There was a reason why Herbert W. Armstrong worked behind the scenes to create offshore radio stations that could reach the British Isles, and that reason is because unlike Billy Graham, he was not welcome on the airwaves of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
On the other hand, his only alternatives were stations in Europe that could be heard in the British Isles and which sold English language commercial airtime. The leading station of this type was Radio Luxembourg, but it would not clear prime time for his broadcasts which he was asking for seven days a week. At first he was offered a slot in their original service on Thursday afternoons sandwiched in with French language programming. The Luxembourg began a second station targeting continental Europe by day and the British Isles by night. This opened up a late night slot on Mondays, and it was then followed by an additional Tuesday slot when another U.S. religious broadcaster quit Luxembourg.
There was another problem facing Armstrong, and that had to do with the location of Luxembourg, its owners and the prevailing Lutheran-Catholic religious identification of the people on the continent. This factor required Armstrong to tone-down his religious differences so as not to cause offense. It was this same factor that made Billy Graham acceptable to the BBC, because Graham's interpretation of one key word in the Bible, was in lockstep with the accepted understanding of that word by the British Crown's State Church of England.
That word was "gospel", and its interpretation was further complicated by the surrounding text in the New Testament Book of Matthew at chapter 24, and in verse 14, and this is what it says: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Billy Graham interpreted this Biblical word as part of an Establishment mission in keeping with the overall doctrines of the British Crown's State Church of England, and it was not out-of-step with the Church of Scotland. Nor was out of step with what would become Billy Graham's own "church home" in Dallas, Texas which was also the hotbed homeland of a political ideology that became branded as "McCarthyism". In a sense, it is in Dallas, Texas where the ethereal Jesus and the flesh and blood Senator became acquainted.
Many of the roots forming the basis for this story can be traced back to Texas.
But Herbert W. Armstrong understood that word "gospel" as something entirely different to Billy Graham. Armstrong understood that word to refer to a specific message that ran counter to the theology of Billy Graham, and Armstrong also interpreted the surrounding text to refer to a mission given to him and to him alone.
That mission was all about radio broadcasting and the Statler Brothers even made a record featuring religion based on radio broadcasting. Click to hear it.
The problem for Herbert W. Armstrong was this: Before he could get listeners to turn their radio on and hear his message about the "gospel", there had to be a radio station transmitter on the air and directed towards listeners who could then tune in their receivers and listen to him! As he interpreted Matthew 24:14, It was Armstrong's own mission in life to personally fulfill Matthew 24:14 as a prophetic event.
More than that, it was, as Armstrong saw it, his duty to deliver a warning message to the world, and that included the peoples of the British Isles. That warning message was tied-up with the word "gospel" and the meaning behind it. For Billy Graham, the word 'gospel' referred to the person of Jesus, while Herbert W. Armstrong read that same word as a mission message to deliver the prophecy that came with it.
Armstrong saw it as a last chance warning to the world. His own explanation went like this: "If you don't listen to the watchman on the wall (as Armstrong pictured himself), terrible things will happen to you within your lifetime. You had better heed the warning I am delivering as the messenger ."
Same book, same chapter and same verse, but two different theological interpretations. But when it came to political ideology, there was only a difference in public manifestation, because at the core both Graham and Armstrong agreed on the similar versions of political ideology. However, while Graham openly associated with post-WWII U.S. national politics of the day, Armstrong did not, even though he was actually in step with them.
But in the Nineteen Sixties there was only one way to reach the people of the British Isles with a geopolitical message wrapped in religion, especially a message that was not being manifest by the British Establishment. It had to be delivered from outside the British Isles and beamed into them. One method was to use a distant station like Radio Luxembourg, but other method was to broadcast from offshore radio stations outside British territorial waters. However, there was just one problem with that method: those stations did not exist.
The U.S. government toyed around with this method, first from a large ship anchored within the territorial waters of Greece, by permission of that government, but directing its broadcasts to satellite countries of the USSR, and later during the Vietnam War by employing aircraft flying in a circle while transmitting radio and television programs to the ground. The USA has continued to use such methods abroad during times of hostility. The same idea was adopted on a small scale by U.S. commercial operators. But in 1960, there was no outward hostility directed towards the UK by the USA, because in theory, but not always in practice, both countries were operating under the cloak of shared intelligence.
However, what Herbert W. Armstrong wanted to do did not compute with the national goals of either the USA or UK, and so if commercial offshore broadcasting was to commence off British shores, Herbert W. Armstrong would have to assist in their creation.
In 1958, Armstrong began by visiting Radio Mercur to gather information, and then he worked with Radio Europe 1 and Radio Monte Carlo where his broadcast was accepted for transmission in several languages. One of those languages was Russian, and it was delivered with the assistance of an interpreter who recorded the Radio Monte Carlo program in New York.
At this time, Armstrong was also in-step with a faction hidden within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who had established 'fringe' radio stations such as Radio Goa on the Indian continent, and Radio Swan in the Caribbean Sea. By the Nineteen Sixties, that 'fringe' was led by none other than the U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and the 'secret' CIA base for its air, sea and land operations was based on the U.S. southern campus of the University of Miami. Eventually Herbert W. Armstrong remarked disdainfully about these impotent 'fringe' operations, and that is when his mastermind legal advisor named Stanley R. Rader, dressed him up as the 'Ambassador for Peace, without portfolio.'
However, back in 1960, Herbert W. Armstrong was still working on the 'fringe' approach.
In 1959 various British interests had already come together and they began to push for the introduction of licensed British commercial radio. Hundreds of stations were registered and the services of a U.S. engineering company was obtained to map out exactly where and how they could be operated. The U.S. "hand" behind that plan was obfuscated intentionally when it was palmed off as the work of the Pye Group of companies.
At the same time, a British journalist named John Thompson who had been working for a radio station in Canada, had returned to his native England and together with a rogue import from North America named Arnold Swanson, the two of them began to make a lot of noise in the press about offshore broadcasting. But even though Armstrong tried to help them, they failed to put a station on the air.
Australian import Allan Crawford followed on where Thompson and Swanson left off, and he agreed to put Armstrong on his Radio Atlanta. But the powerful people on Crawford's board of directors had other ideas, and that resulted in a spin-off called Radio Caroline.
However, the ideas behind Radio Caroline were strategic, and they had no time or place for polemical broadcasting that would hinder and not help their objectives. Their plans were centered around a top level former BBC radio engineer who was working with the John Stanley, son of the Chairman of Pye Group, which was at that time, one of the U.K.'s major electronics firms. The Pye plan was to get licenses for commercial radio stations so that Pye could manufacture and sell them 'pre-packaged stations' for a fixed low price.
Yet another faction behind the plans for Radio Caroline had been involved in supplying programming to British commercial television contractors, and before that they supplied commercial radio programming to the Luxembourg station. These people also saw an opportunity to further their interests by expansion.
There was also another and very powerful group which was tied to the embryonic plans for exploration and exploitation of the offshore natural gas and petroleum fields that could be developed from rigs in the North Sea. These business interests were based in Houston, Texas and they had a working enterprise to guide them on which was situated in a gigantic lake within the territorial waters of Venezuela.
While Crawford's plans for Radio Atlanta were moving ahead with the interjection of the group that was focused upon the spin-off project of Radio Caroline, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy took place on November 22, 1963 at 'High Noon' in Dallas, Texas. This city in the Lone Star State, was already the home of both modern music radio programming, and the hotbed of McCarthy politics. It also became the location of Billy Graham's "home church", and all of these interests helped to create a 'perfect storm' of activity that slammed the door shut on Armstrong's plans, while speeding-up plans for British offshore broadcasting, sans Armstrong.
Meanwhile, out in the wilderness of West Texas, several car dealers and oil men who were oblivious to the geopolitical undercurrents tying Dallas and London together, fell victim to the intentional noise of propaganda spread abroad about Radio Caroline which had begun testing off the coast of south-east England on March 27, 1964. Looking at the situation from afar, and then during a flying visit to inspect the Caroline and Atlanta ships from a plane flying overhead, Don Pierson who was the leading Texan in this group, saw the opportunity to transport the same kind of programming format heard in Dallas, and place it on a former U.S. minesweeper anchored next to the Caroline and Atlanta ships. Thus Radio London was born as an idea in the middle of 1964, but it would not come on the air until the end of that year.
It took a change of government in the UK during late 1964, and the uncertainty that a new Socialist (Labour Party) administration brought with it, that caused the backers of Radio London to worry. It seemed that at the very moment Radio London was about to come on the air, this new Labour government was going to put a spanner in the works.
Just as their ship station dropped anchor, and the noise from the British General Election was beginning to die down, the noise in the camp of the Radio London investors was beginning to rise. They did not know how long their new investment would last, because they did not know whether new British legislation would kill its potential British advertising base - before the Texas investors had a chance to recoup their investment, let alone make a profit.
This was Armstrong's moment.
The Texans needed him as much as he needed them!
It was after Armstrong began incrementally introducing his daily roster of programs to the airwaves of Radio London, that the people behind the spin-off project of Radio Caroline also realized that their original purpose for Radio Caroline was only being partially met. It was the oil and petroleum people who had got the answer they wanted by testing the British Crown to see how it would react to a challenge just beyond its territorial waters. Their ship called 'Fredericia' and renamed 'Caroline', had met that challenge and won the day.
But for the interests behind the programming side that aimed to create land based stations, their hopes and dreams had been immediately dashed. Now, instead of a short-term project, they had to also follow the lead of Radio London's programmers and make money before legislation came in to stop them.
In far away Liechtenstein the money controllers behind Atlanta and Caroline revised their marketing plans for both ship stations and decided to operate under a single identity that pinned their hopes on assisting their own financial interests based on the Isle of Man. However, merging the Atlanta and Caroline operations into a single company became a problem, because the Atlanta ship was leased from another group in Texas, while the Caroline ship was controlled by a tug and maritime towing company in the Netherlands, and that company also had ties to the Texas-Venezuela oil and petroleum industry.
When the original Caroline ship moved from its original location and then dropped anchor off the Isle of Man, the marketing men from Caroline came begging for Armstrong to also use their two offshore stations. But Armstrong was no longer begging. He now had a choice of stations.
So Armstrong put his program on the northern ship (Caroline), but his London advertising agency shunned the southern ship (ex-Radio Atlanta station), because he was already on Radio London anchored 'next door', and it had far more transmitting power to cover the same broadcasting area. There were now other offshore stations in that same vicinity that were coming on the air, and they too were anxious to obtain Armstrong's paid daily broadcast.
But to understand how all of these interests came together, it is necessary to understand the driving force that linked to them all, and that was Herbert W. Armstrong. He is the real foundation of this entire story, and his motivating force is linked back to the alternative interpretation that one Biblical verse. Here are its two interpretations:
The first clip on film is by a flamboyant and relatively young Billy Graham, and the other one is by an aging Herbert W. Armstrong - after he had disassociated himself from his son Garner Ted: