Welcome to Sir Windsor's own page... the vague mutterings of Overflow North!!!


 

RADIO......TURN ON, TUNE IN, BREW UP!

My earliest memories of radio was wondering how on earth they got all those singers and announcers (DJ's hadn't been invented back then) in that little square box. Come on, don't mock. I was only knee high to an Elizabethan Tape Recorder! I began to get suspicious of the radio's inhabitants when the musicians appeared never to miss a beat when the radio was being moved around the room.

My next memorable contact with the mysterious world of radio was sometime in 1964 when I had a request played on the BBC Light Programmes 'Children's Favourites'. Presented by Uncle Mac (I knew his cousin Packa) when he played 'Shout' by Lulu & The Luvvers just for me. Famous for 15 seconds, so I still had 14 minutes and 45 seconds to go.

 The BBC Light Service

Through articles in the newspaper I was vaguely aware of the start of Radio Caroline although I had no notion of trying to tune into the station. My first experience with pirate radio happened during August 65 when we were on holiday near Great Yarmouth. Radio London came booming in and my week in a chalet in Hemsby in August was filled with the sounds of Sonny & Cher, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds and Wonderful Radio London. I lived up in Leeds back then, many miles from Great Yarmouth, so I must have assumed I wouldn’t be able to pick up Big L back in Yorkshire.

 The MV Galaxy

As far as radio went 1966 would be the landmark year for me. Radio 270, initially anchored off Scarborough, began broadcasting during June 66. This brought pirate radio to the north east for the very first time. Although aware of the station it wasn't until August 66 that I became a regular listener. This time our annual holiday was near Bridlington and during the car journey I can remember tuning around the dial searching for the signal. Not that we had such a luxury as a car radio you understand, that would have probably doubled the price of our beloved Ford Anglia. What we had was an old portable Decca TP22 radio which I balanced on my knee trying to find this new fangled Radio 270. Somewhere near York I finally made contact and my life changed there and then. Hal Yorke was on the air and although I can't recall what he was playing it's as if I'd made contact with a long lost friend I didn't know I had.

 The Decca TP22 radio

The date was Saturday August 21st 1966 and for almost one year me and Radio 270 were inseparable. It became the soundtrack to my life with an endless supply of music and introduced me to the strange world of jingles. Those early DJ's became constant companions, people like Dennis 'The Menace' Strainey, 'Neddy' Noel Miller, Pete 'Boots' Bowman (it might appear that you had to have an 'extra' name to work on 270, but I don't think it was compulsory). Paul Burnett & Mark West were also on 270 as was Brendan Power who I recall announcing on air that he'd been sacked. We never did find out why. During 1967 Mike Hayes, Ross Randell (aka Alan West) and Rusty Allen appeared. All great DJ's to me as we followed their exploits aboard the Oceaan 7.

For Christmas 1966 Santa brought me a little transistor radio. It followed me everywhere (except school) as I had to have my daily fix of Radio 270. We still had our old Decca portable (I use the term portable 'cos it had a handle, however it weighed a ton. It took two 6 volt lantern batteries which were bigger than my trusty transistor. It might have been portable to a Charles Atlas type but to me it took two hands and the risk of a rupture to move). The Decca's saving grace was it's nice rich sound. So on arriving home from school I'd tune in the Decca to Radio 270 then my mother would arrive home from work and immediately tune in to Mrs. Dales Diary on the BBC Light Programme. When she'd left the room it was back on 270 then back on the BBC when she came back in. Oh the fun we had back in the swingin' 60's.

 Radio 270 studio (1966)

During early 67 Radio News, a free 4 page supplement in the London Weekly Advertiser, was being advertised on 270. So I bought myself a copy and the wider world of offshore radio opened up before me. There were programme listings for Caroline North & South, Big L and all the other stations broadcasting at the time. As it gave their frequencies, all of them within half a twiddle of 270's position on the medium wave (now we are decimal it's known as AM) I found that the trusty Decca portable(ish) would pick them up. Not as strong as 270's signal but certainly listenable. It was radio heaven.

But all good things come to an end and at midnight on Monday August 14th 1967 Radio 270 broadcast it's last gasp. I couldn't believe it was gone forever and for weeks afterwards my little transistor (I refrain from calling it a tranny lest there be some sort of misunderstanding) was stuck on 270's frequency. Well you never know it might have come back on! Meanwhile the Decca was tuned into Caroline South. We'd had a new electric cooker fitted around this time and there was some of that thick electrical cabling left lying around. So I stuck a length in the aerial socket at the back of the radio which brought Caroline South in much clearer.

 Mrs Windsor trys out the new cooker (whilst wearing a rather early pair of Overflow oven-gloves)

But by March 68 that was also silent. I was never a big fan of Radio One in those early days. I did listen to Emperor Rosko, Kenny Everett, Tony Blackburn and John Peel but my musical tastes were changing and daytime Radio One didn't really cater for it. I used to listen to Tommy Vance & Dave Cash on Radio Monte Carlo which later became Radio Geronimo. These stations were on air after midnight using the Radio Andorra transmitter. AFN had some good programmes too, playing stuff not yet released in the UK. Generally Radio Luxembourg wasn't really to my liking although Kid Jenson's progressive rock programme was always worth a listen. Then there was RNI and Caroline in the 70's. I lived in Amsterdam during 1973 and I once met someone claiming to be Mike the Poet from Radio Caroline/Seagull, and who was I to say he wasn't? And I once wrote to Johnny Jason to which he kindly replied along with a nice postcard.

 DJ : Johnny Jason

I always imagined it must have been great to work on an offshore station, although of course we did learn it was frequently far from great. In the early 70's I'd started collecting recordings from the 60's offshore stations and through that I got to know quite a few likeminded people. One such person was a guy called Richard Graham who I knew ran a low powered FM pirate station in Portsmouth called King Radio, or K-I-N-G as it was announced. Out of the blue in late 1989 he asked me if I'd be interested in recording a programme for the station.

 Richard Graham (who also did some programmes for Overflow through the mid 1990's)

I'd never done a radio show before and I didn't really have any equipment apart from one record deck, a tape deck and a very basic mic. But I thought I'd give it a shot. So with one record deck and the mic fastened to a broom handle (wooden of course, less risk of an electric shock) I committed my first programme to tape. I thought it a good idea to give the programme a title rather than just the Paul Windsor programme. I wanted the title to reflect the music I was going to play so it became the very first Psychedelic Snarl (title borrowed from an old Bam Caruso compilation). The programme went out on January 27th 1990 between 6 & 7.30 pm on 92.6FM and 6210Khz SW, that’s K-I-N-G to you my dear. First record played was Cream's 'Cat's Squirrel' (b side of their first single 'Wrapping Paper' which I first heard on Radio 270 in late 66 played by Roger Scott as his signature tune). In fact it also became the signature tune to the Psychedelic Snarl although usually played at the end of each programme to fill up any spare tape. The first record proper played after 'Cat's Squirrel' was Pink Floyd's 'Arnold Layne'.

 The Psychedelic Snarl

After that first feeble effort I didn't think I'd be asked for more, but Richard must have been desperate for programmes 'cos he did ask for more. Did he have no shame, or indeed listeners? As 1990 wore (dragged?) on more Psychedelic Snarls were produced along with a couple of new shows, the Twilight Zone (featuring much more modern noisy stuff) and The Sixties Jukebox (it does what it says on the label). Recording equipment improved, a second record deck was now in use plus another tape deck so I could now use jingles. I’d also purchased a basic mixer, WOW! almost professional. I'd even bought myself a much better mic and (gasp!) a proper mic stand. To hell with electrical shocks. So from 1990 through to 1993 various Snarl's, Zones & Jukeboxes were recorded and duly aired on King Radio. There was even an unofficial attempt to change the station name to KROQ (a famous Los Angeles FM rock station) as I'd acquired some jingles from said station. Of course Richard sensibly ignored my devious ploy and carried on regardless as K-I-N-G.

 Mr.Windsor's very first studio mixer...    (The highly regarded Kenwood F1-11G)

As time went on, and unknown to me, my programmes for King Radio started being aired over a station called Freedom Overflow based in Essex. The dodgy station owner, one Garry Lee, was editing out all reference to K-I-N-G and slipping in Overflow jingles. Don't these bloody pirates have any scruples? I only found this out when Garry wrote to inform me I'd been heard over The Overflow for the past few months, and oh would I like to join the unruly crew at Overflow? "Blimey" I probably didn't think, I'd been headhunted by another station. I was impressed by Garry and his Overflow radio station who seemed very well organized so I didn't hesitate to say YES!

So my first official programme on Overflow went out on May 29th 1993. That first Psychedelic Snarl for Overflow started off with part of a King Radio jingle followed by an explosion followed by an Overflow jingle then straight in Pink Floyd 'See Emily Play'. Goodbye K-I-N-G hello Overflow! For the next 8 years I recorded many programmes for Overflow including plenty of Psychedelic Snarls, which from 1994 even attempted a history of psychedelia. The Twilight Zone re-appeared as The Planet of Sound (named after a Pixies song) which was just as noisy but which also included many clips of dialogue from films and radio plays plus other found sounds played between the music. The music covered many genres from early 70's rock through punk, new wave, goth, shoegaze, reggae, electro and death metal with even an occasional lounge classic thrown in for good measure. The greatest plaudit I ever got was when Garry told me that during a broadcast of one of my programme The Black Widow was heard to say "what the hell is he playing now!?". That was exactly the kind of effect I wanted. By 1998 the name was changed to The Soundgarden (for 1 programme) then after I came across some great jingles from a U.S. radio station it became the Industrial Zone. There was even an occasional Sixties Jukebox, usually around Christmas time.

The Paul Windsor performance chart showing his radio highs and lows on Overflow during  1993

During August 96 and September 97 an RSL was set up called Supanova. In 1996 it broadcast from Canvey and in 1997 it was situated at the end of Southend Pier. Garry Lee was involved in this and I was asked to do some programmes for the station. This was another first for me as it was the first time I'd broadcast legally. I did go down to visit the station in Canvey during the August 96 broadcast but I never actually broadcast live, my programmes were all pre-recorded (coward!).

 Supanova Radio 107FM - 1996

My final programmes on Overflow went out during 2001 as that era of Overflow came to an end. However during 2002 news began to filter through that there was going to be an RSL during the summer from the now famous lightship LV18. It was due to commence broadcasting on Thursday 8th August with Radio Mi Amigo during the day and Overdrive 1503 broadcasting overnight. I started to record programmes for the Overdrive service in readiness for the stations opening and the station began broadcasting at midnight on August 8th with 6 hours of tests followed by the official opening at 6 am. My first taped programme went out that evening at 1900. Not being able to hear it at my location I rang Garry Lee to see how it was all going and somehow during our conversation I was persuaded to head south later in the month with a view to broadcasting LIVE!! The prospect of broadcasting from a ship was too good an opportunity to miss but how would I cope with being on air without the aid of an on/off switch? Clearly Garry had more faith in me than I did.

 The LV18

 Along with my son Chris we set out in the early hours of Tuesday 20th of August for the 250 mile drive south to Harwich. As I drove into Harwich along the A120 we could see the red coloured LV18 anchored out in Harwich Harbour. We parked up close to the Ha'penny Pier and following Garry's instructions we soon found Captain Baines who took us out to the LV18. We clambered up the makeshift ladder and climbed aboard and straight away we felt at home. We were given a tour of the ship by Garry and met the others aboard who included Gary (Suicide) Foster, Neon Nancy, Dave Kent and Tony O’Neill.

 The Windsor family's favourite car...  the trusty Ford Anglia, before the trip to Harwich. (Unfortunately it fell to bits upon arrival).

My first live broadcast was scheduled for 1am and that 60 minutes came and went in a flash. I had great difficulty in remembering to announce the station as Overdrive instead of Overflow but apart from that all went reasonably well. But I was bitten by the bug and I was now ready for another go which duly arrived later that morning at 9 o'clock. I was to be trusted with 3 hours of broadcast time on Mi Amigo and I was raring to go. Garry Lee had been on air from 0600 so he stayed in the studio for awhile to ensure that I knew what all the knobs and faders did. 20 minutes in and I was gaining in confidence even laughing off the fact that the wrong track had just been played as I discovered that one of the two CD players had its own idea of what it would play, and it certainly wouldn't be the track I had chosen. As Radio Mi Amigo was daytime radio it was expected that the music played wouldn't frighten the listeners too much so when Garry saw me lining up Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades' he quipped that if that was played we'd no doubt receive a visit from the format police. Needless to say I opted for something less likely to bring the pictures off the wall and the tiles off the roof.

 Mi Amigo 1503

My first stint on the LV18 was only short so my only other programmes were from midnight to 2 am on Overdrive 1503 and 9 to midday on Mi Amigo, both on the Thursday. I'd had a great time with everyone on board making us feel very welcome. On the drive back north I knew I'd have to have another spell on the LV18 before the 28 day broadcast finished. And so just over a week later on Friday August 30th I was back on the LV broadcasting between 3 and 6 in the afternoon. It felt like I'd never been away. This time I'd brought some of my own music, smuggled aboard while the format police weren’t looking. During that first programme I was playing Neil Young's 'Tell Me Why' when Neon Nancy (pictured above with Tony Currie - Nancy is the one without a hat - we think), came rushing into the studio with wooden spoon in hand (not to beat me with you understand, apparently she'd been busy in the galley) to tell me that it had been years since she'd heard that song. I knew I was safe from the format police now with Nancy aboard, ready to defend me with the ship's wooden spoon!

 The Format Police (Harwich division) wait patiently for Paul Windsor to leave the LV18. A search warrant for his record box was immediately issued.

For the next three days I did a mixture of daytime Mi Amigo and night time Overdrive. I did the midnight to 3 am slot on Overdrive playing just about anything that took my fancy. I even dug out some Wishbone Ash which Garry appeared pleased about. In fact he celebrated by spilling his beer in his slippers. You may have seen a grown man cry but you haven't seen anything until you have seen a grown man attempt to suck beer out of his slippers. Desperation doesn't even come close!!

 Beery slippers!

In the early hours of the Sunday morning, around 1.30 as I recall, I was suddenly aware that the LV18 was moving about quite a bit. It was beginning to blow a bit outside and although we were only anchored a mile or so off Harwich the LV began to act like it was somewhere in the Knock Deep Channel. The studio was located in the old wheelhouse and from it led a short flight of stairs down to a door that led straight outside onto the deck. As was usual this door was open and while the LV18 danced around it's anchor chain the wind began whipping spray up the stairs. At about the same time I noticed that the steady tone of the generator situated towards the rear of the boat began complaining about the wind and spray. How could this be I wondered? We aren't exactly at anchor in the North Sea so just how rough can it get? Apart from me there were only 3 others on board. As no one had surfaced I had to assume that they were all fast asleep, either that or they had abandoned ship leaving me aboard to keep the music playing. I remembered that one of my old radio recordings had featured the New Zealand pirate station Radio Hauraki taking a battering with the DJ desperately giving messages out over the air as the Tiri ran aground on rocks. I carried on regardless though trying to keep all thoughts of Hauraki out of my head. By 2.30 the stormy weather had begun to die down and the ship had settled down to a nice steady rolling motion. Even the generator had resumed its steady hum now that the wind had stopped blowing into its outlet pipe. 3 o'clock came and I finished my programme and started the pre-recorded programme and then went and sat in my favourite part of the ship. This was at the rear (aft?) underneath the heli-deck. It was sheltered from the sea breezes but gave a great view of the surrounding area. At something past 3 in the morning the view was of the twinkling lights of distant Harwich. Under the heli-deck was a great place to chill out. Next morning I mentioned the stormy weather of a few hours earlier but everyone just looked at me as if I was mad. "What storm?!?" they said. These daytime radio types are all the same.............

Paul Windsor driven to the depths of despair, whilst the rest of us all had a lovely sleep (strange one that)!

I wore my Mi Amigo hat on the Saturday being on air from 1130 am to 2 pm. In fact I sat in for Garry Lee who was feeling unwell, probably having had more ale than slipper the night before. On the Sunday evening I did 6 till 9 which was very nice with the setting evening sun casting a lovely red and pink glow over everything. The only near disaster during the programme occurred as I opened the mic and as I began to speak I noticed a spider making its way down the mic stand towards the mic itself with my open mouth being it's probable next step. I had to back announce a couple of records and do the usual station I.D.’s. The quicker I spoke the faster the eight legged beast made for my end of the mic stand. As it reached the mic I closed the fader and started the next record. With that it galloped (do spiders gallop?) back the way it came never to be seen again. Phew!!

 Now how do I get from here to Paul Windsor's microphone without him noticing me...  er...

To get some broadcast time in on my last day I did the early morning 6 till 9 slot. Not naturally an early bird I managed to drag myself out of my bunk at about 15 minutes to 6 and armed with a mug of industrial strength coffee I put my mouth into gear and launched myself into the programme. This time the sun came up in front of me as seagulls sat in a row sunning themselves at the sharp end of the LV18. At some point I'd gone down to the galley for another fix of coffee leaving The Smiths longish 'How Soon Is Now' playing. Garry Lee was in the mess room slumped over a drink and he gave me a look that either said "what are you doing playing The Smiths at this ungodly hour?" or "have you seen my slippers?". Whichever it was I carried on regardless. All too quickly my carefully chosen final records were played and my thank you's to all that had given me abuse (including our deranged engineer) and encouragement (by everyone else on the LV18) were said.

 When in Harwich, always stand in a row when the suns out, then your tan spreads evenly.

And that was it. I'd only been on board for a few days but it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. From my stumbling beginnings on King Radio in January 1990 to the LV18 some 12 years later I'd actually broadcast from a boat, nearly been ship wrecked, threatened with keel-hauling for playing noisy records during the hours of daylight, attacked by a giant man eating spider and met some sureal characters! Life just doesn't any get better.......................

 

 
 
     
     

The Overflow Handbook 2008 - © Starship Overflow

Radio Overflow

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