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Pirate Radio Station – Radio 270: A Revolutionary Broadcast

todaySeptember 28, 2023 6

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In the mid-1960s, a group of forward-thinking Yorkshire businessmen embarked on a groundbreaking venture that would forever change the radio landscape in the North East of England. Their brainchild, Radio 270, became a pioneer in pirate radio broadcasting, delivering music and entertainment to eager listeners from 1966 to 1967. Operating from a converted Dutch lugger named Oceaan 7, positioned in international waters off Scarborough, North Yorkshire, Radio 270 marked a new era in radio broadcasting.


The origins of Radio 270 can be traced back to a group of innovative individuals who saw the potential of offshore radio stations. Don Robinson, an enterprising entertainer, joined forces with Bill Pashby, a seasoned fishing boat skipper, Roland Hill, a poultry farmer, and Leonard Dale, an esteemed businessman. Together, they formed a consortium to establish a pirate radio station that would cater specifically to the North East coast.


Incorporated within a public company named Ellambar Investments Ltd., Radio 270 garnered support from various individuals, including Wilf Proudfoot, the owner of a chain of supermarkets and a former Conservative MP. As the venture took shape, Proudfoot, Dale, and Robinson assumed key roles within the company, with Dale serving as the Chairman and Proudfoot as the managing director.


Radio 270 turned to the public to fund their ambitious project, hosting a meeting at a Scarborough hotel in late 1965. At this gathering, Proudfoot invited individuals to subscribe for business shares, emphasising the venture’s high-risk nature and potential non-commercial returns on investment. Despite these warnings, around sixty individuals stepped forward to support the cause, with Proudfoot himself holding the largest single shareholding.


With the financial backing secured, Radio 270 set out to revolutionise the radio industry. The station’s ship, Oceaan 7, was equipped with state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment, allowing Radio 270 to transmit its signal across the North East coast. Fitted with a 50-foot antenna and a 10-kilowatt transmitter, the station overcame technical challenges and delivered a strong, clear signal to its avid listeners.


Radio 270’s programming was nothing short of groundbreaking. The station focused primarily on playing popular music, providing an alternative to the limited offerings of traditional radio stations. DJs such as Graham Gill, Rick Dane, and Roger “Twiggy” Day charmed listeners with their charismatic personalities and eclectic music selections. People of all ages tuned in to Radio 270, captivated by its vibrant energy and diverse range of music.


Despite its popularity, Radio 270 faced numerous challenges during its brief existence. The British government, discontent with the rise of offshore radio stations, imposed legislation to curtail their operations. In August 1967, Radio 270 was forced to cease broadcasting and its ship was escorted back to shore. The end of this era marked a significant turning point in the radio industry, as regulations were subsequently put in place to govern the establishment and operation of radio stations.


While its lifespan was short-lived, the impact of Radio 270 was undeniable. The station paved the way for a new era of radio broadcasting, challenging the status quo and giving rise to a more diverse and accessible music scene. The legacy of Radio 270 lives on as it continues to inspire broadcasters and reminds us of the power of innovation and the pursuit of passion.


Pirate Radio Station – Radio 270: A Tale of Adventurous Broadcasting


In the mid-1960s, a group of determined and fearless individuals embarked on an audacious endeavor in the world of broadcasting. Their goal was to challenge the dominance of traditional radio stations and bring innovative and exciting music to the masses. This group, known as the promoters of Radio 270, recognised the potential of a Dutch-built fishing lugger named Oceaan VII, which they acquired for a modest £2,500. Little did they know, this vessel would become the heart and soul of their revolutionary pirate radio station.


The Oceaan VII, originally built in the Netherlands in 1939, had an intriguing history. Having spent most of its life operating out of the Belgian port of Antwerp, the fishing lugger became commandeered by the German occupation authorities during World War II. In 1965, following its acquisition by Radio 270, the vessel underwent a transformation in the east coast port of Grimsby before making its way to Scarborough, where it was renamed Oceaan 7.


To make it suitable for broadcasting, the Oceaan 7 was given a significant overhaul. The addition of 20 tonnes of permanent ballast in the hull provided the vessel with extra stability, ensuring smooth sailing even in challenging conditions. A 150-foot-high radio mast was erected, enabling the transmission of signals across vast distances. The pièce de résistance was the installation of a powerful 10 kW RCA BTA 10J1 transmitter capable of reaching eager listeners far and wide.


Onboard the Oceaan 7, two studios were set up, each serving a distinct purpose. One studio was dedicated to presenting programs, ensuring that a diverse range of shows could captivate audiences day and night. The second studio was solely devoted to delivering the latest news updates, ensuring that Radio 270 became a trusted source of information for its growing listenership. However, life on the vessel was no luxurious affair for its crew and broadcasting staff. Accommodation was confined and spartan, with living quarters consisting of a bunk room and a communal dining area. Yet, this did not deter the passionate individuals from delivering their charismatic broadcasts.


The acquisition and refurbishment of the Oceaan 7 may have come at a cost, but the promoters of Radio 270 believed it was a worthwhile investment. The entire endeavor amounted to an impressive £75,000, a vast sum at the time. This included not only the acquisition and transformation of the vessel but also the costs associated with recruiting a dedicated crew to keep the ship afloat and broadcasting staff to entertain and inform the listeners. The crewing system was initially planned to be on a one-month rotation basis, with the entire eight-man crew, including the captain, being switched every month. Broadcasting staff, including the highly acclaimed disc jockeys, worked on a two-week rotation basis, ensuring a diversity of talent and styles.


With the Oceaan 7 as their ultimate broadcasting platform, Radio 270 quickly rose to prominence. Their unique blend of music, news, and entertainment captivated a vast audience, many of whom had become disillusioned with the monotony of traditional radio stations. Radio 270 became a symbol of rebellion, challenging the establishment and providing an alternative voice that truly spoke to its listeners.


The story of Radio 270 and the Oceaan 7 is one of determination and courage in the face of adversity. It represents a pivotal moment in broadcasting history, where innovation and ingenuity triumphed over convention. The pirate radio station’s impact may have been short-lived, but its legacy lives on, reminding us of the power of free expression and the ability to bring about change through the airwaves.

Written by: Steve Bannister

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