Radio Nordsee International (RNI) becomes Caroline ?

by Geoff Rogers

The week of 18th June reminds me of an interesting anniversary. That was the time, in 1970 when RNI, battling to overcome the British Government's jamming of its signal, renamed itself Radio Caroline for a few weeks in order to try to force a change of government. If this sounds bizarre and if you are too young to remember 1970, it probably will, then read on ...

RNI, which had jingles like this, moved its ship, the Mebo II, from its original position off the Dutch Coast to 3.5 miles off Clacton, Essex, in order to get a better signal into the UK. It had also changed its frequency to 1230 kHz, or 244 metres. In those days, BBC Radio 1 was on 1214 kHz, or 247 metres, and the Post Office (which was in charge of radio matters in those days) alleged that RNI was interfering with Radio 1 ! (On reflection 25 years later, this probably had some truth in it, but only on the coast very near the ship!) The Postmaster General, a certain Mr John Stonehouse, authorized the use of a powerful jamming signal in order to try to put RNI off the air. This was something that had never been done in the past by a 'Western Democracy' (as it was mentioned on the station), even in times of war. It was election time and the opposition (Conservative) party deplored the jamming and promised to introduce legal commercial radio if they won, and so, RNI declared 'war' on Harold Wilson's Labour government and started broadcasting pro-Tory propaganda. It was thought that the British people would take more notice of a radio station that they had come to know and love in the 1960s, so overnight, 25 years ago, RNI changed her name to Radio Caroline. The announcement was made by a very serious sounding Carl Mitchell and Andy Archer, and you can hear that, complete with jamming, by clicking here. The disguise as Radio Caroline continued until after the election, which the Tories duly won, and some of the propaganda broadcast was quite memorable, including a re-working of the BBC 'Dad's Army' theme tune, entitled 'Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Wilson ?' Needless to say, despite the election result, the jamming continued and RNI replaced Caroline a few days later. The Mebo II moved back to the Dutch Coast sometime later, changed frequency to 1383 kHz (217 metres) and the jamming stopped. A few weeks after that, it closed down. For the first time. But that's another story.

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