It seems to us, a good time to sum-up the main
actions performed by France Radio Club /
Offshore Echo’s in support of Radio Caroline
during the 1980’s and 1990’s, as some aspects of
our work have been missed voluntarily or
involuntarily in recent publications.
France Radio Club grew out of the free radio
movements of the late 1960’s, it was originally
the French branch of the Free Radio Campaign. In
1974 it became France Radio Club, and started
publishing the magazine Offshore Echo’s.
France Radio Club /
Offshore Echo’s has always supported the
offshore stations. It was not financial support
- we had neither the possibility nor the means,
but our aim was to make these stations known to
a more wider audience, the largest possible, and
to share the pleasure of listening to radio
quite unlike any others.
To this end, as early
as the mid-70’s, we participated in various
radio and TV programmes, and even worked with
the national and regional press. We supported
Radio Caroline during the Court Case against the
people accused of tendering the Mi Amigo in
Boulogne in 1977.
But the most significant action in France, was
our participation in the popular FR3 TV show,
Thalassa, for a special Radio Caroline report.
For the first time, with the help of FRC / OEM,
a TV team would go on board the Ross Revenge for
three days, do live interviews with the crew,
DJ’s and founder Ronan O’Rahilly and report on
the life on board a radio ship. The programme,
filmed in June 1989, was aired in September
1989, just after the boarding of the Ross
Revenge, and largely exposed in Thalassa.
Thalassa presenter Isabelle Moeglin (seated
left) watches the erecting of the new rear mast,
during TV filming.
The director of NRJ FM
network in France, on viewing the programme, and
knowing the station had been raided, decided to
help and gave a cheque for 10,000 francs to
Offshore Echo’s. He says he set-up his station
because of Caroline and offered the money to
help them in those difficult times.
Offshore Echo’s was
then involved in the material support for the
return of Radio Caroline. Revox tape recorders,
records and equipment was given by OEM members,
and taken aboard the Ross Revenge.
With a number of
others, the Ross Revenge Support Group was
formed. Money was collected and passed to the
station. Thanks to the excellent work of
engineer Peter Chicago and donations of
listeners throughout Europe, Radio Caroline was
back on the air, just a month after the raid and
the confiscation of its equipment. In the weeks
that followed, FRC / OEM, with the generosity of
its members across Europe gathered more 34,000
francs (at that time!), in addition to various
France Radio Club / Offshore Echo’s financed the
printing and publishing of Caroline manager
Peter Moore’s book “Butterfly upon the Wheel” -
which was written with the sole intention of
raising funds for Radio Caroline. The book and a
number of tapes and other items, were sold, with
all profits going to help the ailing offshore
But without the
financial support of its Dutch partner, Radio
Caroline was facing serious financial
difficulties and fuel supplies were increasingly
proving difficult. Religious programs were not
sufficient and the people responsible for the
station were not able to cope, as the Dutch
operators had. Add to this the pressure of the
UK government, trying to get the station to
leave the frequency of 558 kHz and voting in a
new law, allowing the boarding of the ship, even
if in international waters.
became more sporadic, until a final programme in
November 1990 - due to lack of fuel.
However France Radio
Club / Offshore Echo’s continued its support -
financial and moral. The station was no longer
on the air, but the ship was still at sea. To
thwart the plans of the British government,
Ronan O'Rahilly was trying to obtain a license
from a third world country. Offshore Echo’s
decided to help by calling the European
Parliament. Its work was recognized and
supported by many European MPs. But burocracy
was so heavy, it soon appeared that our cause
was not a priority there, and rather disturbing!
During all these
actions, it was necessary to continually keep a
strong awareness of Radio Caroline in the Media.
On October 19, 1991 Ronan O'Rahilly went to
Calais for a press conference with French TV
that was organised by Offshore Echo’s. He was
then going to Paris to meet with a
representative of a country that could help
Caroline. He fully supported FRC / OEM action
and gave us carte blanche to represent him in
Ronan O'Rahilly and French TV
At the same time, a
large batch of records was offered by a French
radio station. Equipment, given by the French
fans (drills, angle grinders and pumps) was also
delivered to the Engineer Mike Dundee who came
especially to Calais to collect it all. He would
also go back with a large number of bottles of
wine for the crew! But on November 20, 1991 the
Ross Revenge lost her anchor and was towed to
Dover. On the 30th November 1991, at OEM’s
initiative, a new press conference was held in
Calais in the presence, among others, of Peter
Moore – the then Radio Caroline representative.
The aim was to sum up the new situation. The
objective was how to pay for the rescue costs in
the first place, and also pay harbour fees until
the ship could leave Dover, and finally to
repair the ship to have her back to sea as soon
On December 1, 1991
through FRC / OEM efforts, Calais station, Radio
6, provided free airtime to Caroline. DJ’s Neil
Gates, Chris Frisco and Jerry Wright led a whole
evening explaining the situation to the
audience. The station was heard on the East
coast of England as well. These programmes would
continue periodically afterwards for several
We continued this
action, and Caroline DJ’s could afterwards be
heard on various stations such as WIT FM,
throughout France. Meanwhile a team of Caroline
DJs station was regularly invited to FRC / OEM’s
Euroradio convention in Calais giving the
station large media coverage.
To help maintain global media awareness, we were
able to get special Radio Caroline programmes
aired on international shortwave station Radio
NewYork International. Station owner Allan
Weiner had worked for Caroline, and had briefly
operated his own offshore station, a few years
earlier. As well as Radio NewYork, the Caroline
programmes were also aired over Radio for Peace
International. operating from South America.
Back in Europe, FRC/ OEM managed to persuade the
Chamber of Commerce of Calais to support Radio
Caroline, and accept the Ross Revenge in Calais
harbour for free.
Everyone on Radio
Caroline’s side seemed to agree by then, but
unfortunately this proposal remained unanswered.
The ship seemed stuck in port because the
steering equipment didn’t work.
For us, it seemed that
this was the first work to be done, which would
lift the detention order that forced the ship to
stay in port.
For all the fans the
ultimate goal, was to bring the ship back to sea
as soon as possible, and in the best possible
condition. For doing this we had to continue and
find more money.
In April 1992 the
first RSL was broadcast with the Ross Revenge
still in Dover. FRC / OEM had helped the whole
process by finding French advertisers to pay the
RSL fees. Gradually, with the various help, the
costs of rescue were reimbursed. It now became
imperative to find a new location for the ship
because Dover was too much expensive!
1994 would be an
important milestone in the evolution of FRC /
OEM support for the station.
That year, a global event was to be held in
Rouen - Normandy.
The Armada Festival is a major shipping event,
with ships visiting from all over the world, and
attracting millions of visitors to the quaysides
of Rouen, along the banks of the River Seine.
The organisers had hoped that the Ross Revenge
could participate, and were ready to pay all the
costs of the operation.
The ship would have
sailed between Le Havre - millions of people
were expected on the banks of the river - and
Rouen, where the Ross Revenge would have housed
a radio station covering the event!
To lift the detention
order, work on the steering equipment would have
been paid by the organisers of the Armada; the
ship would then have been towed to Rouen. Then
she could have regained her place in the open
sea after a possible stay in Calais for an
But for some reason,
the offer was refused by the managers of the
Now for FRC / OEM, who
had doubts in the recent months, it was
confirmed and it seemed clear that if Radio
Caroline would one day return to the open sea,
it would never be from the Ross Revenge again,
but from another ship. Our support was therefore
immediately withdrawn. Our goal was not to
finance a museum, but a real free radio station
France Radio Club /
Offshore Echo’s, did still try one last time. In
1997, Ronan O'Rahilly came to Calais, with
Johnnie Walker for Euroradio 1997. Ronan
explained that money was still needed to pay the
lawyers in charge of the case against the
perpetrators of the raid of 1989. We later
contributed £2000 towards these legal costs.
The Dutch eventually
gave back the equipment seized in 1989 raid, but
with the Ross Revenge being locked forever in
the UK, it would be now impossible for Ronan
O'Rahilly to find a license from a third world
country, and that was it!
In this article, we simply wanted to present the
facts, so as not to forget some of the things
that France Radio Club / Offshore Echo’s has
done for Radio Caroline during those difficult
French tender in 1977
"carefully removed" what they seized illegally
on board the Ross Revenge
The British authorities forced Spectrum
radio to broadcast on Radio Caroline’s frequency
to create a deliberate confrontation.
November 1990. The
Ross Revenge is silent, buts remains at sea.
Europe approves the boarding
of Radio Caroline, but at the same time finances
Radio Brod. a political offshore radio station.
message to the press is clear: Caroline continues
Radio Caroline DJs at Euroradio 1990
Radio Caroline DJs at Euroradio
Radio Caroline DJs at Euroradio 1992.
back in Calais for Euroradio 97 with Johnnie Walker