True Confessions: Life as a “Pirate Radio” DJ ….

First of all, let me clarify that the term “pirate radio” may not be as glamorous as it sounds. For example, the station that I “worked for” in Israel, the Voice of Peace, was located in the hold of an old Dutch freighter, anchored in international waters just off the coast of Israel.

"The Peace Ship"
“The Peace Ship”

The station did not have an official broadcast licence from the Israeli government so, in a sense (like Radio Caroline in the UK) the station was “pirating” the airwaves (although a small office in Tel Aviv staffed by the ever resourceful Abie Nathan represented the station and – I am told – openly sold radio ads for the station.)

Abie Nathan In His Prime
Abie Nathan In His Prime

Secondly, life on the Voice of Peace was nothing like the movie Pirate Radio. In fact, life on Radio Caroline was nothing like the movie. A couple of refugees from Radio Caroline who did DJ shifts told me that compared to the floating British station, the Voice of Peace was like a palace.

I can understand, cinematically, why they wanted to stretch out the working quarters in the movie and make them appear larger and more, um. comfortable. However, based on my own experiences aboard the Voice of Peace over a period of several months and the accounts of DJs who had actually served aboard Radio Caroline during its prime, an accurate account of life aboard a pirate radio ship would have been closer to a gritty drama than the light-hearted comedy Pirate Radio tried so desperately to be.

A couple of memories:

The control room seeming to sway with the music one choppy night at sea as I played the Rolling Stones’Honky Tonk Women” …

Hosting all kinds of music shows during my time aboard ship. (Working in a variety of music formats during my equally turbulent commercial radio “career” finally paid off.) Everything from an evening classical show to a weekly country show (which I called “country and western for the middle and eastern.”)

To Be Continued ….

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