Radio Caroline: Pirate Radio and Pop Music in the 60’s

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  • Topic: Radio Caroline, BBC, Pirate radio
  • Pages : 3 (1145 words )
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  • Published : October 7, 2008
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In the mid-1960’s British teenagers had little to listen to on the radio; the UK government felt radio was such a powerful mass communication medium that it should be placed under state control (2), so the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was formed and was the only radio allowed to be broadcast. BBC radio would air very little pop music due to so-called ‘needletime restrictions’, which were put in place to ease fears that if recorded music became popular then live music would disappear (1), so the bulk of their programming was aimed at adults. Any teens wanting to listen to newer popular music had to tune in to Radio Luxembourg after dark, but their signal was weak and their music was monopolized by the major record labels Decca, EMI, Capitol, etc (1). However laws in Britain only applied to the land and 3 miles out to sea where international waters started, and it was in these waters where a phenomenon that would take place in 1964 and revolutionize radio.

Ronan O’Rahilly was the son of affluent parents and came from Ireland to London to work in the music scene. O’Rahilly quickly became owner of a rhythm & blues club and discovered and managed several bands including The Animals and the Rolling Stones, in fact he bought the Stones their first set of stage equipment and briefly managed them (2). Running a small venue was slow to gain him notoriety so he started his own record label to record some of the artists that frequented his club, paying for his own acetates and handling promotion on his own. When he tried to get airplay on BBC he was told that they only play ‘established artists’ (2). His attempt to get his bands played on Luxembourg Radio fared worse, station directors laughed and showed him the program schedule filled with 15-30 minute blocks reserved by the major labels. O’Rahilly replied “Well, if after managing my own artists I have to create my own record label because nobody will record them and if I then find that no radio station...
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