Radio Caroline returns to MW 648Khz 1kW power.
To qualify the " some considerable distance away" statement in my last post, one transmitter is in Slovenia, close to the border with Hungary and the other is in Southern Spain, near the Portuguese border.
In contrast to these two 10kW transmitters, the transmitters of Radio Tirana were 2 x 500kW and could - and were - combined to produce an output of 1MW from an aerial directed towards Europe from a site at a height of 1,613 metres (!) overlooking Tirana and the Adriatic. Little wonder that they caused so much of a problem to the BBC's relatively low power synchronised transmitter chain on 1214 - later 1215 - kHz.
When all else fails, read the instructions
Radio Tirana, they certainly tried hard to get their message listened to. I seem to remember a Radio Tirana station on 40 meters but could be wrong after all this time.
I cannot find it now but in the Radio Caroline ‘blog’ when they were testing, they stated they where 5Hz of frequency they also stated that it was within their licence limits of around 7-10hz but it will be resolved before going live. So Ofcom must give a little latitude to these low power stations.
For years I didn't know what Radio Tirana was! I never heard any discernible speech behind the Light Programme but I did hear their interminable interval signal - dah, dah-di-dah, dah-di-dah, dah - on short wave but it just seemed to go on for ever without any station identification. I always likened their transmitter to be like one of those old cars where, once you got it started, you didn't dare switch it off again!
When all else fails, read the instructions
Tirana was a damned nuisance. Always lurking in the background with that dirge of an interval signal - then propaganda about tractors and railing against Imperialists from both sides; Albania's model of Communism was China rather than Russia.
I haven't listened recently but I heard the various test transmissions on 648, the official opening (which was a pretty low key affair) and have heard some of the official transmissions on a small transistor portable with a Tecsun loop placed alongside. At a distance across land of about 150 miles it is easily readable if not great by modern standards. However, if I could have heard it as well as today during the daytime in the 1960s I would have considered it more than listenable. Back then I had to wait for skywave to kick in. My parents' Philips portable had an aerial socket and if I could borrow (steal) this during the day I pushed in the end-fed wire my dad had rigged up for me into it which helped, but back then it also brought in lots of other interference too. However, I was desperate to hear Caroline back then so I would put up with a lot. At night it was a lot better but there always seemed to be the wail of opera in the background - I think there was a Hungarian station on 1187. Having said that, I have some tapes I made of RNI and Caroline I made in the 1970s and I am surprised at what I/we would put up with then to listen - and today folk complain about artefacts on low bit rate DAB stations!
The signal seems remarkable for 1kW but then ground wave is much better at 648kHz. The best daytime signal I ever heard from Caroline from the Mi Amigo was the short-lived all day English service on 773kHz in the summer of 1973. It was good on an ordinary transistor portable but at school there was an AR88D on a random length of wire and it was absolutely stonking! The collapse of the short-lived first lattice mast put paid to the two frequency output. Of course 576 and 558 from the Ross Revenge was an easy listen in the 1980s - no problem on my car radio.
A lot older now, my musical taste has long moved away from pop and rock so Caroline's output is no longer much to my taste though it does seem to have a wider and more eclectic playlist than your average station, though I guess that's not hard to achieve. I occasionally listen to Caroline Flashback over the internet but I went through the 'oldies' phase years ago when the Gold type stations started up. Good luck to them anyway. The operation does seem to me to be the radio equivalent of a steam railway but if they'd been granted a commercial licence years ago I guess they'd have long since been gobbled up by a big commercial operator. At least this retains the integrity and essence of the station. Ronan might approve, though what he'd think of Caroline legally from land on the old Third Programme channel I do wonder!
As for Tirana on 247, this was never a problem being fairly close to Droitwich - in fact I never knew there was a problem! I well remember Tirana in the 40m band: really annoying when back then the band was only 100kHz wide anyway. I think it was on 7.06 or 7.065MHz and always a monologue of propaganda. 'Proletariat' and 'bourgeoisie' were frequently used words in their condemnation of the decadent west. Only the other night I heard Albania touted as a tourist destination. How times change...
Reception from Caroline in the evening was surprisingly useable with some fading and co-channel at times. Never thought I'd hear The Attack's, "Magic In The Air" on the radio!
Musically, what a refreshing change from Smooth and the former ILR oldies stations.
As for the days of 247m, never any problems in NE England as it had its own transmitter serving Newcastle and surrounding areas. In SW England it was another matter, even during the day there was lots of fading as adjacent transmitters fought for dominance! At night the signal virtually disappeared.
It's been a Radio Caroline North weekend with a borrow of Manx Radio's 1368kHz Tx. The guys played a very good selection of music - knocks your average 'gold' type station into the proverbial cocked hat.
At midday 1368 was only just discernible using the loop alongside the portable but as the afternoon wore on 1368 started to come in a treat. In darkness it has been booming in and no problem without the loop. Manx 1368 was listenable here before but with the clearance of a few BBC local stations it is now a really clear channel - almost as good a signal as RNI on 1367 but with far less co-channel interference. Not bad for 2kW.
648 linked for some of the North programmes and was very good today with the loop but disappeared into the noise and co-channel interference as the afternoon wore on.
Amazing to be able to hear two Carolines on the medium wave for the first time in just under fifty years!
Speaking of Manx Radio the signal comes booming in during the hours of darkness in NE England. Occasional fading but otherwise very stable. Reminds me of Luxembourg on 208m years back.
If anyone is in Portsmouth / Gosport I recommend a visit to the restaurant in the converted lightship at Haslar Marina, they are very friendly, the food is good, they are happy to show you around the ship, and relevant to this thread the dining room is decorated with large photos of the interior and exterior of the Ross Revenge in its days as the active Caroline ship. This is presumably because there were various connections between the radio ships and the Thames estuary lightships due to their crews both being out there 24/7/365 in all weathers.
Currently I have a client's Grundig Satellit 2000 on soak after a repair (I might write it up later) - it's done 48 hours continuous with no signal just to check the output stage repair and now I hope to do a minimum of 24 hours air time on it.
However, one advert on Caroline caught my ear; it's our occasional visitor VintageRob, no less!!
I heard that on the Caroline North weekend just gone and wonder who it was and if they were known to us.
I'm pleased to Caroline back on Medium Wave - sort of. I'm sure that their modulation is compliant with the rules, but it sounds horrible! It's muffled (on any receiver) and heavily compressed. Compared to other fully compliant AM music stations, it's pretty poor. Even the very cheaply-run religious stations further up the dial sound better!
Their other problem is that their 1kW (is that peak or carrier power, I wonder?) isn't going anywhere at night. I live about 10 miles from the site, and they disappear beneath the Slovenian and Spanish stations on the same frequency as soon as the sun goes down. Trying to null out the interfering signals is virtually impossible. The Spanish station is certainly much more powerful than the 10kW they're supposedly allocated, and the Slovenian is probably more power too. Frankly, Caroline are just wasting electricity at night!
They remain fractionally off-frequency too, leading to slow beating effects with the interfering signals, even in the late afternoon. There is no need for them to be off-channel: There have been 198 kHz-controlled synchronisers available for many years, so that the carrier frequency of a synchronised transmitter will be as accurate as the 198 kHz carrier (1 part in 10¹³ as far as I recall). I was installing that kind of gear in the 1980s!
Their content is largely what you'd expect as "Europe's first album music station". They've probably got a reasonable (daytime) audience in Suffolk and Essex, but they're not really setting the world alight with their programming. Sadly, they've probably "missed the boat"! There were a few other applicants for the licence that Caroline got, and it might have been interesting is one of the others were given the chance, instead of the "old hands" that run Caroline. Fortunately, there are other AM licences becoming available, so we might get some more interesting competitors for them. There are also rumours of a fairly high-powered "Jolly Roger" operation being set up in the western Netherlands on 666kHz....
Tried to receive Radio Caroline this evening on the Pilot X65B connected to the tunable frame aerial. No reception today in Geordieland. I know the station is wedged between two Spanish stations. I have received the station in the past.
Somewhat more receivable in Croydon on my Bush TR82. I'll have to try on the VHF80....AM is excellent on that with the RF amplifier. I suspect it will romp in now.
I have been listening regularly over the last few weeks since the switch from the umbrella to the 1/4 wave Caroline is much improved here in the daytime. At 150 miles or so it isn't perfect but it is acceptable, especially for those of us who were brought up in the old days of the medium waveband. Some days it is better than others – it depends on the weather.
It is improved at night but still not listenable.
My musical taste is wide. I like the content of the programmes. I have heard a lot of tracks I haven't heard in years and many I've never heard at all (or have forgotten) because back in the day I didn't have the albums. It's also good to hear new releases from young bands that fit the format. I rarely hear new music these days because I don't listen to the BBC popular music stations – they're aiming at a younger audience than me and I find much of the presentation irritating – and the commercials are either aiming at a particular teen audience or operating a tight rotation of well-known chart oldies.
There is a bit of breadth to Caroline. I don't listen all day. Unlike when I was a kid and it was Caroline day and night, these days my taste is too broad to be catered for by one station.
Thanks for letting us know about Radio Caroline, it’s good to have another station to listen to on MW as there are not many now. I am receiving it loud and clear in Sussex (7 miles south of Tunbridge Wells).