Well known from Radio Northsea International, Dave Rogers also worked on Radio Atlantis.
Is it Dave Rogers, or is it Keith?
My real name is Keith Rogers and for some obscure reason I changed it to Dave when I went to RNI. When I came back to England in 1975, I thought I had better use my real name, which is Keith.
How did you get involved in offshore radio?
I did a couple of things for the Radio One Club as a guest interviewer and I thought that this was rather good fun working on the radio rather than just being a disc-jockey in a club. So I wrote RNI who had advertised in Disc and Music Echo and I think the letter went to Roger Day, who was the first programme controller. Anyway, nothing happened because I suppose he was just employing the guys he already knew. A few months later, after Roger had left I rang RNI in Switzerland and said that I would come out and do an audition for them. I must have been mad! I flew out to Zurich and went to this little discotheque there and recorded a demo tape, which in the end turned out to be a total waste of time because Larry Tremaine had taken over. This meant making another demo tape at Roger Squires Studios in London and that went to Larry. But I still didn't hear anything. After hearing the tape, Spangles Muldoon and Mark Wesley must have thought I had potential and rang me up and asked whether I could come out and do some programmes for them. I was supposed to meet somebody at Southend airport but there was nobody there so I flew over to Schipol and went to the Grand Hotel in Scheveningen. I went out to the ship with Andy Archer and that's how it started. About a week after I'd joined, they closed in September 1970, after doing a deal with Veronica. I was out there with Alan West, Andy Archer and Mark Wesley and Carl Mitchell had gone off on shore leave. They came out on the tender to meet us and we went back to shore and flew back to Southend. Mark and I were both cautioned and they took our names. I went back to the West Country and these two guys from Scotland Yard came down. I had a solicitor by this time, and the first question they asked was: "Did you work on RNI?" My solicitor said: "You don't have to answer that question", which I didn't. They went back to London and that was the end of it and it was a wasted journey! I think they knew Mark because he had been working for RNI for some time and he used to fly back to Southend because he lived there.
What was your first impression when you saw the ship?
It was a very calm day and it was lump-in-the-throat time because it was such a beautiful ship and you could see it on the horizon getting bigger and bigger. A very dramatic-looking ship because of all the colours and it was a good feeling. Unfortunately it didn't last long because I got seasick and I felt pretty queasy for most of that week even though it was pretty calm.
What did you remember most about RNI?
I remember how nervous I was when I first went on-air because they had this big studio, so big that people could just stand in it and spend their spare time there. The record library was also housed in there. In the small studio, where we broadcast from you could see into the big studio and they had the output on in there and I used to be so inhibited about going on-air because I thought they were all listening and making fun of me. There was one particular tender trip that was horrendous and we went out to Bussum on shore leave and we were told that we weren't going to the ship the next day because it was too rough. So we stayed out until the early hours drinking an awful lot, then early the next morning someone was knocking on the door and our taxi driver arrived and told us that we were going out after all and it was the worst tender I have ever made. The Eurotrip which was a very small tug, one that you would normally see on a river, not out on the North Sea. One minute you would see all water and the next just sky and it was a Force Eight gale!
How did you come to join Atlantis?
I was working in a bathcube factory in South Molton, which is my home town in Devon and I had a call at work from Andy Gemmell-Smith (Anderson) and asked whether I fancied coming out to Atlantis. I thought: "What a good idea!" A couple of weeks later I was out on the Jeanine, again feeling a bit queasy.
What did you think when you saw the Jeanine compared to the Mebo II?
Well I have to say I wasn't terribly impressed! I'd done the posh bit with RNI, with not a good atmosphere on board, so it was really important for me to have a good working relationship with the rest of the guys. We had that because Steve England wasn't an egomaniac and down-to-earth so he was very easy to work with. Therefore there was a sort of family-feel because there were some ladies out there which was rather unusual! On RNI, we had this quite nice-looking girl who came out and stayed quite a few days and it does cause problems, especially if she is unescorted but it was different on Atlantis because the two girls were obviously spoken for. We had some fun times out there. One of the most unusual things we did was using a long wire on the end of one of the microphones and doing a tour of the ship. I started to climb the mast but because of the RF they lost the signal from the mike and had to stop. We used to take it in turns to do all the crappy jobs which we used to do on RNI when we used to have the duty housewife roster which meant that every day one of us had to empty the bins and dust around a bit.
What have you been doing since then?
I've been in radio in the UK since that time. I did a bit of freelance work on Radio City then I joined Radio Orwell in 1975 and I was there for six years. In 1981 I joined Essex Radio and was there for 14 years getting into a terrible rut but if you've got security and a home it's quite difficult to leave and do something else. Having said that, during my time at Essex Radio, I did launch Breeze, which was quite a successful station, and from a professional point of view, I suppose, was the high point of my career. They then had a change of management at Essex Radio, I went and since then I've worked for Fame, which was Radio Mercury AM and has now changed again. It's very depressing working on medium wave because they can't seem to get any audience as it is so tough, which it wasn't when I first started. Everybody seems to be moving over to FM. A Gold station can work but not on AM with a significant audience because it's such hard work to get people to listen to AM nowadays. I think the future for AM is high-profile personality speech but music radio is bad news on AM in the nineties. The station that I was on is now automating 24 hours a day and if it works for them, it could be that the others think it's a good idea and so the same thing and if there is a good reach of audience, then they'll all do it.
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