Restoring Soul Music Radio WAOK 1971 – A Day In The Life

Back in August 1971, CIB contacted several commercial radio stations in the US and other countries in order to better formulate its proposals to the UK government for the introduction of commercial radio on the UK mainland. CIB received several positive replies, including airchecks from WBZ in Boston Mass., WFIL in Philadelphia, WBAP in Dallas/Fort Worth, Radio Tarawa in the Gilbert & Ellice Islands and 2UE in Sydney Australia, to name a few.

CIB also received an aircheck tape from Ken Goldblatt, the Station Manager at WAOK in Atlanta GA – one of the very first U.S. radio stations to adopt an all R&B/Soul music format in 1956, thanks to DJ and part-owner, Zenus “Daddy” Sears.

This WAOK aircheck tape was a bit special for several reasons…

Zenas "Daddy" Sears

Zenas “Daddy” Sears

Zenas Sears (1914-1988) began his career as a disc jockey following his exposure to black music serving in the US Armed Forces Radio during World War II. When war ended in 1945, he worked at Atlanta GA radio WATL, pioneering African-American popular music broadcasting and in 1948 moved to radio WGST, where his show “The Blues Caravan” aired nightly.

In 1956 he became joint owner of radio WATL, changing the call-letters to WAOK and successfully pioneering the format to African-American popular music – Blues, Rhythm & Blues and Soul music. Zenas Sears also promoted and arranged live performances, featuring artists like Tommy Brown, Billy Wright, Chuck Willis and Little Richard.  Zenas Sears and WAOK were also responsible for the 1959 live recording of the best-selling album “Ray Charles in Person“. Last but not least, Sears was also an important supporter of the American civil rights movement.

In 1985 WAOK radio was sold and today it’s a News & Talk station.

So what about this 8 hour WAOK tape recording? …

Well, compared with other radio stations that sent us studio quality tapes recorded at 15 or 7-1/2 inches per second (ips), the tape from WAOK was recorded at only 1-7/8 ips – a low speed usually used only for speech recordings – on 4 tracks, so the sound quality is very poor … judge for yourself with this short extract

But if this WAOK tape lacks quality, it easily wins out on q-u-a-n-t-i-t-y, because the tape contains 8 complete, unedited hours of programming … all made on just one day …

So this memorable tape is like a day in the life of radio 1380 WAOK Atlanta … all recorded on Wednesday, 28th July 1971 and stretching into the early morning hours of the next day … here is the detailed program list as supplied by WAOK’s Ken Goldblatt.

Remastering & Digitizing …

Not having the know-how myself about how to rescue the recording quality, I asked my sound engineer and DJ friend in England, John Ker, for help. John, better known to many as John Harding from offshore pirate Radio Atlantis, achieved an excellent result – Thanks John 🙂 … and returned the tape to me, complete with 8 CD discs.
John says: “The tape quality is low, not Scotch brand although it is on a Scotch spool … the recording is at a low level on the tape causing the signal-to-noise ratio to be very low. The noise made the audio sound blurred. Initially I edited out clicks which were at a very high level compared to the programme material. Using Sound Forge I then sampled a fingerprint of what needed to be removed (in this case background hiss) taken from a short (less than a second) gap between commercials. Once the hiss was removed, a boost to the treble and then as they say in France “Voila”.”

I’m now in the process of uploading the contents of all 8 CDs so everyone can enjoy and re-live again the sound of Soul Music 1380 WAOK as it was back in July 1971.

Here are the details of these 8 CDs with links so you can listen online now …

Wednesday, 28th July 1971 …
Disc #1 07.00-08.00 hrs. “Wake Up Atlanta” with Burke Johnson standing in for Bob McKee.
Disc #2   11.00-12.00 hrs. The Jerry Thompson Show.
Disc #3   15.00-16.00 hrs. The Larry Tinsley Show.
Disc #4   16.00-17.00 hrs. The Duane Jones Show.
Disc #5   19.00-20.00 hrs. The Duane Jones Show.
Disc #6   20.00-21.00 hrs. The Doug Steele Show.
Disc #7   21.00-22.00 hrs. The Doug Steele Show.
Thursday, 29th July 1971 …
Disc #8   01.00-02.00 hrs. The Dream Girl (Zilla Mays).

And here is a copy of WAOK’s full programme schedule as it was in July 1971:

And finally, here’s the answer to the question:
How did Zenas Sears gain the “Daddy” nickname?
Well, the story goes that one evening, Sears was on the air at WGST, when a local hospital called to inform him that his wife had gone into labor.
Sears rushed off to the hospital with a disc still playing on the turntable. After it finished, all the listeners heard was the repetitive sound of a needle in an empty record groove for the rest of the night.
When word got around that Zenas Sears had abandoned his show to witness the birth of his twin baby boys, his Atlanta audience began calling him “Big Daddy” – later shortened to just “Daddy”.

P.S. These WAOK radio classic soul music recordings have been independently reviewed by the Stepfather Of Soul.

Radio Station Archive – Radio Nordsee International (RNI)

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RNI off the Dutch coast near Scheveningen 1973.
Photo © Fred Bunzl

Owned by Swiss businessmen Edwin Bollier and Erwin Meister and broadcasting from the mv. Mebo II in international waters off the Dutch and British coasts, Radio Nordsee International (RNI) commenced regular broadcasts on 28th February 1970 using a claimed total transmitting power of 121kw. and 4 transmitters including 1 medium-wave, 2 short-wave and 1 FM.

While located off the British coast, RNI was plagued by UK government jamming on medium-wave which necessitated several frequency changes. Medium-wave frequencies used included 1607kHz (186m), 1575khz (190m), 1385khz (217m), 1367khz (220m) and 1232khz (244m). Short-wave frequencies used were 6210khz (49m), 6206khz (49m), 6205khz (49m), 6200khz (49m), 9940khz (31m) and FM 102mhz, 100mhz and 96mhz..

In June 1970, in the days leading up to the UK General Election, RNI temporarily changed its name to Radio Caroline International and broadcast publicity in support of the Conservative party for the introduction of commercial radio on the British mainland.

RNI closed on 24th September 1970 but re-started broadcasting in English and Dutch a few months later in January 1971 until closure at the end of August 1974 when Dutch law against offshore stations came into force.

After a refit in the Netherlands, mv. Mebo II was sold to Libya, renamed El Fatah and sailed to the Libyan coast, arriving there in February 1977. It then broadcast as “Radio Joumhourya” with programming in Arabic and English until about 1980. After broadcasting ceased, the ship was apparently used as target practice by the Libyan Navy and was eventually sunk. A sad end.

For more about Radio Nordsee in the Mediterranean, see Ian Biggar’s Mebo 2 illustrated timeline.


Below is a list of archived radio station recordings, air-checks and documents of Radio Nordsee International (RNI) which we make freely available to our site visitors subject to the following conditions. If you are looking for audio recordings of other radio stations (not RNI), please click here.

Limited Use
IMPORTANT: Please note that all documents on this site, including all pictures, audio and video recordings, are for historical research, academic and educational purposes only. Any other use of materials on this site, including reproduction for any purposes other than those noted above, including, but not limited to modification, distribution, or re-publication by any means without the prior written permission of CampaignForIndependentBroadcasting.co.uk is prohibited. No other use may be made without the express written permission of this site’s owners.

Trademarks
All trademarks, service marks, and trade names are proprietary to their other respective owners.

Audio Recordings
Important:
The recordings listed below are in .mp3 format within password-protected .zip files. You will need to first download the .zip file to your computer. To unzip the file you will need Winzip or fully compatible alternative software. When you unzip the file, you will also need the password which you can obtain at no cost by contacting us and explaining briefly what your interest is.
We also provide some recordings to listen to online here and here.

Document Archive
If you are looking for our document archives, please follow the following link for a list of NCRM (National Commercial Radio Movement), CIB (Campaign For Independent Broadcasting) and related documents.


Radio Nordsee International (RNI)
1970, Brochure for Advertisers
This rare 9 page brochure for advertisers includes coverage area maps and advertising rates and was printed black and fluorescent pink (scanning unfortunately changed the colour to pale orange). Inside the back cover is a pocket containing a poster with photos of the Mebo 2 and DJ’s Roger Day, Andy Archer, Alan West and Carl Mitchell. A better quality scan of the same poster can be viewed here.
1970?, Copy of DJ Contract Form. Note that the contract is between the disc jockey and RNI’s “Division Sierra Leone”.
1970?, Copy of Ship Rules which disc jockeys, news readers and announcers were expected to sign as part of their contract with RNI.
1970 25th February, 186m, Part of Andy Archer morning show, .mp3 13-1/2 mins.
Recording starts at 11.00 hrs. with Roger Day talking about how RNI started, its programming policy and life onboard m/v Mebo II.
1970 Saturday 21st March, 186m / 49m, Part of Mark Wesley morning show followed by Alan West, .mp3 70 mins.
This recording starts at 08.40 hrs. Some morse interference near the beginning. After about 16-1/2 minutes there is a change from 186m to 49m shortwave to avoid the morse interference. Thanks to Ian Biggar for taking the trouble to determine the date of this recording.
1970 Sunday 22nd March, 186m, Part of Andy Archer programme with Alan West sitting in, followed by first part of Top 40 show with Carl Mitchell, .mp3 40 mins.
Starts at 11.36 hours. Near the end of this recording some morse interference is audible, which according to notes made at the time, is from the UK coastguard station at Portishead, Somerset. This was Carl Mitchell’s first time presenting the RNI Top 40 show.
1970 Sunday 12th April, 190m, Nifty 50 Show with Roger Day, .mp3 191 mins.
This recording starts at 11.57 hrs. running continuously for more than three hours to 15.08 hrs. and includes the last few minutes of the Andy Archer programme leading into the whole Roger Day Top 50 show followed by the first minutes of Duncan Johnson’s show.
1970 Monday 1st June, 244m, .mp3 191 mins.
Starts at 19.19 hrs. Andy Archer, Roger Day, “Clacton Flashing”, Duncan Johnson.
1970 Wednesday 10th June, 244m, Part of Andy Archer programme, .mp3 130 mins.
These three recordings start at 18.26 pm and end at 21.20 pm and were made during the time RNI’s medium wave frequency was being jammed by the UK government. Includes promotions for Free Radio Association (FRA) and Campaign For Independent Broadcasting (CIB) as well as a break due to “transmitter adjustments”.
1970 Tuesday 4th August, 220m, Part of Mike Lindsey evening show, .mp3 27 mins.
Recording starts at 18.07 hrs. At this time RNI was located off the Dutch coast. Thanks to Ian Biggar for determining the date of this recording: “I believe this one to be 4th August 1970 as Mike (Lindsey) says that FM is back on 96 MHz and according to Gerry Bishop’s Offshore Radio book this was on August 4th.”.
1970 Saturday 29th August, 220m, .mp3 83 mins.
Starts at 08.20 hrs., Mark Wesley, Alan West, Andy Archer.
1970 Saturday, 29th August, 220m, RNI hijack attempt, .mp3 156 mins.
These two recordings of RNI’s attempted hijacking start at 14.45 hrs. and include the voices of Larry Tremaine, Carl Mitchell, Andy Archer, Alan West, Mark Wesley and Mike Lindsey.
1970 Sunday 30th August, 220m, .mp3 191 mins.
Starts at 21.21 hrs., Spangles Muldoon, near the end of his show, discovers that all other DJs have left for a party on a nearby Dutch frigate guarding Mebo II following the previous day’s hijack attempt.
1970 Saturday 5th September, 220m, Andy Archer, Alan West & Stephen Ladd, .mp3 13 mins.
This short recording includes the last few minutes of the Andy Archer morning show, midday news with Alan West and the first part of the Stephen Ladd show.
1970 Saturday 5th September, 220m, Saturday afternoon with RNI, .mp3 362 mins.
This recording starts at 1.22 pm and runs all the way through to 7.34 pm.. Includes Stephen Ladd, Alan West, Andy Archer, Carl Mitchell, Mark Wesley, Spangles Muldoon, Mike Lindsey and Dave Gregory.
1970 Saturday 12th September, 220m, Part of Mark Wesley show, .mp3 28 mins.
Starts at 15.15 hours.
1970 Saturday 12th September, 220m, Part of Mike Ross show, .mp3 53 mins.
Recording starts at 18.20 hrs. Thanks to Martin Polhill and Ray Robinson for correctly identifying Mike Ross’ voice on this recording.
1971 29th January, Copy of telex from RNI’s Eva Pfister announcing resumed broadcasting from February 1971 from Mebo 2 now located off the coast of Belgium.
1971 Saturday 27th February, .mp3 256 mins.
This recording starts at 08.17 hrs. and continues until 12.33 hrs. with DJs Tony Allan, Martin Kayne and Dave Rogers.
1972 Friday 31st March, .mp3 48 mins.
This FM Good Friday recording starts at 17.55 hrs. with last five minutes of Dutch programming, then the Rob Eden show with news read by Paul May.
1972 7th April
Copy of letter from RNI’s owner Edwin Bollier to the European Broadcasting Union.
Copy of letter from RNI’s owner Edwin Bollier to the International Telecommunications Union.
1972 Sunday 23rd July, .mp3 46 mins.
Sunday evening FM recording starts at 22.45 hrs. with the last 15 minutes of the Terry Davis “Cloud Nine” programme followed by the first part of the Kent Request Hour.
1972 Friday 11th August, .mp3 46 mins.
This FM recording was made in Holland. Start time about 6.55 p.m. with the last few minutes of Dutch language programming followed by the Mike Ross show with Rob Eden reading the news on the half hour.
1973 Sunday 8th July, .mp3 49 mins.
This is an FM recording of part of a Sunday evening Mike Ross HitBack show. Starts at about 20.50 hrs. with news read by Don Allen.
1973 Tuesday 24th July, .mp3 45 mins.
FM recording of part of Tuesday evening’s Brian Mckenzie show. Starts at 22.35 hrs..

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