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Caroline, the Sounds of the Nation.
7 Replies
Zoomup
1764 Posts
Radio Caroline, the beginning....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcsvRqUsiHE



Z.
Denis McMahon
292 Posts
Thanks very much, Zoomup, for this contribution. I admit I did not really follow Radio Caroline in its days, but looking at that short film I cannot help but admire the enterprising spirit of those young men that set it up against the odds. They certainly influenced the shape of broadcasting and it is generally accepted that the beginning of BBC Radio 1 a few years later was a response to these pirate stations demonstrating the prospective audience. In years to follow came the local radio stations, both of the BBC and commercial.

The Pilkington Committee seemed to be very anti-commercially biassed. I recall they were quite damning about ITV. It would certainly never have sanctioned a national commercial station devoted to serious music, like the Classic FM of today. ("What - advertising supporting a station of highbrow music - a minority cult interest? That will never fly!")

The film itself is a typical example of the Pathé Pictorial news magazines that were common in cinemas in those days, sadly no more. Clever use of colour, inspiring and appropriate background music and many points of detail to capture the interests of a wide range of viewers. Pathé certainly knew how to put a short story together. It is a pleasure to watch.

Now, 199 metres. What is that in kilocycles per second? 1511 give or take one maybe?
...and watching the film, was that a young Tony Blackburn playing chess?
Alasdair
David Parr
289 Posts
It was Caroline North in the 60s that got me interested in music and radio, later the technical side, and into electronic engineering. I still listen regularly to their, now fully licenced, output on the internet, AM, and DAB.

By the way, neither Caroline ships were on 199 metres - it was just that it rhymed, and was close enough for the old analogue tuning dials :)

They are on 648 KHz now, having taken over the defunct mast from the BBC world service. How times change!
Denis McMahon
292 Posts

David Parr:
. . .
By the way, neither Caroline ships were on 199 metres - it was just that it rhymed, and was close enough for the old analogue tuning dials :)
. . .
 

That doesn't surprise me; I suspected as much. Another pirate station, Radio 390, actually broadcast on 388 m, but a round number was thought to be more memorable.

The sheer engineering of setting up a radio station on a ship will have set new challenges. Take that mast for instance, not on terra firma but on a ship swaying in the waves. Think of the extra stresses that would have put on that tall structure. There would be limited space to anchor the guys so they would need to be much steeper than usual, as we see. And yet it was made to work.
 
David Parr
289 Posts
The best example of this is the Ross Revenge which had a huge 90 metre high mast which was a perfect quarter wave Marconi antenna for a frequency they never actually used. But the signal was excellent and the extended bandwidth gave them a great sound.
Andy C
16 Posts
David Parr:
The best example of this is the Ross Revenge which had a huge 90 metre high mast which was a perfect quarter wave Marconi antenna for a frequency they never actually used. But the signal was excellent and the extended bandwidth gave them a great sound.

A lot of the time it comes down to the quality of audio processors used. During visits to Irish stations in the 80s I noticed most of the big stations almost exclusively used Optimod AM or Optimod FM processors to get the best out of their signal. Quality of receiver also plays a part: during a visit to ABC Radio at Waterford I listened to their MW output through an AM stereo receiver they had imported from the US (at the time they were proposing to try AM stereo broadcasts), the resulting audio was FM quality, albeit in mono. AFAIK Atlantic 252 on LW also used a single sideband+carrier to give an improved signal under poor reception conditions.

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