More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part nine

Over the next few weeks, is to publish, each weekday, edited extracts from the memoirs of Scottish war correspondent, Paul Harris. ‘More thrills than skills: A half-life in journalism’, is being scheduled for publication next year.

RADIO North Sea International was bigger, better and flashier than any other pirate. Aboard a Norwegian coaster converted into the radio ship Mebo II in a Hamburg shipyard, it came on the air on January 23 1970.

Painted in brilliant psychedelic colours and topped by a 50 metre-high radio mast, it was, for me, a fascinating enigma from the start.

Its conventional medium wave transmitter was more powerful than any other pirate radio ship, and most European national radio stations, and it also, surprisingly, broadcast on two short wave bands and on VHF. It was difficult to discern any commercial rationale behind the operation.

By now, I was writing for Disc & Music Echo in London on developments in European pirate radio and was also project manager for Capital Radio, anchored just a few miles away…