John Patrick

John Patrick

 Interview by Roland Beaney.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Edgware, Middlesex in July 1949.

Where do you live now?

I live in either Sevenoaks or Ramsgate depending on what I am doing

What is your favourite part of the Country?


How did you get involved in Radio?

During the mid 1970’s I became involved with supplying the Mi Amigo from a variety of small ports in the South East. We never had any problems with the authorities; in fact they knew precisely what we were doing. One morning we turned up late and received a rollicking from the local policemen as we had missed the tide. He then helped us load the supplies onto the boat. When the Mi Amigo sank I lost interest in radio.

However, being a big fan of ships in general, I had always wanted to spend some time on a light vessel but as they were all automated my chances of doing that were nil. I then heard that an old light vessel was being prepared to do a broadcast off Clacton pier. I got in touch with Paul Graham who was organising it and asked that if I came and spent some time getting the ship ready for sea, could I be part of the crew when she set sail. I cleaned out rubbish, painted anything that didn’t move and generally helped for several weeks. We even speculated that it would be better to mow the helideck with a lawn mower as it was covered in bird droppings and loads of grass. On the day we sailed out of Harwich I was on board as the cook and general dogs-body. If you look at the pictures of the ship I painted the helideck twice in different colours. You can read the full story of the RSL at  under the RNI banner.

I also paid half the cost of the mast that was erected on that deck and I still own 50% of it. We needed a mast and I found one and helped pay for it. The only reason the LV18 RNI broadcast off Clacton took place is because I helped to buy the mast needed to make the RSL go ahead. It’s one of those stupid things you do to keep the sound of offshore radio in the minds of people and I don’t regret spending the money. Paul had been contracted to provide a platform for the commentator for the Clacton air display. He never turned up and knowing that I was an air traffic controller who had worked at numerous air displays Paul asked me to do it. I was given a short lesson on the equipment in the studio and cueing and told to get on with it. My first ever time behind the microphone was 4 hours of unscripted memories about displays which I had already seen. Paul apologised to Tendring Council about the missing commentator and they said that the bloke who did it on the Saturday was excellent and should be used for the Sunday as well, which I did. After that they were short of DJ’s and I was asked to do a show. I said no at first as I was not able to comply with the format clock. Paul said I could play whatever I liked as my show would be going out in the early hours of the morning.

This I did, playing melodic rock I built up an audience and the shows became popular, I was then moved to a much earlier slot. I will also add that when we were off Clacton, Dick Palmer, who was my DJ mentor, is a wonderful bloke but completely off his trolley. He attempted to set fire to the ship, in true RNI style by putting a kettle on without any water in it. I found it and threw it into the sea. After that, whenever an RSL took place on the ship I was asked to do shows. On one of them Barry James was there and he said that I would be most welcome on Radio Caroline. I spoke to Peter Moore who suggested the name John Patrick and here I am. So from a desire to spend time on a light vessel without any ambition to be one, I became a DJ.

When did you first join Caroline?

I don’t think I ever “joined” Caroline, I just became more and more involved over time in the 1970’s and then again 20 years later.

Have you worked on a Radio ship?

Not a real one. I did do several RSL’s from LV18 and spent several happy weeks two miles off Clacton pier. I completely missed the “Ross” era as my career took over most of my time. I first learnt about the ship when it ran onto the Goodwin Sands. I have made numerous broadcasts from her but only when she was safely tucked up against a pier.

Have you got any special memories?

There are so many and they are all good. Broadcasting and living on the “Ross” has always been very special to me. Although I never heard her broadcast whilst she was at sea, I am in a privileged position having been able to do the things I have done.

One thing that still makes me smile is when the “Ross” was moored on the Ocean Terminal at Tilbury. We had to turn the ship around because a very large cruise ship was coming in and needed the extra few feet which we were occupying at the time. So, we had to leave the stern attached to the pier and swing the bow through 180 degrees to release the extra space for the liner. A full practise emergency was carried out on the ship. All crew had to evacuate, muster at the emergency sites; and be counted off against a ship personnel manifest. Having been on air until the early hours of the morning, I was in my bunk, asleep. I slept through all the banging and crashing as the ship turned through 180 degrees, nobody realised that I was missing from the poor souls standing in the rain. I woke up, looked out the porthole to see that someone had stolen the river Thames and replaced it with a line of parked cars. So much for emergency procedures then!

What other Radio stations have you been involved with?

I have only done a few RSL’s from LV18 and the “Ross”. I never wanted to be a DJ but was pushed into it when the R.N.I. RSL off Clacton became short of presenters. I was allowed to play what I wanted, built an audience and I just kept on doing it.

What are your earliest memories of Caroline?

Only, after the M.O.A. when she was the only station left.

What is your favourite station other than Caroline? -

To be honest, I never liked Caroline during the 1960’s. I listened to Radio London, I was a “Mod”. I had the Scooter and all the gear and we all listened to Radio London. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the old girl turned into something I wanted to listen to did I become involved.

Who is the most famous person that you have met?

Alice Cooper, Glenn Hughes, Bob Catley and a load of others. I interviewed them all for my shows a few years ago and was able to get to them by using the name “Radio Caroline” who they all knew about. However, the most famous has to be the Duke of Edinburgh.

What is the best and worst thing about radio today?

The best is that Caroline is still able to be on the air. The worst is that 99% of the other stations are run by men-in-suits and accountants. As a business they have to make a profit, therefore the music played must attract the listeners the advertisers are targeting. As a result the record libraries are restricted in number to maybe a couple of hundred tracks and no freedom is allowed. Because they are all operating under those rules, they all sound the same.

Whilst you are reading this you should know that it is the Radio Caroline Supporters Group that keeps us on the air and I urge you to join it. Without them, we are dead in the water!

How much music freedom do you have on Caroline?


Do you have any embarrassing or funny moments to share with us?

No, not really just so many happy memories. However, I will tell of an experience I had in the U.S. I was in Austin, Texas and blagged my way into the local station KLBJ using the name Radio Caroline. In the 0n-air studio I was introduced to the DJ’s and they asked who I worked for. I told them it was Radio Caroline and all 3 people knew about her and I spent an hour answering questions about the old girl. When I got a chance to ask them questions I asked how do you know about Caroline? They all said that Radio Caroline was known throughout the American radio industry as the station they all wanted to be. One DJ even used the name Johnny Walker on air. -They have absolutely no freedom, the whole show is worked out by a computer, they are only allowed to speak twice every hour and what they say is written down for them. That is why they want to be like Radio Caroline.

What do you do for your day job and relaxation?

I am a retired air traffic controller. For relaxation, I collect wartime binoculars and make model ships. I am also writing two books and write for several magazines, I do maritime research and seem to have been promoted to the world’s expert on the M/V Galaxy and Mi Amigo. I am also doing considerable research into air traffic control for one of the books. I really enjoy astronomy and sea fishing, do some charity work. I also spend a lot of time preparing my shows, it may not sound like it but I do give it a lot of thought.

The current model I am working on is the Mi Amigo. It all started out when I was looking for a new model ship to build. Modellers are always looking for a ship that has never been built before and I decided that the offshore radio era had not been covered. I managed to obtain plans for the Comet, Galaxy, Fredericia but not the Mi Amigo. I was determined that she was the ship I was going to build. I wrote to the shipyard that converted her from the “Olga” to the radio ship for Radio Nord. They never replied, so I wrote twice a week for nine months and finally, a battered set of plans came through my letterbox. Probably just to shut me up. I had them redrawn and now the model is about 50% complete. Six sections of the mast have been completed made from brass. It will be fully radio controlled and will have a transmitter on board.

What is your favourite food?


What do you dislike doing the most?

Wasting time.

What are your favourite bands or groups?

My favourite band of all time is Harem Scarem from Canada, who have now broken up.

What are your top 5 favourite tunes?

Harem Scarem - Sunset Boulevard, Savatage - One child, Hugo - A tear in LA, Vaughn Williams - The lark ascending and Dreamtide - Dreamers.

When did you last go on board the Ross Revenge?

It was before I became ill again so it must be a couple of years.

What plans have you for the future?

To put as many smiles on peoples faces as I can and to persuade my body to keep working.

Thank you John for answering all my questions. I hope you do manage to persuade your body to keep going for many more years because it looks as though you have a lot more work to do keeping us Caroline fans entertained and also with all those hobbies. .

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