Blair Munyan, a former United States Navy officer who served aboard a submarine off the coast of England in 1965, was reading an article about abandoned sea forts recently when he was flooded with memories of Radio Caroline, the offshore pirate radio movement known for breaking the British government’s stranglehold on radio.Read more.
At the dawn of the rock ’n’ roll era, when the government-approved soundtrack in Britain consisted of big bands and barbershop quartets, Radio Caroline played “the Beatles, Humble Pie, Uriah Heep — deep cuts” not often heard on the radio, he said.
“They went against the norm, against the establishment,” recalled Mr. Munyan, 63, now the head engineer at a sheet-metal fabricating company in Groton, Conn. “These guys were rebels.”
Since first taking to the air from a makeshift studio on an offshore ship in 1964, Radio Caroline has endured government raids, shipwrecks and a decade of radio silence before finding a land-based studio in the southeastern county of Kent. From there, a cast of volunteer disc jockeys has transmitted album-oriented rock to a global audience over satellite radio and the Internet since 1999.
But to station managment, that global reach isn’t enough. In an age when many prefer to listen to music over the Web or by satellite, Radio Caroline would like to be rewarded for its contribution to British popular culture in the most modest of ways: an AM radio designation in the southeast of England, where it was conceived.
Radio Caroline at Sea in the '60s