REO Styx Foreigner

“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.


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