What a fantastic and loyal bunch our listeners were! Although we only broadcast for 5 or 6 hours on a Sunday (apart from occasional 'specials'), the response was overwhelming. We received dozens of letters a week and many phone calls at our Colliers Wood 'call center' (Maggie & Tony Rocket's Flat). The first mailing address, 71 George Street, London W1 was the address of the employer of one of our staff and was used until around June '75 when it was withdrawn. A secretarial service at 30 Baker Street, London W1 was then used, which we chose because it both sounded good and for 'safety' reasons. For about £5 a month they would collect up all the letters and send them weekly to the studio at South Norwood.
Being quite heavy on competitions meant many letters were entries to these. Of all of them the 'Kaleidogram' was by far the most popular. This worked by reading out the name of an album such as "Walls and Bridges" or "Atlantic Crossing", and letting the listener make as many words as possible from the letters. The amount of time people put in to this was frightening, we litereally had entries some weeks where some poor chap (it was mainly chaps for some reason) had meticulously gone through his dictionary and teased out 1295 words! Maxwell Grey of Ealing was the champion here and would enter most weeks. He was hard to beat and obviously had a bigger dictionary and more time than most! The winner got a copy of the album.
Many people wrote in with reception reports as we attracted both the 'ordinary' listener who would listen for no other reason than they enjoyed what we played, and the 'anorak' brigade who would go to extraordinary lengths to hear our weakest signal from miles away and send in reports of signal strength (the SINPO code) and programme content in the hope of being sent a QSL card, which we were happy to do.
Reports came in from all over the place. Even though the aim was to cover as much of London as possible with 40 watts, on a good day the signal could reach Holland (on a communications receiver). And one letter even claimed a SINPO of 33333 from West Germany!
A controversial subject for some was if were actually on the frequency we announced or not. We started on 1133 KHz/266 meters (The old Radio London frequency), but when LBC moved to 261 meters right next door to us from its temporary frequency in 1975 it caused so much interference to our weaker signal only 2 channels away that we eventually had to move. This proved a huge problem as there were only so many 'good' frequencies that could be used which were fairly free from proximity to powerful domestic or foreign stations. The frequency of 1358KHz was chosen to be announced as 226 meters (which it strictly wasn't) as was pointed out by Roger Symes who wrote from Steyning in Sussex:
"I think there must be something wrong with your calculations as 1358 is not the same as 226m but 221. My dial is well spread out and so I do not know if I have been missing your programmes for months! I hope not."
The reason we announced it as 226 is simply because it sounded like 266 and tripped off the tongue rather well sorry for all the confusion!
Here are some more choice cuts from listeners letters (with original spelling and punctuation!):
Whilst twiddling the knob on my radio this morning I came across your station I must say that your whole presentation of programes was of very high quality, and easily the best pirate I have heard. On this showing you could take over from Capitol without any trouble....You asked on the air for Disc Jockeys or Location staff...although I can't drive I can climb trees without wrapping an aerial all over myself and if you still need location staff I would love to help. I am free most weekends and don't work for the dreaded Post Office.."
Bill McKaig of Dagenham
"...one thing I have noticed in the last few weeks is that quite a few records seem to wrrr a bit (you know the sound you get when you pile to many singles on one deck). They speed up and slow down.
When I was listening to you this afternoon you went off the air about 3.30pm did you get done?...
Richard Norris of South Harrow, Middlesex
"...What happened to Radio News this week then? I'm warning you, Kaleidoscope will start receiving filthy letters unless it is reinstated immediately! I know someone who can fill in the 2-3pm spot. He's a Chinese waiter who works in Reading. Mind You, he doesn't speak a word of English, but he's got a lovely smile!...
Peter MacFarlane of Swallowfield, Berkshire