Radio pirates take to the airwaves

BBC Radio Essex has announced it intends to raise standards – or rather one standard in particular.The skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger will fly above a Trinity House lightship to mark the Corporation's celebrations of pirate radio.

BBC Radio Essex has announced it intends to raise standards – or rather one standard in particular.

The skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger will fly above a Trinity House lightship to mark the Corporation's celebrations of pirate radio.

Forty years ago this Good Friday, Radio Caroline emitted its first test transmissions from a vessel off Clacton.

The next day offshore pirate radio started to the strains of the Rolling Stones' Not Fade Away.


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For the next three years Radio Caroline built up an audience of up to eight million listeners, who tuned in to hear DJs provide the sound of the sixties.

The offshore stations became known as the pirates, not because they were illegal, but because the press considered the word apt to describe the gallivanting, swashbuckling behaviour of pre-hippy rebels.

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But now, a new generation of BBC Essex DJs is set to sail again. For one week only the corporation is teaming up with a whole host of other partners to broadcast off Harwich and Clacton under the auspices of Pirate BBC Essex.

The station will be heard on 729, 765 and 1530 MW from April 10-17 when presenters such as ex-Radio Caroline DJ Keith Skues – "the jewel in the crown of East Anglian radio", according to former pirate John Peel – take to the waves.

Afternoon slots will be covered by Steve Scruton, who said he used to be tuned into his "tranny" from his mother's kitchen when it all started in 1964.

BBC Essex Programmes editor Tim Gillett said the new station would playing music from the pirate era of 1964-7.

He said: "Those years of emerging British pop music are cherished in the memory of pirate radio listeners.

"We'll also be featuring many of the songs championed by pirate radio like that David McWilliams classic The Days of Pearly Spencer."

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