This book is the result of a research enterprise undertaken by three people, more by serendipity than by a planned approach to a planned project. Because authorship involves more than one person, it requires a Narrator to present some aspects of this story. However, it is not a story about the Narrator who appears in these texts as Caroline Brooks, a pen name used by the daughter of one of the co-authors.
To the reader, this story may not seem to have a beginning as such, but what it does have are several starting points, each one involving the three authors. Therefore this story entangles itself in both the individual and co-venture lives of the participants. It moves forward in time as events unfold, and it moves back in time by way of explanations as to how and why aspects of this story came to be.
Moving on to the authors, Mervyn Hagger's interest in broadcasting began as a boy when his father took him to BBC Bush House in London where he interviewed him about their holiday in front of a massive BBC table microphone, while an 'uncle' cut a recording of the interview on a transcription disc in the adjoining room.
In the early Sixties Mervyn Hagger attended an American college where he and a fellow student made a weekly half-hour commentary called 'Focus'. It was transmitted over a student radio station with a signal radiated from the electrical wiring that covered the campus. The signal was picked-up on radio sets just like any other station, provided that the receiver was within relatively close proximity to any of the campus electrical wiring.
On Wednesday, June 22, 1966, the London Daily Telegraph reported a sensational story on its front page which featured details about the death of Reginald Calvert by a shotgun blast. He had been fatally injured inside the home of Major Oliver Smedley as a result of a dispute over a transmitter which had been transported to Radio City, a so-called 'pirate' station squatting on a mostly disused World War II fort complex situated off the coast of southeast England.
Radio City was one of nine active radio broadcasting stations operating off various offshore locations around the British Isles within the social framework of the so-called 'Swinging Sixties'. As a result of reading the Daily Telegraph story about Smedley and Calvert and the controversy over Radio City, and noting the misinformation contained in the article, Hagger tracked-down the reporter to a pub on Fleet Street. He asked about the perceived errors and where the misinformation had come from. Hagger was told that the writer had been assigned the job by his Editor, but because he knew nothing about the background to his subject, he turned to source who worked for one of the Independent Television program contractors.
With this story as his inspiration and with an existing interest in the subject, Hagger was moved to write his own freelance article about offshore broadcasting. The resulting half-page feature was published by the Wolverhampton Express and Star on Monday, June 27, 1966. It was this initial work that inspired several other freelance articles on diverse topics which Hagger wrote for the British press.
On Wednesday, August 16, 1967, following the demise of 'Radio London'; 'Radio England' and 'Britain Radio' which had been created aboard ships by Don Pierson of Eastland, a very small town in West Texas, Mervyn Hagger wrote to Pierson and requested more information for a book. Throughout this time period Hagger had been working as an industrial journalist for a group of companies, but in 1970 a recession forced the closure of their publications and the closing down of the advertising department that employed him. So Hagger decided to relocate to the United States.
After meeting Don Pierson they formed a community magazine franchise, and Pierson obtained a broadcasting license for his own town of Eastland. Hagger then began making programs for this station and Pierson made plans to syndicate it. Events moved on and this led to yet another business plan to resurrect 'Radio London', first as a syndicated program, and then as a new offshore broadcasting station. At this point in time the original idea of a book was resurrected. On Sunday, May 22, 1983, Don Pierson handed over to Mervyn Hagger his financial and legal records that related to Pierson's original offshore stations. In that collection was Hagger's letter to Pierson dated August 16, 1967 - which never received a reply, but from which Pierson's son had retrieved its British postage stamp!
Meanwhile, back in 1980, the creation of the franchised community magazine had resulted in the hiring of an Editor who controlled the parent editorial content and supervised the local content of the affiliated franchised magazines. The name of this editor is Genie Baskir, and she also became a part of plans to relaunch Radio London as an offshore station, as well as the second member in the formation of the Trio which is now authoring this book.
The third member of the Trio is Eric Gilder, PhD. He became a globe-trotting professor, but back in 1983 when we first met, he had independently approached Don Pierson for assistance with his thesis for a Master's degree from the University of North Texas. The title of his work is 'The History of Pirate Broadcasting in Britain and the End of BBC Monopoly in Radio Broadcasting in the United Kingdom'. Since that time, Hagger and Gilder have cooperated with each other and co-authored a number of academic articles about aspects of British and American broadcasting, as well as side-issues that are related to that topic.
This is the basic background of the three authors and the reason why they are now presented in the order in which they appear on the cover of this book. Some of the works previously written by Gilder and Hagger have been included in this work, but in a modified format. The included articles have been assembled to follow more of an explanation of our progressive knowledge base, rather than as a chronological sequence in which they were written. What has emerged, and what is still emerging is a geopolitical story that is wrapped around current affairs.
Therefore, far from being a simple story about ‘free’ broadcasting of ‘pop’ music during the Sixties, this project of discovery is unraveling the lives lived by many prominent persons during that time, thus the lives these personalities claimed to have lived actually took place within a ‘yesterday that never happened.’ [This last section in italics was originally written by Mervyn Hagger as part of a Preface for a textbook written and published by Dr Gilder during October 2019.]
Caroline Brooks, Narrator,
December 5, 2021
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