Steve now adfree, and more noisy.

Just a very quick note – I’ve paid for a couple of upgrades from WordPress to enhance the enjoyment of your visits.

As of today, we are ad-free, so there will no longer be adverts popping up for services that are beyond my control.

I’ve also upgraded the storage space which adds the ability for me to directly host audio on the site, so I can now include clips of off-air recordings etc if they add to the article.

By way of trial, below is a clip from half a lifetime ago, back in my newsreading days with Radio Caroline, at sea on board the ship Ross Revenge. The microphones and audio processing used on Caroline were very good at pulling in background noise whenever there was silence, hence the fact that on music programmes we tried to always speak over song fades and intros rather than dead air. This was not possible in the news of course – just listen to the amount of ambient ship noise (mostly generator rumble) being pulled in behind me on this bulletin – not to mention how dilligently the system amplified my between sentence wheezes!

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Steve Conway in the Caroline newsroom in late 1987, around the same time as the recording. This was originally the ships chart-room, off the bridge, and unlike the main studios, had no soundproofing.

We could have used a news bed (music behind the news) but a huge poportion of the audience find this really intrusive, so we lived with the background noise instead! The location of the newsroom just off the bridge,  the closest to the generator room of any of the on board studios, did not help either.  The best studio on board for silence was studio 2 (the “overdrive” studio) situated right at the back of the ship. On the clip, the news is followed by  Peter Philips reading the latest Lotto 6/49 results (the Canadian Lottery was our biggest advertiser at the time) – this would have been pre-recorded in studio 3, and you’ll note that although generator noise is much reduced, it can still be heard in the background between sentences.

Anyway, I shall add in the odd audio piece here from time to time, and hope that you continue to visit and enjoy this blog.

Steve


A few more Tilbury pictures

I’m safely back home in Dublin now after an amazing week’s live broadcasting from the Radio Caroline ship Ross Revenge at Tilbury Port.

Below are a few photos that I didn’t get around to uploading in my earlier live blogs from the ship.

Bigger versions are available by clicking on the picture in each case.

Steve Conway on-air in Studio 2 on the Ross Revenge

Studio 1, the original or "heritage" studio, where I used to broadcast at sea in the 1980s

One for the aerial enthusiasts - our 531 AM setup.

What a tangled web we weave - all this steelwork (x 2 - one either end of ship) was needed at sea just to hold up the thin strands of aerial wire

Dave Foster cooking one of his famous Caroline Breakfasts

The lock gates that protect the water level in Tilbury Port. The M25 Dartford Crossing bridge can be seen in the distance

We're a clean-living bunch on the Ross Revenge . .

The best beds in the world - comfortable, quiet, and offering utter darkness below the waterline.

View from the bridge in the dead of night

My last view of the Ross as I left after my show in the early hours of Friday morning, April 29th 2011.


The Crew – Tilbury 2011

(standing, left to right) Ollie Fisher, Nick Jackson, Graham Coul, Bob Lawrence, Steve Conway, Cliff Osbourne, Dave Foster. (Kneeling L-R) Andrew Austin, Mike Stevens

The crew of the Ross Revenge on Thursday evening, April 28th. Click on the picture for a larger version.


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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Images fromTilbury, Days 1 & 2

Having a great time here on board the Radio Caroline ship Ross Revenge at Tilbury.

Was great to be on air last night, and had emails coming in from as far away as Alaska and San Paulo. So many people enjoying the music.

Below are some images from my first 36 hours on board. I’m uploading these from my phone via the wordpress app, which won’t let me individually captioning pictures, but they include dockside reflections, the ship at night, Dave Foster on air, and a huge ferry that has joined us this morning.

Steve

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Caroline is on

It’s a beautiful morning here in Tilbury Port, and the Ross Revenge has come alive with the sound of scurrying feet, music, and banter.

The ship truly wakes up from slumber when it is beaming live programmes.

And the station has an extra sparkle and intimacy when we are all cooped up together on the ship, which acts, I think, like a magnifier on the emotions and passions of those on board, especially the passion for music . . and good radio!

Catch Radio Caroline on Sky ch 0199 on UPC cable in Ireland and on 531khz AM in Kent and Essex.

Steve

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On The Road To Tilbury

I’m sailing from Dublin Port this morning and then driving south through Wales and England with the ultimate destination of Tilbury Port, which will be my home for the next week on board my old home, the Radio Caroline ship Ross Revenge.

Live programming from the ship every day from tomorrow (Good Friday) on 531khz AM and relayed on the usual Sky Digital 0199 and UPC cable channels.

The ferry is teeming with holidaymakers heading to the UK. Would bet that not many of them spending Easter in a container port though!

My next show: tomorrow (Good Friday) 9pm to midnight.

Photo: Dublin Port, from my front row seat on the ferry Stena Adventurer..

Steve

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