Memories

Although this site started out as a list of favourite album tracks that made listening to Caroline quite special, it's difficult not to reminisce about the station itself. If you read on you'll find part of an article entitled "Review of '77" from Edition 5 of the Caroline Newsletter published in 1978. (I hope the author doesn't mind my reprinting it here.) That's followed by a few of my own memories as a listener to Caroline, which includes a look at some of the publications that were plugged on the station.

Review of '77

Well it's now 1978 - and 1977 passed off as probably one of the most notable years in Caroline's long and remarkable history. Here are some of the events which I will remember most.

The year opened with the run-down of the All-time Top 100 Albums. This was the climax of a great show of strength by Caroline and it's ever loyal listeners; and ended with predictably Pink Floyd occupying the number one position. As we end January I am caught listening to Radio Orwell - for it is Johnny Jason's last programme. This greatest of rock disc jockeys gets a great send-off from his mates which includes a playing of Caroline (Fortunes) by Andy Archer (the plot thickens). Then three days later I hear his unique voice on the radio again. Only this time it's Caroline. What a way to celebrate my birthday. However after a lengthy term on board he has unfortunately not been heard of since.

In March Caroline changed frequency (much to R. Orwell's relief) and us "poor" listeners are made to do without for over a week! March 28 - Caroline's birthday passes off without a word and we enter Caroline's 14th year. The summer of '77 opens with the welcome return of Tony Allan, who provides us with a "319 Summer". I will always remember lying on a beach one hot July afternoon listening to Tony, Mark Lawrence and David Brown providing me with an afternoon of summery music from the swinging 60's. At this time Mark and James Ross liven 319 with the sound of punk, as Caroline shows it moves with the times.

As August 14th approaches I wonder at those lucky people at Flashback '67. However on 319 at 6.00 p.m. on this date, Roger Mathews, Stuart Russell and Radio Mi Amigo provide us with the highlight of the year.

These two likeable "buffoons" of radio provide a three hour programme of such quality and variety that I stay awake at night thinking about it. This show also of course included the amazing link-up with Robbie Dale at Flashback '67 - how the technical boffins managed is anyone's guess.

Unfortunately Stuart and Roger are now left on board for a very long time and one hopes day after day for the return of Mark and James, etc.

As winter approaches no one surely could have foreseen the trouble ahead.

On the night of the 11th November, the East Coast was hit by terrible gales and one's mind switches to Roger, Stuart, and the rest of the crew stuck on a rusty hulk in the middle of a raging North Sea. Caroline went off the air, ostensibly for maintenance. But we learn later for financial reasons. However at the time, I put it down to the weather. For almost ten days I tuned to an empty 319. The local paper reports a broken aerial mast and speculates about the end of Caroline. At school everyone is downcast and D.A. sets in.

But then on Tuesday 22nd November - they are back - I jump for joy and ring my friends. However bad news follows the good news and I learn that Caroline is to close down its daytime service. Oh well, even 11 hours is better than none at all.

As Christmas arrives we see the advent of the Caroline Roadshow (what a great show they put on), and with the arrival of the Caroline Countdown in early '78 - things don't look so bad after all. From a D.J. point of view, 1977 saw the arrival of Martin Fisher, David Brown, Dickie Allan and Brian Martin. And the probable departure of Tom Anderson, Stevie Gordon, Ed Foster (Oh, I hope not), and Samantha.

Well that's my impression of a year with Caroline - and let's hope for many more.

A.J.

The above article prompted me to add a few memories of my own

I remember Ed Foster as the DJ who would quite happily play a Frank Zappa track on his morning programme. The track "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" from Zappa's 1974 album "Apostrophe" could well have featured here. One show of Ed Foster's that still comes to mind was a Beatles and Beach Boys special; it may actually have been his last programme on Caroline. In any case it prompted my next door neighbour to ask over the garden fence what station I was tuned to - it was on one of those rare English summer days when you could actually sit outside. It may also have been Ed Foster or possibly Steve Kent who played the Bonzos a fair bit. Viv Stanshall's wonderfully eccentric "Big Shot" from the "Gorilla" album (1967) was certainly a Caroline favourite.

Johnny Jason came across as a truly professional presenter - he even had his own signature tune much in the style of the 60s DJ's. His programmes were a real pleasure to listen to and included music that ranged from symphonic rock tracks by names like Genesis, Rick Wakeman and Renaissance (though it seems he preferred The Eagles and Steely Dan to Genesis) to classic tracks by the Stones, Santana, The Grateful Dead etc.

James Ross and Mark Lawrence seemed to complement each other. James I think played more soft rock than Mark. In fact I believe it was Mark who started playing punk and new wave rather than James. Anyway it's thanks to James playing the "Forever Changes" album that the tracks by Love are included here.

Samantha's voice was always a pleasure to hear on the airwaves... I could probably go on but it all starts to get a bit lost in the mists of time.

 

Illustration Mi Amigo This illustration still captures my imagination today. It was from an advertisement for ex-Caroline DJ Simon Barrett's book, SOS - Ten Days in the Life of A Lady. The book, which cost a prohibitive £4.50, recounts the story of the Mi Amigo adrift in the Thames Estuary after losing her anchor in a gale. A drama that took place in November 1975. 

The advert itself appeared in the "Rock Record Collectors Guide" (see below).

 

Front Cover of Guide The Rock Record Collectors Guide, published by MRP in 1977, was promoted on Caroline. Compiled by former RNI and Caroline DJ Ian Anderson, this book outlines many of the classic albums that were played on the station around that time. It sold at a slightly more affordable £2.99.
The following dedication appears at the front of the book:

"This book is dedicated to the hope that someday soon an all day F.M. contemporary music radio network will be established throughout the United Kingdom."

 

Front Cover of Newsletter 5 The front cover of Issue 5 of the Caroline Newsletter published in 1978. The Newsletter was in fact more like a booklet and contained articles by Caroline DJs and staff, music reviews and listeners contributions. The first edition was published in Spain in early 1977 and was actually advertised as the Caroline Magazine. It sold for a modest 35 pence. Subsequent editions were printed in the UK. Newsletter however was frowned upon by the authorities and I believe the very last edition appeared in late 1979. More on the Caroline Newsletter.

 

Top 100 Album Chart 1977 The Radio Caroline Listeners' All-time Top 100 Album Chart 1977

In late 76 listeners were invited to send in their top 10 all-time favourite albums, from which the chart was compiled. The poster itself, published in early 77 and printed in Spain, sold for £1. Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" was at Nº 1. (Click on the image to enlarge)

 

Loving Awareness promos were an integral part of Caroline's programming. Here's a transcription of one that dates back to the late 1970s.

To finish off, there are two songs that remind me of Caroline whenever I hear them. In particular that sad day in March 1980 when the Mi Amigo was finally lost to the elements - the drama made front page news in the UK papers. The first is "American Pie" (The day the music died) by Don McLean from his 1972 album of the same name. This I remember was played as a tribute to Caroline on a London pirate station just after the sinking. The other is Todd Rundgren's "A Dream Goes on Forever" from his album simply entitled "Todd" - played around the same time on another London pirate.

S.P.

Love     and good music     Radio Caroline