The reason we are not trying to compete with broadcasting historians is tied to the reason why we call ourselves 'YesterTecs' and refer to the core of our tiny group as a 'Trio'. Yes, there are more than three people who have worked with us, and some are working with us now on this investigation, but there are only three people (so far) who have continued to tie themselves to this project since it began.
No, it's not cheap in time or money.
Now to specify when exactly this project began is somewhat difficult to explain, because none of the three people involved set out to begin a never-ending investigation that followed leads, and then went wherever the leads took them. No, this is not the project of some crazy millionaire philanthropist, but of three ordinary people from three different backgrounds with three different political and religious points of view. One of them is female and two of them are males, and all three of them have helped to self-fund this project.
Two of the three are more-or-less of the same age group, and they were both born in different parts of the United States of America. Genie Baskir was born in New York State, and Eric Gilder was born in the State of Texas. The third member is Mervyn Hagger. He is about ten years older than the other two and he was born in England. On January 1, 2022, Genie Baskir noted in an email "We are the trio. Last year was (our) 40th anniversary."
These three individuals met for the first time in Texas, and the reason they met is related to the person of Don Pierson, about whom Genie remarked: "I feel badly in retrospect for Don. He was an honest man." Don Pierson is the man who created 'Radio London' in 1964, and then 'Radio England' and 'Britain Radio' in 1965. All three stations were built on board ships, and all three stations carried commercial radio programming that was broadcast from locations in the North Sea, off south-eastern England.
The initial meeting with Don Pierson that brought the 'Trio' together came about in a most unusual manner. It was by way of a letter written and mailed on August 16, 1967, by Mervyn Hagger in Birmingham, England. It was addressed to "Don 'Pearson (sic) Eastland, Texas, USA." Mervyn Hagger recovered that unanswered letter on Sunday, May 21, 1983 from inside a battered cardboard box. It was one of several boxes that were piled-on atop of each other in a Pullman rail car.
This particular train carriage was on sitting upon a short length of track alongside one arm of a side road that joined the primary street running in front of Don Pierson's home in Eastland, Texas. Mervyn Hagger was staying in that train car over night because it served as Don's guest house, and that is where he met a DJ who was already there after a night shift at Don Pierson's licensed FM station. The studio of that station was housed in a renovated former motel building on another street that completed a 'U' shaped fringe of roads that surrounded Pierson's home.
His radio station had the call-letters KVMX, and they were a comical take-off of the Fort Worth and Dallas conurbation called the 'Metroplex'. Don's version was the 'Microplex', and it referred to the several nearby small towns of West Texas such as a Cisco, a tiny community that gained a footnote of 'fame' for being the place where the founder of the Hilton Hotel chain had been born.
It was that chance meeting with a DJ which brought about a long-awaited answer in 1983, to the enquiring question posed by Hagger to Don "Pearson", well over a decade before in 1967. In casual conversation he told Hagger about those boxes that were stacked one on top another in one of the disused toilets at the end of the Pullman train car. The casual manner in which the boxes had been stored resulted in the one on the bottom being flattened by the ones on top, because those boxes only contained paperwork and brochures.
Inside the boxes were several miscellaneous items that reflected life lived in London, England during the Nineteen Sixties. They included a Playboy Club brochure; a proposal to open a hamburger restaurant; and even a heartfelt apology from someone who had obviously stolen from Don Pierson and was 'doing time' in an English prison. There were details of the contract engaging Philip Birch; legal documentation from Burton Kanter in Chicago explaining the precise manner in which Birch was to 'pass-through' advertising sales revenue to a bank in the Bahamas, because that is where the 'Radio London' controlling company was located under another name. There was even a script once used by Don Pierson to address Texas shareholders. It contained the story about the birth of 'Radio London' as seen through the eyes of Don Pierson, after Philip Birch has instigated a rift via Burton Kanter.
These boxes of compressed paperwork also contained detail about the start of 'Radio England', and 'Britain Radio', and the actual cashed down-payment check written to Continental Electronics for the transmitters of those stations, and another check addressed to PAMS for payment of jingles. Other paperwork reflected legal court cases in the USA that had been filed after the ship mv Laissez Faire; ex-Olga Patricia had returned from the North Sea to Miami, Florida. It was a gold mine of documentation from the past that had been unseen by anyone other than Don Pierson for many years.
But as Hagger thumbed through the contents of these boxes containing the legal and financial papers of Don Pierson, he came across an old British General Post Office airmail letter with his own handwriting on the envelope. It was minus its British stamp because at one time Don Pierson's son had torn it off to add to a collection. But the contents were still folded inside the envelope.
When he wrote that letter back in 1967, Mervyn Hagger knew next to nothing about Don Pierson, and he even had difficulty in locating Eastland on a map. However, if he had read the 'Daily Mirror' for Tuesday, June 28, 1966, he would have found a strange feature about nine-years old Marilyn Pierson who was staying in room 604 of the London Hilton Hotel on Park Lane. That hotel is located just round the corner from Curzon Street where Philip Birch managed the 'Radio London' sales company, and further down Curzon Street but on a dead-ending side road was the sales office of 'Radio Caroline'. Just past that was the sales office for Don Pierson's latest twin venture: 'Radio England' and 'Britain Radio'.
According to this photo-feature, Marilyn Pierson had found a duck in London's St James Park. It was just a few days old and looking sick, so she took it back to her hotel room where she named it 'Waddles' and began to take care of it with the help of her mother, father and brother who were "on holiday from Dallas, Texas." No mention was made about who her father was, even though that particular issue of the 'Daily Mirror' carried several news stories, illustrations, and even a large cartoon about aspects of the so-called 'pirate radio' stations.
What was even more interesting to Hagger in hindsight, was that the day before the 'Daily Mirror' picture of Marilyn Pierson was published on June 28, 1966, a half-page freelance feature written by Hagger had been published in the 'Wolverhampton Express and Star' regional daily newspaper. That article was triggered and then inspired by the misreporting of events by the 'Daily Telegraph' about the shotgun killing of the operator of one of the ten offshore radio stations that broadcast from a disused UK WWII maritime fort. This sensational event gave the green light of Parliamentary approval to pass legislation making it illegal for British participation in these maritime stations.
In among the papers and brochures and his own letter was that picture torn from the 'Daily Mirror'. So Hagger picked up the boxes and took them into Don's house with his letter from 1967 place on top of the battered cardboard stack. The letter that Mervyn Hagger had written to Don Pierson explained that following publication of a major newspaper feature, he wanted to write a book about Don Pierson and his interest in offshore radio. Hagger was especially intrigued about the origins of the idea for the twin 'England/Britain' venture.
The first thing Hagger did was ask Don to read the letter, and the second thing was to ask for a response to its core question about the twin stations. Don Pierson seemed to have forgotten all about the boxes, and with good reason, they did not instantly bring back good memories due to the internal back-stabbing that his three offshore stations had triggered. So, at that time, rather that go into lengthy explanations, he simply told Hagger that he could have the boxes in order to read through their contents and formulate his outline for a book. Little did Hagger know at the time just how involved that process was to become.
This treasure trove of information was not hearsay, but first-hand documentation, and some of it related to actions in courts of law demanding adherence to rules governing the submission of evidence. Meanwhile, back in the UK, no one knew much about Don Pierson or his stations which had come and gone, after the BBC skimmed-off the best parts of his three stations in order to reform the entire BBC radio network.
The BBC did not give any form of noteworthy recognition for what he had achieved, they just took what they wanted and left it at that. Taking their lead from the BBC's plagiaristic approach to the past, a host of individuals also began putting themselves forward as 'experts' in the history of British commercial broadcasting. Most of them were DJs who traded on their brief flirtation with the offshore period, and some of them began to embellish their own personal accounts by introducing biographical descriptions of events that never happened. For all they knew then, Don Pierson who had vanished from the scene, was probably dead, and he was certainly not around to contradict what they said about offshore radio, or even about Don Pierson as a human being.
But these boxes contained evidence of a totally different sort that contradicted what the growing chorus of self-opinionated and puffed-up fake experts were claiming. But the more time that passed by, and the more that these bogus stories got into print and were then repeated in the form of quotes and citations by other writers who were riding on the legacy of Don Pierson, the worse it became. Truth was not an issue. Journalistic curiosity seeking out facts was ignored, and the British Broadcasting Corporation gave their seal of approval to it all. Then the universities began to follow suit and soon the libraries were awash in books all parroting the same fake information.
Correcting this situation would become a big problem for the 'Trio', because they would have to contradict a bevy of recognized 'experts' who had put themselves and their friends into various forms of broadcasting halls of fame. In essence it meant revealing that these 'experts' were actually fraudsters who had shut their eyes to accepted standards of academic authorship, and the strict rules requiring foundational evidence that are demanded by courts of law.
The 'Trio' were on their way to making a host of these people very angry. Few would be willing to confess that what they had been writing was without foundation and a mixture of fact, fiction and self-fantasy about yesterdays that never happened.
(Revised and expanded text which will also be continued tomorrow.)
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