In yesterday's Blog we gave you a very brief overview of how we began airing programs in the UK over Norman Nelson's land-based Short Wave radio station, but we only touched upon the transition period that provided the foundation for this present research project.
While we will include more details in our new and forthcoming series of part-publications about broadcasting, in view of the misinformation already in circulation, it becomes necessary for us to explain a few essential differences in the reporting of current affairs taking place on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The time period in question for us began back in the Nineteen Eighties, and the catalyst was the start of Music TeleVision (MTV) in the USA.
Although on the surface, there appears to have been a uniformity of cultural interpretations in both the UK and USA back then, there was an in fact an obfuscation of branding and it had a point of origination. Many products, services and companies seen as 'British' by consumers, and users in the British Isles, had in fact originated in North America. But their connectivity was either downplayed or intentionally disguised.
Half of the original British Broadcasting Company Limited cartel was of American origin. EMI (Electric and Musical Industries) began as an offshoot of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), and that entity had already given birth to the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in the USA, which had a lot of commercial interests in common with BBC Ltd. Because NBC was an offshoot of the American company called General Electric (GE), the identification chimes on NBC reflected the musical notes of G, E, and C.
While there was an international version of American company known as GE, the eponymous entity in the UK was not the same company, although some interests were shared between the two via the American GE international company. This blurring of identities became the subject of an interesting book published in 1968 called 'The American take-over of Britain'. Its authors tried to show how people in Britain could go through an entire day using American products and services without knowing that this is what they were doing.
So it was with the popular music charts in 1982. That is when MTV first came on to American TV screens. The problem was that there was a shortage of video material in the USA for MTV to work with. While British TV had led the way in promoting popular music in the UK with pioneering producers such as Jack Good, its radio output had been restricted, and this had in turn given birth to offshore radio broadcasting. (You will discover that we covered a lot of this material in depth within our academic series of articles which are on line at http://foundthreads.com).
In the UK, companies such as EMI had been supplying public venues with promotional film/video clips to sell a 'new wave' of British artists. That 'new wave' was a harking back to the 'first wave' that swirled around groups such as the Beatles, when they first burst on to the Pop charts. Now, the British Pop charts were featuring groups that would not be heard in America for many more months, and many of these groups came with film/video clips. This was one of the cheaper foundations of MTV in the USA.
So when Don Pierson obtained an FCC radio license for KVMX-FM whose studio was situated at the bottom of his property on which he had his home in tiny and obscure Eastland, Texas, and because we were already working with him on a franchised publication, he asked for help with radio programming. Thus a show called 'Swinging Radio England' (SRE), which featured old PAMS jingles and old music was born on KVMX-FM at about the same time period that MTV was planning its expansion to nationwide coverage of the USA.
It was MTV in the USA that 'inspired' a switch from the oldies SRE format to the new British charts under the name of Wonderful Radio London. Don Pierson then decided to syndicate this show at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas, and he went one step further by proposing to restart WRL as WRLI with a new ship station aimed at the UK. This brought Ben Toney, the local Texas man hired by Don Pierson for the original WRL as General Manager. Originally, Philip Birch was only hired to handle advertising sales.
We made contact with Ben Toney quite by chance (he had been away at sea on a non-broadcasting venture). The connection was made at a record faire by George Gimarc who programmed an AM station in Dallas that played oldies, and an FM in the same building that played 'New Wave' and punk music. Both stations were owned by the 'Dallas Morning News' daily paper. George brought us together with Ben and the WRLI project was born. Initially records were imported from England via a New Jersey distributor, but because of delays it was decided to record the programs in the UK and ship them directly to the USA for duplication and then syndication.
Now enters another person in this strange story. His name is Ben Freedman who ran a jingle company called CPMG in Buffalo, New York. Ben was also trading as 'PAMS', the Dallas jingle company which had been pushed into oblivion due to outstanding taxes. The legal status of PAMS was surrounded in law suits that tangled with other companies outside of Texas. All of this was long before the dawn of the World Wide Web and easy research by the Internet. A trade-off was arranged with Ben Freedman. We would research the legal status of PAMS for him, while he brought in his agent in Kent, England to make the new syndicated WRLI programs for airplay in the USA.
For his part, George Gimarc kicked off a four hour live show on his Dallas AM station in which the history of the British offshore stations would be told using both narration, airchecks and records. Ben Toney then began talking to several potential investors who would 'seed' the venture, and this also included Don Pierson trying to re-involve Tom Danaher. But Danaher had fallen out with Pierson over the SRE debacle of 1966-67 in the UK.
To promote the syndicated hour-long weekly show, time was bought on XERF in Mexico. That station had come back into the news when an engineer attempted to get its massive RCA transmitter back on the air. So at midnight, Texas time, a daily WRL-America chart show featuring British records was aired seven nights a week, with a local sponsor. But the engineer could not keep that transmitter on the air and so the power dropped down to that of a local US station. Its clear-channel, 'coast-to-coast and border-to-border' voice could not be heard.
It was during this time that Ben Toney became ill and the idea of reviving Radio London died. But the syndicated program was still being aired. That is when new contact was made with Jonathan Marks at Radio Netherlands and the idea of morphing the 'new wave' turned into the 'First Wave of the Four Freedoms'. By extension, this idea emerged out of a feature within George Gimarc's 'Rock and Roll Alternative' show, into a new kind of music and commentary program wrapped inside a music show that was all intended to be aired as a single sign-on, sign-off transmission called 4FWS. It was recorded in Texas and then sent to independent stations as far afield as KIWI-SW in New Zealand, and a host of other stations in Europe and the British Isles, and that included Radio East Coast Commercial.
Our fledgling broadcasting group then began to make television documentaries for a companion 4FTN (Four Freedoms Television Network on local US cable systems with Genie Baskir. In fact it was Genie was to have become the original voice of the syndicated radio show, until the practicality of obtaining records, and the involvement of Ben Freedman caused us to switch to his UK associate.
Meanwhile, while our research to create program material continued, and Don Pierson had also brought in Eric Gilder who was also researching the origins of British broadcasting for a university thesis. It was then that we began to focus on one central question: Why can you play rock 'n' roll all day on the radio in the USA, but not in the UK? ('Needle Time' was still a factor back then.)
The 4FWS broadcasts, which we previously explained are still available to hear, and the latter series of academic articles which directly answered our own research question, then began the long trail that eventually led to the creation of this Blog.
In this same time period, aging anoraks eventually joined forces with a car mechanic, and together they have come to worship the now rusting hulk of a defunct radio ship. These lost souls pretend that they are at sea playing records, and they fondly take and show pictures of each other doing so.
Somehow they imagine that doing what any other licensed radio station can do is akin to a cause once branded as 'free radio'. But that term once meant free to listen to, as opposed to paid listening with a government license. Today these hobby pensioners playing within the confines of their own British Crown licensed station they call 'Radio Caroline', are content to snarl at each other, because all forms of educational research into British broadcasting is something that is beyond their disintegrating mental capacity to comprehend.
Consequently we have become their primary target of dribbling hatred, while they unknowingly have become victims of self-publishing vultures like Paul Rusling. He sees us as a source to steal from and the anorak pensioners as merely carcasses holding coins that can be picked lose for his own self-indulgent spending. Our researched information is free to these anorak pensioners, while Rusling throws anything on to his print-on-demand pages and then laughs at the stupidity of these dying embers of humanity who buy and read them.
No doubt the feeble minds in that anorak world will be told what this Blog says and some may even come over to look for typos. But intelligent feedback? There will be none, because the anoraks lack the intelligence to enter into any form of intelligent conversation. They are mental captives of the very British Crown that they still think they are rebelling against.