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Offshore stations (pirate radio) on the radio dial

Ernst Erb Jürgen Stichling Bernhard Nagel 
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Forum » Radios and other type of sets (Physics) etc. » Other sets and related gear » Offshore stations (pirate radio) on the radio dial
Martin van der Ven
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14.Feb.21 19:04

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The phenomenon of "offshore (pirate) radio" necessarily included the corresponding receivers. Even as a boy, I examined every radio set to see if an offshore station was listed on the dial. Unfortunately, I was never successful in my search - and that in the period from 1970 to 1990... Again and again I heard and read that such devices were absolute exceptions.

In the meantime, many radio enthusiasts have found them, especially with the help of the Internet. In fact, I myself was able to acquire numerous devices in the past 2 decades, on which above all Radio Veronica, Radio Caroline, Radio Noordzee (broadcasting from REM-eiland in 1964) or also Radio Mercur are noted.

I have compiled a list of 120 different radios - and this list is by no means complete. These are both tube and transistor sets from 1958 to about 1972. Even before the end of the 1950s, Danish sets made by Bang & Olufsen and Eltra were found, which listed the broadcasting ship Courier on the dial, a forerunner of the later offshore stations. From the Courier, the Voice of America from Rhodes broadcast programmes for Eastern European listeners. In 1958, Radio Mercur began broadcasting in Danish and later Swedish. The first stereo transmissions were even made on 2 different frequencies in the FM range. An astonishing number of receivers of the above-mentioned brands Bang & Olufsen and Eltra, but also Arena, Linnet & Laursen and Neutrofon bear the designation "Mercur" (partly differentiated as Mercur I and II) on their dials. For a period of only two months in 1961, the Danish offshore station DCR (Danmarks Commercielle Radio) joined them, which is surprisingly listed on the B&O Beolit 609 unit and on the Piccolo 622 Box from Linnet & Laursen.

Radio Veronica was probably the best known Dutch offshore radio station, active from 1960 to 1974. Over about 1 decade until the frequency change from 192 to 538 metres in late summer 1972, numerous German radios with the designation "Veronica" came onto the market. Surprisingly, most of them were manufactured in the former GDR and sold as export units mostly in the Federal Republic of Germany. This applies to all receivers of the sales brands Bruns, Quelle and VEB Stern-Radio Sonneberg. The Körting factories, located in Grassau on Lake Chiemsee after the Second World War, acted for decades as the main supplier of the Neckermann mail-order company. Under the names Körting, Neckermann-Körting, Körting-Transmare and Transmare, many appliances were found with "Veronica" on the dial, but exceptionally also with "Caroline".

Surprisingly few devices from the Netherlands, on the other hand, have the name "Veronica" on their scales. Individual exceptions are found in receivers of the Philips and Erres brands. A combined radio/phono set made by Amroh B.V. in 1963 also lists Radio Veronica.

The beginning of the offshore radio era off the coast of Great Britain was also the starting point for mostly battery-powered portable "suitcase radios" with the names of individual offshore stations on the dial. The popular and internationally known Radio Caroline was particularly affected by this. The brands Kolster & Brandes, Sobell, Pye, GEC, Murphy, Fidelity, Pamphonic, RGD and Bush stand out here. Individual "ring doves" of the sets produced in the period 1964 to 1966 even feature the names of the offshore stations Radio London, Radio 390 and Radio City.

Finally, 2 sets produced in the former Yugoslavia for the British market must be mentioned, bearing the broadcasting ship MV Caroline of Radio Caroline North on the dial. Small devices from Hong Kong were sold in large numbers as Caroline and Veronica transistor radios and are today particularly sought after by collectors.

By the mid-1970s at the latest, the phenomenon „offshore stations on the radio scales“ had come to an end, even though Radio Caroline, Radio Mi Amigo and Radio Monique continued to operate for years. Even RNI (Radio Nordsee International) is not to be found on any radio set I know of. Apparently, the manufacturers increasingly shied away from the supposed illegality of the alleged „pirate“ stations...

The above-mentioned list of the individual devices can be found HERE.

Additions or corrections are explicitly welcome.

Numerous other photos can be admired on Flickr.

Radio Caroline on the dial of a Murphy device