Media World

And talk show shall speak unto talk show

Peter Fiddick

Radio, you might have thought, would be the easy bit of the 'digital revolution'. In any country where choice and competition are permitted, the analogue version has flourished, by virtue of being far cheaper than television to produce and highly targettable.

In the UK, even the BBC in its monopoly days quickly saw the possibilities for producing three different strands of programming, catering for its audience's changing moods and interests, while it was in this same era that the Duchy of Luxembourg established itself as the haven for a commercial radio enterprise aimed not at its own tiny population but at as much of Europe as its transmitters could beam its mix of music and commercials to.

But the seminal image is of a crudely converted vessel floating just outside territorial waters, broadcasting a newer, sassier mix of pop music and chat to the late-60s generation who had tasted a cultural revolution and wanted something more irreverent than the BBC could bring itself to offer. Radio Caroline got advertisers, too, and its relatively brief life provoked not just Auntie BBC into raising her hemline and inventing the highly competitive pop channel Radio 1 but also the government into changing the law, cutting off the so-called 'pirate' stations' commercial lifeline but clearing the way for a new regulatory regime.