Jacob's Ladder: People...You Are The Reason I Am...

Howard Rose

From Hans Knot, University of Groningen/International Radio News

Very difficult to express

During more than 33 years that I'm writing about the medium wave radio it was never before so difficult to search for words by compiling a story than today, July 18th 2002. Yesterday evening, after an operation, Howard G Rose died at the age of 49 years after a heart attack.

Most people in radio land knew Howard as deejay Crispian St. John or Jay Jackson. He was one of the very first British Anoraks who I knew after writing I started writing for Pirate Radio News in 1969. Very young, 16 years of age at that stage, Howard wanted to grab and eat everything which had to do with Pirate and Offshore Radio and so he did also read my magazine and got, on regular base, in contact with me.

Of course he couldn't avoid starting his own station at that time, but was doing illegal things in England working for a land based radio station. Although this was a very tiny little one, bigger stations would come soon a reality for little Crispian. It was in 1971 that he, as a 18 year old guy, climbed onboard the MEBO II, the then radio ship of Radio North Sea International. There he became part of the international service which supplied us with the perfect sound of RNI, the Summer of '71'. Howard learnt a lot from his fellow deejays like Paul May, Martin Kayne and the guy who hired him at that time, Steve Merikke.

It was also on one of my visits to the Oude Boerenhofstede at Naarden, where the land based studio's of RNI were housed, where I did meet Crispian for the very first time. In 1971 he was dismissed by the station and recently he wrote a story of his dismissal in Soundscapes, the online journal for media and music culture at the University of Groningen. See spring edition under Volume 4 the article with the title 'Getting the sack'. (www.soundscapes.info)

But it was not only RNI which took the interest of Howard. In 1972 he went to the station, where he tuned in to in the sixties: Radio Caroline. In March 1968 both Caroline vessels were towed away from the British Coast and went into Amsterdam harbour. After being there and in Zaandam harbour for many years, they were sold for scrap in order of the Wijsmuller Tender Company, to which Caroline had to pay still a lot of money. It was Gerard van der Zee who bought the MV Mi Amigo back for Ronan O'Rahilly so Radio Caroline could be on the air again soon. First they started as Radio 199 and, being almost winter, the station came in clearly and we especially enjoyed the Christmas programming in 1972, where Howard, aka Crispian, played a key role. It soon looked like that the station would stop again as the crew, who claimed they were not properly paid by the organization, hijacked the ship and towed it into harbour again. With hard working of the deejays and volunteers the MV Mi Amigo was soon back on sea and the most famous radio station on Earth was a rocking good way again from the only place Radio Caroline can be, the international waters.

It seemed Crispian was very restless and later, at the end of 1973, he wrote me that he would soon leave for Germany. There, in the harbour of Cuxhavn, a new radio ship would be fitted out under very hard conditions. Even one of the crewmembers died during the fitting out MV Jeanine. The new ship would be used for Radio Atlantis, which had earlier hired transmission time from Radio Caroline. With their own ship, off the coast of Zeeland, they started also an international service and Crispian, once again, was part of a very good team including Steve England, Andy Anderson as well as Terry Davis.

In the Seventies Howard played a role within Independent Radio, which started with LBC and Capital Radio in 1973 as the first commercial stations in Great Britain. He could be listened at stations like Swansea Sound and Viking Radio, but the sea still had a special feeling for Howard. It was Abe Nathan's Voice of Peace, a station in the Mediterranean, which was the next station to work for. Howard stayed for many years there. While doing my research for my book on the history on the Voice of Peace I interviewed a lot of people and every time Crispian was mentioned as a very good deejay and friend, although some told me that he sometimes could be very pigheaded and tried several times to get things his way.

Then more 'Rocking on the Northsea' came for Howard under his nickname Jay Jackson, sometimes adding 'J' between both names. Not only he was responsible for the newsroom from 1983 on board the MV Ross Revenge, the new Radio Caroline ship, he also made a lot of prestigious album music programs, we will never forget. The combination of the music he played, compared with his knowledge of the music, his beautiful voice made it all complete for listening with good pleasure. About his period on board the MV Ross Revenge Jay Jackson wrote a book called '˜The Pirates Who Waive the Rules', a book which didn't get the publicity it deserved.

In the eighties, Howard played an important role in co starting the very first golden oldie station in Britain, Radio Sovereign. It became headlines, not only in Britain but also in Western Europe. It was an illegal station and therefore it was one day forced to go off the air, but it returned later at the Riviera in France. In the years Howard made thousands of contacts within the radio industry therefore it made sense for him to start a radio magazine. The Radio Magazine was his own idea. After a false start a second attempt was very successful and The Radio Magazine was born, now already more than 12 years ago. In between he was also one of the co owners of KCBC, a radio station in his home town Kettering.

Howard, which whom I stayed in contact all those years, one time or another, asked me to write for the Radio Magazine for the news from the Benelux. He also wrote on regular base for the Freewave Media Magazine since the late seventies. Just last week the message came in that Howard and Patricia, his wife, had sold The Radio Magazine and Goldcrest Communications to a big publisher. It was stated that Howard would be staying as the key role man, but the new step in his career could not last for longer than a week. He died yesterday at the age of 49, leaving behind Patricia who only married last year, and three children. I hope they have the strength in the time to come to carry this heavy loss.

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