We loved the pirate stations

The BBC had a monopoly of radio broadcasting, and was in thrall to the Musicians' Union, which limited "needle time," the playing of pop records. The Union insisted that the BBC employed live musicians instead, and programmes featuring pop music were few and far between. Young people who wanted to listen to the hits resorted if they could to Radio Luxembourg playing pop from the Continent.

Onto that scene in 1964 came Radio Caroline, broadcasting from a ship moored offshore in international waters. Its non-stop pop interspersed with ads and DJ banter proved an immediate hit, and it gathered a huge audience. It was quickly copied, and 'pirate' radio ships were soon scattered around Britain's shores. In St Andrews the best reception was of Radio Scotland, which gained a massive market penetration in Scotland. Its signature tune, The Black Bear, was heard everywhere. Radio London was similarly popular in London and surrounds.

The Labour government of the day defended the BBC monopoly by passing the 1967 Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, outlawing the supply of and communication with offshore broadcasters. As the Act came into force, the pirate stations closed down, with the exception of Radio Caroline, which opted to continue broadcasting illegally. Reception was not good in St Andrews because the ship was based off the Frinton coast down South. However, I managed to rig up an aerial by connecting my radio to chicken wire strung around the picture rail in my room, and earthed against the wire frame of my bed, so I could continue to enjoy pirate radio. It was extraordinary to hear their signature tune, Caroline, coming from across the waves and making their young listeners feel part of a rebellion against authority.

When the other pirates were gone, the BBC opened Radio One, imitating the format of the pirates, but the genie was out of the bottle, and young people resented the government's removal of their freedom to listen to offshore stations. The Conservative opposition pledged to introduce commercial radio into the UK, and did so after they were returned to office.