Iconic radio DJ tells all in autobiography

THE FIRST voice heard on an iconic Manchester radio station is telling all about his story in a new autobiography.

As famous pirate station Radio Caroline celebrates its 60th anniversary, Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day has penned his memories of a career that has lasted since May 1966 and how the airwaves impacted the nation.

And one of his memories comes from Ashton-under-Lyne, where he recalls an interview with the man with Britain’s largest marrow!

The first voice to be heard on Piccadilly Radio, at 5am on April 2, 1974, when he said hi to Manchester and played Good Vibrations by his beloved Beach Boys.

For many people of a certain age, it provided the musical backdrop to their lives and with its unmistakable 261 logo, it rapidly evolved into a fixture in the structure of everyday life in north west England.

Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day

It was through DJ Pete Reeves that Roger became involved with Piccadilly.

He said: “He suggested I contact Philip Birch, who I knew had made such a great success with Radio London – that’s the Pirate Station, not the BBC – one.

“At that time, I wasn’t impressed with Capital Radio in London and I thought a station run by Philip Birch would be much better.

“Also, with the IBA (the Independent Broadcasting Authority), the regulatory body for independent radio broadcasts, being in London, we thought that with the station being in the north and before the Internet, we could perhaps break a few rules.

“Of course, Piccadilly was special to Manchester, as most other stuff came from the south, and the BBC was certainly a bit dull.

“Local news was more important to us, as were interviews with politicians, groups, solo performers, comedians, and actors.

“You name it, and Piccadilly was part of it. I do recall on one occasion that Pete Reeves interviewed a man in Ashton-under-Lyne who had Britain’s largest marrow—what a scoop!”

Now Roger’s book, Pirate of the Airwaves, tells his story of how he got into radio while working as an accountant for Pfizer pharmaceutical in his hometown of Margate, Essex.

Aged 21, he was given the opportunity to join one of the many emerging pirate radio stations, Swinging Radio England.

Eventually, he made his way on to Caroline, where he acquired the nickname Twiggy, after the well-known model and his own slim build.

During his pirate days, Roger was voted best broadcaster and was always in the top 10 of UK DJs.

On March 3, 1968, as Roger was preparing to begin his usual 5.30 am broadcast on Radio Caroline South, the ship was boarded by salvage workers over claims of unpaid debts.

Roger recalled how he was barred from the studio and with the other sleeping DJs roused, they were taken off the ship, which then had its anchor chain cut and was towed away.

The same thing was happening to Radio Caroline North at the same time, but he was soon on Radio Luxembourg and was the first English DJ heard on Radio Northsea International.

One of the most popular offshore stations of the 1970s and one with a very eventful and colourful life, this was the only radio station ever to be jammed by the government – yet people still tuned in. Many of Roger’s escapades feature heavily in his book.

One of Roger’s favourite moments from his time at the station occurred when he broadcast a live 74-hour radio marathon from Manchester United’s hotel the day before their 1979 FA Cup Final game against Arsenal.

He was already friendly with several United players as a lifetime Red and frequently joined them in Manchester’s nightclubs and bars for post-game wind-downs.

“Despite the fact that I was no lightweight when it came to drinking, there was no way I could keep up with George Best and Jim Holton; they were in a different league,” he added.

After five years of broadcasting to Greater Manchester, a tearful Roger Day presented his last show on September 28, 1979, with his final record being the same Beach Boys track that had launched the station in 1974.

He said: “I was very sad to leave. It had become one of the most successful news and entertainment radio stations in the country.

“Millions of people tuned in every day. It was a part of the fabric of life in the north west.”

Roger is still broadcasting and can be heard in Tameside on Boom Radio at 2pm from Monday to Thursday and 8am on Saturday.

He is also on Internet station Radio Caroline Flashback on Thursdays with his Classic Countdown and Friday evenings with his 60s Vinyl Countdown.

*ROGER “Twiggy” Day: Pirate of the Airwaves is available now from Amazon, Waterstones, or visit his own website at www.rogerday.co.uk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *