You might be interested in a short article wrote a few years ago about my efforts to hear Atlantis at home in the west of Scotland. Sorry its in English, but google will help!
I was aware that Radio Atlantis had hired airtime from the Radio Caroline ship Mi Amigo during 1973 and was intent on getting their own ship out to sea. I had read in Record Mirror that they had purchased a ship from Radio Condor. This station, although anchored off the Netherlands coast for several months, had never broadcast.
Then, listening to RNI one night in mid November 1973, I heard a news report that the Atlantis ship had broken her anchor and was drifting off the Dutch coast. There followed several weeks of not knowing what had happened, until when tuned in to Northsea goes DX on Christmas Day. AJ Beirens announced that Belgian radio reported that Atlantis returned to the air on Christmas Eve.
And so the search began, but to no avail! That is until one late December night around 2230 local time when I was trying to locate Atlantis’ frequency of 1115 kHz and noticed current chart music being played in that vicinity. At that time my receiver was a Grundig Music Boy, a good portable but certainly not known for its selectivity. It’s funny that more than 40 years later I can remember the songs being played, namely “I love you, love me love” by Gary Glitter and “Lamplight” by David Essex. An English announcer confirmed the station name and that he was called Andy Anderson. Then it was gone as soon as it was there!
In those days I didn’t tend to sit on a channel and wait for the signal to fade in again. On reading Record Mirror the following week they confirmed that Radio Atlantis was indeed on 270 metres and that the power was very low, maybe less than 1 kilowatt. That coupled with the fact I was living on the west coast of Scotland made this one difficult to catch. Record Mirror also confirmed that English programmes were being broadcast at night and one of the dj’s was indeed Andy Anderson.
It was to be several weeks before I heard Atlantis again. In fact it was towards the end of February when, on tuning around 1115 kHz, the station was coming through. Maybe some work on the transmitter and/or aerial had been carried out, but the signal was better. Due to heavy interference on the channel, BBC Radio Derby for example was on 1115 kHz, the station was now signing on at 2200 with the International Service. This then ran until 0600 when programmes were in Flemish mainly aimed at listeners in the Flanders region of Belgium and the south of the Netherlands. The station then signed off at 1900 for three hours. I assume this time off air was used for technical work to improve the signal.
Its funny how daft things stick in your memory! I remember one night sitting on the channel around 2155 and hearing the Atlantis carrier switch on and the anticipation of waiting for the theme tune to start. By now the team had been joined by a name I remembered from Radio Caroline earlier in the summer, Steve England. He was to be the main player in forming the sound of the station.
Now I can’t remember how I knew that Radio Atlantis were to change to 227 metres. It might have been in the Record Mirror in advance, or maybe AJ announced it on NSgDX. However on the night of Sunday March 3rd I was enjoying listening to a test transmission and a much better signal on 1331 kHz, announced as 227 metres.
This was really my favourite time listening to the station. It was still winter, so I was able to enjoy some sky wave until past 0900 local time, hearing the Flemish service for the first time. At night the English service was back to a 1900 start and I spent many a late evening enjoying “Starshine” with Andy Anderson and “The Midnight Special” with Dave Rogers.
This continued until mid April when one night they were gone! The search was on again and I found them on 962 kHz. The reason for moving was that the 300 kilowatt Italian station in Rome, who use 1331, were apparently broadcasting a jamming signal after they closed for the night at 2300. To be honest I don’t remember being that annoyed by this in Scotland, but obviously it was causing problems. I still find it hard to believe that RAI would be bothered by a station running 1 kilowatt at most. However it did seem to be the case.
During this period Atlantis briefly tried 1322 kHz, but the signal was obliterated by the Radio Moscow relay from Leipzig, East Germany on the same frequency.
For me, reception on 962 was fairly good, but suffered a heterodyne from an off channel transmitter in Tunisia, supposedly running 100 kilowatts. I listened pretty regularly for the next few months and like a lot of people, really enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of the programmes.
I clearly remember listening on the evening of 26th July when they announced a short wave transmitter had been activated on 6225 kHz. I tried to tune in, but heard nothing. In my naivety I believed that if I could hear RNI on 6209 kHz, then Atlantis should also be there. What I didn’t understand then was that RNI used a professional 10 kw transmitter, whereas Atlantis was using a homebrew unit of a couple of hundred watts at best.
At the very start of August they were missing again and the search was back on. Due to a problem with the 962 kHz crystal another move was necessary. This time I managed to find them sandwiched between the 100 kilowatt station located at Stavanger, Norway on 1313 kHz and the 150 kilowatts Radio Moscow relay from Leipzig, East Germany on 1322 kHz. Reception in the early evening on “229”was difficult to say the least, but improved a bit after 2300 when both these powerhouses signed off. In terms of the actual frequency used, well a government paper at the time states the monitoring station at Baldock logged them on 1318.806 kHz.
This off channel frequency was in use until August 10th, when that crystal became faulty and a move was made to 1313 kHz. This obviously made evening reception difficult due to Norway, so the next day they were back on 1331. However on the night of the 12th at 2326 the Italian “jamming” resumed, resulting on the 13th with a return to what Baldock measured as 1312.992 kHz. This frequency was used for the remainder of the stations life.
By now it had been announced that the Dutch Marine Offences Act was to come into force just at midnight on August 31st 1974. I remember hearing Radio Atlantis on several nights leading up to the final day, albeit at times with some difficulty. From 1400 on the 25th all programmes were in English, but obviously daytime reception was non-existent for me.
I was not able to listen to the final hour, as late summer reception conditions meant that the station would still be inaudible on August 31st between 1800-1900. I had to be content with listening to the final hours of the short wave service of RNI, which was a fine consolation.
So that was the end of my search. For several weeks leading up to the closedown there had been rumours that the station would try to continue. It would seem that was not going to happen.
However I remember being tuned into a short wave pirate on 6225 kHz called Radio Copernicus on Sunday morning in November 1974. They ran a format of radio news and carried a story that Radio Atlantis was to return. Reception was poor and I did not catch all the details, but could this be true???
As we now know it was true. The plan was to re-start the station from the dis-used Gunfleet Lighthouse in the Thames Estuary. This structure was believed to be in International Waters at the time and much work was carried out preparing for the return of Radio Atlantis on Christmas Day 1974 on 244 metres, 1232 kHz. Flemish programmes were recorded at secret studios in Belgium to be broadcast daily from 0900-1600 with live English (as Radio Dolphin?) programmes at other times. Sadly it did not happen as the lighthouse was raided by British Government officials just before Christmas.
So Atlantis was to fade into the history of offshore radio. Funnily enough I have short recordings that I made of all the offshore stations of the time, apart from Atlantis! I did record a good quality 30 minutes during the time on 227 metres with Andy Anderson and can even remember him playing “Rock n Roll baby” by the Stylistics. However in those days of pocket money I only had three cassette tapes and recorded over it! Similarly I remember trying to stay awake one morning during school holidays and recorded an American dj calling himself Rick Rock around 0330, but again it was recorded over.
I did write to them at PO Box 385, Oostburg and received two stickers back displaying the 385 metres wavelength that was never used! I did manage to get an original QSL card kindly sent to me by Steve England a few years later. Nice souvenirs.
Where have nearly 50 years gone since the sound of Atlantis was heard on the medium wave????