Europe's Hit Music Station

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About Laser558

 

Laser 558 was an offshore pirate, which broadcast on 558 kHz medium wave, from 1984 to 1985.

The format was pop music, mostly current and recent chart hits but with occasional oldies (especially on Sunday mornings). Some new releases were also played, including "Spotlight Songs" (which, as announcements admitted, were "paid adverts").

Probably the main attraction of Laser's format was their "never more than a minute away from the music" policy, at a time when most legal stations used to talk a lot in-between playing records. Also, Laser was one of the few stations at the time to play 2 records at a time, non-stop.

The announcements on Laser 558 were almost all in (American) English, but some of the Jingles aired were in Dutch (others were in English). Certainly, Laser's signal - and their following - reached into Holland, Belgium, and other Continental European countries.

Laser 558's ship, the MV Communicator was anchored in the Knock Deep area of the Thames Estuary of the North Sea. The anchorage was approximately 3 miles off the Essex coast, not far from Harwich.

DJs on Laser 558 included Charlie Wolf, Dave Lee Stone, Jessie Brandon, Tommy "Waterguy" Rivers (later Tommy "Rambo" Rivers), Liz West. Many of Laser's DJs went on to have successful careers in legal broadcasting, a few (notably Charlie Wolf) are still on-air today.

As time went on, Laser became very popular, and had its own fan club - the "Communicator Club", named after their radio ship, the MV Communicator. Furthermore, Laser was partly responsible for the rise in interest in offshore radio, in general, at the time. With popularity came increasing commercial viability - by mid 1985, a number of adverts had started to appear on Laser 558.

 

Eurosiege 85

 

Sadly, Laser's success also drew the ire of licenced radio stations, and of the authorities. In summer 1985, the British DTI launched a campaign to stop boats from supplying food, fuel and other items to the MV Communicator and also Caroline's ship, the MV Ross Revenge. A DTI ship, the Dioptric Surveyor, was sent to watch for ships visiting and supplying the offshore radio ships. Laser DJ's dubbed this action "Eurosiege 85".

Despite Laser's "cheesy" attitude on-air towards the Eurosiege, the blockade - aggravated by the stormy weather associated with Autumn on the North Sea - took its toll on Laser.

On 6th November 1985, the MV Communicator was escorted into Harwich harbour by DTI, Police and Coastguard vessels. This was the end of Laser 558.

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From Harwich to the Hook Of Holland - We Are Laser558