Remembering The Big-L : Radio London 50 Years On

Earlier this year we celebrated Radio Caroline which first went on the air at Easter 1964. Radio Caroline was Britain’s very first offshore pirate radio station but it was not as popular nor was it as profitable as Radio London which was first heard with test transmissions on 5th December 1964.

Radio London was the most popular and profitable of all the 60’s U.K. offshore radio stations. It gained many millions of listeners and, despite being on the air for only 32 months (closing on 14th August 1967) the Big L, Radio London left behind an enduring legacy as the first station to bring format radio, ID jingles and regular news bulletins to Britain. Radio London also provided the model, and a lot of the DJ talent (e.g. Tony Blackburn, Pete Brady, Dave Cash, Kenny Everett, John Peel, Keith Skues, Ed Stewart, …), for the BBC’s new pop music service, Radio One which started in September 1967.

Philip Birch was Radio London’s Managing Director but in the words of Gordon Sheppard, Big-L’s promotions manager: “Philip Birch WAS Big L … The real financial brain, the controlling wizard that made it all work. … He put together that terrific team: Ben Toney, Alan Keen (Sales & Programme Controller), Eddie Blackwell and Dennis Maitland (Advertising Managers), Mike Stone (Press & Publicity). … In pirate offshore radio (1964-1967), Philip Birch stands taller than most. He put together that amazing team and has to have pride of place.”

In 1980, several years after Radio London had closed, Philip Birch gave an extensive interview recounting Radio London’s history. The recording also includes many original Radio London jingles, its famous Big-L theme tune and the voices of Paul Kaye, Dave Cash, Kenny Everett, Mark Roman, and other Wonderful Radio London voices.

Here are a few more useful Big-L Radio London links:
1. OffshoreRadio.co.uk recently updated its site and mark the Big L’s 50th anniversary with a six-part Radio London Story.

2. If you’re interested in pics, there are plenty to see here from Martin Stevens collection.
And here are more pictures by Gerry Bishop, Hans Knot and John Platt.
Plus more fascinating Big L pics here.

3. On 23rd December 2014 Chris and Mary Payne who jointly run the Radio London website, organised a 50th anniversary celebration on a floating pub on a ship moored on the river Thames in central London. Those attending included Big L DJs Duncan Johnson, Pete Brady, Keith Skues, Ed Stewart, Ian Damon as well as engineer David Hawkins and the m.v. Galaxy’s steward Mitch Philistin, who having crossed the Atlantic ocean with the ship in 1964, worked throughout all of Radio London’s life.

4. Radio London’s first Programme Director, Ben Toney, tells his fascinating story of “The Amazing Radio London Adventure“.

5. And to listen again to the Big-L, Azanorak has one of the biggest online collections of recordings to download for free. From test transmissions in December 1964 to close-down in August 1967, listen once more to Pete Brady, Earl Richmond, Dave Dennis, Paul Kaye, Tony Windsor, Dave Cash, Kenny Everett, Duncan Johnson, Tony Blackburn, Keith Skues, John Peel, Ed Stewart and many more.

6. Listen to DJ Keith Skues’ potted history of Radio London which he presented over the air on Big-L on 23rd July 1967, a couple of weeks before the station closed. This abridged version lasts about 31 minutes and includes jingles, the Big-L “Sonowaltz” theme and other well known Radio London promotions. Note that this recording is in .mp3 format within a password-protected .zip file. After downloading the .zip file to your computer, please contact us to obtain the password which you’ll need in order to unzip the file.

Jingles

Below you will find recordings of radio station jingles and examples of programming formats which have been submitted to us over the years.

Limited Use
IMPORTANT: Please note that all archived documents on this site, including all audio 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. When you unzip the file, you will 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.

Documents Archive
Please follow the following link for a list of archived NCRM (National Commercial Radio Movement), CIB (Campaign For Independent Broadcasting) and related documents.


Drake-Chenault
1973 March, Drake-Chenault Demo Promotional 2-disc album, .mp3 92 mins.
You can view graphics of the album sleeve including the front, the back and the album contents list, as well as an accompanying letter from D-C’s Executive Vice President, Pat Shaughnessy. This double album includes demos for the automated radio station format that arguably helped ruin music radio by eliminating the personal touch between the DJ and his/her listener. Details…
Side 1: Stereo
“Hit Parade” format for WLCY Tampa, Florida.
“Solid Gold” format for KXOA Sacramento, California.
Side 2: Stereo
“Classic Gold” format for KRTH (K-Earth) Los Angeles California.
“Great American Country” format for KRSI Minneapolis.
Side 3: Mono
“History of Rock’n’Roll” program feature.
“Golden Years” program feature.
Side 4: Mono
“Top 100 of the 60s” program feature.
Drake Jingles: Series 1.
Drake Jingles: Double A.

PAMS
1964-1968, Pams jingles for WABC, New York City and KLIF, Dallas, .mp3 29-1/2 mins.
This set of PAMS jingles includes the following:
1964, series 27 “Jet Set/Action” for WABC, New York City.
1965, series 29 “Go-Go” for WABC, New York City.
1967, series 32A “Swiszle” for WABC, New York City.
1968, series 35A “All Sound” for KLIF, Dallas.
1972, Pams series 43 “Textures” for WABC, New York City, .mp3 11 mins. View box.
1973, Pams “Custom ’73” promo, .mp3 8-3/4 mins. View box.

Radio Caroline
1968, Radio Caroline South jingles, .mp3 6-1/2 mins.
On 3rd March 1968, both radio Caroline ships “Mi Amigo” and “Caroline”, were seized and towed to Amsterdam by the Wijsmuller salvage company to secure unpaid servicing bills. The mv. Caroline was scrapped but in 1972, the Radio Caroline South ship, mv. Mi Amigo, was sold at auction to Gerard van Dam. Some of the Mi Amigo’s studio equipment, including this Ampex tape recorder, a Spotmaster cassette player and some tapes, were purchased by free radio enthusiast, John Ker, who subsequently very kindly provided these few remaining 1968 recordings dubbed direct from the Spotmaster to the Ampex tape recorder. The recordings include:
1. Johnnie Walker announcing the Andy Archer show with theme tune “Flamingo” by Herb Alpert. (2’14”).
2. Announcement for the Henry Morgan show with theme tune “Sucu Sucu” by the Laurie Johnson Orchestra. (2’20”).
3. “Headline International News” jingle. (7″).
4. “Caroline the sound of the nation” jingle (no vocal). (5-1/2″).
5. “Sounds fine it’s Caroline” jingle (vocal). (17-1/2″).
6. “Boing” sound. (5″).
7. “This is the Spangles Muldoon lunchtime show”. (3″).
8. Advert. for Crosse & Blackwell chicken soup. (27″).
9. Advert for “Motorcycle” magazine. (17″).

William B. Tanner
1973, Demonstration tape for “Mini-Hits” jingles, .mp3 8-1/4 mins. View box.
1973, Demonstration tape for “Creative Sales Service”, .mp3 17 mins. View box.
Bill Tanner created the William B. Tanner Company in 1972, but earlier, from 1957 onwards the company was known and run together with John Pepper and Floyd Huddleston as Pepper Sound Studios and from about 1967 was known as Pepper-Tanner. The company was sold in 1982.

TM Productions
1973?, Demonstration tape for “Propellants” jingles, .mp3 13-1/4 mins. View box.
TM stands for Tom Merriman who, with Jim Long, founded TM Productions (later known as TM Communications Inc.) in 1967. More…

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