Frequency: 89.55, 89.62, 88.3, 91.5 mHz FM
Location: On board motor vessel Cheeta I,
later replaced by Cheeta II anchored in international waters off Malmo. Sweden
Owner: Mrs Britt Wadner.
Address: Radio Syd, Malmo 4, Sweden.
Hours of transmission: 06.00 am to 03.00 am
These Pages in Swedish.
It all started on 31st August 1958. Nils Eric Svensson managed to convince Radio Mercur's owners to sell him air time between noon and 2 pm every day.
Every day at noon the antenna on board the motor vessel Cheeta was pointed towards Sweden instead of Denmark for two hours, and the tapes Nils Eric had recorded a couple of days earlier in his little studio in Landskrona went on the air.
Skanes Radio Mercur was born.
Mrs Britt Wadner became partner in the company and was responsible for sales of advertising and airtime.
Business was booming for both the Danish and the Swedish Radio Mercur and a new and much bigger ship named Lucky Star was purchased.
Cheeta left for a Norwegian port to undergo repairs.
The new 450 BRT ship Lucky Star started broadcasting on 31st January 1961 on 88 MHz. The transmitter from Cheeta was installed and broadcast the Swedish programmes on 89.55 MHz. A couple of weeks later dual channel stereo transmissions commenced using both transmitters.
Cheeta returned to sea and anchored in a new position. On 25th November 1961 recommenced transmission with a ERP of 30 kW, after a few weeks the aerial collapsed. The two ships changed places.
During a gale on 12 February 1962 Cheeta put out a distress call and a tug was sent to assist the ship. She was met by police and detained.
The Lucky Star took over the broadcast of Radio Mercur.
Britt Wadner had been more and more involved and was now responsible for the Swedish programmes on Mercur. So when Cheeta was put up for sale in February 1962 Mrs Wadner purchased her so that she could start her own station. Radio Syd was born.
Cheeta returned to sea anchoring in international waters between Malmo and Copenhagen.
With the anti-pirate law becoming effective Mrs Wadner kept the station on the air and the Swedish Government soon started to think of ways of closing down the station. The frequency of a national station at Helsingborg was changed in the hope that it would interfere with the less powerful signal from Radio Syd. A waste of time and energy. Also Radio Syd changed frequency.
Despite the illegality of the station, it remained extremely popular and a "Club Radio Syd" was formed and more than ten thousand joined.
In October 1962 Mrs Wadner appeared in court and was fined for breaking the recently introduced law.
January 9th 1963 Cheeta was stuck in the ice for five hours and the crew was forced to cut the anchor chain and than break the ice around the ship before they succeeded to move the ship slowly toward Limhamn harbour under her 90 horse power engine. Many onlookers had assembled on the quay when the ship was approaching.
In May 1963 eleven advertisers were fined for taking time on Radio Syd and in October Mrs Wadner again appeared in court. In March 1964 and again in August she was before the courts and on the latter occasion was sentenced to one month in jail. This resulted in a big demonstration in support of Radio Syd.
Under Swedish law a prisoner is entitled to carry on their profession while in jail, and Mrs Wadner was running the station from her cell in the Hinseberg prison!
During a storm on 17th September 1964 Cheeta went adrift and ran aground in Vikhoeg near Malmo. The ship was towed into Malmo harbour for repairs but sank during the evening of 7th October 1964.
Mrs Wadner now purchased the redundant Lucky Star complete with the much superior equipment therein, including a 7 kW Siemens transmitter. Lucky star was renamed Cheeta II.
In June 1965 some twenty seven advertisers again faced court hearings for advertising on Radio Syd. Plans were now being made to commence television transmissions from the Cheeta II. 40.000 US dollar was invested on equipping the ship and 150.000 US dollars on studio installations. An antenna of 30 metres was erected and a 5 kW transmitter installed.
During yet another trial in December 1965, which resulted in a three months jail sentence for Mrs Wadner, test transmissions started on UHF. Also the same month more advertisers faced charges of advertising on the station and again the following month.
January 20th 1966, thick pack ice forced the Cheeta II to leave her anchorage and Radio Syd was forced to stop broadcasting. The ship never returned to her anchorage, for following the grounding of Mi Amigo she sailed to England to take her place while repairs were carried out. Things however were rumoured to be getting difficult for Radio Syd and that in the second half of 1965 the ship had been considered as a base for a new station to anchor off England.
After the Mi Amigo had resumed transmissions, the Cheeta II remained off Frinton. On 19th June 1966 Walton lifeboat was called to rescue two men who had drifted in the ship's lifeboat. More serious trouble followed on 21st July 1966 when the ship broke anchor, with only four men aboard and with the windlass damaged she was forced to accept assistance from a tug which took her in tow and moored her in the River Stour. The next day Customs officers boarded the ship and nailed a writ to the mats thus immobilising the ship. The towing company "Gaselee & Son" were claiming salvage after taking the Cheeta II into port. A dispute arose as the identity of the owners was quite unclear. However 16th November 1966 the ship was freed from arrest after Mr Justice Brandon had dismissed an application for the appraisement and sale of the vessel.
As a matter of fact, even in its more glorious days, the financial structure of Radio Syd was quite secret. It always has been said that Mrs Britt Wadner was only the front for a much bigger American organisation.
In the UK trouble stayed, as several owners claimed the ship now. A Peter Duncan, a company called "Viewsport" and UBA Establishment of Liechtenstein.
January 23th another writ was served on behalf of "London and East Anglia Ship Supply Co." for 3.000 pounds in respect of wages, supplies and service.
November 8th the Cheeta II left Stour for Corona in Spain. . Five days later she left this port to arrive another five days later at Safi, Morocco. Leaving here on the 21st she made for Tenerife in the Canary Islands, arriving there on the 24th November 1967, but on 3rd December 1967 left for Las Palmas.
Sometime later Radio Syd was granted a license to broadcast legally in the Gambia where broadcasts are still made on 908 kHz (329 metres).
This station is land based. In its early African days broadcast was made in four languages. English, French, Woloff, and Madinka. Later French was dropped in favour of a third national language, Fula. Radio Syd transmits from a radio house two miles outside Banjul. They have an aerial mast which is 270 feet high. Broadcasts are from 6 am to 2 am, every day. Nowadays studio-equipment is very elementary.
Jingles-cartridges, cd's and even tape-recorders are still unavailable. There's a link with a national station for the latest news. One small studio and even a smaller talk-studio must do. Messages are recorded on ordinary cassettes. Radio Syd is a commercial station in a poor country. Head of the company is Mrs Britt Wadner's very own daughter, Constance Enhörning-Wadner, who gets assistance from her husband Benny.
The new Radio Syd can be found at: Banjul, The Gambia Telephone +220 221870 Fax +220 226490 Cable: Syd-GM:Miss Constance Wadner - Enhörning.
MW: Banjul 909 kHz 2.5 kW.
For a long time the Cheeta II had been used as a restaurant, shop and discotheque in Banjul harbour. It's unknown when the boat sank. Anyway, nothing is left from the ship in the year 1996. The theme tune of the station is still the same: "As long as the ship will sail" composed by the Swedish composer Evert Taube.
Britt Wadner died at her home in Sweden 13th March 1987.
This Historical look at Radio Syd was researched and complied by "RadioVisie/Jean-Luc Bostyn" in Belgium and later supplemented by Lennart Christiansson.
Do you remember those 'Golden' days of Offshore radio?
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