Shorty Wave: Welcome back to John our newest member, as you probably remember last week he told us a little about his journey into our world, and I know you have more to say, so over to you John.
John: Thank you, well I knew a listener who lived in Essex and one day he invited me over to stay for a while. He'd heard about Sovereign being raided & I guess, just wanted to help. Every other listener I knew had said East Anglia was the place to be, they called it the home of watery wireless, something I knew little about, so I thought to myself, well why not go.
Shorty Wave: You had not heard of watery wireless?
John: I know it sounds strange now but I was so wrapped up in the local pirates and as long as you didn't go on about them at work to much, nobody really noticed if you had a problem, and I felt quite comfortable with what I had.
Shorty Wave: What happened when you arrived in Essex?
John: Well I was getting quite unsettled on the journey, I could just about tune into the Dread Broadcasting Company but reggae was not really my thing and by the time I got to Basildon they were fading in and out, it was the first time I had experienced the Anorak Shakes, I was clutching at my transistor radio and just spinning the dial uncontrollably. Thankfully Alfred my friend was there to meet me at the coach station.
Shorty Wave: Well done John, I can see you are reliving this, are you OK to go on?
John: Yes I'm good. Well we went to a pub and grabbed a beer each and sat in the corner. Alfred told me to listen to the music in the background, he was smiling, I will never forget the song, it was The Reflex by Duran Duran and then I heard an American accent saying all Europe radio Laser 558, Alfred leaned across the table and whispered, have some watery wireless, his grin said it all, I could see he was blissfully addicted.
Shorty Wave: And how about you John?
John: What can I say, I was elated, this was my first offshore station and it was being played in a pub! We sat there for hours sinking pints, Alfred had some photos of their ship, new all the D.J's names, he even had some cassette recordings with him in case they went off air, something I later learned often happened while they did maintenance or were short of fuel. Eventually we went to his house, he lived with his mum but she didn't mind me staying in the spare room, one of the first things she said was that Alfred could do with some friends.
Well it was incredible, we listened to Laser all day long, Alfred logged their signal strength each morning and afternoon and he had countless scrap books with photos of all the other preceding Offshore Stations. I'd never seen a QSL card before, he had hundreds, and everything was meticulously arranged in date and alphabetical order, with colour coding where required, I suddenly knew what it was like to be in the know about free radio. He became my mentor, I learned all the offshore radio station themes, the DJ's themes going back to the sixties, it as fantastic.
Shorty Wave: How long did you stay there?
John: A couple of months, once I had received some reception reports from a listener in South West London confirming they were coming in loud and clear, I knew I could return home, I also felt I had a mission now, to share Laser 558 to those in the dark. Once I had plenty of car stickers, tee-shirts and a couple of signed photos from the DJ's, I was ready. I remember waiting at the coach station, when Frank looking rather serious whispered to me - John, I know Laser means a lot to you, but just in case the worst should happen, he paused looking a little troubled, well in cast it goes wrong you need to know about Caroline. It's different he said, very different, it is Offshore radio, but it comes with a price. What sort of price I asked, I was puzzled. He replied, it's hard stuff, massively addictive and without the fun of Laser, some listeners don't even like any of the music they play, but they still listen, so be warned stick with Laser & you will be fine but I thought you ought to know, I thanked him, my coach had arrived.
Shorty Wave: Thank you John, we can pick this up again next week, now I don't know about you people but I could murder a pint, shall we....
Radio Now & Then
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