After 45 years, I've finally fulfilled my Radio Caroline ambition

Stephen Foster Radio Caroline

Foz in his home studio where he makes his shows for Radio Caroline. - Credit: Maggie Reeder

It took me well over 45 years but I got there eventually. I’m talking about fulfilling my teenage ambition to one day present my own programme on Radio Caroline.

Back in 1974 I became an avid listener to Simon Barrett’s evening show which was broadcast from the Mi Amigo.

Mi Amigo Radio Caroline

The Mi Amigo pictured in 1975 - Credit: David Kindred

His choice of music coupled with his unflustered presentation style were both incredibly influential on me and for the next two years I discarded most of my school homework to devote my weekday evenings to the best radio station on the planet.

Simon wasn’t the only DJ I admired. Others included Andy Archer, Johnny Jason and Tony Allan. I also bought into the loving awareness message which complemented all the great music being played night in, night out from a ship anchored only a few miles off Felixstowe.

In 1975 Andy Archer jumped ship to help launch Ipswich’s first commercial radio station. He presented the Drivetime show in his own inimitable style and I would take a radio to school with me so I could listen in as I walked home. There were no AirPods in those days!

You may also want to watch:

Music was beginning to dominate my social life too and it wasn’t long before I was volunteering at Hospital Radio Ipswich. During those early years I got to know Andy Archer who invited myself and a couple of friends in to Electric House to take part in one of his Saturday morning pop quizzes. Yes there was life before Ken Bruce’s Popmaster!

Andy Archer Radio caroline

Andy Archer during his Radio Caroline days. - Credit: David Kindred

Long story short I ended up working with Andy at Orwell and again during his relatively short spell at BBC Radio Suffolk. My time at Broadcasting House was somewhat longer - 30 years - and ended in January this year when I took voluntary redundancy to go freelance.

Most Read

Within a few weeks of cutting loose I was contacted by Radio Caroline boss Peter Moore to see if I’d fancy doing a weekly show for them. Does the pope kiss the tarmac? It was an honour just to be asked and an even bigger honour to continue my long broadcasting career with arguably the most famous and influential radio station in the world.

Although there are weekend broadcasts from the Ross Revenge ship moored off Mersea Island, the bulk of the programming comes from presenters’ home studios just like the one I had built in my house in east Ipswich. It’s been money well spent as it also allows me to do voiceover work for anybody anywhere who thinks my style will suit their project. 

I have been heartened by the increasing number of people who tell me they are regular Caroline listeners and have been for a while.

There’s no doubt I had become cocooned at the BBC and hadn’t really given much thought to what was going on in the ever-growing world of internet radio. I’d missed out on some great stations with creative presenters, many of whom give the so-called professionals some serious competition.

My Caroline show goes out on Tuesdays between 10am and 2pm and features mainly album tracks from the 1960s to the modern day. I receive emails from all over the world and not all of them are complaints!

It seems my eclectic choice of tracks is winning approval from a large number of listeners but I am well aware that you can’t please all the people all the time.

You can hear Radio Caroline on 648 KHZ on the medium wave and via its own app. The station’s also available on the internet and on smart speaker as well as on DAB in areas like Cambridge and Norwich.

It’s funny what life comes up with. While I’m not exactly a pirate radio DJ, what I’m doing now in 2021 is very close to what was served up during the Mi Amigo era when the broadcasting pirates of that era were helping to shape my musical tastes and presentation style.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter