The No 1 pop pirate is alone once again 

30 April 2024


Daily Mirror masthead

From the Daily Mirror for 14 August 1967

THE party is over for the pop pirates … or nearly over.

At midnight tonight, after 40 months of virtually non-stop programmes, the stations will be outlawed by the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act.

Once there were ten “Jolly Roger” stations around Britain’s coast.

But yesterday only four — Radio Scotland, Radio London, Caroline North and Caroline South — were operating.


And by tomorrow both Radio London and Radio Scotland will have shut down.

Caroline, the station that started pirate radio, will be the only survivor.

Its headquarters have been transferred to Amsterdam — out of the reach of the Postmaster-General, Mr. Edward Short.

Ronan O'Rahilly

Ronan O’Rahilly, pictured in 1964

Caroline’s boss, Ronan O’Rahilly, told me last night: “I am more committed to Caroline than ever.

“It’s not just pop music any more. Every time I look at this Marine Broadcasting Offences Bill I am amazed that it has been let through.”

And he added: “We want to bring this matter before the United Nations and before the Commission on Human Rights at Strasbourg.”

The new Act prohibits British firms from advertising on pirate radio — but Mr. O’Rahilly claims he has enough international orders to keep Caroline on the air for a year.

About six English disc Jockeys are leaving Caroline.

Mr. O’Rahilly said: “They’re a bit worried that they might go to jail. I don’t blame them.

“But we’ve got others joining — from Australia, South Africa, Canada and America.

“Two English disc jockeys are also staying. They say they are prepared to go ashore and see if they are prosecuted.”


Ted Short

The Postmaster-General, Mr. Edward Short… His radio is now almost free of the pop pirates.

The Postmaster-General attacked the pirate stations because, he said, he wanted to end anarchy in the air.

There have been complaints that the pop programmes interfered with ship-to-shore messages and broadcasting on the Continent in areas as far apart as Sweden and Yugoslavia.

Three stations — Radio 390, Radio Essex and Radio City — closed after prosecutions under the Wireless Telegraphy Act.

Radio 355, which inherited the ship that once broadcast Britain Radio and Radio England, gave up when the Marine Broadcasting Offences Bill was passed.

There has sometimes been an element of real old-time piracy about the stations — with threats of boarding parties and pleas for police protection.

Rough seas occasionally cut off the stations’ supplies, and some of the disc jockeys gave up trying to sound cheery as mountainous waves rocked the ships.




Now, with most of the pop pirates off the air, their legacy is handed to the BBC.

When Radio One, the new BBC pop channel, starts next month it will imitate many of their brash techniques — and some of the disc jockeys will be ex-pirates.


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