Tuesday 23 April 2013

1984: THE LID OFF LASER 558 (Pirate Publications)

This is a 1984 paperback (from Pirate Publications) expose of offshore pirate radio station LASER 558, published whilst the MV Communicator-based outfit was capturing listeners, headlines and unwelcome government attention.

I was 11 when Laser was on-air and I instantly became (to use offshore radio parlance) an anorak.  I became intoxicated by the mix of hit music, minimal speech and advertising (which, of course, wasn't what Laser's management wanted), brash US DJs and buccaneering spirit.  It made the BBC and ILR stations (with their commitment to sport and public service broadcasting) seem so dull in comparison.

Things got even more interesting the following year when the government, under pressure from commercial companies who saw their audience haemorrhaging under this trans-Atlantic onslaught, dispatch a 'spy boat' to the international waters off the Essex coast to blockade the Communicator.  That was Eurosiege 85 and Laser's night-time DJ Charlie Wolf supplied daily updates.

Eventually, the Communicator succumbed to the siege and - suffering technical problems - limped into Harwich harbour.  A story deemed worthy of a package on BBC Breakfast Time.

The memory doesn't cheat: I've acquired several off-air recordings of Laser's output and they still give a nostalgic rush.  There's also an excellent audio documentary, narrated by Charlie Wolf, which covers Laser's brief history available on CD which is well-worth seeking out.

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