Johnnie Walker [below right] was interviewed by Scott Simon, host of the Saturday morning magazine news program heard on the U.S. National Public Radio network on May 9, 2020, about the death of Ronan O'Rahilly. Here is the transcript of the interview with a commentary by me:
The founder of pirate radio, Radio Caroline, has died.
Ronan O’Rahilly passed away April 20 at the age of 79. He was part entrepreneur, part buccaneer who broadcasted rock 'n' roll from a dilapidated Dutch ferry in the North Sea to 20 million listeners in the days before the BBC would ever sully their signal with with such music."
Before he has even asked Johnnie Walker his first question, Scott Simon has linked the death of Ronan O'Rahilly to an absurd movie ...
"The 2009 film "Pirate Radio" portrayed those days in the early 1960s with Ronan O'Rahilly played by Bill Nighy.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PIRATE RADIO")
BILL NIGHY: (As Ronan O'Rahilly) Here's the simple situation. The authorities already dislike us. If you do this, they will hate us. And by hook or by crook, they'll find a way to close us down.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) No, they can't close us down. We're pirates. That's why we're sitting out here in the middle of the freaking ocean.
NIGHY: (As Ronan O'Rahilly) Believe me, they will find a way. Governments loathe people being free.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Johnnie Walker is a broadcaster in the U.K. He was one of the early Radio Caroline deejays and joins us now."
This of course is not true. Johnnie Walker was first hired by Don Pierson's 'Radio England' which did not start testing until May of 1966.
"SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Mr. Walker, thanks so much for being with us.
JOHNNIE WALKER: Scott, very good to be with you.
SIMON: And remind us - in the early '60s, why did you folks have to go out into an old Dutch freighter in the North Sea to play - just to play rock 'n' roll to a British audience who loves it?
WALKER: There was three radio stations for the entire United Kingdom. When pop came along, (he forgets Luxembourg) when The Beatles happened, the BBC thought it was going to be a five-minute wonder. It's just a craze. It'll come, and it'll be gone. And so you couldn't hear The Beatles. You couldn't hear The Stones. You couldn't hear The Kinks. You couldn't hear The Who. (That is rubbish because The Beatles were already big before Radio Caroline began to broadcast!) And Ronan O'Rahilly, who was a great rebel, whose grandfather was shot by the British Army in 1916 in the famous Easter uprising - so he had that rebellious streak in him. So he thought, to hell with this. I'll start my own radio station. He bought a ship. (This is more rubbish. Ronan O'Rahilly did not buy a ship and he did not start Radio Caroline.) He had a very big advantage in that his father owned a port in Ireland. (His father owned a company that made building materials and that company bought some land at water's edge. He did not own a port in Ireland.) So that port was used for fitting out an old Dutch ferry called the MV Frederica (ph). (Wrong spelling. It is Fredericia, same as the place name.) And that was the original home of Radio Caroline, which started in 1964. And as long as the ship was anchored more than three miles from the coast, it was in international waters, and there's nothing the British government could do about it. When Radio Caroline first arrived in Easter '64, the customs decided that they wouldn't supply the ship with any food or water, which would make it impossible for it to continue. (That is totally made-up and untrue. They simply refused to connect personal phone calls.) Ronan discovered an ancient English maritime law that any ships at sea should be offered support and should be supplied. So he managed to get through to the home secretary, a fellow called Reginald Maudling, informed him of this ancient law. Reginald Maudling checked it out and said, you're quite right, Mr. O'Rahilly. I'll recommence supplies to your radio station. (This is fiction made-up by Johnnie Walker. It has absolutely no foundation in fact.)
SIMON: Oh, my gosh.
WALKER: Ronan thanked him by going out with his daughter... (More rubbish.)
WALKER: ...Which, for a conservative MP and home secretary, must have been somewhat embarrassing to have this Irish rebel taking your daughter out on the town. (Total nonsense.)
SIMON: I gather Ronan O'Rahilly bought the ship and outfitted the ship to play rock 'n' roll, but he wasn't much of a seaman, was he? (It was not O'Rahilly's ship and at first Radio Caroline was playing a mixture of music and sounding just like the BBC, which was the idea!)
WALKER: No, he very rarely went down to the ship. So in the film, Bill Nighy sort of portrays Ronan. And he's always on the ship, hanging out with the deejays and everything like that. In reality, Ronan really had to be forced to go out to the ship. He hated it. So he'd rather stay in London where Swingin' Sixties was in full swing, hang out around the King's Road, eat in fine restaurants and basically live the life of Riley, as they called it. Not O'Rahilly, the life of Riley. It's an old Irish expression when you're kind of living it up. (Ronan O'Rahilly was hired as what one MP called him - a decoy duck - to divert attention away from the real owners.)
SIMON: Sounds like a singular character. (He was a con artist.)
WALKER: Yeah, he was - he was a one off.
WALKER: And he worshipped the Kennedys. (Total and absolute rubbish. When JFK visited Ireland Ronan O'Rahilly was in Houston.)
SIMON: I've read that. And I guess that is one of the many theories as to why it was Radio Caroline.
WALKER: Yeah, there was. It was a wonderful photograph of John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline disrupting the works of the Oval Office in the footwell (ph) of his desk laughing and smiling. And he thought, what a wonderful image - happiness and laughter disrupting the works of government. He said, that's the name for my radio station. (Walker knows that this is 100% fiction and that Ronan O'Rahilly used it to involve Robert F. Kennedy in the Irish 'Troubles' at a time when peace was breaking out. Bobby Kennedy was furious and it almost sparked an international incident!)
SIMON: There's still Radio Caroline today, isn't there?
WALKER: There is. Radio Caroline always would come back, and there still is Radio Caroline today on the Internet. There still is a ship, the Ross Revenge, which is anchored in Tilbury, which is a - docks not far from London. And they sometimes broadcast from the ship. So it still goes on. There still is Radio Caroline. It's quite incredible. (There is something calling itself 'Radio Caroline' and its owner Malcolm Smith disowns any connection to Ronan O'Rahilly!)
SIMON: Johnnie Walker, still in broadcasting on BBC's Radio 2. Thanks so much for being with us. And thanks to Radio Caroline for everything it's done for this meeting. (So did Malcolm Smith set this up?)
WALKER: Good to talk to you, Scott. Many thanks for having me on.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAROLINE")
THE FORTUNES: (Singing) With her forever, we'll dream together. Just me and Caroline, Caroline."
This was not the first time that Scott Simon has put out rubbish that 'The Trio' challenged. Back on August 11, 2001 Scott Simon on this same NPR program put out a similar fictitious report about Roy Bates and Rough Tower known as 'Sealand'. A week later Scott Simon issued a correction to his story!
The clip below is from a March 10, 1985 RRN-4FWS broadcast about the Tapetrix commercial recording in which Johnnie Walker who was first hired as a dj to work for Don Pierson's twin stations Radio England and Britain Radio in mid-1966, decided to make derogatory comments about Don Pierson on this tape which was advertised for sale. It was then played to Don Pierson and his reaction to Johnnie Walker is a part of this recording. It is made available to prove that Johnnie Walker has a long established habit of making untruthful statements. The maker of the tape is Steve England and he issued a follow-up edition containing a personal admission by him that when he made this recording, he did not know the facts. Steve England also acknowledged that John England (Mervyn Hagger) was the person who exposed the inaccuracy and the unfair and derogatory comments made by Johnnie Walker.