Roger Mathews

Roger Mathews

 Interview by Roland Beaney.

One of my favourite presenters on Radio Caroline in the 1970s was Roger Matthews. He formed part of a great team of presenters on board the Mi Amigo in those days and it was great to hear his return recently after so long.

When did you first join Caroline?

I came out of the air force in July 1976 and joined Caroline in September 1976. After my final programme, which I think, was in the summer of 79 I then did some background work with Rob Eden and finally left at the end of 1979. I can't believe it was 30 years ago since I joined the station, you wonder where the years have gone.

How did you get involved in Radio?

My father was into electronics and built the first TV in our street. I was always listening to the Radio as a kid and when I joined the Air Force in 1972 in Ipswich we listened to Caroline. I got involved in the Base cable Radio station presenting, engineering and editing tapes and loved it. I left the Air Force in 1976 and moved to Birmingham with my parents. I wrote to Caroline's Spanish address and sent a demo tape. I had a reply thanks to Peter Van Dam who picked it up and sent it back to England. I then went to London for an interview and was sent out to the ship.

Have you worked on other stations?

After Caroline I worked in Ireland with Paul Graham on WABC out in the west in a chicken shed on the side of a hill. It had MW and SW and we had lots of reception reports from Europe. After that Paul Graham went back to England and I went to Balina to do some engineering work. I was working in the studio and having completed the work the newsreader did not turn up so I read the news and got offered the job. It then became Castle Radio and broadcast from a Hotel just outside the town. It was a rural station and I enjoyed it there until it closed. After that I didn't know what to do for a while so I returned to the UK in 1983. Paul Graham phoned and told me Sunshine Radio was looking for presenters in Shropshire. I was probably the first DJ to work on a 7 day a week pirate station. I did the breakfast show and stayed in a caravan on the farm where the station was based. We had a lot of run ins with officialdom. It was a brilliant station but the ILR stations didn't like it as it was taking their listeners. We ended up moving to a shed in the owners back garden which was an improvement from the barn on the farm. I then came out of radio in 1984 when the real world finally caught up with me, you know mortgages wife etc. so I decided on getting a real job for a while. I even ended up going to the middle east and did voluntary broadcasting mainly to camels!!! I returned to the UK in 2003 and got invited to a Caroline reunion. I met John Patrick and went with him in to Euradio 2005 in Calais. He then bullied me nicely into returning to Caroline. I did my first show on Caroline on December 23rd 2005 after nearly 27 years away from the station.

What was your favourite Radio station other then Caroline?

I really enjoyed Sunshine Radio, it was hard work at times but very diverse.

What made you return to Caroline?

I have always had the urge to return one day, once it is in your blood it never seems to leave you a bit like a drug! Now life has settled down and the pressures are less I felt it was time to return to where I had left off.

What did you enjoy most about working on a radio ship?

A difficult question. The experience was unforgettable, the camaraderie and making good friends. Everyone was having a bit of fun.

Have you got any special memories?

Many things happened on board that ship, I can remember coming off on the Harwich lifeboat after some heavy weather when the pumps stopped working. We let the world think the ship was finished mainly to stop the authorities seizing the ship and the plan worked when Johnny Lewis heard what was going on he met us on the quay at Harwich. I told him to tell the office to get some pumps out to the ship, he told the office and they sent Peter Chicago out with some pumps to take control of the ship before someone else did.

What have you been doing since you left Caroline? - I worked for some years in the Middle East. I took my family out there and got back into Aviation.

Who was your favourite ship mate?

 I got on very well with many of them. I spent a lot of time with Stewart Russell, Brian Martin, Martin Fisher and Tom Hardy not to mention ‘the lad’. They were all a good bunch of guys and I wouldn't like to single out any one of them.

What is your favourite sport?

Sea fishing, Its a pity that I didn't get into that while on board the Mi Amigo, funnily enough I did not get into it until I was in the middle east.

What do you dislike doing the most?

Washing the car and shopping.

Where do you live now and what is your favourite part of the country?

I have lived in Bournemouth since 1986 (apart from the time in the Middle East) after I got married. My wife comes from Bournemouth. I love that area but I also love the Cotswolds, Shropshire, The Norfolk Broads and Suffolk. That’s the great thing about this country is it is so varied and beautiful.

Tell us about your family

I have a wife, a daughter of 14 and two Burmese cats. My other work in Aviation means I have been away from home a lot over the past three years since coming back from the Middle East and I usually only get to spend two days at home a week. I recently spent 10 months on the Isle of Man.

Who's your favourite band or group?

It depends on what mood I am in. Sometimes its the Eagles, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or even Classical music. If I had to pick out one it would be Jackson Browne’s music that had a great effect on me. His music in the late 70s reflected my life at the time and I felt that I could really relate to what he was doing. Also I have always liked Nick Low, Dave Edmonds and country Rock but not the “Tammy Wynette” type of country. I like country music songs with meaningful and interesting words.

When did you last go on board the Ross?

I have never been on board the Ross I am sad to say. I am working 7 days a week at times and the practicalities of getting there have not been easy. Recently it has not been so available for visits but I hope to get on board this summer.

Many thanks Roger for answering all my questions and I hope your return to Caroline has been an enjoyable experience and will continue for a long time. We look forward to seeing you on board the Ross Revenge soon.

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