Saturday 28th March marked the 45th anniversary of Radio Caroline’s launch back in 1964, and a reunion event held at The Grapes, Shepherds Market in London was very well attended by Caroline staffers from all eras of the station’s history.
It will be available from that date through normal retail outlets in the UK and Ireland, through various online sales sites (including the Radio Caroline Sales operation and the Phantom 105.2 Merchandise Store ).
A special pre-order package for Caroline supporters to include extra content is currently being agreed – more details shortly.
A number of launch events and readings will take place in both the UK and Ireland throughout the spring, and I will also continue to read at the monthly Seven Towers event Last Wednesday in Dublin (next event: 7pm Wednesday 28th January at Cassidys of Westmorland street).
Every New Year for the last several years, I’ve made the resolution to get the book finished, to get representation, and said to myself ‘maybe this will be the year when I finally get it published”.
But this new year is different – thanks to a huge number of things that happened in 2008,not least the sterling efforts Seven Towers Literary Agency, I start 2009 knowing that this IS the year in which my tale of life at sea with Radio Caroline will finally see the light of day.
Publication by Liberties Press is due at the end of March or early April (firm date to be announced soon).
Even knowing this, I was still amazed to find myself listed in the Irish Times today, in a feature on books that we can look forward to in 2009.
I know I should be all calm, and professionally detached, but really, I just want to say: Woo Hoo!
The first trailer for the Working Title film “The Boat That Rocked” is now doing the rounds, and is up on YouTube.
The film is set on board a fictional pirate radio ship in the 1960s that closely resembles Radio Caroline.
Certainly, the clips of the film in the trailer look very like the life I experienced on Caroline, especially the screaming girls
Following on from the news that my book will be published in March 2009 by Liberties Press I will be involved in two readings with Seven Towers during the next week, a special Christmas-themed reading in Killarney in support of AWARE, followed by the usual monthly writers open-mic “Last Wednesday” on November 26th at Cassidys of Westmorland Street, Dublin (7pm).
Details of the Killarney reading below.
Saturday 22 November 3pm, Dromhall Hotel Muckross Road,
Killarney, Co. Kerry.
Meath born, Dublin based journalist, musician, award winning broadcaster and poet Eamon Carr; Dublin writer and Phantom FM DJ Steve Conway; New Zealand poet Ross Hattaway; Kerry born, Wexford based poet, playwright, director and producer Noel Ó Briain; Kerry poet and novelist Tommy Frank O’Connor; Kerry musician, novelist, playwright, broadcaster, children’s writer and poet John W Sexton; Dublin poet, playwright, screenwriter, novelist Oran Ryan; North Carolina poet Doog Wood.
Finally, after several nail-biting weeks of discussions which I couldn’t mention here, the deal is done, and I can tell you that the book I wrote about my time with Radio Caroline in its final years at sea is to be published by Liberties Press.
The book will be out at the end of March 2009, priced €14.99, (or £12.99 in the UK).
More details here over the next little while.
Along with my agent at Seven Towers, I’m continuing to work towards getting a publication deal for my book, which covers my involvment with Radio Caroline’s final years at sea in the late 1980s. I can’t comment on these discussions right now, but would hope to be able to announce some positive news in the near future.
Meanwhile tonight (Thursday 13th November 2008) I will be reading from the book at a Seven Towers event in Dublin city centre – details below. The theme is “Winter Chill” so I will be reading a short storm sequence.
Thursday 13th November, 6.30 Chapters of Parnell St, Dublin 1
Themed reading – ‘Winter Chill’
Friday 14th November 1.15 Chapters of Parnell St, Dublin 1
Barbara Smith holds a BA Hons. Literature just completed, 2007; and will continue with Queen’s University Belfast, with a MA in Creative Writing. Her debut collection of poetry, Kairos, is just published by Doghouse Books. She has poetry and essays published widely and lives in Dundalk, with her partner and six children. Other publications include Poetic Stage (1998).Barbara blogs at
So, we have woken to the news of a new president elected in the USA.
This time, I’m listening in the comfort of my bed (on a day off from work today) but 8 years ago, telling the audience that George W Bush would become the new president was the very first thing that I ever did on Phantom.
I joined Phantom in November 2000, presenting the morning show, which up until that time had been automated back to back music (this was back in the pirate days when Phantom was live 4pm-11pm and automated the rest of the time).
In offering my services to Phantom, I had explained that I hadn not only presenting, but also news experience, and that in my opinion, for the morning show to be useful in attracting audience, it needed to have some news content. So I proposed, and we agreed on, a format with main news on the hour, headlines on the half hour, running from 7am to 9am, with all news written and presented by myself, as well as presenting the programme.
I was given a week’s trial, and the show went on to run successfully for a year and a half, until other commitments forced me to give it up and I moved to evening shows.
So on my very first day on Phantom, my very first words on air comprised the 7am news bulletin, the first story of which was to announce that after weeks of wrangling and legal challenges, a final court ruling had confirmed George W as president-elect overnight.
And here we are, 8 years later, another new president, and I’m still with Phantom, and still loving it.
It wasn’t specifically mentioned, but I guess I’ve passed the week’s trial?
The interview on WLR FM to promo the book went well, Geoff Harris was a very relaxing interviewer, and it was an enjoyable experience.
During the conversation Geoff mentioned that a couple of my TV interviews from the Caroline days are up on Youtube, which reminded me that I should link them from here.
The first is the BBC Daytime Live interview from March 1989, the behind the scenes story of which is told in the book. It’s a lovely piece, it nicely blends the history of the station from the 60s and 70s with our (then) current day operations in the late 80s, and features some lovely shots of the ship at sea. Watch it here.
The next one is one of the many news reports from the day in 1991 when the offshore dream ended, as the Ross Revenge ran aground on the Goodwin Sands and we all had to be rescued by helicopter.
In the interview, we are all wearing RAF flying suits, as the clothes we escaped in were sodden. Watch it here.
I’ll collect these together with other clips and pics on a page in due course.
Still in pre-publication negociations, but I’ll be on WLR FM’s drivetime show with Geoff Harris tomorrow (Wednesday 8th October 2008) to chat about my forthcoming book Somewhere Down The Crazy River – Life on The Waves With Radio Caroline.
WLR is the licenced local station for waterford city and county, and can be heard on 95.1fm as well as 97.5, and via the internet at wlrfm.com
WLR, like Phantom, is a pirate station gone legal, and a great listen if you are ever in the south east of Ireland.
The intervierw is scheduled to run sometime between 6 and 7.
More news on the book as and when . .
Great to see some interest being expressed in my recently finished book Somewhere Down The Crazy River - Life On The Waves With Radio Caroline even as my agent Seven Towers work towards finding a suitable publisher.
A couple of radio interviews are lined up over the next few weeks – details here once timings confirm – and the project also gets a mention in the latest edition of Hotpress magazine as a footnote to an item on the launch of Eamon Carr‘s new book The Origami Crow, Journey Into Japan, World Cup Summer 2002. Eamon is another Seven Towers author, broadcaster and former member of Horslips.
The mention of my book in Hotpress is probably thanks to it’s Deputy Editor Stuart Clarke, who has more than a passing interest in things Caroline related – when I arrived on the ship for the first time in February 1987 to take up the position of newsreader, it was to take over the role recently vacated by Stuart himself.
Lots more activity around the book, and extra readings around the country over the next few months, and hopefully, there will be more to tell on the publication front soon.
I have spent the last 10 days in intensive editing mode, working with Sarah at Seven Towers Agency to get the book completely ready for submission to potential publishers. (to recap – this is non-fiction, my account of my experiences working for the offshore pirate Radio Caroline at the end of the 1980s).
I’ve gone over every inch of the 170,000 or so words, several times, until it’s got to the stage where I hardly know if I am living in 2008 or 1987. So much have I been reliving the Caroline days while editing and re-editing every chapter, page and incident, that I very nearly ID’ed Phantom as Phantom 558 last Sunday!!
But it’s done now, the manuscript is as ready as it will ever be for scrutiny by would-be publishers, and I’m in the lap of the gods (or the hands of my agent) for the next few months as she tests the waters to see what interest there is in it.
Back to the real world so.
With a career spanning three of the greatest 80s pirate radio stations – Radio Jackie (London), Radio Nova (Dublin) and Radio Caroline (International Waters) before moving on to high profile jobs in the far-east, Richard is not only a talanted and entertaining broadcaster, but thanks to his thoughtful and kindly acts at the beginning of my career, someone I will always be indebted to.
“IN PRAISE OF” is an occasional series of writings in this blog where I share my admiration and delight of the people, places and things which have helped and influenced my career or life.
I haven’t been in touch with Richard for a number of years, as I have lost track of his progress through the radio industry in Thailand – last I heard, he was PD of a very successful station there. I haven’t actually seen him since the night in 1987 that he sailed off over the horizon, departing from Radio Caroline on a French supply boat, while I stayed on board, still a fairly nervous newbie. And I owed my position on board Radio Caroline, and by default my years of enjoyment with Caroline and my current career with Phantom 105.2, entirely to Richard, and his patience and kindness.
I had heard Richard long before I met him. He was a weekend presenter on the then pirate station Radio Jackie in southwest London, at the peak of its success, shortly before a series of raids by the authorities brought it to an extended halt. I remember hearing Richard several times on Saturday evenings, and enjoying his lyric quizzes on the station. This was at the end of 1984, and the start of 85.
Jackie was closed in February 85, and by that summer, I had taken my first tentative steps into radio, having joined the backup crew, and eventually becoming an occasional DJ for a much smaller, but very colourful pirate station, South East Sound.
Richard had moved over to my native Dublin was was working on the legendary Radio Nova but when he visited the UK he would hook up with his old Jackie colleagues, who included Jeff Rogers, who now worked with me on SES, and I met and socialised with Richard on a few occasions.
In 86 he went out to Radio Caroline, for the first of several stints there.
I had been harbouring ambitions to develop my interest in journalism, and combine it with my radio dabblings, and had set my sights of somehow getting out to Caroline as a newsreader.
When I told Richard this, rather than just giving words of encouragment and promising to pass on a demo-tape as others might have done, he took me under his wing and embarked on a crash-course of training for me, designed to ensure that when I did submit a demo, it would be the best sounding, most professional one possible.
Over a period of a couple of weeks, he had me out in his house in Ashstead, Surrey, for 4 or 5 evenings, guiding me as I worked on compiling and reading news bulletins for a potential demo tape, giving me lots of tips on style and presentation, and refusing to commit me to tape until he was absolutely sure it was as good as it was going to get.
He gave me a BBC book on the techniques of radio production, and instructed me to read and reread it.
Eventually, we were ready, the tape was made, and Richard went off out to sea for his latest stint, during which time he would give the demo to Caroline’s programme controller, Peter Philips.
As the weeks went by with no word, I lost hope – staff were always needed on Caroline, particularly in midwinter, so it seemed obvious to me that the tape had not been good enough.
In fact, as it transpired when Richard eventually reappeared on land in January 1987, my tape had never even reached the ship. When arriving on board Caroline back in November, there had been an accident while transferring supplies from the tender, and all of Richard’s belongings has fallen overboard, leaving him with nothing but the clothes he stood up in. Yet despite this, his first thought on arriving back on land was not to go out and buy himself more clothes, but to ask me to come over to his house so that we could record a replacement demo tape!
This time the tape reached the programme controller, was accepted, and I was mightily pleased to find that the first time I went out to Caroline in February 87, Richard was travelling out with me on the same supply boat.
Having him there helped me fit in to my new surroundings, and he continued to put in effort to help and tutor me as my newscasting in the first few days was more than a little shakey.
I went on to stay with Radio Caroline for many years, becoming Head of News and eventually Programme Controller after the departure of Peter Philips. I would return to Caroline again in the satellite era at the end of the 90s, and since 2000 have broadcast with Phantom, Dublin’s alternative rock station, as a presenter (and during the 2003/4 special licences, a newsreader once more).
I’ve worked with so many people and had so much fun during the past 21 years, and though I’ve always tried to give help to those joining my various employers as newcomers to radio, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to give even half as much time, attention, patience and kindness to them as Richard gave to me.
A true gentleman, hopefully we can meet again one day and I will tell him this to his face.
The BBC book on radio production techniques that he gave me so many years ago has stayed with me as a valued possession, not only a source of knowledge but also a reminder of a wonderful and exciting chapter of my life, and the man, Richard Jackson, who helped make it possible.
“REO Styx Foreigner”. Sounds better said out loud than written down. And just a little rude, which was the point . .
Way, way back in the mid 1980s, before my Caroline years, I was involved in a little rock music pirate with lofty ambitions in South London, and “R-E-O Styx Foreigner” used to be jokingly referred to as our music policy, though to be fair, there was a goodly amount of the more eclectic stuff too, such as Tangerine Dream, a particular favourite of our transmitter engineer.
The REO was REO Speedwagon of course, a great mid 80s staple, not much heard on the radio these days, though neither is Sryx. Foreigner have fared a little better, though not much.
We were called South East Sound, and we broadcast on medium wave (1188khz) from the woods between Coulsdon and Banstead, every Sunday afternoon from midday to 5 or 6pm.
Looking back it’s amazing the amount of effort we had to go to in order to get the station on the air each week, lugging heavy equipment and car batteries into the woods, spending several hours setting up the aerial all for a few hours of rock.
But there was virtually no choice on the radio those days, London had just two licenced commercial radio stations – Capital and LBC – and that was one more than most places had.
Radio was very mainstream, and there was little room for niches, even fairly mainstream ones like rock.
How very different it is now, with countless stations in the UK on AM, FM and DAB, and pretty much every musical taste cared for.
These days I’m in Dublin, happily (and legally) working on Phantom 105.2 which plays alternative rock, with a smattering of the older classics.
“Ham Sandwich Cure Immediate Arcade Fire” if you like.
Our broadcasting regulator, the BCI, have advertised a classic rock licence, and the company behind Phantom is one of the bidders.
Of course, I’d love Phantom to get it, but whoever wins, let’s hope we get a little REO Styx Foreigner vibe going, if only to let me unlock my inner 80s child.