RNI - Bombing

May 05, 2012, 05:01 PM

I recall my brothers listening to the wavery AM RNI signal in their messy, cold bedrooms in the early '70s. It was simply another popular listening option in a country where legitimate commercial music radio had yet to arrive.

RNI, Radio Northsea (Nordsee) International was the most famous of the second generation of offshore pirate radio stations. The UK anti-pirate legislation of 1967, however, meant that operating a station from a boat was increasingly challenging.

January 1970 saw the first transmissions from the ship, the colourful Mebo II, off the Dutch coast. It began broadcasting regularly on 11 February 1970, anchoring five miles from Clacton in March 1970.

Having outlawed the '60s pirates, the UK government was in no mood to be dallied with by those exploiting the lack of similar legislation in other European countries. Jamming began in April 1970; at which time RNI responded with pro-Conservative messages in advance of the election in June 1970, not least because Conservative policy then was certainly more favourable to legitimising commercial radio. After a Conservative victory, however, the jamming did not cease.

Presenters on board included Steve Merike, Roger Day and Andy Archer.

RNI's colourful life continued, with international commercial and contractual disputes, manifesting themselves in attacks and boarding and, notably, on 15 May 1971, a fire-bombing, as heard in this audio. The on-air imaging, with its sonovox and explosions; and the drama of its theme tune 'Man of Action' all seemed so fitting for this most dramatic of stations.

The service closed at the end of August 1974.