The Radio Rose of Texas by Derek Burroughs, jr.

 

“England’s finest.” Preface by Conrad J.Earle.

 

“SRE-Swinging Radio England. Broadcasting 4 1/2 miles off the Frinton Essex Coast on 227 metres, 24 hours a day, in excess of 50000 watts of power, SRE-First and Foremost is BOSS!”

 

That was one of the top-of the hour identifications used on a radio station broadcasting on 1322 kc for just over half a year in Spring, Summer and Autumn of 1966.

 

The radio station in question, Radio England, is still remembered along with its Dutch-speaking aftermath(Radio Dolfijn) its sister, Britain Radio(“The Hallmark of Quality”), and their 2 younger sisters, one Dutch(Radio 227), and one British(Radio 355).

 

Together, all 5 stations from the radio ship” Olga Patricia”(Laissez Faire), as well as their forerunner and cousin Radio London from the “Galaxy”, were the result of Texas investors from Abilene/Wichita Falls, Midland/Odessa and Eastland seeking Northern European business opportunities in radio. This was to prove successful in the case of “Big L” broadcasting on “266”, but difficult from the Olga Patricia. But without these courageous people, European broadcasting history would have been different and less colourful. And, transition from state-run broadcasting monopolies to deregulation as well as restructuring of national channels would have been slowed down.

 

On the “fan” side, many would like to express their gratitude to the business people who took the risk, as well as all former presenters and other employées of these most missed stations. We want to remember these stations vividly with great fondness. It was sadly a shortlived operation.

 

Especially the founder of the stations, the late Don Pierson must be honoured. One cannot help admiring his entrepeneuring spirit and ability to make his visions a reality.

 

American radio in the UK and in Europe was not an innovation in the mid-60s however, with AFN London and its 50+stations already broadcasting from 1943-1945 and its “cousin” ABSIE, followed by AFN networks and stations in many European countries, the most famous being AFN Germany. There also was another Texan station in Sweden 1961-1962 with some of the same roots, namely Radio Nord. But their stories are told elsewhere[1] [2].

 

The day of the 1st edition of this essay, May 3rd, 2006, it was 40 years since the two Continental transmitters on board the radio ship “Olga Patricia” burst to life off the Frinton, Essex UK coast. On 845 kc, at 1030 in the morning, with a tone and “The Yellow Rose of Texas”[3], Radio England started test broadcasting. Subsequently, the high-paced tests on “355” in May 1966 by Larry Dean, Ron O’Quinn and others hit us like a bomb, and since then we were hooked.

 

What most people know about SRE and the other 4 stations is what they learned from the press or heard over the airwaves, but the press often had the story wrong. What was heard over the airwaves was a series of changing formats, changing names and a sudden end to the entire project in advance of the Marine Offences Act coming into effect[4].

 

But the real story goes much deeper. This is an attempt to tell and categorize that story.

 

“Pickin’up “Boss” Vibrations”

 

In early 2004, a Norwegian, “svennam”, published a Radio England fanzine on the web, called “Pickin’up “Boss” Vibrations”. In his essay, the author says “… it was an immensely great period of life, radio, and music.” The editor couldn’t agree more.

 

And he goes on inviting inputs in order to establish more facts[5].  His opinion is there should be a larger study on the general history of this radio project, comprising the material in (his) essay, which inevitably grew into the first months of the operation, and if possible material from the collections of the late Don Pierson’s family and Hans Knot’s large archive. Hans Knot also wrote an excellent 1991 study in Dutch: ”De Vijf van de Laissez Faire.”  It would also be interesting, he says, to hear the views and stories of more djs,and learn more of Britain Radio, Radio Dolfijn, Radio 227 and Radio 355. And, the later history of the ship and Don Pierson. Also an accompanying CD could be interesting for many. These contributions would be essential, even it is realized it won’t be easy to find more details. But if more material may be uncovered, “svennam” concludes he has good reason to believe that an independent writer might take on this task in a most professional way.

 

The essay caused considerable interest, with an average of 300 genuine daily hits since then on what originally wascalled “The Last Month of Radio England”, a result indicating that the 5 radio stations broadcasting from the radio ship “Olga Patricia” couldn’t have been the ”calamitous failures” they were blamed to be. And “the people appointed to run the programming” must after all have been much better at what they were doing than what the “in-the know” thought them to be. And they must have had some “notion of who they were broadcasting to”[6], when, now, on this 40 Years anniversary of the start of transmissions from the Olga, these stations, with founders, presenters, and-sound still are so much loved among us.

 

In the 3 years that have passed, a lot of new information have been uncovered and secured. Also, having had a large number of inputs and researched a lot of new material it has been decided to rewrite and extend the whole story up to all 5 stations that played such a strong part in our lives 1966-1967 and after, also including a little glimpse of their cousin, Wonderful Radio London broadcasting from the “Galaxy”, from 1964, since that station had the same roots.

 

A new author has submitted the text below, presenting himself as the “Olga Observer”, seemingly related to “Derek Burroughs”, the name of the voice on the automation tapes aboard the radio ship[7]. In a Radio 355 Saturday evening broadcast in July, 1967 he came out of his cabin(behind the “Carousel”?)and was interviewed by Alan Black about his 13-month stint on the Olga:

 

“(I am)looking forward to going back home to Los Angeles after nearly a year here in this wonderful country on this wonderful little boat...”

 

Alan Black commented at the end of the interview that Derek Burroughs did not say or talk much. ”You keep yourself to yourself!”

 

Whilst Dave MacKay, in the ”air-chair” that evening on 845 kc, added though, that Burroughs was a great card-player.[8]

 

Burroughs, jr. has listened through a large number of recordings[9] from all 5 stations for documentation, corrected earlier mistakes, included a lot of new facts, improved the diary, and added many facts about what happened to the ship and transmitters after August 6th, 1967, when Radio 355 closed at 0022 hours and the transmitter went dead, later to come on the air in an entirely different part of the world.

 

Burroughs, jr., in presenting his new long essay here is making an independent, honest and non-profit effort to make this fascinating piece of radio history a more cooperative preservation project, creating a radio history hub, umbrella if you like, encouraging contrasting agendas around this subject to come together so that still existing material will be available to everyone's benefit, and may be secured for the future.

 

This seems to be a most responsible approach, as there seems to be various interests around the subject in question, such as personal, commercial, ideological, and even political. There are still “anoraks” interested on these stations, but also other interests opposed to this approach.

 

And then there are the founders, broadcasters, and everyone that worked for the operation. Not forgetting their descendants. By means of the web, they now have a great chance of knowing more, and put the elements into place. Hopefully, this study may assist in that task, and also create a lasting monument of the hectic radio days of 1966-1967, or even, 1964-1967.

 

Derek Burroughs, jr. has been able to draw upon the archives of

svennam still

 

 

Pickin’up NEW“Boss” Vibrations”

 

 

 

Smile album(2004).Pickin’up NEW Good Vibrations 40 years after the autumn of 1966…

 

 

Smile. From Radio England’s studio aboard the Olga Patricia, May, 1966.

Unknown photographer. ©LIFE International Oct.31st,1966 . Submitted by Lars Holm.

 

Hans Knot[10],

 

 

“De 5 van de Laissez Faire” ©Hans Knot’s study from 1991[11], built on his large archive, and some of the late Don Pierson’s files.

 

Eric Gilder and friends[12],

 

 

“London, My Hometown[13].” in “Mass Media Moments in the United Kingdom…” ©Eric Gilder’s study from 2001/2003, forecasting a larger audio/book presentation, putting the subject of this essay into a larger context.

 

parts of relevant material from ©Offshore Echos magazine and archives,

 

 

as well as ©Grey Pierson(the son of Don Pierson) and the Pierson family archive in Texas.

 

 

The late Don Pierson(r), founder of Radio London and the Olga stations, aboard the Olga Patricia in May, 1966. With Captain Julio Alonzo, “Free Cuban.” Photo from the Pierson family collection, kindly provided by ©Grey Pierson.

 

Burroughs, jr. also wishes to thank the following others for their kind efforts, contributions and cooperation:

 

Sweden Calling DX-ers(SCDX, Radio Sweden)

DX-Listeners’ Club, Norway[14]

John Ross-Barnard

Genie Baskir

Rosalie Beasley

Ian Biggar

Gerry Bishop(Offshore Radio, 1975)

John of Brucebase[15]

Look Boden

Jack Curtiss

Robert Chapman[16]

Phil Champion

Rick Crandall

Keith Dobson

Roger Day

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Steve Eberhart[17]

Chris Edwards

John England

Steve England(The Radio England story edition II (S.England))

Tony Fitzherbert[18]

Steve Geisler[19]

Dave Gilbee

Eric Gilder

Paul De Haan[20]

Mervyn Osborne Hagger

Paul Harris[21]

Jim Hawkins

Lars Holm

How to Listen to the World

Richard Irwin(Uncle Ricky)[22]

The Laissez Faire story[23]

Tore Larsson

Mike Leonard(From International Waters)

Paul John Lilburne-Byford

Larry Magne[24]

Jeff Martin

Phil Martin

Jon Myer[25]

Rolf Mong

Colin Nicol

National Radio Club, USA[26]

Offshore Echo’s Magazine(OEM)/Chris Edwards[27]

Mary Payne[28]

Radio News(in London Weekly Advertiser and National Advertiser, and Time and Tide)1967, reprinted by Offshore Echo’s Magazine (OEM)

Ron O’Quinn

Susan Rager

Steve Richards

Alan Roberts

Ray Robinson

Manfred Steinkrauss

John Sgruletta

Steve Stavropoulos

Chris Turner[29]

TV Mail, 1966-1967, reprinted by Offshore Echo’s Magazine (OEM)

Dr.Martin v.der Ven[30]

Tim Warden(Los Solanas Consulting)[31]

Tedd Webb[32]

Dick Weeda

Martyn Webster

Perry Woods[33]

World Radio TV Handbook

 

”Oscar's Groovy Grotto”,

November 13th, 2006,

Conrad J.Earle.

-and don't forget our sponsor-Inter-Cham!

(Advertiser on Britain Radio, a 'Knock-Out Idea'(Phil Martin, December 17th, 1966)

 

 



[1] See http://www.northernstar.no/afrs.htm

[2] For Sewe Ungermark’s ”Radio Nord-the true pirate story”, go to http://www.ungermark.se/mediaradionordeng.html

[3] At “The Party of The Year” at the London Hilton on Thursday, July 28th,1966, each of the ladies were presented with a Yellow Rose. But in an interview Don Pierson talked about singers and songs he liked and promoted like Simon and Garfunkel, but he wanted to start Britain Radio with the "Girl from Ipanema". Don said on tape it was the engineer who wanted "Yellow Rose", while Don did want the "Girl" song because he just loved that song!

[4] This source is always in this essay marked ©Eric Gilder, all copyrights reserved. Material used with permission. The material is based upon a preview of "The American roots of British Broadcasting during the 1960s and its impact upon European politics and mass culture", the use of which for this essay has been granted with kind permission. A part of this work has already been published as:

Dr.Eric Gilder: "Mass Media Moments in the United Kingdom, the USSR and the USA." “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu Press, Rumania 2003 ISBN 973-651-596-6, especially: “London, My Hometown”, p.69-109.

[5] This is still on the web in an updated version at www.northernstar.no/sre.htm

In Hans Knot’s International Report of September, 2004, he said (he)hoped anyone interested would be able to assist him in answering some questions:

http://www.hansknot.com/sept2004b.htm

[6] Quotations from  unnamed, former presenter, interviewed by ©Robert Chapman, 1987: 'Selling The Sixties' Routledge, London and New York, 1992. ISBN 0-415-07817-2/0-415-07970-5.

[7] Errol ”Boss Cat” Bruce, formerly of Radio England and Britain Radio has suggested another name for the ”Carousel” voice: ‘It seems to me, through the fog of time, that the 'Voice' on the carousel was referred to by the guys as  'Otto Mayshun'.(automation) ©Hans Knot’s archive, all copyrights reserved. Material used with permission.

[8] We will be looking for more information of the CV of Derek Burroughs, jr.

[9] To see more progress on this radio historical research, it is important that all surviving recordings of these stations are looked upon as shareware, to compare with computer language, in order that as many people as possible are able to enjoy them. It should be added that even if collectors have done a great job in preserving recordings of the 5 stations, it is evident that many are wrongly dated and that there are a lot of doubles. On the other hand, establishing the right dates and times are not always easy and the data in the diary of this essay are not guarenteed.

[10] Hans Knot’s large archive and Soundscapes

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/

Hans Knot International Radio Report.

http://www.hansknot.com

We are looking for a translator of the relevant parts of “De 5 van de Laissez Faire”, to appear in the November, 13th, 2006 edition of this essay.

[11] Hans Knot also wrote the related Historie van Radio London, 1987.

[12] ©John Lilburne Research Institute (for constitutional studies), Inc., President Dr.Eric Gilder, PhD, all copyrights reserved. This source is always elsewhere in this essay marked ©Eric Gilder. Material used with permission. The material is based upon a preview of "The American roots of British Broadcasting during the 1960s and its impact upon European politics and mass culture", the use of which for this essay has been granted with kind permission. A part of this work has already been published as:  Dr.Eric Gilder: "Mass Media Moments in the United Kingdom, the USSR and the USA." “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu Press, Rumania 2003 ISBN 973-651-596-6, especially: “London, My Hometown”, p.69-109.

http://radlon.bravehost.com/index.html

[13] Name inspired by the Wonderful Radio London version of Pams Series #16, Song of the City.

[14] http://www.dxlc.com(DX-News)

[15] http://www.brucebase.org.uk

[16] ©Robert Chapman.

[17] http://www.historyofklif.com

[18] See essay: ”The rise and fall of the Mighty 11-90”. NRC DX-News, 1986.©

http://www.northernstar.no/klif.html

[19] http://www.560.com

[20] The Marine Broadcasters site:

http://www.marine-broadcasters.tk

[21] ”When pirates rules the waves”(1968) and ”The stations of the sea”(1977/2006). Impulse Press/Paul Harris publishing, Edinburgh

[22] http://www.reelradio.com

[23] Short tape made by Dick Palmer for the CRNA. The CRNA must have been a small free radio lobby group publishing a magazine called Tune In. Its address was: Commercial Radio News Agency, 1 Heathfield Avenue, Birmingham 20, England. This per a news item sent in by Lars-Āke Andersson in Sweden's (dx-magazine)Eter-Aktuellt #7, 1968.-Editor.

[24] ”Broadcasting Stations of Exile, Intelligence, Liberation and Revolutionary Organizations”. (©Larry Magne/Danish Shortwave Club Int’l 1/72)

[25] http://www.offshoreradio.co.uk

[26] http://www.nrcdxas.org

[27] http://www.offshoreechos.com

Parts from the following editions reprinted here with kind permission:

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #57 June 1985 ©John England: ”The Real Don Pierson”

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #82 August 1990 ©John England: “Much More Music! The story of Don Pierson a broadcasting pioneer.”

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #110 February 1998 The Graham Gill interview

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #112 November 1998  Interview Ben Toney

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #114 May 1999 Interview Tom Danaher. Also at

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/VOLUME04/Tom_Danaher.html

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #117 April 2000 Radio 227 Memories

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #117 April 2000 Radio England Britain Radio Rate Card no.1

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #117 April 2000 Ron O’Quinn Interview By Steve England

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #118 June 2000 Jerry Smithwick Interview By Steve England

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #124 December 2001 Roger Day Interview

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #126 May 2002 Interview with Larry Dean By Steve England

©OFFSHORE ECHOS #143 March 2006 Rick Randall interview By Steve England

[28] http://www.radiolondon.co.uk

[29] http://www.lmradio.org

[30] http://www.offshoreradio.de/fleet/laissez.htm

[31] http://www.las-solanas.com

[32] http://www.teddwebb.com

[33] http://www.roanokeradio.com/WPXI