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Hey, everybody. I don't know if you've heard, but we have a book coming out finally. Finally, after all these years. It's great. It's fun. You're going to love it. It's called stuff you should know. Colen an incomplete compendium of mostly interesting things. Yep. And it's twenty six jam packed chapters that we wrote with another guy named Nils Parker, who's amazing and is illustrated amazingly by our illustrator, Carly Manado. And it's just an all around joy to pick up and read, even though we haven't physically held her hand yet.
It's like we have Chuck in our dreams so far.
I can't wait to actually see and hold this thing and smell it and so should you. So preorder now it means a lot to us. The support is a very big deal. So preorder anywhere. Books are sold. Welcome to Step, you should know a production of NPR Radio's HowStuffWorks. Hey, and welcome to pump up the volume, I'm Josh, there's Chuck. Jeri's out there somewhere raging against the machine. And this is bubble to say it's stuff you should know.
I love it. When I sent you this this research, you were like the first thing you said was pump up the volume.
Sure. Man, it's such a great movie. You know, what's funny is I didn't think about that once until you said that. And I was like, oh, yeah, yeah.
It was all about piracy and radios. Yeah, I love that movie.
I just hadn't seen it.
And I don't know, I don't think probably since then it has a really has a good soundtrack as bad brains. And Henry Rollins. Yeah. Doing Kick out the Jams. Yes. Five song. It also has probably the best Soundgarden song of all time heretic. Yeah.
Well it's tough to call for me as a Soundgarden nut, but yeah. Good song. It is a good song. Which one's better than that. I like a lot of Soundgarden so yeah I have probably 20 tied for first songs. OK, but is that one of them. Yeah it's up there. Oh thanks for that. I love it.
It's great. I mean I love all Soundgarden songs. Sure. Yeah, I guess I do, too, now that I think about it, I think it could have had something to do with Chris Cornell's voice to an extent, man. All right. Yeah, for real. I used to joke about the imagining the first time that he, like, sung in the shower when he was 13 or something.
He was like like, oh, I think I know what I'm going to do for a living. Yeah, exactly. Shower. So we're talking about pump up the volume.
And Chris Cornell right now, because this episode is about pirate radio and specifically it's about the British pirate radio invasion of the 60s that I had no idea about. I've never seen that movie pirate radio, but I intend to now. Have you seen it?
I haven't seen the movie, but I was acquainted with the story. Somehow I think I might have seen a short documentary or something about the Carolin and really, really cool stuff.
It is, which is why we're going to talk about it in this episode.
But I just found the whole thing I don't know of. Mindblowing is the right word, but certainly deeply interesting. And I think it's cool because it's one of those like pieces to the jigsaw puzzle of history, at least like rock history that you didn't even realize, like you didn't you didn't have you know, you might you I mean me. Yeah.
And here's the thing is there were other pirate radio stations all around the world and there always have been since there's been radio and restrictions on radio.
But hey, and as long as there's rock, Chuck, there always will be. That's true. But the U.K. version was sort of the most celebrated in the most famous, I think obviously why they made a movie about it. And one of the reasons is because the the man whose thumb they were under was the BBC, which is a big deal.
It was a big deal because here in the United States and I know ahoy to all of you listeners outside of the United States here, you're like, well, yeah, we this is what it was like in the United States. The radio spectrum has always been very free or it was intended to be very free to where there was a multiplicity of voices. And you could say a lot of stuff, get a little stodgy. And it was kind of stodgy from the outset.
But for the most part, it wasn't just one monolithic organization that controlled all of the radio waves. That's just not how it's been in the States and in places like the U.K. That's how it was basically right out of the gate.
They said, you know, we this is a really valuable tool. You can really shape people's minds with this. So we're going to leave it specifically under government control. Look, we'll provide a bunch of different stuff, not everything you want, but a lot of stuff, especially if you're a stodgy conservative, old establishment type. You're going to love what we're pumping out. But the point is, is too important to just kind of let anybody come along who has the money for a radio licence to just set up a radio station.
That seems absurd. Only the the loony colonies would do something like that.
Yeah. So the BBC had a very vise like grip, like you were saying for G's, about forty something years. And then, you know, the sixties come along and like so many other things in America and the UK, kids that were born of these World War Two, I guess you would call them baby boomers or British or boomers. The babies of those boomers were rock and roll kids. You know, they grew up seeing Elvis and the Beatles on television and they were not square like their parents were.
And they had different ideas and their parents did. And this was the case in England in the 1960s when the BBC was, you know, rock and roll was was a thing. And they were like, we're not playing this this devil's music. They probably didn't say that that was more American.
If you but if it was certainly controversial songs, it seemed to us like I mean, like you just hear them on an elevator today, like they were highly controversial back that, you know, and like there was genuinely nowhere on the radio in the UK for you to reliably turn to to hear this stuff. You had to go to like a club to hear them. And those were few and far between. And then if you were lucky enough, you might be able to occasionally dial in Radio Luxembourg, which played some of these like pop hits.
But they were also it was still largely controlled by a few record labels. So it didn't just they didn't go deep. It was still like whatever new big band they were trying to promote, but it was still way cooler than anything the BBC was promoting. The problem is the reception was certainly spotty.
You ever been to Luxembourg? I have not. I may have passed through it not knowing it. Yeah, they blinked, but I don't believe I have it.
So under the radar, I flew out of there once. That's the only time I've been to Luxembourg is flew home.
From Europe out of Luxembourg Airport, so that's my only like I don't know anything about it as a place, it's it's interesting. It's like the Delaware of Europe. That's right. It may or may not exist. Yeah.
So that was pretty much the long and short of it in the BBC. Didn't really didn't really care that the teenagers wanted more. They just said no. They might have even said nine at this point, you know what I mean.
Yeah. And this is where a gentleman comes in the picture that would really change everything. And his name is Ronan. And I've heard Americans pronounce it O'Reilley.
Yeah, it's spelled oh, little accent capital Rahni y and I heard him speak his name in court when they asked his surname, but he said it so quickly it sounded like a dolly, sounded like a D so it may just be like some weird like, you know, Irish pronunciation or something that I don't know about.
Sure. But we're going to say O'Reilley.
I mean that's how. Yeah, that's how I heard it to be. Yeah. So he sounded like Brad Pitt in Snatch. I sort of I couldn't understand them.
That's where there was a D in there.
But he was he was a guy who figured out that their jurisdiction over the airwaves, the BBC in the UK government's jurisdiction, stopped about five kilometres off the coast, three miles here in the States.
And he said and there were he didn't invent the idea of planning a boat out there in broadcasting. Other countries were doing this kind of thing and exploiting this loophole already. But he said this is a this is something we should do.
The kids want their rock and roll. They want their MTV. We don't know what that is yet. And I'm going to bring it to him.
Yeah. So he he actually took inspiration. Like you were saying, there are some Scandinavian countries, specifically Sweden and Denmark, that have been home to pirate radio stations that were docked off of their coast. And for very similar reasons to it, there was a state monopoly on radio broadcasting at the time. And some people were like, no, I want to broadcast what I want to broadcast. But they set up those shops, I mean, all the way back in the 50s.
And I actually ran across one in the United States to bring it on home. That was operating in the 1930s, 1933, and it had a callsign IREX K.R. and it was out of Panama, even though it was off of the coast of Long Beach. And I think, Chuck, I think I think we either talked about it in our Prohibition episode or we talked about it in our Who Owns the Oceans episode. Oh, yeah. But it was it was originally one of those floating speakeasy casinos, Dr.
Waters Total, and they started to broadcast Radio Pirate Radio as well for a little while. So it had happened before. And there was actually because of the success of the Scandinavian stations, there was kind of this mad rush in the UK to be the first to to see, I guess, and start broadcasting. And Ronan O'Reilly beat them all with what came to be known as Radio Caroline.
Yeah. So he was sort of in a tight race with another guy named Alan Crawford, who had a project called his was going to be Radio Atlanta, I think it was called Project Atlanta. Nothing to do with Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta, Texas, from what I saw. Oh, really?
I figured it was just a riff on Atlantic is in the Ocean now.
One of the one of the owners was a from Dallas, I believe was a radio man from Texas. And for some reason he chose Atlanta after Atlanta, Texas. I didn't know that once in Texas.
I didn't either. Neither did the people who live in Atlanta, Texas.
So they're the Delaware of Texas. That's right. So there was I think O'Reilly got about a half a dozen investors because this is going to cost some money because you got to buy a ship.
It can't just be a little dinghy or or a rowboat or anything like that.
You have to get it takes it takes a shipload of equipment. Yeah.
It takes a thousand people to operate it and people to stay on it and stuff like that and meeting rooms. And so you got to have a legit ship. So Crawford for Radio Atlanta. I got the Mi Amigo and O'Reilley got a passenger ferry, a Danish ship called the movie Frederica. They each renamed them Atlanta and then Carolin respectively. Apparently Caroline after Caroline Kennedy because he is Largos saw a picture, a rally, saw a photo of little Caroline and little John Jr.
dancing in the Oval Office.
And he was inspired by that because he was like, this is what we're trying to do. Like sort of, you know, you're not allowed to dance in the Oval Office yet. They're doing it. And we're not allowed to broadcast rock and roll music because the government says so. So, you know, I'm going to name after Caroline. Very cute name. It is very cute. So that's. Name that he went with, and I'm glad that he was one of the I'm glad he was the one who who made it first because he was the one who is doing it, I guess as purely as you would expect somebody to be doing with like a constant rotation of DJ's operating 24 hours a day legitimately broadcasting from the ship.
And that was not Radio Atlanta's model at all. They were compiling shows or days worth of shows in the studio back in London, recording them and then sailing it out to the ship.
It was really it was also I mean, there was like banking concerns that were hidden. It was it was legit. As far as pirate radio goes from the outset. So I'm glad that they they weren't the ones who made it to market first. Yeah.
So Radio Caroline, their slogan was your all day music station because of that 24/7 format, which is new in and of itself, right?
Yeah, I mean, as far I mean as far as playing music. Absolutely. And they just within a few months I think they launched an on Easter Sunday 1964 with the Stones tune. It's all over now. Perfect. I saw it not fade away. I saw it. It's all over now actually.
I saw in The Guardian and then one other source not fade away. And then I also saw all over now, but I saw both enough places that I honestly don't know.
Yeah, I saw Not Fade Away was the station's theme song, so who knows.
And then they got someone else to compose an original theme song because I think they didn't want to keep playing that. But at any rate, they launched and it didn't take long until they had a larger audience than all of the BBC stations combined. That's wonderful. And they quickly merged. I think if it goes from Easter Sunday, they merged in July, just a few months later with Radio Atlanta. I guess they figured they had just more power together.
And then the Mi Amigo, they became the Carolin North and the Carolina South, broadcasting from two different places.
Yeah. Which covered almost all of the UK, but not all of it. There was some south western parts that just didn't didn't get it from either ship. The Delaware, they had they had pretty good coverage of of the Isles for sure with those two ships. And then eventually Radio Atlanta went under as an organization and Radio Caroline was able to take over both of those ships. So they had that they had I mean, for a pirate radio station, they they had a lot of power behind them, for sure.
And I don't I mean, we haven't said the obvious. They were called pirate radio because they were operating on ships in the ocean and flouting the law.
Yeah. So it was sort of doing double duty there with the name. Yeah.
There's actually some really great pieces out there on the Internet about this, this era. Yeah. And one of them I saw was they said like from the moment they started broadcasting, it was basically immediately called pirate radio. For some reason, those two words together just seem they just strike something in you, you know.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And there's lots of cool documentaries, too, in addition to the the narrative film, which obviously takes a lot of liberties. And we'll talk a little bit about that. But a lot of cool short documentaries and even longer documentaries.
You want to take an ad break? Yeah, true. Pirates, right. We'll be right back, everybody.
Cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha.
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So Radio Caroline's up and running. And when I said earlier, Chuck, that there was like a, um, it represents a piece of the puzzle of rock and roll history and pop culture history that I didn't realize I didn't know existed. But when I said I meant this this specific group of pirate radio stations. But really, Radio Caroline, from what I can tell, had such a pronounced effect on music that they they actually managed to reshape and rechange it because the BBC was basically saying we're only playing stodgy stuff.
Your parents like like literally square records. That's how square the music we're playing is. We there's no place for you bands to play the music you want to play. So you have to make your make music that we will play on BBC. And all of a sudden now there was this really potent outlet that hadn't existed before. And those bands that had started out kind of prim and BBC ready were now able to start taking acid like on a daily basis and really explore like their musical abilities and try new things.
And they knew that there was a good chance that it would get played on Radio Caroline or some of the other pirate radio stations. And in that it actually shaped psychedelia. It's shaped the psychedelic music scene by just giving it a place to start.
Yeah, I mean, they had to fill it says here about twenty five hundred songs each week because they were going 24/7.
That was DJs that had to. Yeah. And that's a lot of music. And you know, you got to, you didn't want to just play the same stuff over and over. They wanted to follow and they could follow the American Top 40 sort of system where you, you play the hits and you play the hits a little more, but then you also try and break new music.
And this HowStuffWorks article says the Moody Blues were a band that kind of came directly out of pirate radio as far as being broken on pirate radio, starting to do experimental stuff.
And that wouldn't obviously get played on the BBC anywhere.
But having started out as playing music that would get played on the BBC and then being allowed to kind of alternative what they wanted to be totally. And one of the the the song I saw that's widely considered the first pirate radio hit of the swinging 60s in the UK is Tom Jones. It's not unusual to hear a good song. Now, that is unusual as far as facts go.
You think that makes the Carlton dance one degree removed from the British 60s pirate radio? I would not have seen that connection before.
Yeah, I mean, you hear, it's not unusual. It's a cool song. And Tom Jones was a cool dude. Yeah, but it definitely feels way more square to my ears now than than early psychedelia for sure. I mean, sure, the whole thing is from front to back about smoking hash and how much Tom Jones loved his hash.
But still today it seems a little tame for sure. Yeah, he was so great. He's Welsh, right? I don't know.
Probably. I think he's Welsh. OK, we'll go with that.
So one of the biggest DJs and they had a whole rotation of DJs that all loved what they did. And most of them went on to DJs for life. Some stayed with Radio Caroline for life. I guess that's the sort of spoiler, is that they're still around today. And you can listen to them on the Internet and on the radio, even though they have a legal license now. But I was listening to their their stream. You can stream sort of the classic version, which is music from back then.
And it's just fantastic. Oh, yeah.
It's like a good WFMU playlist. If you ever remember. We were on FMU for a while, the classic I do New Jersey Freeform Radio Station. That's so great.
They clearly had some space to fill too. Yeah. So I encourage you to go listen to Radio Caroline and check it out. But one of the more famous DJs to come out of that scene was Tony Blackburn, and he was a fan of Radio Luxembourg just as a listener and saw an ad in The Enemy New Musical Express. Still a great magazine. Sure. It's been around since the fifties. I read.
Oh, it's fantastic that Melody Maker or two of the best.
And he basically applied to this for this job. Got it. And became one of the more popular DJs on on that ship. Yeah, he was one I mean, kind of going down through history, Pete Tong started out on pirate radio. He's a very well-known deejay and supposedly also I think we mentioned him in the Cockney rhyming slang up. So, yeah, where everything's gone all wrong, it's gone. Pete Tong.
Yeah, we definitely did, because we talked about that. It's better than nothing, I think. And then there was another very famous deejay, um, his name Jazzy Jeff. Yeah, he's I'm the guy. He's the rapper. Remember that. They had to explain it to everybody out there.
So the guy I'm thinking of is D.J. Andy Archer, OK. And he is a very well-known deejay, has been for many, many years. I think he started out in the 60s. I don't know if he's on Carolin or Radio London, one of the competitors, but he is known to have coined the term anorak in the U.K. I didn't know that. But Anorak is slang for like a super nerdy, obsessive fan, basically. And the the term was coined because Andy Archer called some of the nerdy male radio pirate radio fans who were like so obsessed with the whole thing, they would actually hire boats to take them out to the ships that were broadcasting.
They would normally wear like anoraks because of the weather. So an anorak apparently gets its its origin from pirate radio to.
Well, and that's one of the cool things about the early days of pirate radio is they didn't have ratings to depend on. They got their feedback from kind of like us from from hearing from people. We get it via email and stuff like that. But they got bags and bags of mail just like us, just like us people would stop by their office. Like you said, I'm by boat, just like us.
That's happened to us before, even though it's, you know, not encouraged any longer, and especially now during the lockdown. Right. There's no one here. But people would show up. They would send them gifts. I think Blackburn was the one that said he would tell listeners that when he got back to land and he would drive away and his little sports car that he would give away just, you know, records he would give away forty fives and this obsolete vinyl.
And he said it would take him an hour and a half to get out of town just because he was mobbed by kids on the street looking for looking for him, looking to get a piece of him, looking to get one of those records was like true, true fandom.
I read I read something about Tony Blackburn that apparently he once did a live performance of tie, a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree in a cage full of lions with the lion tamer.
Very psychedelic song. It is. Isn't that weird? Yeah.
Why? I don't know.
I think that's just Tony Blackburn. That's the impression I have.
Another D.J. was an American named Mike Pasternack. His DJ name was Impera Roscoe.
And he still sort of apparently wears this skull and crossbones, baseball hat.
And I get a feeling all these people. Like, this is their cred, they still really hang their hat on, this experience is like these rock and roll mavericks from the 60s, right?
That's the impression I have, too. But the thing is, it's like, you know, I think most people assume that these ships were just like party boats. Basically, from what I can tell, that's just not the case at all, that they were largely staffed by professional acting DJs, even though a lot of them were not professionals at all. Like you said, it was it Blackburne that that had he he answered an ad in the new Musical Express, Blackburne did pasternack.
The American was he had a little bit of experience with military radio on an aircraft carrier. Right. Two years. Yeah. And thought he brought sort of a Polish that the British guys didn't have. He said they didn't have the technique yet.
But yeah, by all accounts they were pros. They weren't like in the movie. I think they really play it up as just sort of a big party. Baj.
Sure. Which I mean, that's a movie kind of thing to do for sure.
And they were allowed apparently only two beers a day and they could play cards, they could watch TV, they could sunbathe. And I think Pasternack said occasionally some some women would come aboard for a cup of tea.
So, you know, well, I don't know if that story is fully true, but I don't know either. I think they actually did have tea with some of the anoraks that showed up. Probably so. So. So we've got radio Caroline. It's operating. It's going pretty well. But there was an incident that went down, I think in nineteen sixty six, maybe, maybe sixty seven, which kind of goes to show you like Radio Caroline is this huge smash success and it's allowed to operate flouting the laws of the UK for a few years before the UK government finally said enough is enough.
And they passed something called the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act. And supposedly the thing that really prompted them to take action was that there was a hostile. Physical takeover of one of the pirate radio stations, there was a radio station called Radio City that had taken over a set of abandoned seaports that were jutting out of the North Sea. And there was a disagreement between a radio Atlanta owner, the chairman of it, and the guy who was running Radio City, Reg Calvert.
And the other guy, Lord Smedley, shot Reg Calvert with the shotgun when Reg Calvert came to negotiate with him about getting a, I think, a transmitter back or something like that. And the fact that these guys were now physically invading one another's ships and we're shooting one another really kind of brought home that the the you know, the fact that everybody had been calling it pirate radio for a while made it seem pirate, but not in the good kind of pirate, you know what I mean?
Like the real life kind of pirate thing all of a sudden. And that force the British government's hand.
Yeah, I think what I saw was that Smedley was trying to trying to get another merger going and just grow this empire with Radio City and offered up this transmitter to Calvert. It didn't work. Calvert didn't want to pay him for it. And so Smedley literally sent, like in the dead of night, these guys to board the ship and get it back, like true pirate style. Yeah. And Calver didn't take kindly to that. So he threatened him, went to his house and was met with a shotgun.
And I saw that he was not the type to threaten anybody, but that the Smedley's housekeeper tried to keep Calvert from entering, I guess his study or his office or something. They got into a scuffle and Smedley shot him with a shotgun.
Yeah, it's for got manslaughter. He, you know, apparently claimed self-defense because I don't know, the laws were like back then. But the guy did come to his house and he claimed he felt threatened. Yeah.
And so he was ultimately acquitted. But the the larger impact that it had on pirate radio in the UK is that Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, which you could get up to two years in the pokey for that, not to mention all the fines. And one of the things that they really kind of pass this law on was not like, oh, these guys are actually shooting each other now. We've got to do something. It was this idea that their broadcasts could interfere with Marine distress signals.
And that is an ongoing long standing establishment government, opposition to pirate radio. That's typically what they go to the public with, like, hey, you want to be out at sea trying to get help. And some kids are spinning the who and nobody can hear you because your signal's being infringed on. We don't want that either. Let's all get rid of the pirate radio stations. But that doesn't seem to be the real reason why governments tend to oppose pirate radio.
It's usually that they're protecting the interests of the corporations who have legitimate licences and usually a lot more sway with the government than some kids who got their hands on a German merchant vessel and started broadcasting, you know, 60s soul from it.
Yeah, and that's I mean, we'll get to America today. But that's that's exactly how they frame it today as well. Right. Is that you're going to get in the way of legitimate signals in case of distress because. Well, we don't go there yet.
But O'Reilly keeps Radio Caroline going. His ship was seized by Dutch authorities, but he got it back. He kept it going. There were some I think George Harrison gave them like a substantial check to keep it going because he believed in their mission in the 70s.
And I'm Jones chipped in a bunch of hash. Of course he did.
Which is more valuable than money, as we all know.
But both of the boats, Caroline North and the South, had a couple of incidents. I think the mi amigo ran aground at one point and was repaired. And then the original Caroline, I think, did a fire break out or did it sink?
No. Sorry. So the Mi Amigo sank the original Caroline. I don't know whatever happened to I could not find it, but I know for a fact that it wasn't that the original ferry, the MV Caroline that sank, it was definitely the mi amigo. Well, mi amigo must have to then because it ran aground and was fixed. Right. And then.
Yes, it did. It had a little bit of bad luck. What cracks me up in this entire story is that there was a German vessel called the Mi Amigo.
I know my friend in Spanish, the German merchant vessel.
Oh, I don't understand.
I think the Carolinas is a museum now. So that one did survive, right?
No, the the Ross River. OK, so they came up with another German ship, the Ross Revenge, to replace the Mi Amigo, and that one eventually has been outfitted to be a museum. All right. Which I can't tell. They have a website and it sounds like the last update was from 2014 and I don't know if it's actually open or not. If it is, they definitely need to update their website. But that's the plan. At least I don't know if, like, they ran out of money or something like that.
Yeah, I think there's a couple of different museums, but I would love to on our next U.K. trip, go check these places out. There'll be a lot of fun.
Yeah. I can't wait to get back to the UK and Australia too, man. Yeah, I think we hit even sort of loosely earmarked this year, next year for another international trip. And, you know, I don't think that's going to happen. That kind of fell through.
And also sorry, everybody. I'm also excited to get back to New Zealand too. Yeah. Because I didn't we didn't get enough time there. Oh, wait, wait. In Canada.
Well, we always love to go to Canada. That's easy. Sure. Yeah. Uh, shall we take another break boxes. Yeah. Let's take a break.
All right. We'll go to Germany next time to let's go to Germany.
It's my homeland. Well, that's not true. We'll be right back.
Cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha. I'm Holly Frying, and I'm Maria FreeMarkets, and together we're exploring the margins of history and specifically at the intersection of history and true crime.
Welcome to the Criminally, a podcast. Our first season of the show is all about lady poisoners, and history has not been kind to ladies.
Women have been marginalized. They've been vilified. They're falsely accused and often just plain misunderstood time and time again.
But sometimes women take power for themselves and sometimes they do it through murder.
Some of these women absolutely were guilty, but some of them were probably labeled as criminals. But that was not the case in all of them were viewed through society's lenses, sitting at this intersection of being both killers and the fairer sex. But how many were just misunderstood?
Join us on Criminal as we untangle their stories starting August 18th on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever it is you listen.
L.A. is where I was born and raised. And for years, it's well, I've documented life in the city, not the pop culture headlines, but the stories of people and communities that hardly get recognized.
Complicated way. Good morning. I brought L.A. wherever I travel to around the world as a journalist, and now I'm back home work.
Look at those cowboys. There are black cowboys. I taught them how to do everything that Shaq, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe made people feel as confident as he was. How do you dress? Like, you know, like a casual gangster from Alere studios. This is California Love. Listen to California Love. I heart radio app, Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast. By the way, I said Germany was my homeland because I took German in high school and college, speak German and have been to Germany and love it.
I'm not German in any way.
Why don't you say, what's your ancestry? Uh, it's fully I did the DNA test.
It's fully like U.K., Irish, uh, sort of European. And then it said, like one percent is African or something like that. I got like two percent or two percent. Yeah, it was like no point zero zero two percent Ashkenazi Jew. Oh, nice. And then I get I get two percent something Neanderthal. This all checks out.
It does for sure. So celebrating both of my heritage is shalom. Thank you. So I catch you, I think, back at you. Yeah. So the US, we've kind of overlooked the United States. They didn't have nearly the sort of, I guess, Cultural Revolution that the UK had. As far as pirate radio goes, they've had a few sort of operations here. And they're the one that you were talking about. There was this this preacher, Reverend Karl MacIntire.
He was a fundamentalist who I think he broadcasts from a ship for like ten hours until there was a fire.
He worked so hard on it for months and months. He thought he was going to be up and running in a few days, maybe a couple of weeks. It ended up taking him months to get this pirate radio ship ready. And he got it going and they shut him down in ten hours. And we've talked about him before, actually, in our Fairness Doctrine. Yeah, the reason that he was operating from a pirate radio station is he went from being broadcast on like, I think 600 something radio stations across the South in the Midwest.
And he would preach like anticommunism. He said the Catholic Church is fascist. He said Billy Graham was an appeaser. He was a real firebrand and also super political, too. And because of that, Fairness Doctrine said you have to have equal airtime for opposing viewpoints. He didn't he didn't do that. So he kind of brought the heat on to some of these stations that were worried about losing their licence. They started to drop him. So he tried pirate radio for a minute and it didn't pan out very well for him.
He tried for six hundred minutes. It's right. So some fast math there.
It's pretty easy where you see pirate radio in the United States and it still continues today. In fact, there was one study that said there are more pirate radio station stations in New York on the FM band than there were legit stations.
Yeah, and that's been going on for a while. I saw late 80s, early 90s, there was a big boom in pirate radio. And like the epicenter seems to have been New York because of Christian Slater. I think so. Or maybe they wrote the movie because of the boom. I know. Well, a lot of them are out of Brooklyn.
They're broadcast from rooftops. You know, you get a little equipment, you get an antenna and and you're in business. And here's the deal with pirate radio in the United States and what's going on now, which is currently the FCC has has popped up, of course, and they used to, like the article said, play kind of whack a mole, trying to knock these things back as they came up. But I guess they thought it was such a problem, especially in New York, that the FCC has an especially this current FCC has stood up and said, nope, not going to happen on our watch.
And in January of this year, the president signed the and I love it when they come up with an acronym that really works for this one.
They had to reverse engineer this one, the pirate act, preventing illegal radio abuse through enforcement, but also abuses in there, like stop abusing that radio center.
Yeah, but, you know, they needed an A for sure.
I'm saying like hats off to that to them for that one. Couldn't be radio amusement. They're unfortunate.
They actually at least they used all the letters from all the words. I hate it when they just slip a couple of words in there like nobody's going to notice, you know what I mean? Yeah, that's lazy.
So the problem with the Pirate Act is this. It takes already existing FCC laws that allow the FCC to kind of go after pirate radio stations and find them. I saw you're looking at fines of something like ten thousand dollars a day, typically with the maximum of about seventy five thousand dollars for a total fine for operating an illegal pirate station. That's that's bad. I mean, most people who are operating pirate stations do. So we'll talk about in a minute because they don't have the money to to run a legit station and pay all the fees and all the application fees and the license fees and all that stuff.
So that is significant. What the Pirate Act does, it takes all of those existing laws and just says you get seventy five thousand max fee, let's up that to two million dollars. Yeah. And the whole point of that is to specifically intimidate people out of out of pirate radio, out of broadcasting pirate radio. And that's that's terrible, especially coming from an FCC that's led by a former telecommuted. Lobbyist and the guy who presided over the end of net neutrality, that's a that's some sour grapes right there, if you ask me.
Yeah, and the whole deal with pirate radio these days, especially out of New York, is they're not just like spinning tunes for fun. I'm sure there are some that do that.
Yeah, but a lot of it is are people starting these very small, small operations that may be broadcast over their neighborhood because they are an underserved community as far as radio programming goes. Right. And they will speak in their native language to people who are listening in their native language and they are getting news out to people in their native language. And these are communities that don't that aren't represented on the on the the regular FM spectrum. And there's a big argument to be made that this is almost like a public service in a way, to these underserved communities.
It absolutely is. And that's what radio that's what radio has been this has been intended for since the inception of it, at least in the United States and in the U.K., too. It's meant to be a public service for for everybody. The thing is, is in the U.S., we've long valued a multiplicity of different voices, of competing ideas and thoughts of different music. I mean, even if you are talking about pirate radio stations that are just playing music, they're not doing, you know, anything.
There's no like, you know, community discussion or anything like that. The music they're playing is probably stuff you're not going to hear anywhere else on the radio. Yes. And there's definitely something that's lost when, you know, more and more radio stations become homogenized further and further. Then all of a sudden it's kind of like the radio equivalent of that strip mall that you could go to Topeka or Miami or Seattle and find the exact same stuff in the exact same stores with almost the exact same layout to where it's all the same.
That's what pirate radio represents. Or even if you take the pirate out of it, that's what a multiplicity of different community radio stations represents, the lack of homogeneity that kind of sucks the life out of everything that in and of itself makes them valuable and that they shouldn't be aggressively pursued. Or Chuck, there's one other thing, too. If you are going to aggressively pursue this, then also make an avenue for legitimacy rather than just try to stamp them out or else it really makes you question what the ultimate motive is.
Yeah, and here's the thing. Like, it'd be very easy to sit back and say, well, you've got the Internet, you can have an Internet radio station, you can have a podcast. It's more democratized than ever before to get your voice out there, which is true in a way. But that's also a very privileged thing to say when you just assume that someone has the money to afford the Internet, just go get a new iPhone.
What's your problem? Yeah, exactly. Like just download the app. It's that easy radio. I don't understand how you're not getting this.
Radio is free and you can you can buy a radio. You probably have a radio if you're one of these people in an underserved community. But if you don't, you can get one of the three at a thrift store for five dollars that picks up the FM and AM spectrum. And you don't have to pay monthly fees. You don't have to pay Internet fees. And it is a true democratized voice for the people who can't afford to get it otherwise.
So, like, I didn't know anything about this as far as like the Pirate Act, I didn't know that existed until we started researching this episode. But it's very clear that this is this is a law that's creating outlaws, whether it necessarily be outlaws.
There's no inherent problem with pirate radio, like from what I've read.
And granted, it was on a pirate radio organization's blog, Prometheus Radio Project, but they said they're very you can find very few instances of pirate radio stations actually interfering with other stuff, but you can very easily find major corporate radio stations interfering with stuff and very frequently say there's a there was an instance in the 90's where North Perry, Florida's airport had to change frequencies because the commercial radio station that was interfering with their frequency that they were using to communicate with airplanes, they wouldn't change their frequency.
So the airport had to you don't find pirate radio stations. And from what I saw, there's a lot of self policing that goes on in the community because you don't want to infringe on somebody else's broadcast because that means that their broadcast is going to infringe on your brog. Yeah, you want your own digits.
And America, like we said before, to reiterate, they're standing behind the same thing the BBC did, which is it can interfere with. A vital public safety information, right? And it's just that's such hooey, like if A, someone dropped a dirty bomb on New York City, they're sure the radio stations might issue some sort of public safety alert. But I guarantee you so would the pirate radio stations and they would do so in their language.
That's true. That's right, yeah, because there's a lot of a lot of evidence that pirate radio stations serve immigrant communities because they have like kind of this cultural tie to radio as a technology. So when they come over here to the United States, they are they expect to get their information from radio. Yeah.
And they wouldn't like the Twin Towers fall. I guarantee you, pirate radio stations weren't like we're just going to keep spending the tunes. You know, I'm sure they did like every other broadcast and TV show and radio show in the world. And I'm sure they cease their programming and started handing out vital information.
Oh, yeah, for sure. I can't prove it, but I. I can't imagine that they did otherwise.
I like what you did there to you. Like they're like, well what are you going to do. I mean, pirate radio interferes with stuff. You're like, oh yeah. Where are you going to do if there's a dirty bomb in New York? I just threw it right back in the ABC's face.
I don't know what a dirty bomb is.
The thing is, is from from from what I've seen, small government conservatives and libertarians should be all over that pirate act. They should be very much up in arms about this and about the way that the FCC targets small illegal radio stations without offering like a legitimate path to legitimacy. And I would like to see that.
That's right. And by the way, I have it in show correction. I think I said that Preachers' boat caught fire. I don't think it actually caught fire. I think it just started smoking because the antenna feeder line interfered with another radio station. So she didn't actually catch fire when he was because I thought the ironies of preaching fire and brimstone and it actually catching fire was too great.
Right. God won't be quiet. It's just smoke. So if you are interested in pirate radio, the Virge did a whole series on it. Really interesting in-depth stuff. And yeah, you could also do I ran across one called the lot. It's out of I think Williamsburg and it's on the little lot in a shipping container. Of course it is. It's like all J sets all the time but it's pretty great and they have a webcam of what you can see out the window.
It's just nice and it's just cozy in a way. Yeah.
And again, go check out and stream the radio. Caroline, classic version. Uh, if you're into like, just good playlist, it's it's one of the best.
I got to check that I didn't run across that song. Thank you for that public service.
Chuck, you got anything else? Nope. OK, well that's it for pirate radio for now.
And that means it's time for listener mail.
This is called Hot Off the Presses.
Just got this email and it was just so heartwarming. I had had to share it. Hey, guys. And Jerry, I love listening to the recent episode on Soap. I consider myself a bit of a soap nerd because when I served at the Peace Corps as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal for three years, late 20s, I guess twenty sixteen to twenty, nineteen late teens, my main activity was training women's groups on how to start small businesses making and selling soap.
We train them on how to make all kinds of soap using local ingredients shea butter, honey, mint herbs. Teaching these women's groups about soap making is a really excellent way to improve their household financial security for a few reasons. First, you're always going to have a market for soap because everyone needs it. Secondly, there are a few barriers to entry to making soap. You don't need to be able to read or have fancy equipment. If you can measure poor and stir, then you can make it.
And thirdly, because women in Senegal are responsible for so much of the daily chores in their homes, soap making requires only a little bit of time, since much of the process is waiting for the soap to cure fully into a hard bar and forth. Making soap is a great way to teach all the basics of starting a business marketing, accounting, record keeping, calculating unit cost, profit margins, making creative packaging. Once they master these skills, they can expand to other business opportunities.
And fifth, it smells really good.
Yeah, she said. Some of her fondest memories are her service. Seeing the satisfaction on their faces is the lion shea butter mixture, spent ages stirring by hand, became real soap for them to sell in market. I trained over one hundred and fifty members or of more than five women's groups on soap making, and all of the groups continue to make soap and sell it for a profit today, helping to make their households more financially secure.
Tell me they included a website? Uh, no, because it's a bunch of different groups, but it is OK. It was from the Peace Corps, so you obviously want to support them. And that is from Grace E. Nagel, thanks a lot.
Gracie Nagel, we appreciate that. That was that was great. It was a great email. She said picture also. We appreciate, um. Oh, I have to check them out. We appreciate you.
What you did over there in Senegal to totally if you want to let us know about something. Great. You. You did in your life like Grace did, you can send us an email, wrap it up, spank it on the bottom twice and send it off to Stuff podcast.
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