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Retirement Home ‘Radio Amigos’

50 years ago, in July 1958, the launch of Radio Mercur started the offshore radio boom in Europe. Nowadays, the offshore stations are increasingly considered
in a nostalgic way. The deejays and personnel having served on the ships as well as their listeners are getting older. This also applies for the hundreds of people who visit the annual Radio Days in Erkrath, Calais and Amsterdam with melancholic feelings. Many of these enthusiasts have even reached their retirement age, are wearing glasses and some even need hearing-aids, have synthetic hips or need specific assistive technology.

These are the reasons that the organizers of the Amsterdam Radio Day (Hans Knot, Rob Olthof and Martin van der Ven) have been dealing with the question how to help all these elderly radio enthusiasts. In several brain-storming sessions comprehensive plans were made which are now laid out to the public for the very first time. After several discussions and negotiations with financial institutions and insurance companies the financing of the project has been assured. Flats in the “Radio Amigos” retirement home can be booked from today.

The residence is located close to the beach in the vicinity of a small holiday village between Scheveningen and Noordwijk. The exact location will not be mentioned until in a few months time in order to cope with the anticipated rush of interested parties. Although, a first photograph is presented in this report to give applicants a reasonable idea of what the complex looks like:



The retirement home for offshore radio friends offers options for every purse: Luxury apartments as well as simple two-bed cabins will be available. This should attract both well-to-do people like Joost de Draaijer (Willem van Kooten), Erik de Zwart (Paul de Wit), Lex Harding or Ronan O'Rahilly and also the offshore enthusiast with a smaller budget. Everyone will be able to feel comfortable and to follow one's pleasure. The spacious “galley” offers excellent meals which will be served in the central “saloon” of the residence. In this way dinner can be enjoyed together. Mitch, the well-known steward of the MV Galaxy (Radio London) will be there to enhance the pleasure. A “meals on wheels” service right to your room is also available.

We can also announce that radio veteran Keith Skues serves as the official patron of this project. Once a month he will present his famous programme “Pirate Radio Skues” from the studio in the central glass-dome of the ‘Radio Amigos’ residence (a simulcast broadcast will be organized by Radio Waddenzee). The first contracts have already been signed and some of the names of the inhabitants can officially be announced: Graham Gill (RNI, Caroline, Radio 390 and others) will become the Senior Guide who will be welcoming every new inhabitant upon his or her arrival. He will make them feel at home and introduce them to the rules of the residence. Graham will regularly make appearances in the dining room to perform his favourite songs (“Way Back Home”) in order to raise the spirits of the residents. Bob Noakes (RNI, Caroline and more) has signed as the janitor and will be available day and night – even if there is trouble with your vintage tape recorder. Not too surprisingly Rob Olthof ("de man met de melktas") acts as manager of the retirement home. At the same time he will be the vendor of his own store in the building by the name “Tweemal kopen - eenmal betalen” (meaning “Get two for the price of one”). Vinyl discs, thousands of cassettes and hundreds of vintage reel to reel tapes will be offered at very low prices. There will also be a special sales event on every Saturday afternoon, assisted by Jana Knot-Dickscheit and Ulrike van der Ven.

The residents of the elderly home have a lot of advantages: On the weekends there will be scheduled bus trips to the vessel “Jenni Baynton” in Harlingen harbour. Good-humoured Sietse Brouwer will show you around the radio ship that houses Radio Waddenzee and Radio Seagull. During the summertime Leen Vingerling (“Love me tender”) will organize special boat trips along the Dutch coast. The former anchorages of the radio ships will be visited as well as the position where once the famous REM-island was situated. Opportunities to throw flower bouquets into the water will be given at these special mooring areas. Special church services will be held on Sunday mornings - organized by the churches of the late pirate vicars Johan Maasbach and Dr. Toornvliet. In August Roy Masters will come over from US to present his readings (“The Power of Words”).

The house dog Raffles II and the canary Wilson II will also add to the attractions. On a regular basis François Lhote from France will perform his multimedia presentations (“The Offshore Radio Years - now in colour, 16:9 HD TV and in Dolby Surround”). All rooms of the building offer the possibility to listen to old offshore radio recordings which are horizontally programmed. Keith Hampshire is on during breakfast-time, followed by Tony Windsor. At midday the Dutch “Baken 16” with Marc Jacobs is on the air, while old tapes of Veronica’s Rob Out are played during the drive time spot. Andy Archer and Johnny Walker fill the evening spots. Finally Norman Barrington will take you through the night.

Informative meetings will be held in the big conference room during the evenings. Attendants will for instance be informed about the ”Ronan O’Rahilly Fund” which was set up recently. Residents will be able to invest in this fund. Financial safety and care are playing a more and more important role nowadays. Being an expert on the field of managing offshore radio stations, O’Rahilly will present his thoughts (“Stinginess is cool – financial safety for the elderly”) biannually.

Meetings will be held in the big conference room as well as in a number of seminar rooms that are also available. This will contribute to the attractiveness of “Radio Amigos”.

Under the supervision of the University of Groningen the “Offshore Radio Academy” was founded as a model project especially aimed at the elderly. Several courses and lectures for the offshore radio enthusiast will be held. Some scientific challenges are expected. Some topics can already be announced:

Peter Moore: “Modern management and the financial success of a radio station in the 21st century.”

Johnnie Walker: ”Is ‘Frinton Flashing’ still up-to-date?”

Juul Geleick: “Conservation for eternity – is the future already behind us?”

Douwe Dijkstra: “Gaining a fortune with the REM-island-stock – a retrospective.”

Andy Archer: “The responsible use of mind expanding substances in international waters.”

Hannibal: “How I battled the British Navy.”

Graham Gill: “The eroticism of the offshore pirates.”

Ben Meijering: “From 8 mm movies to the Blue-Ray-Disc.”

Geography, physics and geometry will not be left out at the Academy. The following items have been planned:

Geography for grandchildren with questions like: ‘Where is the Great Barrier Reef?” “Knock Deep and other shoals.”

“How much asbestos prevents the demolishment of a radio ship?”

“The construction of an anchor chain suitable for use on the Atlantic Ocean.”

“How much cement can be loaded onto a ship without the danger of sinking?”

“The tallest transmitter mast on an oil tanker.”

Finally some political topics will give reasons for discussion:

Jan Sundermann: “Radio Nordsee International as a precursor to the German reunification.”

Allan Weiner: “Radio New York International and the conspiracy of September 11th.”

N/A: “Solving the war in Iraq by the use of an American offshore radio station?”

Mike Brand: “The Voice of Peace and a comprehensive peace solution for the Middle East.”

Chris Edwards: “John F. Kennedy, George Harrison and Radio Caroline.”

Hans Knot: “The Carl Mitchell archive and the Stasi of the former German Democratic Republic.”

N/A: “Radio Brod - was it possible to save the former Yugoslavia?”

Tommy Rivers: “Eurosiege and the European Union.”


Hans Knot will be in charge of the massive home-archive. In addition to countless audio recordings there will be also a big text archive. Knot will also be organizing premises for the Download Club, combining old and new technology in order to assist the members on their mission to preserve old radio recordings. An “Offshore Radio Library” will be established with a special emphasis on Knot’s works. These will soon also be available as audio-books. Hans will give readings from his own works on a regular basis (“From my books”). Discussion nights are planned for which Knot will be joined by international guests.

His reading “Radio - a way of life” should be of special interest. Knot is also preparing a presentation on the subject “The archives of Freewave, Hans Knot and the Foundation of Media Communication – ‘who is who’ in terms of copyright”. A special highlight will be his essay “The beard is gone – what’s left to research for the radio historian?” All events organized by Hans Knot will also be transmitted simulcast with the friendly help of Hans Visser’s radio station “100%NL”.

The hard life on board the radio ships led to a number of problems for the deejays as well as their fans. Dr. Martin van der Ven has kindly agreed to be responsible for the psychiatric treatment of the residents of “Radio Amigos”. As part of the “Offshore Radio Academy” he has been preparing several lectures:

“Relaxation therapy during force 10 winds.”

“Obsessive-compulsive and delusional disorders – Borderline cases on the High Seas.” (Guests will include Johan Rood, Steve Conway and Mike Barrington.)

“Loving Awareness leads to better orgasms.”

As an Internet expert he also offers the following courses:

“How do I write an e-mail to Johnnie Walker or Steve England?”

“How to save the Radio Mi Amigo 192 stream onto a hard disk?”

“How many downloads can the human brain bear, or: Can the Download Club lead to addiction?”


Besides these more serious topics, the categories “Sport, Games and Stress” will certainly play an important role in the new retirement home. Several trips, excursions, courses and tournaments will be offered.

Charlie Wolfe will host a gymnastic course for radio seniors (“We all do it standing up”).

Jelle Boonstra will, hopefully, be the choir leader (“We sing our offshore tunes”).

Captain Jan Harteveld and Bob Le-Roi will also be there to give those between 60 and 80 years the possibility to get their boat driver permit.

Elija van den Berg will lead the course “Design your own Tony Allan t-shirt”.

John Platt even offers two activities: Young-at-hearts go on guided summer dives to search for the Mi Amigo which sunk in 1980. During the wintertime he offers the course “Model-building for the Christmas market (MEBO-II, REM-Island, Shivering Sands Fort)”.

Arie Swets will lure men as well as women to the Residence’s kitchen with his high standards of culinary work (“Cooking for starters”).

Jonathan Myer will perform slide presentations with special quests from Great Britain (“That was our life on the High Seas.”)

Peter Chicago will lead a course with the title: “How do I transform my iPod into a medium wave transmitter?”

On Monday evenings Jan van Veen will read poems by candlelight (“I looked into your eyes and you dreamed of Radio Veronica”).

Last but definitely not least there will be a course in English, hosted by Mary Payne. Text examples from the Radio London archive will be used. All participants are required to wear shorts and pirate-style t-shirts from April 1st to September 30th.

Another highlight will surely appeal to the well-trained individuals among the residents. Robin Banks (Adcroft) will host the month-long “Survival of the fittest – Big Brother on Red Sands” which will be shown simulcast on Veronica TV. Prizes are:

1. A week-long trip to Lanzarote, being the guest of Stella and Robbie Dale.
2. Five days of hands-on training: “Let’s restore the Ross Revenge.”
3. A weekend on the LV 18 in Harwich harbour.
4. A guided pub tour in London’s Highgate with Peter Moore.
5. A guest appearance on Radio Caroline via satellite.

Still looking for more? Johnny Lewis offers the course “GBH Home Brewing – let’s brew our own offshore beer”, which will probably attract a record number of participants.

By the way, talking about participating, are you interested in moving into the “Radio Amigos” retirement home? Just send us an , tell us your personal wishes and order our current brochure at the same time.