An Evening with Roger Day, in celebration of his 40 years in broadcasting
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Roger did two dates of his “An evening with Roger Day” to celebrate his 40th Anniversary in radio. This was advertised on Radio Caroline and also Saga Radio in the West Midlands.
The first one was in Lichfield in the West Midlands on Friday the 28th July 2006. I believe that around 120 fans attended that one, including a few of my radio friends, plus Rob Leighton, Rockin’ John and Caroline’s “Marathon Man” Graham Coull.
Rogers’ second date was the following night (Saturday 29th) at the Winter Gardens in Margate, Kent, starting at 19.30 hours. This is the one I attended with Nick Wythe, a Caroline fan from Ashford in Kent who I have become friends with and Barry Crompton from Herne, also in Kent. This was Barry’s first radio outing since his tragic accident when returning home from the Ross Revenge around 18 months ago. He is still unable to walk, so I had to take him out with his wheel chair, after his parents agreed I could do so. It was well worth the effort, because I think it was a great therapy for him and he really enjoyed the evening. Whilst having a drink in the bar, before the show started, a three guys who were together came up to Barry and said “we didn’t know you was coming”, and they were certainly pleased to see him again. I did not recognise any of them and I am sure that Barry did not remember who they were, which was unfortunate. It was nice to see and chat with Graham Winning and his wife who are also friends of Barry’s.
The presentation in Margate lasted just over 3 hours. The evening was slightly plagued by computer problems, as was the previous night. Slides would sometimes not move on with the remote control or they moved forwards before they were supposed to, but to be honest this added to the fun and it proved that Roger was doing the show live!
Roger started off with one of many jokes by stating that unlike Bob Geldoff he had not cancelled his show due to poor ticket sales. It was in the English news recently that Bob had only sold 45 tickets for a gig, so he cancelled it!
The story began with Simon Dee’s famous radio commentary of the Caroline ship and equipment in the studio and old film footage of the North and South ships, including one of Ronan’s rare visits to the Mi Amigo.
Roger then went back to his DJ roots were he worked part time at the Dreamland Ballroom, in Margate. He left full time job at Pfizer’s (the company now famous for Viagra!), in Kent to start work as a DJ on Swinging Radio England. He shared his memories and showed a film taken on board their ship. At this point we learned that his real name was Roger Thomas. He stayed with Radio England from the start, right up until the end. After this section of his life, there was the first of several question times. Roger’s friend Mel went amongst the audience with a radio microphone to see who wanted to use this opportunity. One of Rogers’ old mates from Pfizer’s (David?) was one of those who did so.
Next, Roger returned to Radio Caroline and showed a couple of film clips including the famous one of Tony Benn preaching about how pirate radio was a danger to shipping, was stealing copyright etc. You know the one. It was recently featured in the BBC Documentary “1967- The Summer of Love”.
We had an explanation of how he got his nickname “Twiggy” from being as thin as the 60’s female icon and how he missed out on being on Caroline on August the 14th (1967), because his passport was due to run out, and he didn’t want to risk being an outlaw without one. Roger believes there was a deliberate delay in his passport being renewed, to prevent him going back to the ship at that time.
During the evening Roger played several 40th Anniversary messages from his radio friends, including ones from Keith “Keepers” Hampshire and Graham Dene, who worked with Roger at United Biscuits Radio. It is a pity there was not a message from the Beach Boys!
Right from the start of Rogers’ career in broadcasting, his parents were supportive and they even helped him with his fan club. A funny story about his Mum and Dad follows in a moment.
When Roger was working for Caroline, after the passing of the MOA, he was stopped by the Customs at Heathrow Airport, during one of his return trip to England. He thought it was “curtains” when he was asked to open a suitcase that was full of fan letters, but the officer concerned let him off, because he did not believe in what was happening to the radio station.
Roger had a sort of premonition from how he introduced his last record on Caroline in the 60’s, because the following day the station was closed down and the ship towed off to Holland.
There was another opportunity for the audience to ask questions, before Roger moved to his time with Radio Luxembourg. His most dedicated listeners were his Mum and Dad who drove along the Thanet Way (near Margate, Kent) to be in a spot where they could receive Luxy on 208 Medium Wave on their car radio. They took with them a flask of tea. One night a Policeman noticed their car, looking suspicious with all it’s windows steamed up. He probably thought that there was a young couple inside making love, but to his surprise he found a senior married couple holding cups of steaming hot tea, listening to their son on the radio!
Roger told us how during his career he had introduced on stage many pop artists, including his favourites Beach Boys, back in 1968. He regretted the fact that he never taken a camera on tour with him, so he had no photos of himself with the Beach Boys, but he was able to show us a booking confirmation etc.
Next Roger joined RNI and he showed us a documentary with footage of the Mebo I and II, complete with a German commentary! The stories that followed included the Jamming, Renaming of the station to Radio Caroline to coincide with the 1970 Election Campaign, which was the first one in the UK that 18 year olds could vote. After the campaign was over, Roger went on holiday, and upon his return was surprised to find that he could not go back to the Mebo II, because Larry Tremaine had decided to sack him!
Fans on the floor had their third opportunity to ask “Twiggy” some questions, including one from Tony Young, Rogers’ former Roadie!
Roger now moved on to his time with Independent Local Radio. First off was Piccadilly Radio in Manchester, where he did a 74-hour marathon, told Elton John to stop swearing during an interview and Graham Nash volunteered to come to the studios to be interviewed by him, which upset the Beeb, because he declined their invitations several times
His time with BRMB in Birmingham was briefly mentioned, but if you coughed and/or blinked you would have missed it! I am not sure if they got a longer slot at the Midlands gig. This broadcaster obviously did not make an impression on him. I was living in the Midlands at the time and remember being pleased to be able to hear him again.
One of the highlights of the evening for me was a Wallace and Grommet type animated promo for Radio West that featured breakfast DJ Roger Day. It was brilliant!
Roger had good times during his time at Invicta in Kent. Apparently it used to be a decent radio station. How things have changed for the worse in the UK Commercial Radio!
Roger then moved to the advanced computer controlled “Pirate FM” in Cornwall, which was so ahead of it’s time it was featured, along with “Twiggy” himself, in the BBC weekly TV programme “Tomorrows World”.
The final item on the agenda was the 40th Anniversary Reunion, which celebrated 40 years since the birth of Radio Caroline at Easter 1964. We were shown many photographs of the party, which Roger himself had organised.
There was one final opportunity for questions before Roger came down onto the floor to meet his fans. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to watch him shaking hands and speaking with Barry Crompton. I also shook Rogers’ hand before leaving and thanked him for a very enjoyable evening, which was well worth the £10 admission price for being entertained for over 3 hours by one of the greatest DJ’s of all time.
There was one final stop before setting off to take Barry back to him home in Herne. This was a visit to the excellent Peters Fish & Chip Shop on the Margate seafront. We settled for a just bag of chips, because we were keeping Barry’s Dad up, because the show lasted an hour longer than what I thought it would do. Apparently the one in Lichfield did not last as long, which I believe was because the members of staff at that venue were keen to shut up for the night. Maybe Roger did not book if for enough hours or it could be that the question times that night lasted longer than anticipated. In Margate there was no pressure to leave the building.
Finally, it was disappointing that only one of the current presenters support Roger at his show in Margate. I already mentioned that Rob Leighton went to the one in Lichfield, but this is local to him. Many of the other presenters live in Kent, so I was expecting to see more than just Andrew Austin there. When I asked Andrew why more had not turned up, he told me that several of them had said they were coming. Roger did mention that Andy Archer had hoped to attend, but something else had come up. It was nice to see Duncan Johnson in the audience.
This report is dedicated to my twin daughters Caroline and Sarah, who I am proud to announce have now graduated with a First Class Degree. Well done to them for all their hard work over the last three years! Now go out into the big wild world and get a really good job with a high salary and done forget your Mum and Dad in their old age!
Thanks again to Roger for a great evening and here’s to your next 40 years!
Hawkinge, Kent, England.
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