Monday, February 06, 2006

Previous Broadcasts : Radio Stad Harlingen, Holland


For this report, we return to August 1998, to the small fishing town of Harlingen, Holland, which saw Johnny Reece, Gil Legine, Andy Brooks and Richard Bismarck take part in the 'Fishing Days' Festival via the local Radio Station.
R.S.H. (Radio Stad Harlingen) is the local Station for the town of Harlingen, northern Holland, in the Friesland region, and Broadcasts on both FM and Cable.
Sietse Brouwer was the Programme Director of the Station, and, as many of you will know, had Presented for both Radio Caroline and the Album Zone. The town of Harlingen has its own 'Fishing Days' Festival every year near the end of August, and RSH regularly Broadcast special Programmes to cover this event. In 1997, Johnny Reece and colleagues were invited to take part as Radio Caroline, with Shows coming 'Live' from the RSH Studios. Sietse wished to take things one step further though for the following year, planning to Broadcast the special Programmes for the event from a Ship. Many ideas were originally looked into, including using the old Veronica Ship 'Norderney' (anchored in the next town) as a base. Finally, with the help of the Sea Cadets, it was decided the Minesweeper M.V. Sittard would be our home for the event. It was our second trip to Harlingen for the 'Fishing Days' Festival. Our good friend Sietse Brouwer from RSH was co-ordinating the whole event, and thought our second Broadcast within a year should have a more 'nautical' feel. After some lengthy negotiations, our Home and Studio base for the whole event was indeed to be the Minesweeper the MV Sittard, nowadays a training base for the Sea Cadets.
The Main Broadcast Studios were to be transferred onto the Ship, set up, and within hours be ready for Broadcasting. As our own U.K. 'Crew' had just been working together, along with Sietse at a Radio Caroline RSL Broadcast just weeks previously, and Sietse being a keen supporter, we were to Broadcast under that name, and try to raise awareness for the Station from the Programmes, and sell Merchandise too. Quite a task. It became 'Radio Caroline via RSH' for the 3 nights of our Programming, with the daytime spots featuring the normal Programming of RSH. Much credit and thanks must go to all the Management and Personnel from the Sea Cadets for making us feel so welcome. It was decided we would have 4 Presenters, Johnny Reece, Gil Legine, Andy Brooks, and Richard Bismarck. We travelled over on a Tuesday afternoon, on the fast Harwich - Hook HSS Ferry, and then began the long drive north to the wonderful town of Harlingen. We were joined then by our late friend David Francis from Caroline Sales, who kindly arranged for the return Fares on the HSS to be paid for us. David was a gem, as anyone who knew him would testify. The next day we were joined by Martin Wallis, whose job it was to set up the 'Shop' on board. With Martin, I am very glad to say, came Chris Cheek - our Cook for the next 4 days. Those who know Chris knew what to expect next, Eggybread ! After all, we had to pass on our own special culinary tips to the Dutch. The Galley then became 'Chris's Caff' with a special Menu being posted at the door on a daily basis. Before the thought of any Broadcasting had even entered our heads, we were all off to the local Supermarket to buy supplies. Naturally, the first night was spent touring a selection of Bars in Harlingen. Did you really expect anything else ? The serious stuff began on Wednesday evening. RSH would 'close down' and we would become 'Radio Caroline via RSH' from 8pm through until 7am for the next 3 evenings. Brilliant fun. Our accommodation was directly underneath the Studio set up on Board - so no chance of missing any of the Programmes - even if you wanted to sleep. The line-up for each evening was Brooksy, Reecey, Gil, then Bismarck. Naturally, the body clocks of those on Board would take something of a battering over the following days. But we didn't mind - Sietse had done an amazing job putting it all together, and we didn't want to let him down. The language barrier wasn't a problem, as we spoke with a mixture of Music, Beer and Eggybread. Not to be outdone, we were introduced to a new delicacy by RSH - called Sugarbread. Reecey has since even had Sugarbread sent over from Holland - it must be good. In the daytimes, we all became tourists, and, by night, the Music kicked in. The publicity machine was in full swing, with various Journalists calling in for Interviews on a daily basis, and Local TV got a look in too. There were many features in the local Press, and the amount of visitors to the Ship grew on a daily basis. National Radio called in too, to have a chat with us all. Martin did a brisk business in his Shop, just yards from the on-air Studio. As for Chris, he was rather a victim of his own success. 'Eggybread' was taking over, it seemed, as the new national dish. We spent a lot of time exploring, and of course doing the Shopping for the ever more popular 'Chris's Caff'. which was becoming rather more time-consuming than we first thought. Unfortunately, the first 2 days brought us very poor weather, so we had to often find some locations in the daytime hours when exploring, which meant that we spent a great deal of our daytime hours in a selection of local Pubs. Obviously, we were heartbroken. Crestfallen, in fact. Ahem. However, we did not let this spoil our enjoyment of doing the 'Live' Programming, if we were sober. On the final evening, a Friday night, we decided to thank Sietse for all of his hard work by letting him have some of our airtime, to do with what he wishes. This was of course a thinly disguised attempt for us all to disappear to eat drink and be merry at one of the local hostelries, which we did. But, alleged Professionals that we are, we returned in time to complete the final nights Shows. There was one catch though. When the Broadcast ended at 8am - no sleep ! The Studio had to be dismantled and returned to RSH - and we had to leave the vessel - as it was due to sail at 10am. The Studio and links were removed in double-quick time, and in the end the Sea Cadets let us all stay on Board while she sailed up the river anyway. Superb. The MV Sittard took it's berth for the weekend alongside some splendid Warships, for the final day of the Fishing Days Festival. Our sincere thanks to the Sea Cadets for their hospitality, and for letting a bunch of lunatics aboard their vessel without a care in the world. Also thanks to all at RSH, particularly Sietse, without whom none of this would have ever happened. Hopefully, one day, we will return to do it all again. We all had a splendid time and wouldn't hesitate for a second to repeat the exercise. Ta much to everyone, and by the way, we've run out of Sugarbread - more please ! ...