Trying to assemble details about a very complicated and extensive story is not easy. That is why a narrator is required to gather information from documents still on file in court rooms and in media files, as well as recorded interviews and the personal recollections by individuals who formed 'The Trio'. This is an account of their lives as lived, not a cobbled together collection of hearsay gossip.
The previous chapter concluded by explaining how Genie Baskir became part of 'City Digest', and how that publication was presided over by Don Pierson. Hagger also explained how he with his colleague Larry West, became involved in the aborted plan to rescue the broadcasting career of Herb Jepko. The next phase of this story then moved on to Don Pierson's proposal to start a newspaper in Abilene, and from there to starting a digest-sized magazine.
It was Don Pierson who introduced both Larry West and Mervyn Hagger to his son Grey Pierson at his law office in Arlington, Texas. That office location was almost 100 miles away from Don's house in Eastland, Texas. Eastland was and still is a small and stagnant population in West Texas, while Arlington, Texas sits just south of the DFW international airport. Back then, its economic theme park base had also stalled, before it began to grow once more.
Not only did Arlington act as a magnet attracting visitors, it also was a growing manufacturing base which included a General Motors auto plant. Today it is home to the stadium used by the 'Dallas Cowboys' football team, plus another stadium that is home to the 'Texas Rangers' baseball team and many other entertainment venues. Back then it was also the home of a depressed attorney named Grey Pierson.
Grey Pierson's lack-luster interest in life stemmed from his activities during the prior ten years in which both he and his father Don Pierson had become involved in trying to start a Freeport. Don Pierson's first attempt was made in Haiti, and it was soon followed by Dominica. These are two island nations in the Caribbean Sea.
The first of those projects began with Don Pierson on the island of Hispaniola. Its mainland is more-or-less split down the middle and shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Both nations on Hispaniola are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, and Haiti is separated from the island of Cuba by an international seaway passage through the Caribbean Sea that links the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. At the eastern tip of Cuba is a major U.S. Naval Base that occupies land and coastline at Guantanamo Bay. This English-speaking facility on the land of Spanish speaking Cuba, is almost 200 miles from the French speaking Haitian capital of Port au Prince. It is an area of geopolitical instability, intrigue and revolution.
In the Nineteen Sixties, compounding this scenario for the worse, was a huge Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base station. It was situated on the southern campus of the University of Miami in the U.S. State of Florida. That CIA base station pretended to be a commercially leased facility, but it did not fool many, including one the major newspapers which reported that this facility was maintaining links to an expatriate Cuban army, a large number of aircraft and a fleet of ships. One of those vessels included the mv Olga Patricia'.
Geographically, this was also the home to the dark side of geopolitical intrigue. That CIA base station was under the influential control of U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in Washington, D.C., and it had links to the same people whose names became associated with the assassination of Robert's brother, President John F. Kennedy.
The mv Olga Patricia' had been docked within a U.S. Air Force ship pen at Miami. It also had connections to Galveston, Houston and Dallas, Texas where Gordon McLendon, Clint Murchison, Jr., and Robert F. Thompson treated the landscape of the world as part of their playground. That was the world into which the story of Don Pierson transitioned, after his 'Radio London' venture.
If the people in the shadowy world of CIA were all operating on a 'need-to-know' basis of assigned duties, Don Pierson was conducting his business interests according to a form of delegated management. Only when his business plans went terribly wrong did he begin to intervene, but by then it was usually too late to remedy his problems and his style of management usually caused resentment among his own business associates. That is what happened to both of his two offshore radio projects. His first offshore radio station venture was called 'Radio KLIF London', and it was followed by the twin radio stations 'England' and 'Britain' .
It was the latter of those projects which was based on board the mv 'Olga Patricia', a ship which suddenly became available for lease to Don Pierson. How much Don Pierson knew or came to know about the past activities of that vessel before his venture had use of it under an initial lease, is unclear. But what is clear is that Don Pierson was personally responsible for disposing of it when it returned from offshore broadcasting in the North Sea. That ship then resumed its hostile activities towards Cuba, and that resulted in Fidel Castro denouncing it by name over 'Radio Havana Cuba' as a CIA vessel that had killed Cuban civilians.
When Mervyn Hagger later interviewed Don Pierson about his broadcasting activities, Hagger asked a question touching on the mv 'Olga Patricia', which caused Don Pierson to become unglued, and Hagger was forbidden to ask it, or a similar question, ever again. This was after Hagger had begun working with Grey Pierson in his law office during which time William Colby, former head of CIA, walked through the door in Arlington, Texas and introduced himself. He was there trying to unravel the geopolitical and commercial mess created by Don Pierson's Freeport ventures.
The first of those ventures which relates directly to the mv 'Olga Patricia', still bubbles away. Every few years, Pierson's aborted plan for a Freeport on the Haitian Île de la Tortue (island of Tortuga), will suddenly appear as a feature in American newspaper columns. The last time this happened was not too long-ago during October 2020. That is when Kanye West aroused the attention of both press and Grey Pierson, after that same 1971 Haitian Freeport venture became a hot topic of controversy once again.
During the time that Mervyn Hagger was working with Grey Pierson in Arlington, he was totally unaware of how wall decorations in that law of office were tied to both the Haiti and Dominica freeport debacles. For a time, Hagger even drove around Arlington in a former VW staff car of World War II design which had the official seal of the Freeport devolved government of Dominica on its doors. Nor did Hagger know the details behind the decade of intrigue that linked Grey Pierson's father Don Pierson to a long-running series of mysterious geopolitical events. In fact, it is not clear even now how much Don Pierson really knew about who he tangled with, and what these people were really doing.
They included international tax lawyer Burton Kanter and his connections to both the Mafia and CIA. Then there was the backstory of U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and his links to the mv 'Olga Patricia', and its continuing involvement in the continuing war against Fidel Castro's Cuba, masterminded by CIA interests. There were also shadowy figures who operated in the darkness surrounding the death of President John F. Kennedy, and Texas connections to the beginnings of the North Sea oil and gas industry. But at this stage, Hagger had no idea that a form of the 'domino theory' was adversely directing events.
For instance, Hagger did no know that the accepted storyline about the creation of 'Radio Caroline' was a fake, or that Ronan O'Rahilly who promoted it was a fraud. Thus, Hagger did not know that Don Pierson had been deliberately mislead, and that even then, Don Pierson was still unaware Ronan O'Rahilly was a con man. Yet in the law office of Grey Pierson, the foundation of the 'City Digest' venture was being created by using the same distant management methods that Don Pierson had previously utilized with disastrous consequences.
When individuals on the European side of the Atlantic Ocean attempt to tell the story of offshore broadcasting, they do so without foreknowledge of this backstory. Because they were not present at the real 'ground zero', their attempts to unravel and understand the real story are immediately doomed to failure. More than this, the people who were "in the know", did not, and their heirs to the financial aspects of this story, still do not want the self-glorifying writers about British broadcasting to know the real story.
For Don Pierson the entrepreneur Chairman of IFAC, his lack of interest in maintaining a daily 'hands-on' management style, was his ultimate downfall, and his modus operandi ultimately caused the downfall with the ventures he became a part of. His method of distance management brought in investors, but his own casual style of behavior that endeared him to all who met him as a trusting and trusted friend, also opened the doors to those who plotted to use him in order to carry out their own plans which linked to the dark side of both American and British current events.
Don Pierson not only enticed extended family members to invest in 'City Digest', but he also succeeded in getting them to take over the financial side of the IFAP business, plus a franchise for Tyler, Texas. That is when a third local 'City Digest' edition joined the IFAP family of publications. This same methodology was then applied by the Tyler extension of Pierson family connections, and they brought in an even bigger investor. In those days Don Pierson was still following the same formula that he had previously used to create 'Radio London' when a car dealer colleague in Abilene, Texas brought in Burton Kanter in Chicago, as well as Philip Birch in London. Then Kanter took control of Birch and shut out Pierson.
This form of backstabbing behavior resulted in the low-cost operation of automated 'Radio KLIF London', with no big overhead expenses in London, England, being transformed into 'Radio London' being operated with a 'live' broadcasting staff with high-overhead expenses in London. Then it happened again with 'Radio England' and 'Britain Radio', both of which were to be run by automated tape broadcasting with low expenses in London, but at the last minute both were changed to employing a staff involving high expenses.
It was only after the demise of 'City Digest' and the recovery of Mervyn Hagger's 1967 letter to "Don Pearson" (sic), along with all of his financial and legal records about his offshore radio stations, that the real story began to emerge. Because little did 'The Trio' know even then that they had just scraped the top of a huge iceberg of deception, or that the same reasoning employed by the father, had been passed on to the son, and Grey Pierson was about to drive nails into the coffin of 'City Digest' which died when a low overhead dream was transformed into a high expense nightmare.
But only after the passage of many years did the real story about the Pierson offshore stations begin to emerge, and then little-by-little the same thing began to happen to the mythology surrounding the birth of 'Radio Caroline'. Before a mystery can be solved, it is first necessary to know that there is a mystery to be investigated. It was Don Pierson's formula of not paying attention to details that began to destroy the very base of each enterprise that he promoted as an entrepreneur. But entrepreneurial management is not sufficient to govern the continuity stage involving steady growth. Consequently IFAC/IFAP continued under Don Pierson's casual style, while his son Grey decided to get involved and a management 'war' took place within the Pierson family.
With the financial management of IFAC/IFAP transferred to Tyler, Texas, the editorial side was taken over by Grey Pierson in Arlington, Texas. Meanwhile, another father and son financial management team in Tyler began raising more and more capital as expenses continued to exceed income. Another problem obfuscating financial transparency was the physical distance between the editorial and sales offices in Arlington, and the financial office in Tyler. It is just over 100 miles, and it is about the same from Arlington, Texas to Eastland, Texas. In other words, it is about 200 miles from Eastland to Tyler and this was in the days before desk top computer office management; before the Internet, and during the days when long distance telephone calls were still an expensive undertaking.
When the transition began to move from the original IFAC/IFAP business plan to the Grey Pierson plan of simply publishing a glossy magazine, an office coup took place in which Larry West began to work with Grey Pierson, and Mervyn Hagger was spending more time on the franchising side. The change did not occur overnight, and it did not occur with fierce arguments within the office at Arlington. It was during this period of time that Grey Pierson decided to move the editorial side to a different office in Arlington and both he and Larry West began looking for a Managing Editor to staff it.
Hagger, who was still based in the main Arlington office, was then assigned to work with the father of the financial team in Tyler, and the two of them began flying to interview franchise applicants. The son of the father in Tyler devoted himself to an unrelated family retail business, the Tyler edition of 'City Digest', and bookkeeping for IFAC/IFAP.
When Grey Pierson abandoned the IFAC/IFAP business plan, it meant that the franchises being offered for sale, differed from the franchises being advertised, and because of the three-way split between Eastland, Arlington and Tyler a small-time operation still in the entrepreneurial stage, was now without a central plan or central management.
When Grey Pierson reinvented the purpose of 'City Digest' by arbitrarily killing-off the planned 'International Fine Arts Digest' that was supposed to make its debut as part of each local edition of 'City Digest' after the combined circulation of all local editions reached 100,000 copies, the financial business model became unworkable, due to high overheads and restricted opportunity for returns on investments. It was a repetition of the 'Radio England' and 'Britain Radio' misadventure.
Don Pierson wanted to repeat his original plan for 'Radio KLIF London' by doubling its chances of financial success. That plan depended upon the rebroadcasting of tapes made from the broadcast output of KLIF in Dallas, and editing-out local news, weather and commercials, but leaving in the music. The news, weather and commercials aired in Dallas, Texas would be replaced by those made in London, England. Thus 'Big D', as Dallas was known, would become 'Big L', a slogan that had no meaning for residents of London, England. In fact, Philip Birch complained to Don Pierson about the parallel between Dallas and London, since Londoners were well aware of the murder of President Kennedy that had very recently taken place in Dallas during midday and viewed by the crowds waving to him as he passed them by in his open top limousine.
So, Don Pierson attempted his low-cost automation broadcasting station model once again, except that he decided to double the return on investment by putting two stations on one ship. However, he was again undermined at the last moment when an expensive broadcasting staff was added, in addition to the automation system, and a huge office building was rented on London's Curzon Street just around the corner from the over-populated 'palace' that was the home of 'Radio Caroline'. Meanwhile, Philip Birch had rented, as instructed by Don Pierson, a former boutique with a short-term bargain lease in a Curzon Street basement.
The parallel with 'City Digest' was obvious. In this instance it was reflected in a top-heavy editorial side plus the upgrading of low cost copier paper of the type used in local publications, to paper with a high gloss finish used by national magazines. It was an unsustainable business model. Consequently, Grey Pierson began looking for a different editorial style and editor. Larry West then decided to get out from under the burden of selling and repositioned himself with Grey Pierson in the editorial side of the venture. It was at this moment in time that Genie Baskir applied for the job being advertised, but unaware that what she was applying for had been a job description that no longer existed.
Genie explains "If I recall correctly, I believe I answered an advert in the 'Dallas Morning News' in March of 1981." That was on the first anniversary of the original two editions being published, but it was after the introduction of the third publication in Tyler. The fourth edition was about to appear in Wichita Falls, Texas under the management of Grey Pierson, and it was then that a 'perfect storm' of mismanagement was about to destroy the entire venture.
Tomorrow, Genie continues adding to her recall of events.