Radio-K Marine Offences Act – Press Release

Essex-based 1960s pirate Radio Kaleidoscope prepares to celebrate 40th anniversary of the Marine Offences Act by revealing its true origins and making available a wealth of new material

12th June 2007 – To mark the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Marine Offences Act, which takes place in August this year, the original team behind Essex-run Radio Kaleidoscope, one of the biggest names in land-based pirate radio of the 1960s and 70s, is today breaking a four-decade vow of secrecy to reveal the truth behind its origins, its operations and its members.

Radio Kaleidoscope made regular broadcasts from around the Southend area between 1967 and 1972 on 223, 226 and 219 MW. It was set up by Steve “Jolly/Johnny Orange” T and Tony “DD” Mendoza, and in keeping with the tradition of free radio, it broadcast its music via a mixture of pre-recorded and live shows, and operated phone-ins where listeners could request tracks by making calls to telephone boxes in the area.

The inspiration for its name, and its signature tune, were provided by Tangerine Dream’s LP “Kaleidoscope”. The station established a strong following of listeners and supporters, reaching an audience within a 60 mile radius and with short wave listeners as far away as Holland and Germany. It attracted a number of top DJs, including Andy Archer, Jim Randell, Steve Allen, Robin Banks and Mike Baker, with five of Radio Kaleidoscope‘s DJs ending up working for commercial stations. It also received no little amount of attention in the local press, with several headline articles covering Radio Kaleidoscope‘s activities.

Detection by the GPO was of course, a constant threat, and as well as operating a number of different broadcast sites, Radio Kaleidoscope had various strategies in place in the event of being tracked down. Teams of drivers would feign a car breakdown to block access to the site, giving time for the crew to pack up their equipment – specially designed for portability – and leave the scene, only to begin transmitting from another location hours later. Despite two close calls, Radio Kaleidoscope was never shut down, and continued broadcasting until the end of 1972, when various other commitments caused the original team to cease its regular transmissions. Radio Kaleidoscope was revived the following year, however, by a new crew who carried on in the spirit and tradition of the old, further adding to the station’s reputation as a key player on the pirate radio scene, alongside such names as Radio Caroline, Radio Jackie and Radio London.

Today, the team behind Radio Kaleidoscope marks the end of a pledge, sworn in 1967, to remain silent about their involvement with the station for forty years after its first broadcast, by releasing a short history of Radio Kaleidoscope‘s activities, which chart its early beginnings from a bedroom in Hadleigh to its handover to a new generation of pirates in 1973, and revealing some of the true identities of the DJs and staff who were involved in its operations. In addition, in the run up to the 40th anniversary of the passing of the Marine Offences Act on August 14th, Radio Kaleidoscope will be making available, for the first time, the extensive material relating to the station’s early years, which includes reel-to-reel tapes of shows and adverts, the station’s original master jingle set, as well as press cuttings, photos and fan mail to the DJs about their shows. In doing so the team will add a missing chapter to the story of Essex’s substantial contribution to pirate radio in the UK in the 1960s and 70s.