Why On The Ship?

I’m now halfway through my week on board the Ross Revenge at Tilbury Port in Essex as part of the 11 days of live ship- based broadcasting to celebrate Radio Caroline’s 47th birthday.

I’m having a great time on board, along with other ex-offshore folk such as Dave Foster, Bob Lawrence, Cliff Osbourne, Jeremy Chartham and others. And we are joined by a new generation of people who have come to Caroline in the post-offshore years, including an amazingly talented presenter and engineer called Ollie, who is about the age that I was when I joined Caroline, and keen as mustard.

Caroline has been on Sky for 12 years, and these days gets a huge proportion of listeners online through streams and apps, and we have emails coming in from all around the world.

So why keep the ship? What purpose does it fill when we are no longer required to be in international waters in order to reach out and touch our audience? Those are questions that would be asked in the business world, where the upkeep of the Ross Revenge would be an “opex” problem.

Well, ignore for a moment the fact that this ship, and the others that preceeded it are to an extent hardwired into the DNA of Radio Caroline. Ignore the fact that every room, every corridor and every nut and bolt on the ship is infused with our history, our memories, and our dreams. Ignore these things, as although they are substantial and important, that could be said to be based on emotion and sentiment.

Even without tear things, returning to the ship to broadcast brings a unique benefit to the station which translates into better programmes and a better “buzz” for the audience.

Living on board during a broadcast, presenters who never normally see each other are forced into close proximity and develop a bond that dies wonders for the overall sound of the station. We wake together, breakfast together, work alongside each other all day, listen to each other’s shows and spend evenings laughing and debating in the record library, where old tall tales and new music releases are swapped in equal measure.

We bounce off each other musically, emotionally, technically. We share our passion and as we share it, that passion grows. A passion for music, for radio, for communication.

The ship is the soul of Radio Caroline, and the ship-based broadcasts let us get in touch with that soul, and drink deep at the well of friendship and creativity.

There are some thing that never appear in the financial entries of a corporate spreadsheet, but which are beyond value nonetheless.

As I write this, Cliff Osbourne is playing “Goin’ Back”

“A little bit of freedom is all we lack
So catch me if you can, I’m going back”

Steve Conway
M.V. Ross Revenge
Tilbury Port
April 2011

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2 Comments on “Why On The Ship?”

  1. Tim Shepherd says:

    Excellent stuff, Steve. This is exactly why Caroline (and the other offshore stations) were so magical for the folk that lived onboard – and more importantly their listeners.

    Enjoy your time on the ship!

  2. Mickey Gee says:

    The Ross is the heart of Caroline. It is unique as it is the only radio ship to survive the offshore radio revolution. As you say Steve there is a comraderie amongst all those that have every worked on or still work on the ship. A family, that family is Caroline. The major stations just don’t have that feel about them, they are too clinical and set in the “norm” that they loose their sincerity. Long may the Ross live and one day maybe she might be used as a working museum or even a proper radio station again. Here’s wishing you all the best. LA. Mickey (Aug-Sept 87 God Tape Op).


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