Pirate radio makes a comeback as Radio Caroline celebrates its 50th anniversary

We all loved The Boat That Rocked, the hilarious and brilliantly accurate retelling of the story of British pirate radio in the 1960s.

Pirate radio began as a venture to publicise pop music being censored by the British government, who deemed it to inappropriate. And this year, the boats upon which the film are based on are celebrating 50 years of musical history.

Its original presenters and fans have banded together to remember the golden years of pirate radio. Today the stations still run, supported by a dedicated team of old listeners and radio veterans, determined to keep the story alive and celebrate the importance of that era in music.

pirate radio

Chatting to the ABC, veterans of British pirate radio come together to remember the golden days of broadcasting from Radio Caroline on the high seas.

Chatting to the ABC, current manager of Radio Caroline Peter Moore remembers the censorship. “The government were determined to suppress something that was enjoyable and completely harmless, and for me, and I was a young man at the time, that seemed so completely unfair and undemocratic.”

“After a couple of weeks we had more people listening than all of the BBC networks combined and that got up their nose somewhat because they were convinced there was no demand for this kind of music.”

Some would be surprised to know that while it may seem like the DJs aboard the ships were more than at home on the rocky seas, for some it was their first time in the open ocean.

DJ Ray Clark remembers of the experience, “I used to read the news with a brown paper bag near me”. And while it may have seemed glamorous in retrospect, many of the DJs involved in pirate radio took significant risks in playing their part, these included huge fines and possible jail time.

Although we in Australia are lucky enough to have skipped the extreme radio censorship, the sixties was undoubtedly a hugely influential period of music and once which broke down social barriers, an era not to be forgotten.

The station still runs aboard sister ship The Ross Revenge and is home to tens of thousands of original records from the golden days, which are still played.

A group of enthusiasts keep it operating on the Ross Revenge as well as onshore, and it has just been awarded its first AM radio licence.

[via ABC]