Life on a Pirate Radio Ship: Part 6

The crew hated us.
The guys who did the daily maintenance on the ship didn’t regard “radio announcing” as real work. So when the DJs on the nightshift had the temerity to relax on the deck during the day and attempt to get a tan the crew was so disgusted they often put the “lazy announcers” to work swabbing the deck.
And in the evening when the night-time jocks were doing their shifts the crew gathered in the lounge to watch television. (I seem to recall reruns of The Muppets were a special favorite.)

None of the announcers dared to complain. After all, DJs were a dime a dozen. There was an agency in London which sent then out and paid the fare to Israel but only on the condition that they stay for a specified period of time. (I think it was three months.) If the DJs did not fulfill the terms of their contract allegedly the agency could refuse to pay for their return. On the other hand, or so I was told, qualified crew members were hard to find.

Seasickness was a problem for some announcers. Like Carl, the young English “canned music” king who arrived on board full of cocksure confidence, practical jokes and singing station breaks and promptly became as sick as the proverbial hound. After a few shifts, he retired to his cabin and only resurfaced at lunchtime. His face was so white you could have written home on it. Mind you, the Voice of Peace was anchored in international waters (about ten miles outside of Tel Aviv, or so I was told) but if you were susceptible to the rocking rhythms of the ship you could became seasick quickly and never really recover. Needless to say, Carl did not fulfill his contract. (I think his parents ended up paying his way home.) One guy whom I was told was a Hollywood screenwriter lasted three days.

It wasn’t just the rhythms of the ship. The announcers shared quarters in windowless cabins in the hold. One British DJ, Tony, who told me he was a veteran of Radio Caroline, raced past me one night, telling me breathlessly that he was late for his show. He scrambled up the ladder from the hold to the deck and then stopped stock still as he gazed at the inky blackness of the sky. Apparently he thought it was nine in the morning rather than nine o’clock at night. It was easy to lose track, especially if you were someone like Tony who rarely left the hold except to eat. (The studio and the record library were below deck as well.)
To Be Continued


Author: rixbitz

media gadfly

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