (the then East Germany) and  the breakaway province of Biafra (Nigeria).

A number of speculative press stories about the new offshore station also started to appear, including a claim that the Mebo I was originally intended to house a radio station for Biafra, but due to the high start-up costs, Meister and Bollier had decided to base their new station in the North Sea. Another report  announced  that the radio ship was intended as a propaganda channel against the imminent early re-election of the then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.


On 6th January, 1970, MEBO Telecommunications announced in a press release that it would take about two more weeks before their new station could be launched.

Meanwhile in an attempt to thwart the launch of RNI the Dutch government called on Panama to withdraw the registration  of the new radio ship. In response to this request representatives of the Panamanian Ambassador together with Dutch customs officers, (assisted by the PTT and police) arrived on board for an inspection and, finding that  no crystals were installed in the transmitters, decided  that the ship was not a floating radio station, and therefore the registration  could remain (notwithstanding  the tall radio masts and the inscription "Radio Nordsee International" painted on the side of the ship !).



Do you have any other memorabilia about RNI which we could add to this Special Exhibition?

If you do, and you are willing to allow the Museum to use it, please contact

resources@offshoreradiomuseum.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you

The psychedelically painted radio ship, Mebo II  home to Radio Nordsee International/Radio North Sea International - RNI

The Verweij brothers, owners of Radio Veronica

EXHIBITION INDEX

Introduction

The People

Before RNI

Press Reports

Pre-Launch

On the Air

Miscellaneous

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