©   2014-2021 Offshore Radio Museum

Home Basement Ground Floor 1 Floor 2

Almost  there !

Almost There ! (4)


Secondly came Canadian, Arnold Swanson, who had been technical adviser to the Voice of Slough project. After splitting from the Voice of Slough project Swanson announced in 1962 even more elaborate plans to launch a station - GBOK (Great Britain OK) from a former lightship, the Lady Dixon

The Amalgamated Broadcasting Company was formed to front the project with rLady Dixon as a Pilot vesselegistered offices and studios at Swanson's home, Notley Abbey, Thame, Buckinghamshire. A London office for the Amalgamated Broadcasting Co. was also established at 151 Fleet Street, EC4, but commercial airtime on the planned station was to be sold through another company, Adanac Broadcasting Agency, which also operated from the same two addresses.

Announcer Ed Moreno (who was later to work for several offshore radio stations) spent four days a week for several months recording GBOK programmes at the Notley Abbey studios, which had been built by Roy Barrett (who had also previously been involved with the Voice of Slough project). Two ‘retired’ BBC engineers - John Gilman and A N Thomas were also said to be involved in advising on technical aspects of the project. Both these ‘retired’ ex-BBC engineers were later to become involved with preparation work for Radio Atlanta and Radio Caroline. American Evangelist Ted Armstrong (whose programme The World Tomorrow -  was heard on many later British offshore stations) reportedly bought airtime on GBOK and even publicised the station's forthcoming launch in some of his literature.

First actual press reporLady Dixonts of GBOK appeared in the Southend Standard on 15th February 1962, indicating that the station would be broadcasting music, features and advertising 24 hours a day from a former lightship anchored near The Nore, the same location as had been planned for the Voice of Slough's broadcasting vessel, starting on 28th February 1962.

The station planned to broadcast on 773kHz (388m) using a 5Kw Marconi transmitter and hoped to reach a potential audience of 11 million listeners within a 150 mile radius covering the south east and Midlands. Places as far away as Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Birmingham and Bristol were planned to be within the station's primary coverage area and a "bonus French audience" across the English Channel was also offered for the benefit of advertisers.

GBOK was promoted in a glossy 12 page brochure  which attempted to explain in some detail to listeners and potential advertisers (who were accustomed only to the BBC's style of programming) just how a 24 hour American format music station would sound. (See Interactive Zone, right) Programme Director for GBOK was Roy Dunlop.

Programmes were to be of popular music with five minute news broadcasts on the hour every hour a completely new experience for British listeners who were used to the BBC's diet of early morning, lunchtime and evening set piece news bulletins. GBOK planned to make the claim "First with the Important News" for this service.

After the early morning "Wake-up Show" ended at 9.00am another new concept of programming was proposed. Known as the "Bandwheel", this show (an internationally copyrighted programme to which GBOK had exclusive British rights) was scheduled to run for 10 hours each day. It would be interrupted only by news on the hour and a two hour "Motorway Special" between 4.00pm and 6.00pm each evening, recognising the then new and growing market for drive-time listeners- commuters with car radios.

According to the staBandwheel logotion's promotional literature the Bandwheel was an actual wheel, 9' in diameter with room in the centre for the announcer's desk and microphone. The wheel was divided into quarters, each allocated to particular artists or performers which were changed regularly throughout the day. An inner circle on the wheel was divided into thirty three 15 minute segments and eleven 10 minute segments - "Bandwheel" One to Forty Four. Exactly which artist entertained during a particular segment was determined by the announcer spinning the Bandwheel and wherever the pointer stopped the named artist's record would be played.

These segments were available for sponsors to purchase and the announcer would then mention their name and product frequently during that part of the programme.

In association with the "Bandwheel" programme the station also planned to run a Jackpot Competition for listeners to predict (from a list printed on an entry form) which artists would perform in each of the 44 daily segments for the forthcoming two weeks! Entry forms were to be distributed through sponsors' retail outlets and Jackpot winners would be drawn by the announcer in the middle of each 10 or 15 minute segment.

Between the hours of 10.00pm and 6.30am GBOK planned the "All Night Dance Party", with sponsors being sought for each hourly segment or even the complete night's programme. Prime time advertising rates ranged from £16 for 20 seconds to £90 for a 15 minute segment, with discounts for multiple bookings. Sponsorship of the nightly "Dance Party" was to be by negotiation while newscasts could also be sponsored at the 5 minute rate plus a 33% premium. By March 1962 Arnold Swanson was claiming to have already  sold enough airtime to finance a complete year's programming on GBOK.

Lady Dixon

Photo: Paul Graham

Click images to enlarge

Where       next ?



Back to


         Back      1    2     3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10    11    12    13   14   15    16       Next            

State Monopolies and International Agreements

Taking  to Water early offshore days Challenging  the  State Monopolies State monopolies and international agreements Challenging the state monopolies 1 Taking to Water Early Offshore Days Almost  there ! Almost There!

Back to Gallery index

Why Go Offshore?

Almost There !   (5)

The Guardian

00 February 1962

Daily Telegraph

19th February 1962

Sunday Times

00 February 1962

Click images to enlarge

Lady Dixon in her days as a pilot vessel