Yesterday I reported upon the comments of Pye executive Harry McGhee*. He was referring back in time to start of Manx Radio in 1964, and Harry wanted to impress everyone that he knew what he was talking about. *A correction was made on 10/2/2020 because the original source as cited misspelled the name of McGhee by leaving out the 'h'. Some texts may still contain this error which has been corrected here.
Unfortunately for the BBC Radio 3 audience of 1974, and for Harry McGee, it seems that Harry was being used, because he did not have a clue about what was really taking place! But Harry wanted to impress the BBC audience and so how told them that he "worked with Mr John Stanley very closely."
Maybe he did, but it must have been during that portion of the day when Mr John Stanley was not talking to other people who were working at cross-purposes to Harry McGee!
The time period we are talking about is when Radio Caroline first came on the air from its new anchorage off the Isle of Man. Clearly, Mr. McGhee thought that he knew what was going on, but it seems that he did not.
Harry McGhee did know about the Pye Plan to bring land-based, licensed commercial radio stations to British audiences. But his claim seems to clash with this claim that appears on page 276 of the book called 'Radio Man':
According to this report, John Stanley and his father Charles Orr Stanley were not only working on Manx Radio, they were also working on Radio Caroline!
The Stanleys became involved with Radio Caroline via GBOK, an offshore radio station which had planned to use a former lightship called 'Lady Dixon' that was docked at Sheerness, next to a Pye owned company which fronted the quayside. How this happened is another story which I will explain a little later.
When GBOK floundered due to a number of circumstances, including the revelation that caused its owner to flee the UK after it was discovered that he was a con man living off his wife's inheritance. His demise in another country soon followed when he was charged and sentenced to prison for having underage sex. Naturally his wife divorced him.
However, GBOK had come with a number of assets, including a lucrative broadcasting contract with the Radio Church of God, Inc., which had a world headquarters and college in Pasadena, California, and a British headquarters that was just opening another college campus between Watford and St Albans. A further GBOK asset came in the form of two retired BBC engineers who had already become employed by Pye.
So with Allan Crawford floundering on Dean Street in Soho where his record company had been working on creating an offshore station, his small operation came up with enough money to send Ronan O'Rahilly to Houston in June 1963 with a request. Crawford wanted to lease the mv Mi Amigo by proving that the Royal Navy would not seize it.
However, that same ship had been anchored off Brightlingsea, Essex in 1962, and there had been noises made by Trinity House to sue its owners of the ship who were represented in London by Bill Weaver. So for a number of reasons, the Mi Amigo (at that time known as Magda Maria), was taken to Galveston Island, Texas, and Bill Weaver returned to Houston, Texas, where he was also the manager of McLendon's KILT.
When O'Rahilly showed up Weaver looked at the documents that had been sent with him, but his answer remained firm: find another ship as a guinea pig and if it survives a Royal Navy challenge, we will lease you the Mi Amigo. This forced Crawford into the arms of Pye, and so the Radio Caroline project was born.
How Pye put the financing for Radio Caroline together and how Jocelyn Stevens got involved, I will explain in a future edition. Suffice to say that Paul Rusling does not have a clue. In fact, everyone who has bought his book should demand a refund, because they have been swindled.
Right now I am following the 'Radio Man' thread and the top secret project that Pye had embarked upon to create Radio Caroline out of the ashes of GBOK by forming an alliance with Allan Crawford to use his studio facilities.
But whereas Crawford saw a stand-alone life for his station to promote his independent record releases via offshore; Pye saw this project as a short term political pressure point that would last only as long as the Tories remained in office. The goal was to get the Conservative government to license land-based, sponsored commercial radio. However, as Harry McGee correctly stated, Pye had no desire to run these radio stations, for that it had another partner - the newspaper owners!
In other words while Allan Crawford wanted to create an outlet for his records to stimulate sales, Pye was going to use Radio Caroline to whip-up a daytime demand from housewives for an alternative, with commercials, to the fare offered by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Pye also knew that if word got out that it was behind this attempt to pressure the Tory government into enacting legislation that would suit the financial bottom-line of newspaper owners and the Pye Group which wanted to build their land-based stations; then Pye would find itself in a very dangerous financial position.
It was a gamble that the Stanleys were willing to take because without some sort of boost to their financial future, there would be rough times ahead for the Pye Group. In the end the Pye Group lost this gamble and its 'empire' was gobbled-up by competitors such as the Philips company.
The real danger that faced Charles and John Stanley was that the Pye Group of companies were part of the framework forming the franchise system that operated commercial television stations under license from the British Independent Television Authority (ITA). They were also suppliers to both the British Defence Establishment and the British Broadcasting Corporation, and manufacturers of many industrial products, as well as licensed manufacturers supplying the British retail market with many consumer products including television sets; radio sets; record players and records.
They were in danger of losing everything if anyone discovered what Charles and John Stanley were gambling with. There was also a certain amount of gall involved with the machinations of Charles and John Stanley, because they were using the arrival of Radio Caroline off the Isle of Man as a battering ram. The purpose of Radio Caroline (North) was to enable the Stanleys to lodge complaints in the British press against Radio Caroline (North)! Their game was simply this: the British government would not allow Pye to operate a full-power commercial radio station from the Isle of Man to cover both the British Isles and parts of the European continent.
As if that was not enough, they were also working for the commercial radio interests of Tory MP Geoffrey Hirst. Back in 1953 Hirst had been a very vocal advocate of both sponsored commercial television and radio in the UK. In 1959 he registered a company called 'Radio Yorkshire (Development) Company Ltd.', with its center of operations at Shipley, Yorkshire. That station was also demanding a licence and it was also in the broadcast coverage area of Radio Caroline (North).
Radio Yorkshire (Development) Company Ltd., was linked to both Associated Newspapers (whose biggest property is the 'Daily Mail'), and links that connected it to both the beginnings of the Local Radio Association and the local management of Manx Radio on the Isle of Man.
Rusling does not understand any of this and he cannot make that connection to the formation of Radio Yorkshire in Scarborough which was forced to change its name to Radio 270 following complaints from Radio Yorkshire (Development) Company Ltd., in Shipley. After a lot of information was sent his way about this connection he cannot claim that he did not know about it, but on the other hand, he has done nothing to help investigate these links.
So we come back to Harry McGee and it is clear that Charles and John Stanley were running a very complex campaign in which they played all sides against the middle, and Harry McGee was unaware of it. That brings us back to page 276 of 'Radio Man'. Specifically it is the meaning of that contradictory paragraph on page 276 and its original source that needs to be explained.
Where did that information come from?
Fortunately this entire saga of discovery was documented by emails, and with the eventual discovery of the source information, I can now reveal that story to you. One question that remains unanswered is the reason why Nicholas Stanley engaged in continuing this deception, long after the events, but tomorrow, I will reveal all!
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